Grafting is the technique of combining two plants to create one more desirable plant. Just as people have different strengths, so do plants. One variety might produce fantastic tasting fruits, another variety might tolerate poor soils, while another might be known for being a more compact plant. Grafting is one way to combine good qualities of different plants to create a better harvest.
The art of grafting requires the vascular tissue of the rootstock to join with the vascular tissue of the scion. The scion is the plant material with the desirable fruit, flower or leaves while the rootstock is, as you may have already guessed, the anchor or root of the plant. The tricky part is keeping both the rootstock & scion alive long enough for the vascular tissue to connect. There is also some skill required in making the correct cuts on the plant material to allow for the vascular tissue to join successfully. This is where practice makes perfect.
Although it is fun to think about creating an apple, peach, orange, apricot, pear tree the plant material must be compatible. Not all fruits can be successfully grafted with one another. It's too bad though, it would be quite a space saver to plant the equivalent of a fruit salad tree in your backyard.
In the case of vegetables, disease resistant rootstocks can be used to produce a more fruitful crop. Vegetable grafting is a growing trend even among home gardeners because it is relatively easy to do and it can have a significant impact on the success of growing what can be problematic crops.
If you are curious about grafting or would like to try it, consider joining us for one of our upcoming grafting workshops. Registration available at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/dmp/. Mark your calendars!
Apple grafting – March 15 at 6:00 p.m. in Monticello
Tomato grafting – March 29 at 6:00 p.m. in Monticello