Monday, March 4, 2013

Pereskiopsis Seedling Grafting 101

This will be a short tutorial on seedling grafting onto pereskiopsis. This will cover the method I use myself, and I have found this to work at least as well as any of the techniques out there. The main reason I do my seedling grafts this way is for ease and simplicity. Other methods I have seen employed include letting one end of a slightly weighted piece of glass rest on top of the scion for a number of hours (if the description doesn't make sense, trust me, trying to get it to work in real life will really give you a headache), or leaving a pen cap or something similar over the scion for a certain length of time... These methods have proven to be a real pain in my experimentation.

The fact of the matter is, you are going to loose some grafts no matter what you do, so you might as well not spend all day doing it. My method is quick and easy, and is more or less as effective as any other method I have tried. So lets get right to it.

The supplies you are going to need are as follows:

1. A razor blade

2. Some rubbing alcohol
3. A clean rag
4. Some squares of plastic wrap (about 2 inches or so)
5. Some thin wires (ones pictured are 22 gauge) bent like so
6. Some healthy young pereskiopsis plants
7. Some healthy young cactus seedlings
Now, first things first, lets get an overview of the process and some preliminary tips. First off, we are going to attempt to join the seedling and the pereskiopsis (duhhh). We are going to facilitate that union with the plastic wrap and the wire. the plastic wrap will go over the scion once it is in place and the wire will hold the plastic wrap in place. These two pieces can be reused over and over again (usually). I made the little wires out of 22 gauge wire rope; separated the strands, cut them into little pieces, and bent them to shape. In case you were wondering why the wire is shaped the way it is, it is because when it comes time to remove the plastic, it is much easier to remove the wire by grabbing each end between two fingers and pulling them apart, rather than having to pick at the two wire ends to try to get something to grab on to (all that fiddling can knock scions off, trust me). You can probably figure out how the squares of plastic wrap were prepared, and what their use is, so I won't bore you with that.
The condition of the plants and soil is the next topic. Make sure your seedlings and pereskiopsis are healthy and show no signs of disease, rot, etc. Also, make sure your soil is of the proper moisture level; not sopping wet, not bone dry, but pretty much right in the middle, or leaning a little more to the wet side is fine...Just don't graft on a dehydrated pereskiopsis.
Now that we have covered that, I think we are ready to get to the actual grafting.

First and foremost, you are going to want to clean your razor blade using the rag and rubbing alcohol. Set the cleaned razor blade somewhere where it wont get dirty (on top of the clean rag is a good place).
Now you have to select the pereskiopsis most suitable to be grafted; I like to pick the thickest stocks I can, this gives a nice little platform for the scion, but make sure they are not too stiff and fibrous, as this can inhibit the union. Here is the one I chose for this demonstration:

Once you have found a nice pereskiopsis, take the top off (just cut off enough so that you will have a large enough base for the scion) and then remove all of the leaves perhaps an inch or so down from the top. Also, if you notice any areoles closer that maybe 1/8 of an inch from the cut, gently cut these out; when your graft is young, these may start producing shoots, and the swelling associated with this, in such a close proximity to the scion, could disturb it or even push it off completely. Here is a picture of the pereskiopsis above after this treatment:
Once you have done this begin looking for the best seedling to graft onto your pereskiopsis. I like to pick out the fattest and healthiest looking ones first, but it is up to you; just don't pick any that are discolored and/or deformed (its a good idea to get rid of these altogether). Here is a particularly nice looking Hylocereus Undatus that I chose to graft to this pereskiopsis (there are no roots on this seedling because when I tried to pluck him out he started to pull all of his buddies out with him, so I had to cut him off at ground level):
Once you have picked your seedling, gently grab it and pull it out of the soil. Shaking off the excess soil is a good idea even though you are going to be cutting off the bottom half anyway, as it just helps keep your razor and the scion cleaner. The next step now is to cut the scion so it can be placed on the pereskiopsis. I personally like to cut the seedling at its widest point (roughly the middle of the above-ground portion in many species), or at least so that there is sufficient width at the cut so that it isn't wobbling around to much on top of the rootstock.

Once the seedling is cut, quickly, and while the seedling is still in your fingers, slice a very thin piece off of the top of the pereskiopsis, to ensure that both surfaces are fresh when joined. Then place the scion on top of the pereskiopsis and press down gently to make sure there is no air between them, then grab your wire and plastic wrap. First, here is a picture of the above seedling after being cut, and initially placed on top of the pereskiopsis:
Gently place the plastic wrap down over the scion, and while maintaining slight pressure on the scion, twist the excess plastic wrap around the stalk of the pereskiopsis and hold with your fingers. Then grab your wire, and push onto the stalk and pinch down around it until the plastic wrap is secure. Now is the best time to properly position the scion, by gently sliding it around and pulling on the bottom of the plastic wrap to keep it in the right position. Here is a picture of the scion once secured and wrapped:
This is a big topic actually, proper scion placement, so I will devote some time to it..Like I said before, you are probably going to lose a fair number of grafts no matter what you do, so don't go pulling your hair out trying to get the perfect placement. A good rule of thumb, in my experience, is to try to get the scion just slightly off center, and make sure the cut surfaces of the scion and the rootstock are in full contact. If you do both of these things you will be a lot better off than you would be if you sat there all day with your micrometer trying to get a perfect placement; in fact, messing around with a graft too much can damage it and have the opposite effect. Its a crap-shoot to a degree; I have had grafts that I was sure were going to make it bite the dust, and grafts that I was sure were going to fail do awesome. All in all if you follow these recommendations though, im sure you will have respectable results.
I usually leave the plastic on for three or four days, and then take it off and treat the graft as I would any other plant. I know a lot of people recommend a humidity chamber for the first week or two, but honestly I haven't had the chance to try that myself and I still get satisfactory results. Perhaps in the future I will be able to experiment with humidity chambers, but I think I will be doing things this way for the near future at least.
This was a brief tutorial on grafting with pereskiopsis that I have been meaning to do for a long time, but couldn't find the time, so I just threw this one together. I hope to be able to give you guys some pictures of new grafts as they start growing soon. Thanks for reading, comment and subscribe.


No comments:

Post a Comment