How to graft plants?

Scion selection

A scion is a piece of vegetative material taken from a tree that produces the fruit variety you want to graft.

First thing is to decide what variety you want. Consider taste, season and keeping qualities, and varietal suitability for your site regarding pest and disease resistances and vulnerabilities.

One year wood

When selecting scion wood you want to find last year’s growth, ideally shoots that are about pencil thick. Find one year wood by following a new growth branch tip down towards the older wood until you find a growth scar. Growth scars often appear as a cluster of little ridges or rings on the wood. Anything that has spurs coming out of it is older than one year old.

Year-wood will not normally have any fruit buds, which are usually found on wood that is two years or older. However it is worth checking that you don’t have any fruit buds on the scion wood you have selected as if your graft wood flowers in the first year the growth buds will drop off and so kill your graft. You can tell fruit buds apart as they are normally fatter and often have developed slightly downy scales, they often also have a small rosette of leaves around them. Growth buds are more slender and lie closer to the stem.

If you want to graft using material from an old tree, you might find that it doesn’t have a huge amount of new growth from which to cut your scion material. If so, your tree can be stimulated into producing vigorous new growth through winter pruning. Winter prune harder than you would ordinarily, perhaps taking out a whole branch, and by spring it should be growing lots of new shoots that can be cut for scion wood the following winter.

Timing

Scion wood should be cut in late winter or early spring when your tree is dormant, that is, not in active growth and before bud-burst. This is absolutely crucial to the success of any grafting you do from these scions. Fruit trees are dormant through the winter months, so material can be collected any time until about February.

The best time to cut your scion is just before you graft with it as scion wood can lose its vitality as it dries out over time. However this is not always possible, and sometimes you will need to store the wood before cutting it. If you cut your scion material early in winter you need to store it longer in cold storage sealed in a plastic bag. For this reason it is generally advised to cut in the late winter rather than early, minimising the time in storage.

Size and shape

The size, shape and number of scion wood twigs you collect is going to depend on what you are using them for.

For bench grafting, you are aiming to collect straight growth of roughly pencil thickness, which is the rough thickness of the rootstock you will be grafting to. Having the rootstock and scion material the same thickness enables more cambial contact so increases the likelihood and strength of your graft join. Cut these right back to just before the growth scar. The end will dry out and be cut off before grafting, so this gives you the most amount of year-wood to work with. When bench grafting you aim to use 3-4 buds, which means depending on the length of new growth on your tree, you may be able to graft several new trees from each scion.

For framework grafting, you will need more scions, depending on the size of the tree you are frameworking. When framework grafting you generally use material scions of 7-9 buds long, so also bear in mind you will get fewer grafts from each scion cut. When cutting wood for frameworking, you don’t need to avoid the slightly bent or curved new growth, as these can actually be useful to graft new branches to your framework in the direction you want them to grow. A variety of thicknesses is also useful for framework grafting so you can relax the rule about pencil thickness wood slightly. This is because you will be grafting to framework branches of different sizes.

Label!

After cutting the scions, it is important to bundle them up and label before storing them. Even with the worlds best intentions, it is easy to forget which bundle is which variety or which tree it came from.

Storage

Having cut your scion material whilst dormant, you need to keep it this way until you graft it. This means putting it in cold storage, with enough moisture so that it doesn’t dry out and die, but not enough to risk rotting.

To store your scion wood you have two main options, refrigeration or ‘heeling in’ until they are needed.

If storing in the fridge, wrap your scions in damp paper towels and seal in a plastic bag to lock the moisture in. Make sure there is no fruit in the fridge as this will reduce the success rates of your stored scions. This is because fruits naturally release ethylene, a hormone that promotes ripening. As little as 4 parts per million of ethylene, is enough to penetrate the lenticils and cause the buds to later drop off and die.

If you don’t have the refrigeration capacity, then you can heel your scions into a ditch or large container filled with damp sand and soil mixture and placed against a north-facing wall. If you are choosing this method of scion storage you will need to cut your scions longer than usual, as the base will slightly dry out and become useless for grafting.

Download

Download this guide to Scion Selection

Collecting and Handling Scion Wood for Grafting Apple and Nut Trees

Michele Warmund
University of Missouri
(573) 882-9632

Published: February 1, 2009


Grafting is most commonly used to perpetuate a favorite apple or nut tree, without changing the characteristics of the fruit. Trees that are not currently patented may used for collecting scion wood. When grafting, the scion produces the new shoots for the tree and produces the desired fruit, while the rootstock is the lower portion of the graft, which forms the root system. While these trees are grafted just as the rootstock buds start to grow, the buds on the scion wood must be dormant at the time of grafting. Thus, February is an ideal time to collect scion wood for spring grafting. an ideal time to collect scion wood for spring grafting. Commonly used methods for spring grafting include “whip and tongue” and “cleft” grafting. Refer to http://extension.missouri.edu/explore/agguides/hort/g06971.htm for descriptions of these techniques.

When collecting scion wood, it should be disease-free and should be the same diameter as that of the rootstock used for grafting. Typically, scion wood will be ¼ to ½ inch in diameter and 12 to 18 inches long. The scion wood should be from terminal (one-year-old) dormant shoots with well-developed vegetative buds that are narrow and pointed. In contrast, floral buds, which should be avoided, are round and plump. Terminal wood well-exposed to sunlight during the previous growing season generally produces excellent scion wood. On the terminal shoots, the best scions are produced from the basal two-thirds of the shoots. Buds in this portion of the shoot are mature and have short internodes. Buds growing at the very tip of the shoot should be discarded because they are often too succulent and are too low in stored carbohydrates to produce vigorous growth after grafting.

After cutting scion wood, it can be sealed in polyethylene bags to prevent moisture loss and stored for three months at 32ºF until grafting. Storage at lower temperatures in a home freezer (usually 0ºF) can injury the buds. Temperatures warmer than 32ºF, will shorten the storage life of the scion wood. Using scion buds that have begun to grow while in cold storage will result in grafting failure.

Grafting tips: Collecting and storing scion wood

If you are planning to do some grafting this year, December through February is the time to collect and store your Scion wood. See page 49 in the new 2014 Raintree Nursery catalog for more information.

You need the previous seasons’ healthy vegetative growth for the scion (the shoot you cut from a desired variety that is used to propagate a new tree). Water sprout wood (the vigorous vertical growing shoots you normally remove from the center of the tree when you prune), or the terminal end of major growth at the top of the tree and the south side of the tree, will be most likely to have the flat pointed vegetative buds you need instead of the plump fruit buds you don’t need.

  • The wood needs to be about pencil diameter, and can be cut to 8-12” long for convenience.
  • Clean the wood with a mild bleach solution (1 tsp bleach/ 1 quart of water), dry, and place it in a plastic bag.
  • Put a barely moist (completely wrung out) paper towel in the bag to provide humidity, seal and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to graft.

Scion wood, properly cleaned and not too wet or dry, can be stored 3-6 months; scion wood from early spring blooming plants will only store about 3 months. See the rootstock page in our catalog for more information on collecting and storing and to select the rootstocks you will need to graft on.

Take a look at the grafting supplies we offer for sale at Raintree Nursery. Want more information? We offer Budding & Grafting Fruit Trees, an 8-page guide from the University of California with closeup photos and text on how to bud and graft trees.

In South Louisiana, all of the citrus trees we grow are grafted. So, too, are many other fruit and nut trees, rose bushes and camellia plants.

Grafting is a common horticulture technique. It’s an efficient method of propagation that produces offspring genetically identical to the original plant.

While grafting is a familiar term, a true understanding of what it is and why it’s done is not so common. So let’s explore it.

What is grafting?

Grafting typically involves joining together parts of two plants to function as a single plant. One of the plants provides the lower trunk and root system. It’s called the stock or rootstock. The other plant provides the upper portion (stems, leaves, flowers and fruit) that has the desirable characteristics (beautiful flowers or delicious fruit) called the scion.

More than one genetically different scion may be grafted onto the same rootstock. (You may see fruit trees with more than one cultivar grafted onto the same rootstock.)

Budding is a variation on grafting that utilizes individual buds in the process. Whether grafting or budding, the rootstock and scion must be closely related and compatible for the graft to be successful.

There are many grafting and budding techniques. But in general, a wound of some type is made on the stock plant. A piece of the scion plant is then inserted into the wound.

This is not so different from transplanting organs in humans. Parts of two different people come together to form a single, functioning individual. And, just like connections to blood vessels must be made between the donated organ and the host, the circulatory system of the stock and the scion must link up for the graft to take and the scion to survive.

This is accomplished by the cambium layer in the stem, a part of the circulatory system of plants. When the stock and the scion are put together properly, the cells in their cambium layers begin to divide rapidly and form a tissue called callus.

Eventually, the callus tissue forms a bridge that allows the circulatory system of the stock and scion to heal together.

That means the roots of the stock can provide water and minerals to the scion, and the scion can produce food in its leaves and send it down to the roots of the stock. This creates a functioning plant composed of two genetically different parts.

The point at which the stock and scion join together is called the graft union.

Why we graft

As in other methods of vegetative or asexual plant propagation — cutting, division, layering and tissue culture — grafting allows us to create exact genetic duplicates of superior individual plants.

If you find a superior pecan tree, for instance, grafting allows the efficient creation of thousands of pecan trees with those exact, superior characteristics. And grafted fruit trees will bloom and produce sooner than those propagated by seeds (which do not produce genetically identical offspring) or cuttings.

Grafting and budding are commonly used to propagate most fruit and nut tree cultivars.

Rose cultivars are still commonly grafted, although growing them on their own roots

is becoming increasingly popular. Camellias are usually grafted onto sasanqua rootstock.

The ability of a fruit or nut tree to produce fruit or nuts does not depend on grafting. People often tell me they’ve been told that a seedling pecan tree will not produce nuts unless it is grafted. A pecan seedling is perfectly capable of producing pecans when it gets old enough. But the quality of the nuts it will produce is unknown, and chances are, any seedling pecan will produce nuts of mediocre quality.

Purchasing a named grafted pecan (or apple, peach, pear or citrus) tree allows us to plant a tree we know will produce superior quality fruit and also may have other desirable characteristics, such as disease resistance.

Grafting also may provide other benefits. Grafting a plant whose roots are prone to a soil disease onto a rootstock that is resistant to that disease would allow that plant to grow successfully where it would otherwise have problems.

Some plants grow more vigorously when grafted onto a rootstock, an important reason why it has been so common to graft camellias and roses.

Dwarfing rootstocks also can do the opposite, and cause a fruit tree to grow less vigorously and stay smaller.

When citrus trees are grafted onto the Flying Dragon trifoliate orange rootstock, for instance, it makes them grow smaller than they would on other types of rootstocks. This is ideal for spots where a smaller-growing tree is desirable.

For our citrus trees, the most common rootstock is the trifoliate orange. When citrus cultivars are grafted onto a trifoliate orange stock, it causes the citrus cultivar to be a few degrees hardier — important to us during those winters when severe freezes occur.

Don’t let the stock sprout

Speaking of citrus, there is a potential problem with citrus trees — and grafted plants in general. The rootstock is never intended to grow. Remember, it’s genetically different from the scion.

If you allow the trifoliate orange rootstock to sprout and grow, it will ruin your tree. The rootstock grows very vigorously and can eventually crowd out the desirable scion (the satsuma, navel orange, grapefruit or lemon, for instance), and take over the tree.

The trifoliate orange rootstock produces round, yellow, seedy, bitter-sour fruit. If you ever see a section of your citrus tree producing different leaves and different fruit than the rest of the tree, you know the rootstock has sprouted and been allowed to grow.

Prune the sprouts growing from the rootstock back to the trunk where they originate.

Whenever you are growing a grafted plant, be aware of this and watch for vigorous shoots appearing from below the graft union. Remove them to their point of origin as soon as they are noticed.

While grafting techniques are not difficult to understand or duplicate, they can be challenging to master. It usually takes time and practice for a home gardener to develop the skill needed to successfully graft plants.

But that’s OK. For the overwhelming majority of gardeners, grafting is not a skill needed to accomplish a beautiful, vibrant garden. But it’s still good to understand what it is and why it is done.

Get Grafting

  • scion (this can be taken straight from a tree that you want to propagate)
  • secateurs
  • a grafting or budding knife*
  • grafting tape*
  • *available from good nurseries and online

    WHIP AND TONGUE GRAFT

    • cut a scion about 10-20cm in length
    • Cut the rootstock to about 20-30cm from the ground
    • Using a grafting knife, make a sloping cut around 2.5-3cm long, then make another slice through the middle
    • do the same to the scion wood, then fit them neatly together
    • wrap up the graft with the grafting tape
    • prune back the scion to just two or three buds
    • in a few weeks the scion should begin to shoot – which means it’s time to remove the tape

    CLEFT OR ‘V’ GRAFT

    • Slice the rootstock stem make two sloping cuts, about 2.5-3cm long, to create a V-shaped wedge
    • Make two corresponding cuts in the scion, then repeat the steps above

    DID YOU KNOW …?

    The cambium is the growing tissue of trees and can be seen as the green layer just underneath the bark. It’s this growing layer that has to make good contact in order for the rootstock to make a successful union with the scion. Do this well and your graft will take readily

    Grafting

    Ray R. Rothenberger and Christopher J. Starbuck
    Department of Horticulture

    Grafting is the act of joining two plants together. The upper part of the graft (the scion) becomes the top of the plant, the lower portion (the understock) becomes the root system or part of the trunk. Although grafting usually refers to joining only two plants, it may be a combination of several. A third plant added between two others becomes the trunk or a portion of it. This is called an interstem. Multiple grafts may produce an apple tree with several varieties or a rose-of-Sharon shrub with several different colors of flowers.

    Why graft?

    Some cultivars (varieties) of plants do not come true from seeds. Others are difficult or impossible to reproduce from cuttings or other propagation techniques. Grafting (topworking) is a way to change a large tree from an old to a new variety. It is also a method of using a root system better adapted to soil or climate than that produced naturally by an ungrafted plant. By using special understocks or interstems, grafting is a way to produce dwarf plants.

    What are the limitations?

    Not all plants can be grafted. Generally, only plants closely related botanically form a good graft union. Grafting is not a means of developing new varieties. The stock and scion must be compatible. Incompatible grafts may not form a union, or the union may be weak. A poor union results in plants that either grow poorly, break off or eventually die.

    The compatibility of plants has been determined through many years of trial. There is no other way to determine whether or not two plants will produce a good graft union. This publication will help you make a decision about the possibility.

    What can be grafted?

    Most varieties of a particular fruit or flowering species are interchangeable and can be grafted. Because of differences in vigor, some are better able to support others as understocks. For example, although a union is possible, sour cherry is not a good understock for sweet cherry. Sweet cherry is more commonly grafted onto Mazzard (Prunus avium) or Mahaleb (P. mahaleb) seedlings.

    Plants of the same botanical genus and species can usually be grafted even though they are a different variety. Plants with the same genus but of a different species often can be grafted. But the result may be weak or short-lived, or they may not unite at all.

    Plants of different genera are less successfully grafted, although there are some cases where this is possible. For example, quince, genus Cydonia, may be used as a dwarfing rootstock for pear, genus Pyrus.

    Plants of different families cannot be grafted successfully. Although it has been reported that relatively short-lived grafts of herbaceous plants of different families have been made, there is no successful practice for commercial or home grafting of woody plants of different families.

    It is sometimes believed that two plants can be made into a genetically different plant by the process of grafting. However, there is no basis for this idea. Although there are cases where a different type of shoot develops from the graft union, this is the result of a chimera, a type of mutation. This is not a true intermingling of the genetic structure of two different plants as occurs in seed-produced hybrids.

    When is the time to graft?

    Most grafting is done in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. The best time is after the chance of severe cold has passed but well before hot weather arrives. Scion wood may be collected during the winter. Store it in a cold, moist place at temperatures close to 34 degrees Fahrenheit. At home, a few scions could be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator with moist paper towels, or they could be dipped in paraffin so they retain moisture.

    What materials are needed?

    • Knife
      A good-quality knife, able to hold a sharp edge, is the key to good grafting. Although special grafting and budding knives are desirable, you can use almost any good pocketknife. Keep material to sharpen the knife handy.
    • Grafting wax
      After the graft is made, some covering must be used to keep it from drying out. Either hand wax or brush wax may be used. A hand wax is most commonly used for home grafting. It is softened by the heat of the hand and can be easily applied. Heated waxes may be brushed on, but make sure the wax is not too hot. Heat could damage the tender cambial tissue.
    • Grafting tape
      This is a special tape with a cloth backing that decomposes before girdling can occur. Tapes may be used for binding grafts where there is not enough natural pressure. Electrical and masking tapes are also used. Masking tape is suitable where little pressure is required, as in the whip graft.
    • Budding strips
      Budding strips are elastic bands. They look like a wide rubber band that has been cut open. Budding strips secure several types of grafts with small stocks and scions.
    • Nails
      Veneer, bridge and inarching grafts require long, thin nails. Half-inch nails are long enough for most grafts, except for bridge grafting, which may require 3/4-inch nails.
    • Grafting tool
      Specially designed tools have been developed for grafting. The most common one is used for cleft grafting. It has a blade used to split the stub and a wedge to hold the split open while the scions are inserted. If this tool is unavailable, use a heavy knife and a fairly wide wedge, at least 2 inches long, for cleft grafting. Use a mallet or hammer to pound the grafting tool or heavy knife into the stub. Split the stub and insert the wedge to open the split.

    What grafting technique?

    Grafting techniques can be divided into two basic types, which are largely determined by the size of the understock. In some cases, a graft may be made to join a scion and understock of nearly equal size. The other type attaches a small scion to a much larger understock. In this case, several scions may be attached to the understock as in cleft or bark grafting.

    Figure 1
    Whip graft

    A. Cuts for the whip graft must be smooth and straight.

    B. Cut again to form the tongue.

    C. Push stock and scion tightly together.

    D. Wrap graft to keep cuts tight and to prevent drying.

    E. Whip and tongue graft with scion attached to root system.

    Grafts with similar scion and understock sizes

    Whip graft, bench graft
    The whip graft (Figure 1) is fairly easy and heals rapidly. It works best when the stock and scion are of similar diameter, preferably between 1/4 and 1/2 inch.

    The stock can be either a plant growing in the field or a dormant bareroot plant as in a bench grafting. The stock should be smooth and straight-grained. Do not graft near a point where side twigs or branches have developed.

    The scion should be 1-year-old wood, preferably the same size as the stock. If the stock is larger than the scion, contact can be made on only one side. The scion should never be larger than the stock.

    • Preparing the stock and scion
      For this technique, the cuts made in both stock and scion should match. On both parts, make a smooth sloping cut 1 to 2-1/2 inches long depending on the thickness of the material (Figure 1a). Make the first cut with a single, smooth cut with no waves or whittling. The beginner should practice by cutting extra twigs. A good-quality, sharp knife is essential.
    • Cutting the stock
      The stock may be (for a bench graft) a stem and root system of a young plant or a piece of root. Make a slanting cut about 2 inches from the butt (start of root system) of the young whip.
      Although grafts may be made with a simple union of two slanting cuts, the strongest graft results from a whip-and-tongue system (Figure 3). To form the tongue, hold the one-sided, slanting cut facing you and support it with your finger. About one-third down from the tip of this cut, make a downward cut about 1/2 inch long as close to parallel with the grain of the wood as possible (Figure 1b).
    • Cutting the scion
      The cutting procedure should be exactly the same as that for the stock. The only difference is that the cuts are made at the bottom of the scion piece, whereas they were made at the top of the stock. The more similar the cuts on the two pieces, the greater chances of a successful graft union.
    • Fitting the stock and scion
      After the cuts are made on both parts, push them together tightly enough so that the cut surfaces match as closely as possible (Figure 1c). The cambial area (area immediately under the bark) of both pieces must be aligned for a union to develop. If the scion and stock are not the same size, match the cambiums on one side only. The lower tip of the scion should not hang over the stock.
    • Wrapping the graft
      In most cases, it is safer and better to wrap the graft to keep it tight to prevent drying (Figures 1d and 1e). Wrap the graft with a rubber budding strip, grafting tape or a plastic tape such as electrical tape. If the wrapping material does not decay naturally, cut it about a month after growth begins.
    • Waxing
      To prevent the graft union from drying, the area should be waxed. Cover the wrapped area with wax as uniformly as possible. In wrapping and waxing, be careful not to dislodge the aligned cambial areas.

    Figure 2
    Cleft graft

    A. Cut stock smoothly. Trim any rough edges with a knife.

    B. Split stock, and open with a grafting tool.

    C. Make a long, smooth cut to prepare scion.

    D. Cut again to make a pie-shaped wedge.

    E. Promptly insert scion into stock after cutting.

    F. Cambium layers must match closely.

    G. A very slight slant can ensure cambial contact.

    H. After insertion, wax thoroughly to prevent drying.

    I. After the first year, shorten one scion to allow the other to develop.

    Grafts with small scions and large understocks

    The cleft graft
    The cleft graft (Figure 2) is most commonly used to topwork a tree; that is, to change from one variety to another. It can be used on either young or mature trees. Young trees may be cleft grafted on the trunk, while older trees are grafted on branches not more than 2-1/2 inches in diameter. Branches fully exposed to sunlight and in the main stream of sap flow are more successful than those in shaded or inactive areas. Grafts on upright branches grow better than those on horizontal branches.

    • Preparing the stock
      Branches of large trees or the trunk of a small tree must be sawed off to provide a stock for the scions. Select a smooth, knot-free, straight-grained section. Saw the branch off at a right angle to the grain (Figure 2a). Don’t tear or split the bark. If the saw cut is not smooth, use a knife to trim off the rough edges. The bark must be tight to form a successful graft. Using a grafting tool, or a heavy knife that may be tapped with a mallet, drive the blade into the stub to split the stock through the center so a split extends about 2 inches into the branch (Figure 2b).
    • Preparing the scion
      The scion for the cleft graft should be made from 1-year-old wood about 1/4 inch in diameter. Usually, it is best to cut the scion long with three buds so it can be inserted with the lowest bud just above the stock. Always note which is top and bottom of a scion stick. A scion will not grow if inserted upside down.
      Start below the lowest bud, and make a long, smooth cut toward the base(Figure 2c). The cut should have a surface 1 to 1-1/2 inches long. Turn the scion to the opposite side and make a second smooth cut of the same length so that one side (the side containing the lowest bud) is slightly thicker than the other side (Figure 2d). The wedge that is formed does not need a sharp point; a blunt point is preferable. Do not use more than three buds. If wood is scarce, two buds should give good results.
    • Inserting the scion
      With a grafting chisel or a small wedge, open the crack wide enough to insert the scion easily (Figure 2e). Insert the scion with the thicker side toward the outside with the cambiums in contact (Figure 2f). Although maximum contact is obtained with straight positioning, a slight slant may help ensure contact (Figure 2g). The best contact point is about 1/4 inch below the shoulder of the stock. After properly positioning the scion, remove the wedge or chisel from the slit. The pressure of the stock against the scion should be greatest where the cambiums touch. When the scion is placed in the crack, the cut surface of the scion wedge should be almost entirely hidden.
      Two scions are usually inserted in each slit, one at each side. This gives a better chance for getting at least one graft to grow.
    • Waxing the cleft graft
      The cleft graft should be waxed so that all cut surfaces are covered (Figure 2h). Cracks sometimes develop as the wax sets. Check wax after a few days and again after several weeks to ensure that all surfaces are kept covered.
    • Caring for the graft
      After the graft begins to grow, it must also be given attention. During the first season, don’t prune branches that grow. Grafts that grow vigorously may need to have the tips pinched out to stimulate branching. Very long shoots may break loose during strong winds. Cleft grafts should grow vigorously and need only light pruning to shape their development (Figure 2i). Never prune heavily.
      After the first year, some training and branch selection may be necessary. Do this at the usual pruning time in late winter or early spring. If both scions in a cleft grow, shorten one to allow the other to develop and become dominant. Do not remove the second graft until later, because it will help to cover the wound faster.
      In topworking large trees, it is best to graft about half the branches the first year and the second half the next. Start with the upper center limbs the first year. The best time to topwork is just as growth begins in the spring; however, it can be done several weeks earlier or later.

    Figure 3
    Bark graft

    A. Stock may be prepared with a single cut, left, or a double cut.

    B. Cut scion to form a shoulder.

    C. For single cut, left, insert scion under bark, making a tight fit. For double cut, use small nails to secure scions.

    Bark graft (veneer graft)
    Bark grafting (Figure 3) is relatively easy and requires no special tools. It is similar to cleft grafting and may be performed on branches ranging from 1 inch to several inches in diameter.

    • Stock preparation
      The branch or trunk is cut off at a right angle in the same manner as described for cleft grafting. The bark graft can be made only when the bark slips or easily separates from the wood. This usually is in early spring as growth begins.
      Several techniques can be used on the stock for the bark graft (Figure 3a):
      • Make a slit in the bark about 3/4 inch long.
      • Make two slits in the bark separated by the width of the scion.
    • Scion preparation
      The scions should be dormant, so gather deciduous plants before that time and keep them wrapped in plastic under refrigeration to prevent drying.
      The scion should be 4 to 5 inches long with two to three buds. Prepare the base of the scion by cutting inward 1-1/2 to 2 inches from the base then downward, forming a shoulder and long, smooth cut (Figure 3b). The long cut should extend about one-third through the twig, keeping its base strong enough to insert but not too thick. On the side opposite the long cut, make a short cut to give the base of the scion a wedge shape for easier insertion.
    • Inserting the scion
      A knife may be used to lift the bark at the top of the slit but may not always be necessary. Push the scion down and center it in the slit or between both slits if the double slit method is used. Insert the scion until the shoulder rests on the stub (Figure 3c). If the scion is large enough, one or two small nails may be used to tighten the scion to the stock. Some prefer to use electrical tape or masking tape to pull the surfaces tight. In some cases, the bark may not split or tear and nailing or wrapping is not necessary. In all cases, the graft should be thoroughly protected with wax over all open surfaces after it is completed.

    Figure 4
    Side graft

    A. Cut scion to form a short, smooth edge.

    B. Make a slanting cut into the stock.

    C. Insert scion so that cuts on thicker side match the cambium of the stock.

    D. Cut off the top of the stock only after growth begins.

    Side graft, stub graft
    The side graft is relatively simple and is suitable for plants that are too large for a whip graft but not large enough for cleft or bark grafts (Figure 4). The plant or branch that will serve as the stock should be between 1 and 2 inches in diameter. The material for the scion should be about 1/4 inch in diameter.

    • Preparing the scion
      The scion should contain two to three buds and be about 3 inches long. Make a wedge at the end of the scion similar to that made for cleft grafting, but it should be shorter (Figure 4a). Make one side slightly thicker than the other. It is not necessary to make the cuts more than 1 inch long. As with all grafting cuts, they must be made straight and smooth, with a single movement of a sharp knife.
    • Preparing the understock
      Select a smooth area near the base. Use a sharp knife to make a slanting cut into the stock cutting (Figure 4b). The cut should angle downward and extend about halfway through the branch.
    • Inserting the scion
      Pull the upper part of the stock back to open the cut. Insert the scion into the open cut with the slightly thicker side lying along the cambium. Set the scion at a slight angle to give maximum contact (Figure 4c). When the top is released, the scion should be held in place, so no tacking or wrapping is necessary. Some people prefer to tack or wrap the union. Do this carefully, so the cambial alignment is not disturbed. The stock or stock branch should then be cut off 5 to 6 inches beyond the graft. Also, remove any lateral branches on the stub that might crowd the graft as it begins to grow. Wax the graft carefully so that all cut surfaces are covered. The tip of the scion, as well as any open wounds made by removing lateral twigs on the branch, should also be waxed. After several weeks, when the scion has started growth, the remainder of the stock should be carefully cut closer to the graft, and the new cut should be waxed (Figure 4d).

    Grafting tips

    Scion
    Scion wood should always be dormant. Scion wood should be made from previous season’s growth and have a diameter of 1/4 to 3/8 inch. Store the scion in moist sphagnum moss, sand or a plastic bag in a cool place. It must be kept moist and cool until used. After the cuts are made, scions must be inserted immediately, or cuts should be kept moist until used.

    Scion wood should be made of twig sections with two to three buds each. Discard the tip of scion wood and recut the base before grafting.

    Timing
    The best time for grafting is in the spring just as growth starts. When necessary, grafting can start several weeks before growth is expected and can continue a few weeks after growth has started, if you have dormant scion wood in storage and if weather is not exceptionally warm.

    Other suggestions
    The stock and scion must have cambial contact for union and growth to take place. All cut surfaces must be covered and kept covered with grafting wax until complete healing has occurred. In a few techniques, alternate methods for maintaining moisture in the union are used. But if you are grafting only a few plants, you will find waxing the graft most satisfactory.

    After the graft has taken and growth has started, cut off any side shoots or competing twigs that would shade or compete with the development of the new graft.

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    Audio clip 1
    The banana graft can be used for slightly older plants where stock and scion are about the same size. The stock is peeled as shown and the wood is cut.

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    Audio clip 2
    Here the wood has been removed from the stock and is ready to receive the scion, which is being prepared.

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    Audio clip 3
    Apple plants joined by whip-and-tongue grafting.

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    Audio clip 4
    After the stock and scion are fitted together, they are wrapped to keep the union tight and moist. After healing through the winter, they will be ready for the field by spring.

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    Audio clip 5
    For a cleft graft, where the stub is split, two scions are normally used.

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    Audio clip 6
    This scion of pecan being prepared for bark grafting will be fit on a section of the 1-1/2-inch pecan seedling rootstock that has been cleared of bark.

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    Audio clip 7
    After completing the grafting process, promptly cover the union to keep the graft cool and moist.

    scion

    English

    Alternative forms

    Variant spellings

    Etymology

    Pronunciation

    • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈsaɪən/
    • (US) IPA(key): /ˈsaɪ.ən/, /ˈsaɪ.ɑn/
    • Audio (US) (file)
    • Rhymes: -aɪən

    Noun

    scion (plural scions)

    1. A descendant, especially a first-generation descendant.
    2. A detached shoot or twig containing buds from a woody plant, used in grafting; a shoot or twig in a general sense.
    3. The heir to a throne.
    4. A guardian.

    Quotations

    • 1826, Mary Shelley, The Last Man, volume 3, chapter 1: No senate seats in council for the dead; no scion of a time-honoured dynasty pants to rule over the inhabitants of a charnel house; the general’s hand is cold, and the soldier has his untimely grave dug in his native fields, unhonoured, though in youth.
    • 1956, Delano Ames, chapter 9, in Crime out of Mind‎:Rudolf was the bold, bad Baron of traditional melodrama. Irene was young, as pretty as a picture, fresh from a music academy in England. He was the scion of an ancient noble family; she an orphan without money or friends.
    • 1966, Sholem Aleichem, An Early Passover, Clifton Pub. Co., paperback edition, page 24: It was said to him that those people were the scions of Zion.
    • 1986, David Leavitt, The Lost Language of Cranes, Penguin, paperback edition, page 72: He could show his parents Eliot, scion of Derek Moulthorp, and then how could they say he was throwing his life away?

    Translations

    descendant (detached) shoot or twig heir to a throne

    Trivia

    One of three common words ending in -cion, the rest of which are coercion and suspicion.

    References

    Anagrams

    • Nicos, cions, coins, icons, sonic

    French

    • IPA(key): /sjɔ̃/

    scion m (plural scions)

    1. scion (detached twig)
    2. tip of a fishing rod

    Synonyms

    • (detached twig): greffon

    See also

    • (tip of fishing rod): canne

    Further reading

    • “scion” in le Trésor de la langue française informatisé (The Digitized Treasury of the French Language).
    • ‘He has been identified, or at least in the eyes of his critics, as the scion of important political family, one in which he’s had to do very little on his own to be successful.’
    • ‘The scion of a courtier family with wealthy estates in Buckinghamshire and Yorkshire, he received a gentleman’s education at Oxford and the Inns of Court, before embarking on the Grand Tour of Europe.’
    • ‘John was the scion of a family that thrived on back-stabbing.’
    • ‘He is the scion of a wealthy Saudi family that made its fortune in the construction business.’
    • ‘Even more infuriating to people like her, poorer students sometimes pass the entrance exams while scions of wealthy families fail to make the grade.’
    • ‘She is after all the scion of mighty kings, no matter how ill-gotten she may be.’
    • ‘Companies of cadets (a term originally meaning the younger scions of noble houses) were first formed in France in 1682, to teach young noblemen the duties of an officer.’
    • ‘She saw all the scions of London society standing around gossiping about the young people on the dance floor.’
    • ‘It might seem non-egalitarian, but consider that for the past two years we’ve been trying to ratify the succession of one of two political dynasties – neither of whose scions has had a non-political aspiration since birth.’
    • ‘Investment management was originally more of an art form than a science, gut instinct and personal knowledge being the main weapons of many of the scions of Wall Street whose eponymous practices now dominate the world.’
    • ‘Is a global social conscience a luxury only the pampered scions of the middle classes can afford?’
    • ‘Her genetic legacy (and her mother’s, and her mother’s mother’s…) abides in her scions.’
    • ‘Up north, the Yankees are in disarray as former scions of industry go on trial and the stock market does a passable impersonation of a weapon of mass destruction.’
    • ‘How can we Americans, scions of Jefferson and Paine that we are, ever rest easy if we allow such a capitulation to take place?’
    • ‘The other night I dined with him and his charming hosts, scions of one of America’s oldest corporations.’
    • ‘Like their ancestors, the scions of pre-Hispanic rulers were especially keen patrons.’
    • ‘However, with the results of our experiments with the scion’s blood sample, it is possible that a cure may be devised for this malady.’
    • ‘Remember, no matter how the scion may seem, so long as there is light in his eyes, there is still hope.’
    • ‘George Washington was a scion and leader of Virginia’s landed, slaveowning gentry.’
    • ‘Every so often I try and re-invent myself as a scion of publishing and literature.’

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