upside down grafting

BonsaiRic

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Grafting while standing on my head?.... no, just kidding :D

I have a Scotch Pine that needs some grafts to provide future branches on the main trunk which is 2-3" thick. The branches will eventually need a slight downward sweep to provide appearance of age. Once the branch has calloused for several years it would be safe to begin to wire the new branch with a downward sweep. I had some thoughts and questions about an alternative grafting orientation. Maybe I'm just making things too complicated ;)

I would like advice on a possible variation of the side-veneer graft that would allow for a downward sweep of the new branch right from the start.

Normal side-veneer grafts are cut downward so that the flap opens upward. Could the cut on the trunk be cut upward so that it opens downward (see 1st pic)? OR could the cut be sideways on the trunk to give a horizontal start? (2nd pic) I wondered if anyone knows of any plant physiology reason why this WON'T work. Also, has anyone successfully pulled this off?
Thanks,
Eric
 

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bisjoe

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I've been grafting for over 30 years and never though of trying this, but since the flow of nutrients is from the roots up, I doubt it would work unless the cambium was perfectly aligned and you had a lot of luck. I'd suggest a thread graft that you angle down, and the grafted branch could easily be wired after it takes.
 

Graydon

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Eric,

I think either option would work fine. Don't be concerned about the whole gravity thing as plants don't operate quite like that. As long as you do get good alignment on one side and the bottom it should take. I would suggest taking the scion from a very vigorous and dominant section of the tree.

Remember to use sharp clean sterile tools and to keep the scion from moving when tying it in place.
 
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Not only does grafting work either direction, it is recommended to graft your buds upside down on lower parts of the tree. An approach graft works exactly the same.

Check out my article on grafting:
Grafting as a Bonsai Tool

 
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This is a branch just above the one posted above, which is a year older. The one in the illustration above is longer and lankier, and will back bud this year.

The advantage, as you have surmised, is that bending the branch down can either dislodge the graft or look unnatural.
 

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BonsaiRic

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Great advice and pics guys, thanks!!
 

rlist

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Chris, et. al.-

What time of year do you start your grafting? Gary Wood & Mike Hagedorn recommend fall (locally defined as "when the leaves fall off your maple trees" by Gary), specifically discussing grafting black pine onto ponderosa. Obviously green house environment through the winter is required. What is recommended for your area(s)?

Also, have you done any - is it approach? - where you bend a branch in half and stick it into an oval hole cut into the branch/trunk? I have a very leggy lodgepole that was recently collected, and I will need to graft to get the proper branching. I will hire Hagedorn to do it, but was curious what you thought about the technique and timing - as with that technique I would suspect late spring would be fine.
 

darrellw

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Also, have you done any - is it approach? - where you bend a branch in half and stick it into an oval hole cut into the branch/trunk? I have a very leggy lodgepole that was recently collected, and I will need to graft to get the proper branching. I will hire Hagedorn to do it, but was curious what you thought about the technique and timing - as with that technique I would suspect late spring would be fine.
Hi Rich,

Do you mean where you thread the branch through a hole all the way through the trunk? If so, that is thread grafting. Approach grafting is where you basically set the two alongside each other.

There is probably a "best" time for both of those methods, but since neither involves removing the scion from its roots when you make the graft, you have a much larger window. And you have an indefinate period of time for the graft to take, so they are both good for first time attempts.

-Darrell
 

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Hi Rich,

Do you mean where you thread the branch through a hole all the way through the trunk? If so, that is thread grafting. Approach grafting is where you basically set the two alongside each other.

There is probably a "best" time for both of those methods, but since neither involves removing the scion from its roots when you make the graft, you have a much larger window. And you have an indefinate period of time for the graft to take, so they are both good for first time attempts.

-Darrell
No, I mean like this... Use existing branches that are long and whipy, cut an oval hole and stick them into the hole. Do not separate from the branch. This, I have heard, has very high success, though I have not done it and will get some professional help the first time around. Ignore location, direction, etc. of the sample photo - it was quick just to show what I am talking about. I think Nick Lenz has a section on it in his revised book...
 

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Tachigi

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Rich,
You can do several varieties of grafts to pines. I posted some picture of a $20.00 home depot JBP below with several different grafting procedures that were done to it.

It has been my experience that for bud grafting you take your grafting material when the tree is dormant and place them in the fridge. When the tree wakens and the sap is flowing you do your veneer or bud graft then. This obviously allows the tree to start healing around the wound immediately. Don't forget the grafting tap, paste, moss, and baggie :).

Approach grafts and thread grafts can be done just at the first sign of candle swelling. With thread grafts remove all the needles save a set of two or three. I slide a slick piece of plastic over the area to be thread and then pull the plastic through. If done carefully this is a fool proof method for grafting and achieving substantial results quickly. Approach grafts you make a groove through the cambium to match the size of the branch or scion. Then cut the grafting material to match the cambium edge exactly on the tree. This is another good method however success strictly depends on the to cambium edges meeting exactly.

The first picture is of the tree that I affectionately call Frankenstein because 60 percent of the tree is grafted. The second and third picture are thread grafts. The fourth is an approach graft. The fifth is a bud graft that has grown quite well.

Good luck Rich....give it a go...nothing will teach you better than having a go at it yourself.
 

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No, I mean like this... Use existing branches that are long and whipy, cut an oval hole and stick them into the hole. Do not separate from the branch. This, I have heard, has very high success, though I have not done it and will get some professional help the first time around. Ignore location, direction, etc. of the sample photo - it was quick just to show what I am talking about. I think Nick Lenz has a section on it in his revised book...
That's a species specific technique especially suited to something as limber as lodgepole, not really possible with JBP or scots pine.

I graft in spring when the bud just begins to move. Actually I want to do it the day before it begins to move, but that's like, "Watch when I get off the bus and get off one stop before."
 

tom tynan

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Tom:

Regarding the process of thread grafting and the JBP that you used - when you threaded the live branch thru the drilled hole - did you slice or expose and cambium of the threaded branch or does it simply grow and fuse with the cambium of the trunk - just one of the many little details concerning grafting that is useful and good to know....

Regards

Tom Tynan
 
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Tom:

Regarding the process of thread grafting and the JBP that you used - when you threaded the live branch thru the drilled hole - did you slice or expose and cambium of the threaded branch or does it simply grow and fuse with the cambium of the trunk - just one of the many little details concerning grafting that is useful and good to know....

Regards

Tom Tynan
Also, what size hole do you drill for a thread graft for JBP? Or more exactly, how big compared to the branch?
 

Tachigi

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Hiya Tom & Chris
This technique is for those of us that Carlos Mencia refers to as Dee-Dee-Dees. Its really pretty simple and fool proof. Get your drill index and grab a bit that is just a hair bigger than the candle. If the branch is wider than the candle this isn't a good candidate yet for the graft. There isn't enough energy to that branch so why waste the time. Anyway drill straight through the trunk/branch where you want the graft and thread away. The only requirement after drilling is to clean the hole edge with a sharp blade. No cambium matching, like I said fool proof. One final note Colin Lewis noted that you shouldn't apply cut paste or grafting paste (goop) to this type of graft. He feels that it is just another barrier in the way of the branch grafting. I don't know if I buy this or not. I have done both ways and seen little performance difference. I would rather apply a little protection from the nasties out there.

Hope that answered your questions
 
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Can you go into a little more detail as to what you protect the needles or hole with while threading?
 

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Can you go into a little more detail as to what you protect the needles or hole with while threading?
Thanks for the info guys. I second this request. I read "slick piece of plastic" as a straw...
 

Tachigi

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Can you go into a little more detail as to what you protect the needles or hole with while threading?
I personally use shrink film that I have left over from my days in the boat business. Its slick about 4 to 6 mils and kind of rigid. This makes it easier to thread as I roll the plastic around the candle and branch with enough slack/ loose end to poke it through the hole. Then I have a tag end to pull on. I think a good size garbage bag would work, as long as it isn't the cheap generics. Something that wont rip when pulled. Now that I think of it while writing I have used a heavy plastic drop cloth before as well. I will try a do a picture essay of the procedure and post later today.
 
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I personally use shrink film that I have left over from my days in the boat business. Its slick about 4 to 6 mils and kind of rigid. This makes it easier to thread as I roll the plastic around the candle and branch with enough slack/ loose end to poke it through the hole. Then I have a tag end to pull on. I think a good size garbage bag would work, as long as it isn't the cheap generics. Something that wont rip when pulled. Now that I think of it while writing I have used a heavy plastic drop cloth before as well. I will try a do a picture essay of the procedure and post later today.
Thanks Tom, that would be fantastic!
 

Tachigi

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OK for this we will need audience participation. Yep, I mean you :). You'll have to imagine a candle on the end of this branch and also imagine a hole that I will not be drilling today.

The first picture is of the subject / victim branch ready for the treatment.

The second picture shows that the branch has been prepared for the wrap. Note that the 3 sets of needles are at the base of the candle and will be folded forward over the length of the candle. As I mentioned before timing her is essential. The candle is swelling and in motion so the loss of needles will not damage it. In a few weeks they should start emerging from the sheath.

The third picture shows in this case a square of drop cloth that is being positioned for the wrap.

The fourth picture shows the initial fold along the branch. The inside edge is secured with small squares of masking tape. At this point you continue to fold the plastic around the branch snugly. Two wraps should do it. Trim if necessary and once again secure with masking tape.

The last picture shows what it should look like prior to the thread. Once you have wrapped the branch and candle twist gently to degrease the size of the wrap. You will be able to twist a little more once past the candle further decreasing the end to help thread it. I occasionally use 20 or 22 gauge copper as a guide when access is difficult. Keeps my mitts from doing any incidental damage to anything fragile (like another graft) while threading.

When threading you will obviously feel a small bit of resistance while it passes through. This is normal and the plastic is protecting the candle. If tension increases ( you may have undersized the hole or there is a bur) as you proceed a spray of soapy water tends to help. The only way this procedure can fail is if you force it which in turn will rip the candle off. So go slow, use common sense when it comes to tension, and don't be afraid to redrill if necessary.

Edit: After coming back and viewing this again I need to make two points. First tension is normal until you hit the spot where the branch widens. At that point it would be a good idea to stop. A firm seating is desired, don't go past that point if the candle and a small bit of the branch has made it out the other side. Do not candle this branch let it grow and thicken. The second issue is the last photo, it is deceiving. That taper is actually more extreme than what shows. I was holding it up for the camera which gives the perspective of a wrap the same width. (Kind of like holding the fish you caught out in front of you so that it looks bigger) Also with care and time the wrap can be even tighter and smoother. Taking pictures and squeezing this in today made for a rushed demo.
 

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