Grafting in the gardening sense simply means taking a donor cutting (branch) from one plant, which is called a Scion. Then attaching this donor limb/Scion to another plant known as the Rootstock.
This is an old practice within the flower and fruiting worlds, yet it seems like an overlooked skill within our community. Odd, especially when you consider some of the most common issues faced by the smaller non-commercial growers. Things such as enforced plant number limitations, or the simple but ever common space restrictions that we all seem to face at one time or another.
So in theory utilizing the Grafting technique, we gain the ability to have multiple strains growing off the one mother plant. This, of course, opens up the grower’s world to more choices strain wise, whilst also keeping your plant numbers under any required levels.
Basic equipment required
- Scalpel or razor blade
- PTFE Tape (Plumbers tape)
- Clear sticky tape for first off alignment (optional)
- Plastic sealing bags (Humidity tents)
- Garden wire (Plastic coated)
- Glass of water
How to Graft
So firstly, you want to choose healthy plants to select your donor Scions from and then match these to a healthy and vibrantly growing rootstock. You can even use a male Rootstock if you so desire. Now once you’ve selected these you want to look for branching on both plants that have similar structure and girth. This is important as we’re trying to match up the different tissue levels within both graft and stock. These selected branches of similar structure become your chosen grafting pairings.
Then pick your method/style of graft. I’ve experimented with both common ways of cutting the graft point and believe the slanting single cut (Whip Graft) approach to be the best for simplicity and speed.
The other method (Cleft Graft) is to cut a V into your stock and a pointed V ending to your corresponding donor, then fit together and bind. To me this takes time and a very steady hand and can cause the graft point to start drying out.
Now please make sure both donor Scion and Rootstock are both watered plentifully at least an hour before you attempt any grafting. Then get your equipment ready and close to hand. I personally prepare my new Razorblade by running it through some spare cannabis plant matter, this to me is far better than cleaning with a substance alien to your plants! Then pre-cut your sections of tape get your glass of water handy and get ready to start the process.
Using the Whip graft technique speed is key, as simply put, the less time you have either point of the graft exposed to the air, the better! Also for the best-suited grafting sections, I try to use the straight part of the branching space between each node.
So we prepare the donor Scion by stripping away any excess foliage along its length and only leave a small amount of foliage at its growing tip, you also trim these leaves just as you would when in preparation of a Clone. With the cut itself just try and make its gradient, or angle as gradual as you can, (giving more surface area to the graft point). We cut the donor section first, as we then submerge this in water whilst preparing the rootstock side of the graft. The Rootstock side we just repeat the same process on an opposing angle to Scion’s cut, paying special attention in trying to match the angle and length up as best you can.
Then as quickly as possible, match the donor and stock graft points up, taking special note of the internal tissue layering. Once you have the best fit, give a firm squeeze. This should help the freshly cut ends weep slightly and this helps expel any water from the join and aids in the bonding. Then firmly bind up the graft point with the plumber’s tape (PTFE) making sure it’s totally sealed and bound against both light and air.
Lastly, I take a small piece of gardening wire and wrap this around the graft point forming a small coil. This will aid in meshing your graft point together as the section grows creating a stronger bond. (this is to be removed later on). Then for keeping your Scion donor cuts hydrated just sprinkle a touch of your water into your plastic self-sealing bag then cover the grafted limb with your humidity bag and sealing it up nearly all the way. (leaving a small gap for the cut to breath)
Grafting requires your lighting schedule to be set on 24/0 lights on, at least until you observe new growth from the Scion. Otherwise your graft attempts will wilt whilst lights are out and die. As for humidity and temperatures, your normal levels will be just fine.
We have to take into consideration the point that grafting or bonding of two separate plants takes time, so the turnaround between attempts can be quite slow. This itself causes issues and means grafting to smaller young plants is probably more beneficial than working with a larger plant from the start. I’ve already successfully grafted to younger plants meaning the ability to produce a small mother plant with multiple strains is indeed possible.
The Grafting process may take up to 2 weeks for a limb to fully take. This in my mind is far too long to observe and possibly still fail. So I pay attention keeping my eye out for wilting of the donor Scion. If the grafted section wilts too much immediately or doesn’t bounce back by the third day and look perky again, then to me it’s just not going to happen, so I simply remove the attempt, cut back the same stock branch slightly and go again!
I’ve now had a good number of successes with this process and honestly believe my above approach to be an efficient one for the home gardener.
Follow up to come!
Here I’ve only given the process and not talked about the after care of a multi strain mother, so it a subject that could do with some more insight.
I’ll follow up on this subject in the future discussing any further insights, such as how clones taken from grafted mothers perform in relation against its original mother. And I’ll also cover how to create a small grafting mother plant to maximise this idea’s potential.
I hope this has been of some interest and look forward to sharing again.
Researched and written by Light Addict