Burnett: The joys of budding and grafting plants in your garden

I often wonder who the first person was to take a piece of one plant and attach it onto another.

What purpose would he or she have had in doing it?

Perhaps it was an accident. After all, there are several instances in nature where roots and branches have attached themselves to each other without human help.

Whatever the purpose and whatever the situation that led to that first successful attempt, there is no doubt in my mind the excitement was no different than when I manage a good graft in my garden today.

Springtime is when scion grafting takes place.

A scion is a small piece of branch generally about pencil thickness that is inserted into a recipient tree.

The trick with scion grafting is to collect the scion wood early in the spring before bud break and store it in the refrigerator wrapped in a damp paper towel and sealed with kitchen wrap. When the recipient tree starts to bud out it is time to insert the scion.

Bud grafting is a process I find much easier to do and I recommend the beginner try this form first. The best time of year for bud grafting is coming up in early August.

The season lasts well into late August and success has even been seen into the middle of September.

It is this long window of opportunity that I think makes success more attainable than in scion grafting. In this procedure a bud is taken from a donor plant and inserted into a recipient plant.

There are two methods used, one of which is T-budding and the other is Chip-budding.

I prefer using the T-budding method on roses and chip-budding on fruit trees and ornamentals.

A few years ago I planted a Golden Jubilee peach tree in my back yard and not having the room for more than one tree, I started to bud graft other varieties onto it. I now have a tree with four varieties of peaches, a nectarine and even an almond.

If you want to have some fun, create a real conversation piece by budding several colours of climbing roses onto one plant.

This should be done using a young plant that has been in the ground for only a season or two. Insert the buds down as low as you can so all the new varieties bloom from the bottom up.

The process of budding and grafting isn’t rocket science but it does take a little knowledge and skill to get good at it.

You can learn quite easily from a good instructional book but I suggest you take in a short workshop session available at your favourite garden centre.

Once you succeed in your first graft you will be hooked!

For all the information you need to get going with some grafting in your garden I can email you my pamphlet Budding and Grafting in the Home Garden. Send your request to

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