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What is grafting in horticulture?

Grafting in horticulture is a method of joining parts from two or more plants so that they seem to bloom as a single plant. The upper portion of a plant, also known as a scion, grows on another plant’s root system or rootstock. A bud is taken from one plant and cultivated on another through this budding procedure.

Grafting and budding are vegetative or asexual techniques of propagation. Thus, the new plant that develops from the scion or bud will be very similar to the plant it emerged from. Growers often select these plant reproduction procedures because cuttings from the wanted plant root poorly.

What Is Grafting?

Grafting is a procedure of joining two living parts of a plant. It is performed so they will unite and emerge as a composite plant later. Typically, the graft consists of two parts: the scion and rootstock.

How To Do Grafting?

A majority of plants should be grafted into their own species. For example, Acer palmatum cultivars should be cultivated onto an Acer palmatum rootstock. But you can even graft within a genus. For example, A. Circinatum, Acer japonicum, and A. Shirasawanum can be grafted onto Acer palmatum rootstock.

Additionally, some plants can be grafted successfully onto diverse species. Given that, they are within the same family.

If you are looking to graft pines, follow a rule of thumb: a five-needle pine can be grafted on a five-needle pine. The same goes for three and two-needle pines.

Healthy materials are one of the important things to keep in mind when grafting a plant. Use a sharp knife and ensure that it is sterilized regularly. Cut straight so that the surfaces meet flush.

Different Types Of Grafting

Various types of grafting exist, which include veneer grafting, tongue grafting, cleft grafting, and many others. Here is a short explanation of some of the most common types of grafting in horticulture:

Veneer Grafting

Veneer grafting is the process of grafting tiny potted plants like seedlings of deciduous trees, fruit crops, and shrubs. Here, a shallow downward and inward cut is made, with sizes around 2.5 to 3.5 cm.

Tongue Grafting

Tongue grafting is a tailored type of whip grafting. It varies from whip grafting in that a reverse cut is made downward at a point about 1/3rd of the distance from the tip. Also, it must be around ½ the length of the first cut.

Cleft Grafting

Cleft grafting is among the ancient ways of field grafting. This is used for topping work trees. It can be either in the scaffold branches of a large-sized tree or in the trunk of a small tree.

Wedge Grafting

Wedge grafting is done during the late winter season or early spring. For making a V-wedge in the side of the stub or stock around 5 cm in length, a sharp, short-bladed knife is used.

Softwood Grafting

Softwood grafting is a commercial way that cultivators use for growing sapota, cashew nuts, and mango. A sharp knife to the beheading of the rootstock is involved in this grafting method.

What Are The Reasons For Grafting Plants?

Plant grafting is an ancient practice. It dates back nearly 4000 years. People consider this practice due to many reasons. Here are some of the top reasons to graft plants:

Develop New Varieties

Grafting plants and trees bestows the opportunity to grow new varieties that may bring in more fruit per tree. It creates a higher insect and disease resistance specimen.

Robust And Reliable Plants

Grafting and combining the scion and rootstock may aid with disease resistance and produce flowers and fruit. This can happen within no time.

Increased Growth Rate Of Seedlings

If left to mature naturally, the seedling progeny of many fruit and nut breeding programs might take a long time to bear fruit. This can be anywhere from 8 to 12 years. However, grafting these progeny onto mature plants will take a shorter period to become fruitful. Grafting many seedlings onto a mature plant is another way of speeding up the growth of seedlings.

Create Dwarf Specimen

Shorter and smaller trees make it easier to harvest its fruit. Also, it is a better alternative to plant in a home garden.

Also Read: What are Horticultural Societies: Meaning, Characteristics, and more

Benefits Of Plant Grafting

The following are some incredible benefits of doing plant grafting:

Faster Growth And Fruiting

The grafting method enables faster growth and fruiting than plants grown from cuttings or seeds. Grafting speeds up the growing process. This lets you relish the fruits of your effort sooner and reap the benefits of your patience and care.

Combining Strengths

Grafting lets us blend the strengths of different plants into a super plant. Like merging two superpowers, grafting allows us to combine desired features like fruitfulness, disease resistance, beautiful flowers, etc. You may create nothing but distinctive and robust plants that would not be possible with conventional methods.

Resilience To Environmental Conditions

Grafted plants may be more resilient and adapt to several environmental conditions. With grafting, the plants can increase their resistance to pests, diseases, and adverse climates.

Distinct Plant Varieties

You can create distinctive plant varieties with grafting. This exhibits the creativity of nature and human involvement. It is just like a sculpture creating a masterpiece that everyone admires. With grafting, horticulturists craft new plant combinations with captivating colors, sizes, and shapes.

Preservation Of Rare And Endangered Species

Grafting plays a part in conserving rare and endangered plant species. Like guardians of biodiversity, the grafting process propagates and keeps plants that may become extinct in some time.

Are There Any Disadvantages Of Grafting Plants?

Like every coin has two faces, grafting has its negative aspects as well. Let’s check the disadvantages of practicing grafting on plants.

Disease Transmission

Disease transmission from the rootstock to the scion may be possible by grafting plants. This comprises the wellness of the plant undergone grafting. Diseases that pass through the graft union affect the plant’s strength and longevity.

Limited Genetic Diversity

Grafting also assists in the genetic diversity of the resultant plant. Likewise, coloring within the lines and grafting enable the combination of features from a limited set of plants. Such a restriction might obstruct the formation of new plants that have distinct traits.

Long-Term Maintenance

Grafted plants usually need continuous care and upkeep. Regular pruning, attention, and monitoring are crucial. It assures that the graft union stays strong and in good physical shape. For some growers or cultivators, such long-term maintenance might be challenging.

List Of Plants You Can Graft

Not every, but a vast variety of plants and trees can be crafted. These may include the following.

  • Apple tree
  • Cherry tree
  • Birch tree
  • Ash tree
  • Beech tree

Apart from the above-mentioned, flowering and vegetable plants can be grated, too. Roses and tomatoes are some of the common examples of such plants.

What Is The Right Time To Do Grafting?

You don’t need to think much about the time or season in the case of budding. But, in grafting, you should. More often, grafting is usually performed in winter and early spring.

All through the actual grafting, containerized plants might be moved indoors. These plants are placed in secure areas or unheated overwintering houses post-grafting.

Indeed, the field-grown stock should be grafted in place. It’s typical to graft certain deciduous trees as a bare rootstock in the cold season and store them till spring planting. It is done on a bench. Therefore, indoor winter grafting is sometimes referred to as bench grafting.


Most grafted plants that are available nowadays are a result of research done in past years. The practice of grafting can raise the productivity of specific horticultural plants. This is because they make it happen due to particular reasons. Robust plants, increased rate of plant growth, and new varieties of plants are some of these. For successful grafting, compatibility of the scion and rootstock and proper caring of the grafts are crucial.

Do you want to know more about horticulture and combat plant blindness? Fall and Fallow can help you with that. Listen to our weekly podcast to broaden your know-how about grafting and other horticulture practices. Click here to join our community.

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