So far this year most of the evergreen conifer grafting is complete; this includes the Abies, Pines, Piceas, & Cryptomeria. The deciduous conifers; Gingko, Metasequoia & Taxoidiums are yet to be grafted. Grafting typically commences in January and finishes at the end of February, this is because the plants are in dormancy, so the sap doesn’t flow into the stems.
Grafting is an ancient technique that has been practised for thousands of years, initially by the Chinese before 2000 BC. Today grafting is carried out on a commercial basis, for scientific purposes and by enthusiasts.
|Grafted conifers in the humidity tent|
Here at Lime Cross Nursery we have been grating conifers, trees and shrubs since the 1980’s. Jonathan Tate (founder of the nursery) was a former member of the International Plant Propagators Society, but learnt the technique from plants men in Holland.
Today Mark who has been at the nursery since 1977 and Jonathan’s daughter Vicky (who co-runs the nursery with her sister Helen), do the grafting. So far over 1000 conifers have been grafted this year at the nursery.
The process sounds simple but it takes precision and expertise to achieve good results!
|Vicky cutting the scion|
A wedge is sliced from the stem of the host plant (rootstock) using a sharpened and disinfected penknife. A matching slice is cut into the stem of the plant to be grafted (scion) revealing the cambium layers. These layers are placed together and bound tightly to secure.
The grafts are then transferred to a humidity tent where they are kept shaded and humid for several months. Following this, the grafts are then re-potted and allowed to grow on, but need careful monitoring throughout this whole process.
The grafted plants will then not be ready to be sold for another two years.