Propagation by Budding and Grafting


Without the various techniques of budding and grafting there would be a lot less varieties of plants such as roses and rhododendrons and almost no ornamental or fruit trees.

Both budding and grafting are methods of joining together portions of two separate plants to permanently form a new plant. One plant provides the root system and is known as the 'rootstock' and the other plant, the one we want to propagate, provides the topgrowth. A growth bud or 'scion' is removed from the plant to be propagated and inserted in the rootstock where it unites and forms a new plant. In all cases of grafting or budding it is important that the 'cambium', the thin green layer just below the bark, of the scion is in close contact with the cambium of the rootstock.

Budding and grafting techniques are used to increase the stock of plants that are difficult or impossible to propagate from other methods such as cuttings or from seed, or would not be successful on their own rootstocks.

The rootstock generally imparts vigour to the variety budded or grafted onto it. Many roses and fruit varieties would be very weak if grown on their own rootstocks. The rootstock is usually of the same group or species as the variety to be propagated and is often a naturally occurring form of which the species is a cultivar.

In some instances, the rootstock can be used to keep the tree small, as in the case of apples. The main variety is grafted onto a rootstock to give standard, bush, dwarf and the newer minarette trees.

The various budding and grafting techniques are described below.

Chip Budding
Whip & Tongue Grafting
Saddle Grafting
Splice Grafting
Bridge Grafting
Approach Grafting


These further techniques are used to rejuvenate or converting old trees. A brief description of each technique is given as well as the grafting techniques involved for each.

Topworking -
Cleft Grafting
Crown (Rind) Graft
Frameworking -
Stub Graft
Inverted L-graft


Most of these grafting techniques were traditionally painted with a tree or wound paint such as Arbrex to seal the area against infections and disease spores. There are now two schools of thought as to whether this is needed or not. The newer idea is to leave the area to heal itself and that the tree heals quicker without the use of such a paint. All the grafts can be carried out with or without the paint according to your own preferences.

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Last updated 6 December, 2003
© copyright 1999, P. A. Owen