Budding and Grafting

Learn budding and grafting techniques to propagate different plants. Learn what plant varieties should be propagated this way and why.

Course Code: SGH23
Fee Code: SG
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 20 hours
Qualification Certificate of Completion
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Learn to bud and graft plants

Explore what can be propagated by grafting, what your choices are for different grafting methods, and make better choices about what techniques might be appropriate to use with what cultivars and in what situation, for the best outcome.
A great course:

  • To expand your knowledge of plant propagation options
  • To explore new ways of propagating plant varieties that may otherwise be challenging to propagate
  • Professional development for plant nursery staff, gardeners and horticulturists

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

    • Budding & Grafting Explained
    • Natural Grafts
    • Reasons for Budding and Grafting
    • Possible Drawbacks of Budding & Grafting
    • How A Graft Forms
    • How to Make a Grafting Cut
    • Rootstocks
    • Scions
    • Requirements for Successful Grafting
    • Graft Incompatibility
    • Important Tools
    • Summary of Different Grafting Methods
    • Summary of Different Budding Methods
    • Grafting Hints (General)
    • Craftmanship of Grafting
    • Ranks of Classification
    • Matching Scions with Rootstocks
    • Examples of Compatible Rootstocks and Scions
    • Use of Bench Grafting
    • Bench Grafting Apples Using Whip & Tongue Method
    • Aftercare of Grafted Plants in Bench System
    • Use of Root Grafting
    • Root Grafting Roses
    • Nurse Root Grafting
    • Lilac Grafting
    • Some Species That May Be Root Grafted
    • Use of Soft Tissue Grafting
    • Green Wood Grafting
    • Commercial Grafting of Tomatoes
    • Choosing What to Graft
    • Some Ornamentals
    • Why & When to Graft Fruit Trees
    • Grafting Techniques Used on Fruit Trees
    • Establishing Fruit Tree Rootstocks

What is Budding and Grafting?

Grafting involves joining parts of plants in a way that they will grow together and remain united as one plant. The part of the graft combination which becomes the upper part of the new plant is called the ‘scion’. The part which becomes the bottom part is called the ‘rootstock’, which is sometimes shortened to stock.  All methods of joining two plants together this way are forms of grafting, however, when the scion is only a small piece of bark containing a single bud, the technique is called “budding”. Budding is preferred when the supply of planting material is limited.

Why do it?

Grafting and budding are techniques used to combine one plant part with another to encourage growth as a unified plant. Budding is simply a form of grafting that only connects a single bud from one plant to another plant.

These Techniques May be called for in Different Circumstances

  • To maintain a variety of plant which cannot be easily grown using other propagating techniques. Cuttings from some plants are difficult to root, others are hard to grow from seed. 
  • To preserve and replicate specific cultivars. For example, some heritage or heirloom species may be saved from extinction.
  • To produce plants which are ‘true to type’. Although some species of plants when grown from seed grow true to type, many other species do not. This means there can be tremendous variation in what the adult plants look like. Grafting ensures that the parent looks like the plant it was grafted from.
  • To maintain uniformity of cultivars. Characteristics such as uniformity of leaf shape, flower colour, and fruit size or taste can be preserved. This is especially desirable for commercial fruit orchards or the cut flower industry.   
  • To produce plants which bear flowers and fruits sooner than those propagated by seed or cuttings. Some plants can take more than 10 years to bear flowers when grown from seed, and several years from cuttings. Grafted plants often flower within a season or two. 
  • To obtain different “special” growth forms. The rootstock influences the growth shape of the scion. For example, standard roses may be produced by grafting a suitable rose scion onto a hardy rootstock using a technique known as top-working where it is grafted high up the stem. Similarly, weeping plants like cherries can be produced by top-working onto suitable rootstocks to produce weeping trees more quickly.
  • To enhance disease resistance. For example, grafting a scion which is susceptible to root rots onto a rootstock that is more tolerant of root rots can produce a plant which has the desired top growth but greater resistance to disease.
  • To produce virus-free cultivars. Researchers have been able to screen out some specific viruses from rootstocks to produce virus-free clones.    
  • To influence the final size of plants. Grafting a tall-growing plant onto a smaller growing rootstock can produce a stunting effect thereby producing a dwarf variety for use in small gardens or to make fruit picking more accessible. Likewise, a dwarf species might be grown as a bush or taller plant.
  • To obtain benefits from “intermediate” rootstocks.  Here a scion is grafted to a rootstock, then another scion is grafted to the top of the first scion.  If the ultimate tip scion is not compatible with the very bottom scion, it is sometimes possible to graft a different variety in between the two which both are compatible with.
  • To produce plants which are tolerant of different soil conditions. In particular, soil pH levels can affect plant growth. You can get some species of the same plant genus that have better tolerance to soil alkalinity or acidity. This makes it possible to select an appropriate rootstock for the prevailing soil conditions. Likewise, some species may have better tolerance for wetter or drier soils so can be chosen as rootstocks to match local soil conditions. 
  • To change varieties. An existing plant can be changed to a new more desirable variety. The grafted plant can take advantage of the existing established rootstock and does not have to settle into a new planting site.
  • To increase the growth rate of saplings. A young plant grafted onto an older more vigorous rootstock can mature quicker.  
  • To enable one root system to support more than a single variety or branch system. It is possible to graft more than one variety of plant onto a single root system. For example, you could produce two or more types of fruit from one tree.
  • To reduce the need for separate pollinating plants. For example, a multi-grafted fruit tree can include male and female plants so becomes self-pollinating.   
  • To repair damaged trees. If bark is stripped or if ringbarking occurs, it is possible to graft across the damaged section aiding sap flow and hastening healing. Mature and valuable trees may be saved in this way.

Why Study this Course?

Different people may have different reasons for undertaking this course. Some will be prompted by a passion, others by a practical need to learn, and for others the motivation will be to improve their work prospects. Reasons could be any of the following, or something else altogether.

  • Improve your knowledge of plant propagation and maintenance
  • Know how to graft plants - lots of different ways
  • Understand what makes grafting (and budding) succeed or fail
  • Know what plants can be grafted onto what other plants
  • Grow multiple plant varieties on the one root system (eg. a peach, plum and almond or 3 different types of citrus all on the same plant)
  • Expand the scope of your horticultural knowledge
  • Improve career or business opportunities

Whatever your motivation to learn about grafting might be; this course can provide a unique and extensive understanding. The information found in this course has been derived from the research and experience of a team of horticulture & propagation experts, gathered over many decades of working in Australia, the UK and Asia - propagating plants, studying grafting and gathering a diversity of books, articles and other resources on grafting. The knowledge and experience that underpins this course is second to none.


Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

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