An Introduction to Grafting at Natureworks Nursery
At Natureworks Nursery we use different types of propagation to ensure the highest quality fruit trees for our clients. One propagation method we use is grafting.
Why do we graft in the first place? Here are a few reasons:
- To maintain a cultivar (What is a cultivar you ask? Read on!)
- For pest & disease resistance
- So trees produce fruits sooner
- To combine multiple cultivars on one plant
- Dwarfing (so certain trees stay small)
A cultivar is a plant that is produced and maintained by horticulturists but does not reproduce an identical “true-to-seed”. In order to maintain a cultivar, trees need to be propagated asexually (e.g., by cutting, grafting, air layers etc.), which essentially creates a clone.
Grafting has been utilized for many centuries and, by definition, is a “horticultural technique whereby tissues of plants are joined, so as to continue their growth together.” Joining the genetic material you want (scion wood or budwood) with a strong seedling with good roots (rootstock) produces a more resilient tree of the desired cultivar.
Another reason we propagate by grafting is to get ahead of pests and disease. Citrus for example has thousands of varieties of pest resistant rootstocks. By grafting on a strong rootstock, you can protect and encourage a more fragile, yet superior, variety to grow abundantly. Finding a variety that thrives in your location is essential to your tree having a long and fruitful life.
Avocado Scion wood
By grafting we can get a mature plant much faster than we can from seed. We can graft our desired cultivar onto a rootstock and expect to see fruit production in as little as 2 years, depending on the variety.
By grafting we can also combine multiple cultivars on one plant. A multi-graft is, as the name suggests, is a tree that has multiple cultivars grafted onto a single rootstock. The advantages of multi-grafted trees include:
- Better pollination
- Multiple cultivars in one area if you have limited space
- Extended harvest
By grafting we can also create dwarf trees that are small-sized trees. They will provide an abundance of full-sized fruit, but without requiring a large amount of room to grow. They are the result of grafting. Benefits of dwarf trees include:
- Easier to harvest, prune and protect from pests than standard trees
- Often yield more fruit per area
- Bear crops 1-3 years earlier than standard trees
- Can be planted densely, so home gardeners can grow more varieties
- More likely to be appropriate in small gardens
What are some of the trees that we graft at NatureWorks Nursery?
We graft all of our mangos, avocado and durians. Most of our citrus trees are grafted, as well as certain varieties of guava, mulberry, starfruit, jackfruit, breadfruit, star apple, sapote and Anona species.
What are some grafting techniques we use?
We utilize different types of grafts for different tree species and for different purposes. The main types of grafts we use are Wedge Graft and Side Veneer graft. Other examples of grafts are Bark graft, Splice graft, Cleft Graft, Whip and tongue graft, and Saddle graft.
The main materials we use on our grafts are parafilm (to protect the scion wood from drying out and to keep the irrigation and rain out) and horticulture tape (to join the graft union together).
How to take care of your grafted trees?
- Grafted Avocado tree[/caption]Make sure to know where your graft is so you can observe it
- Protect your tree from strong winds which could snap off the graft
- Remove the shoots growing from the root stock (below the graft) using a pair of snips. Sprouts below the graft will dominate and take energy away from the growing graft
- It usually takes 6 to 8 weeks for the graft union to be strong and fully fused together – do not remove the grafting tape before that
- Do not remove the parafilm (it will not strangle the tree). The buds from the scion wood will push through the parafilm easefully and this will be a good sign that the graft has been successful
- After 6 to 8 weeks, (or after you get two flushes of new leaves from above the graft), only then you should remove the grafting tape in order to avoid it from strangling the tree. Don’t worry about the parafilm – it will fall apart on its own
- Newly grafted trees are ready to go in the ground or into larger pots once the graft has strongly fused together (after the second flush of growth)
- Make sure to also check out our blog on how to take care of your fruit trees.
Learning to graft
Jayanti is very enthusiastic about teaching more people to learn the art of grafting fruit trees.
If you are interested in learning how to graft and airlayer, please email us at nwnMaui@gmail.com and we will let you know when our next grafting class will take place.
Our Next Grafting Class is in September