Sidewedge

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The side-wedge graft is the simplest and most effective method of side grafting, and it is widely used to propagate both deciduous and evergreen plants.

The usual season for side-wedge grafting is in late winter/early spring, just before the leaf-buds break. However, with evergreen plants it is feasible whenever a mature flush of growth is available , and the rootstock is growing actively. For very sappy plants, that is those plants that "bleed" when cut, it is advisable to graft early in the growing season and dry the rootstocks off before doing so.

Establish a one-year-old labelled seedling in a pot and grow it for a year. Ensure this seedling, which will form the rootstock, is related to and therefore compatible with the plant to be grafted on to it.

About three weeks before grafting, place the potted rootstock in a frost-free area to encourage it to grow. Dry off the rootstock, especially deciduous rootstock, by keeping watering to a bare minimum or indeed by not watering at all. Trim the leaves off the bottom in of the rootstock stem.

Select a plant that has suitable scion material, and remove some stems with all their previous season's growth. If at all possible, collect these stems with their apical buds intact.

Select a stem, or scion, of comparable thickness to the rootstock. Make two sloping in cuts on the scion base, opposite each other, so that a wedge shape is produced.

Starting about 2 in above soil level, cut downwards into the rootstock for and inwards to about a third of the stem thickness.

Gently bend the rootstock away from this cut so that it opens sufficiently to insert the scion. If the scion is narrower than the root-stock, match up the cambial layers on one side. Release the tension on the rootstock.

Bind with clear polythene tape, overlapping it to seal the entire cut area and label.

Stand the grafted rootstock in a greenhouse, and the two parts should join in about six to eight weeks, depending on the species. This environment is preferable to a warm, humid one, such as a closed case, where the buds would be encouraged to develop and, once the two parts have joined, the grafted rootstock would need hardening off, which can be extremely difficult to do satisfactorily.

Remove the polythene tape and cut back half the rootstock above the grafted area as soon as the two parts have joined. Two weeks

4 Make two sloping in cuts, opposite each other, on the scion base.

5 Start about 2 in above the ground and cut downwards ^and slightly inwards for iJj in into the rootstock.

6 Bend the rootstock gently away from this cut. Hold it there and insert the scion. Then release it.

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|*|iiini'M> mrt|»lr Khiiilni lr>ni Iiiim Wlli It liit/i'l later, cut back the remaining rootstock above the grafted area so that the scion becomes the leader shoot of the plant. Dab the cut surface with a suitable tree paint, such as Arbrex, if the final cut surface is extensive.

Watering is probably the most difficult aspect of graft management. Water little and often rather than in large doses at infrequent intervals, so that the plant is kept on the dry side in a humid environment.

1 Establish a one-year-old seedling in a pot and label it. Grow it for one year.

2 Dry off this rootstock in a frost-free area just before bud-break. Trim the leaves off the bottom 3-4 in.

3 Select a plant that has suitable scion material. Cut off some stems with all their previous season's growth.

7 Bind the entire cut area with clear polythene tape, and label. Stand the grafted rootstock in a greenhouse.

8 Remove the tape and head, back half the rootstock once the two parts have joined.

9 Cut back the remaining rootstock above the grafted union two weeks later. Dab the cut with tree paint.

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