Three grafts, two techniques, 100% success!

Three months ago, at the end of December 2012, I put up this post on grafting a juniper from the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens bonsai collection. In the two weeks after that post, I grafted another two junipers from the collection, one using the same channel technique as shown in the post, and another using a thread-wedge technique. In the previous post, I guessed that I would be able to give a progress report around mid-March, and boy was I right on the money!

3 grafted junipers, 3 months after

3 grafted junipers, 3 months after

After an unusually hot winter, by the start of March, only two months after placing the grafts, you could already see the grafted shoots starting to outgrow the other branches on the graft stock. By mid-March they were way ahead. This is a clear sign that the grafted branches have taken, and are receiving nourishment from the main tree, as well as from their own roots.

Note the strong, healthy growth on the grafted branch!

Again - note the strong growth on the grafted branch.

Again – note the strong growth on the grafted branch.







Seeing these encouraging signs, today I checked all three trees, and guess what? THEY’VE ALL TAKEN!! Three out of three grafts, in three months!

However, let’s not count our bonsai before they’re styled, so to speak. Placing the grafts and having them connect is actually the easy part of the process. Now we need to disconnect them safely from their original roots, and transition them to being completely dependent on the host trunk. This is a delicate process, and is best carried out with a wide safety margin. It’s quite tempting to start the transitioning process now, but chances are that doing so would kill the grafts.

Since we’re having an unusually hot year so far, and are expecting a particularly scorching summer, we would be disconnecting the grafts during the hottest part of the year, where the stress on the tree is the greatest. In this case, it is much better to leave the trees as they are for the moment, and disconnect the grafts gradually after the summer heat is over. In our case (in Israel), that would be in October. This means, that from start to finish, the process would have taken about a year.

However, this added time in which the grafted shoots receive nourishment from both root masses will mean stronger growth, which will speed up the styling phase of the work on these trees.

4 comments on “Three grafts, two techniques, 100% success!

  1. By taking the transition slow…do you….
    Reduce greatly or eliminate watering to graft shoot?
    Begin by cutting off part of the graft shoot below the graft? I’m not sure how to explain this.
    Just cut the bottom of the grafted shoot after you see it’s taken well?
    Something I missed mentioning?

    I’m reaching for more detail on the cutting off of the shoots roots. Do you have any close-up detail photos of the final cut from the base of the shoot?

    Very well written and photograph supported articles. Very well done!

    • Hi John!
      I usually cut one third of the graft shoot below the graft, wait a couple of weeks, cut off another third, wait another couple of weeks, and then disconnect completely.
      I’ve found this to be safer than not watering the grafted shoot.

      I also tend to leave a bit of a stub behind the graft at first. It adds another bit of safety margin, plus it lets you assess the strength of the union – a strong graft will start forming a callus on the stub behind the graft. Once you see that callus forming, you know you’re definitely in the clear. At that point, I go back and cut it flush with the graft point.

      Hope that helps!

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