grafting cactus and succulents

Grafting Cactus and Succulents

(Note: GRAFTED CACTUS may exhibit combinations of forms not found in nature, depending upon the imagination of the propagator.)

GRAFTING TECHNIQUES This is a somewhat more complicated way of producing more plants than is propagation from cuttings or seed. However, grafting offers the hobbyist several avenues of equally fascinating growing. The technique can be used to create or preserve plant oddities (crests and other unusual shapes), and it is also a way to get difficult plants to take root. In addition, grafted plants frequently grow more quickly and vigorously than if they were propagated from cuttings.

cactus and succulents photoNot all succulents can be grafted; only members of the cactus, milkweed, and euphorbia families that have a definite cambium or growth layer will be successful. Grafting is best done during the growing season from May to October. It is then that plants are vigorous and with enough sap flowing to insure a perfect union of all parts. There are three grafting methods: flat, cleft, and side. The flat graft is easiest fitting a flat base to a flat top. After selecting the stock, make a transverse cut with a clean sharp knife on each plant, then press the two flat surfaces together.

grafting cactus and succulentsUse rubber bands, string, or toothpicks to hold the graft union in place. The cleft graft fits a wedge-shaped base into a "v" cut. Join the two pieces together with a spine or tie them with string. The third method is a side graft, in which both plants are cut on a slant and respective pieces joined with string until a union is formed. Be sure the plant used as grafting stock is healthy and vigorous; it must support the scion until it is ready to be grown alone. Take plump, fresh scions from firm growing tips or new offshoots.

grafting and cutting cactus and succulentsThe success of grafting depends greatly upon fitting the cut surfaces evenly together so that the growth layers of both parts will be in contact with each other. Keep the cuts free of dirt and dust; if running sap becomes a problem, soak the parts in water for a few minutes to dissolve the sap. Give grafted plants slight shade for a day or two. Thereafter, check occasionally to be sure the rubber bands or string are not too tight on the plant. Do not sprinkle newly grafted plants. Spines used to secure unions will dissolve within the plant without a trace; toothpicks will have to be removed later and will leave a slight scar.

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