mburr
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Grafting questions

First of all, I know it's not called "grafting". One of my questions is, "What's it called."

When I was in my teens I learned about this technique whereby you slice into a branch on a tree or shrub at an angle, wedge something in there like a toothpick to keep the cut open, apply some root toner and wrap it in foil packed with potting soil. Then, after a few weeks or so you can cut below the foil, unwrap and plant the "branch", using lots of water and care.

Questions:
What's this process called?
Is there a best time of year to do it (in central North Carolina)?
Can I do it on with a Dogwood?
Are there any general rules for what kind of plants this will work with?

Thanks in advance.
-Mike.

grandpasrose
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Hi Mike! Welcome to the Forum!

The process you are referring to is Air Layering, a very simple way of propogating new plants for your garden.
The best time to start an air layer, is in the late spring or early summer. The best time to then remove your newly propogated plant is in late summer, early fall.
You can certainly do this with a dogwood, probably one of the most receptive shrubs to air layering. They are very hardy, and very forgiving shrubs, so don't worry that you may hurt it.
Most soft barked plants and shrubs are good for air layering. There are also many houseplants that take well to this process as well.
The potting soil you use should be quite clean, as you do not want to be inviting disease into your established shrub. A lot of people use spaghnum moss instead.
Another tip is to make sure that it does not get too dry inside while it is doing it's thing. Check it every once in a while to make sure it is slightly damp (not wet). If it dries out, so does your layer!
I hope this has answered your questions Mike. Feel free to stop and ask more questions and visit the forum again! :wink:
VAL
VAL (Grandpa's Rose)

mburr
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grandpasrose wrote:Hi Mike! Welcome to the Forum!
I hope this has answered your questions Mike.
You absolutely did. Thank you.

-Mike.

grandpasrose
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You are most welcome - that's what we are here for! Feel free to drop in again anytime with questions, or answers, or just to chat! :wink:
VAL
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I've never heard of using a toothpick, or even not slicing it open all the way, but yes, it is air layering and I do it every once in a while on everything from roses to small trees and even boxwoods(!).

I cut the outer layer of bark off all the way around a branch in a 1" wide section, on a fairly new growth (last year's is best), wrap it in damp spaghnum moss and enclose that in foil. Check it every so often to make sure the moss is still damp, and in a month or so, cut the branch off just below my earlier cut and put it in potting soil.

I can see how your way might be less injurous to the plant, though you will only have roots develop initially on the side that you cut.

Have fun - this is one of my favorite ways to propegate a plant!

grandpasrose
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I've heard of doing it both ways, Grey, and it doesn't seem to make much difference. I think probably the way Mike has told us about with the slit with the toothpick, is so that there is no danger of cutting off the nutrient layer under the bark to the remainder of the branch. Otherwise I think it's whatever you are comfortable with as they both seem to work quite well! 8)
VAL
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opabinia51
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Fascinating, I had always wondered what exactly "Air Layering" was and now I know. I have had limited success using cuttings. I'll definately give this one a try next year.

And just to let people know:

Propagation using cuttings is assexual reproduction and therefore, what you end up with is the exact same plant with no genetic variation. On the surface this seems all fine and dandy but, if an entire orchard were planted with cuttings from one or two trees, one could get into a lot of trouble with a disease.

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Grey
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opabinia51 wrote: if an entire orchard were planted with cuttings from one or two trees, one could get into a lot of trouble with a disease.
Good point, Opa!

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when doing it for bonsai, you cut "windows" for the rooting so you can place roots exactly where you want them. I don't like cutting all the way through; leaving a strip of bark here and there assures vigor in the layering, even if it slows the process a bit...

HG

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I only learned it from an extremely incredible gardener in FL. This lady is older than dirt and yet more spry for one so small than anyone that age has a right to be, and all the gardening knowledge she has is astounding! You could show her a leaf, and she'd tell you the genus, species, the care of the plant, what color it blooms and when, the full geneology parentage of the plant... if she had the Internet I would BEG her to be on this forum!

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Older gardeners are wellsprings of good gardenlore. Cultivate a friendship with an older gardener and reap a harvest of knowledge...

HG

grandpasrose
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Totally! That's where I learned a large part of what I now know about roses, is from working alongside my 93 year old grandfather on his roses! They always know stuff that no-one says in the books!! :wink:
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opabinia51
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Yes but, my 80 some odd year old gardening buddy and former neighbour is of the synthetic paradigm and thinks that leaves only add carbon the the soil.

Barring his lack of insight or forsight into the organic gardening he does have a good deal of knowledge on plants. (But, I will not buy all the synthticis that he puts into his garden).

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Hey a lot of those older folks come from that "better living through chemistry" generation that were the ones to switch over to chemicals in the first place. Hard to get someone to change a lifetime of habit, or even admit they (and the whole industry) took a wrong turn. But they still have a wealth of life knowledge...

opabinia51
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Oh I'm not disputing that. :wink:

It's funny though because Keith does the whole compost bit with the three bin system (cadillac of composting systems) but, still pays to have truck loads of soil brought to his house every spring.

Oh well, to each there own I guess.

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Back to topic; I don't really consider air layering to be grafting, just a version of cuttings really. I'm awfully weak on the grafting thing to begin with; might try to spend some time with Larry in the greenhouse doing Japanese maples this winter...

Scott

grandpasrose
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You are right Scott, air layering is not a grafting method, but a propogation method. Grafting is much more difficult, and I actually have never dared that one yet! :wink:
VAL
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There is a similar grafting technique, called skip grafting if memory serves, where you plant the scion plant next to the plant you want to graft to, shave down both plants to cambium where you want them to join, wax and wrap as usual, and eventually...this also is slower, but assures the scion will live while it is establishing. Then just cut off the lower part of the plant and VOILA!

HG

grandpasrose
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Yes, I have heard of that, but I have been sitting here puzzling over when I would want to use that? :?
VAL
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Handy for starting new fruit branches onto an existing tree (which you might want to do if the fruit of a specific tree has gone "crabby". Now you have a self-pollinating tree, assuming a different scion has been used fro the graft. Or if you wanted a new branch in a specific spot for aesthetic reasons...)

HG

grandpasrose
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So how they have three different types of apples on one tree! I get it.
When you talk about putting an extra branch for aesthetic reasons - brought back a memory of my dad's way of cutting and putting up the Christmas tree. He would go out and cut down a tree that looked the best he could find, then cut another, so that he could take branches off of it, drill holes in the good one, and glue extra branches in!! Perfection or what?? :roll:
VAL
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Val that's hilarious!
Lemme guess which branches started to die and turn brown first...

I thought my parents were bad. We'd go to at least five Christmas tree tents, my Dad HAS to look up at his tree, so it had to be at least 10 feet tall (he's 6'4"). Then it had to have THE perfect shape, and mom was ultra-picky!

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Our tree is on our front lawn, visible from the kitchen and living room. We decorate with lights, and pocorn and cranberry garlands, so it is appreciated by more species than just the H. sapiens...

HG

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