Going Under the Knife

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Kaitain4, Jan 30, 2009.

  1. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    I'm getting ready to do my first grafting, and wanted to see if any of you had recommendations or tips on making this a successful project. Here's what I have in place so far:

    1.) I have 75 Acer palmatum seedlings, 3/16" caliper, in 3" pots to use as understock. These were delivered dormant in early Dec. and kept outside. I brought them into the studio, temp at 65 degrees, watered well, and put them in a sunny window. I'm anticipating 2-3 weeks of these warm temps and sunlight will cause them to break dormancy? Q - How far along does the understock need to be before you graft?

    2.) Bought a Japanese grafting knife from Hida Tool. Supposed to be the real thing.

    3.) Bought a roll of grafting tape - looks easier than trying to use the rubber bands. Also bought some grafting wax to seal up the cuts.

    4.) Bought some 8" x 2" plastic bags to put over the scions once they're grafted - plus twisty-ties.

    5.) Bought concave Bonsai pruners to lop off the understock once the scions take. Also from Hida Tool.

    6.) Scions will come from my existing JM collection.


    Any thoughts or input would be appreciated. Anyone else grafting this year? If so, how are your preparations coming??


    Thanks!
     
  2. 01876

    01876 Active Member

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    Looks like you are all set to go, the only thing I can think of is a finger guard :P
     
  3. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    I collected my first batch of scions this morning. About 22 cultivars, and I probably have 60 scions. I'll pop most of them in the fridge, and a lucky few will be the first to go under the knife! Rootstock is potted up and a few are starting to push. Here we go!! :-)
     

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  4. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    I just finished my first batch of grafts! Takes some getting used to, but I'll get it eventually.

    I started out using grafting tape. I quickly decided I must have the wrong kind of tape. The stuff I have is a cloth tape, and doesn't have any stretch to it. The tape I've seen on other plants is a stretchy plastic.

    So I switched to rubber bands. I immediately liked them better, as it allows you to control the tension, which you need a lot of.

    I also switched knives in the middle of the process. I bought a Japanese grafting knife, but after using it a while I decided it was too "fat" in my hand. So I got out an xacto-type knife with long blades that can break into sections, so as the cutting surface gets dull you can just snap off the blade and advance to a new one. This was much easier to work with - fit better in my hand and I felt like I had more control.

    So I grafted up several trees and then went to the grafting wax stage. Whoever invented grafting wax needs to be hunted down and exterminated! That stuff is disgusting!! Stinky, sticky, hard to work with - sheesh!! I'll probably get a brain tumor from breathing the fumes. Is it really necessary?? Couldn't you just use parafin or something normal?

    Anyway, the results are pictured below. I grafted 10 trees total, and the first was an A.s. 'Garden Glory'. Only 65 more to go...
     

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  5. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

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    Pardon my ignorance, but is the rootstock of your Acer not hardy? I am curious about the reason for grafting?
    The set up looks very interesting.
     
  6. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    Impressive K4.

    Trial and error is always the way when it's both art and science.
     
  7. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    K Baron,

    Almost without exception, all named Japanese Maples are grafted. This is the only way to ensure that you get the exact characteristics of the cultivar you're interested in. In essence, you're cloning the parent tree. Growing JMs from seed produces highly variable offspring that are not true to the parent. JMs do not do as well when grown as cuttings either, so grafting is almost the universally accepted method of propagation.
     
  8. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

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    Thank you K4!

    This is very interesting news.

    Cheers,
    KB
     
  9. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    K4,

    With the exception of witches brooms wasn't every single JM cultivar produced by a seed? Plenty of them are still around.

    Seems like 3/4 of all the known cultivars have been introduced in the last 20-30 years so most of them are still youngsters.

    Also Mr Shep mentions that not too long ago the standard practice for producing cultivars was rooting cuttings. Sam, had some for sale recently and the Bonsai guys root cuttings rootinely.

    K Baron,

    I can see now how the 'Ginga' thread got off track.
     
  10. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Poetry,

    Yes, most cultivars started out as a seedling that had some unique characteristic someone noticed. Sometimes in the literature they'll mention "found as a chance seedling at so-and-so nursery'" or something of that sort. There are also sports and witches brooms that produce new cultivars from existing plants. But for named varieties, propagation is almost always by grafting. From what I know, cuttings are not as vigorous, take longer, and have higher failure rates. There are a few trees that do seem to do well from cuttings, like Bloodgood, but many of the unusual cultivars do not do well on their own roots, or lack the vigor of a grafted tree. The Bonsai guys like this, as the tree will tend to stay smaller and grow slower. Most gardeners want bigger/faster.


    Regards,

    K4
     
  11. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    K4,

    The quote below is from Mr Shep schooling another poster on the cutting vs graft controversy. There's a lot of information in the thread you might be surprised by what you find there.

    "Actually most of the non-commercial growers in
    Japan are still growing Maples on their own roots.
    Why, because the Maples will live longer than
    grafted Maples will. That has proved out in Japan
    as well as here in the US. To the plantman in Japan
    the Maple becomes a sibling, no longer is a plant
    per say."
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2009
  12. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    "Actually most of the non-commercial growers in
    Japan are still growing Maples on their own roots"

    Who says I want to be a non-commercial grower? ;-)
     
  13. emery

    emery Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    With all possible respect to Mr. Shep, opinions are not unanimous on this issue.

    Mr. Harris writes in his "Gardener's Guide..."

    "Also, it is not unknown for maples that are propagated by cuttings to collapse and die after four or five years. It is not clear what causes this phenomenon and, as far as I know, no research has been done so far."

    Perhaps we should make a distinction between cuttings and (air) layering?

    -E
     
  14. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    I really don't want this thread to get side-tracked in a debate about grafting vs. rooted cuttings. The fact is that I'm not doing cuttings, am not interested in cuttings at the moment, and what people do in Japan is really irrelevant to what I'm doing right now. I have spent a lot of time, money and energy getting set up for this grafting project. Grafting works perfectly well, is by far the standard for JM propagation in the US, and is currently my chosen method. That's what I need feedback on at the moment.



    Thanks,

    K4
     
  15. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    Emery.

    I'm not Mr Shep's biggest fan but I don't doubt many of his points. Regarding Mr.Harris and cutting grown trees dying in a few years, haven't we all seen the phenomenon of unexplained demise in JMs happen with seedlings, grafts and cuttings?

    My intention wasn't to sidetrack the thread but to refute K4's assertions in post 7.

    Good Luck with your grafts K4. Maybe someone with know how will chime in and offer you some pointers gleaned from experience.
     
  16. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Thanks Poetry. And feel free to start another thread if you want to carry on the debate over cuttings vs grafting. I don't mind being refuted, but I might refute back! LOL! :)


    K4
     
  17. kbguess

    kbguess Active Member 10 Years

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    The grafting tape that you are looking for is Parafilm grafting tape. Plenty of stretch and allows for good tension. Eliminates the need to wax.

    I got mine online from a vineyard supply company.

    I have been grafting in summer with modest success. Dax clued me in on the process. Very simple in summer. No storing of the scion & can be done without greenhouse etc.

    For any that don't take this winter, you can have another opportunity in Aug or Sept.

    I can email you the notes Dax sent me if you are interested.

    I also had a couple of chip buds take last year. Just another technique to try if you are interested in experimenting. Some of the Acer grafts I got from Whitman Farms last year were chip buds.

    Keith
     
  18. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Keith,

    Thanks for the info. Yes, please send me any additional documentation you may have. I will be trying it all...


    K4
     
  19. mattlwfowler

    mattlwfowler Active Member Maple Society

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    From my experience I have had much better luck with winter grafting here in the south. I can much more easily keep my greenhouse at temperatures between 45 and 80 F right now, but in the summer I can't get the temperatures to go below 75 F even at night. So the general consensus is that summer grafting is a bit easier in more northern climates, but winter grafting is a bit easier here in the hot south. It is all I can do to keep my seedlings alive in August and early September, much less get a graft to take :).

    Couple of tips if you haven't already discovered:
    It is best not to water too much for a few days prior to grafting. The rootstock is more likely to bleed out and ruin the graft. I also prefer only to keep my unhealed grafts misted rather than thoroughly watered to prevent bleed out after the graft is completed.
    A week to two weeks is usually how long I wait after I bring them into heat before I graft. It usually takes 2 to 3 weeks to break dormancy (but my temps in the greenhouse swing a little more). I don't like to graft after the rootstock has already started leafing out because more energy is sent to the top of the rootstock rather than to the graft.
    Align the cambium...commonly said but it can't be expressed enough. And remember, just because they take doesn't mean they will take off. Post graft care is important.
     
  20. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    Matt,

    Are all of those tips referring to the understock?

    Would you add some tips about scion collection and also post graft care?

    Thanks

    Gil
     
  21. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Thanks Matt!! That's great advice coming from another Southerner. I will certainly take all your advice to heart.

    And I'm with Poetry here - please discuss post-graft care for us.
     
  22. NJACER

    NJACER Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    All,

    There is an excellent article on grafting that covers rootstock, scions and aftercare in The Maple Society Newsletter from Summer 2008 written by Brian Upchurch. Brian gave a presentation at the Maple Society meeting in Atlanta two years ago on this topic.
     
  23. Hartscape

    Hartscape Member

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    K4, keep us updated on your success.
    I just completed grafting 50 Acers, yesterday. This is my first try also.
    About 6 weeks ago I did my first two and have 50 % success so far as one
    is leafing out. Haven't given up on the other yet, but not sure if it took.
    I will post some pictures when I get a chance.

    Tom
     
  24. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Thanks for the encouragement Hartscape. I can report that at least ONE of my grafts seems to have worked. :-) I hope it won't be the last...
     

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  25. mapleman77

    mapleman77 Active Member

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    Hi there K4 and others!

    I just wanted to say that there is great information here! Keep us updated K4 on the successes...I think that there will be LOTS more!!!

    -David
     

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