Many bonsai cultivators carry out grafting because they get to combine the strengths of different plants into a single plant. However, grafting can be rather difficult and is considered somewhat experimental. One of the best parts of bonsai cultivation is the fact that you have a lot of room to try out new things.
In this article, we will take an in-depth look at bonsai grafting to help you get started. We need to start by taking a look at some of the reasons why you might need to use grafting techniques.
Purposes of Grafting Bonsai Trees
In bonsai cultivation, grafting is used for various reasons, including the following: to cultivate a new tree with different characteristics, to add a branch, or to add roots. Whatever your reason for bonsai grafting, we have you covered.
Before we take a detailed look at bonsai grafting, you should understand that the entire process is somewhat tricky. It is, therefore, vital that you start with inexpensive material so that you can gain a little bit of experience. It might take awhile before you get the perfect bonsai tree, but you will get there with a little bit of patience.
Grafting a Bonsai Tree
The simple fact is that grafting will only work when the tree and graft belong to the same tree species. However, junipers and pines are an exception since they blend quite well despite belonging to different plant species.
There are three techniques usually used for bonsai grafting: approach grafting, scion grafting, and thread grafting. Let us take a closer look at the three methods that you could use for your bonsai grafting.
Grafting Bonsai Using Scion Grafting
In scion grafting, you need to remove a small branch or shoot from a parent plant, then insert it into the recipient plant. Scion grafting is applicable in broadleaf and deciduous trees, including pines. It is a great technique when you need to replace foliage or add branches to your bonsai.
However, you need to ensure that both the receiving plant and donor plant are in peak condition. You should fertilize the two plants before you carry out scion grafting.
1. Identify the terminal shoot that you need from the donor plant first. Cut off the branch or stem and remove any foliage at its base.
2. Use a sterile knife to make two cuts at the base of the scion that you just cut. Use alcohol to sterilize your sharp blade during this step. The first cut needs to be long, while the shorter cut needs to be short.
3. Identify where you need to graft your scion and use a grafting knife to cut. The cut needs to be long enough to fit the bottom end of your scion. Then slowly insert your scion into the created flap.
4. Use grafting tape to attach your scion to the receiving plant. Be careful during this step because you don’t want to crush the foliage by pulling the tape too tight.
5. The shoots should start pushing the end of your grafting tape once the graft takes hold. The first growing season will tell you whether you were successful or not.
Grafting Bonsai Using Approach Grafting
In the case of approach grafting, you attach the entire donor plant, including its roots, to your receiving plant. You need a whole donor plant to carry out approach grafting because it aims to change foliage or add branches.
1. You should start cultivating your donor plant years before you carry out the grafting process. The attachment could be done on either a branch or on the trunk.
2. Use a machine to prepare a Die Grinder or Dremel that is slightly smaller than your donor whip in diameter. Slide your whip into the created groove while ensuring that the two cambiums align perfectly.
3. Use a piece of wire to attach your whip to the recipient plant. You can then proceed to attach pre-stretched grafting tape.
Grafting Bonsai Using Thread Grafting
Thread grafting is usually performed when the deciduous plant is dormant, and all the buds have not started swelling.
1. Check the size of the graft branch to help you determine the bit size that you need. Insert the bit using a drill through the trunk. It needs to go through one side and exit through the other for better results. The hole should, therefore, be straight and clean.
2. Use an aluminum wire to ensure that you bend the thread graft accordingly. You need to exercise a lot of caution during this step because you might end up damaging the thread graft.
3. Leave the graft untouched for the entire season. You can then remove the cut paste the following spring and check on the progress.
Bonsai grafting is quite experimental, and you will experience numerous setbacks. However, with a lot of practice, you will get it right. Ensure that you exercise precision during grafting to get you the desired results.