DIY Tutorials Plant Care

Garden Surgery – Additional Techniques for Grafting Cacti

As an addendum to my previous post, “How to Graft Cacti,” I thought I’d continue the tutorial with additional techniques. I had a lovely time with Roy (Texas Cactus) working on additional grafting techniques that I’ll go over in this post.

Grafting represents another way to interact, care, and understand the biology of the living beings you share a space with. It really does enrich your understanding and appreciation because you begin to understand some of the mechanisms that allow plants to live and thrive.

I encourage everyone to have an experimental approach with your plants.  There’s no single right way to achieve success.


Quick Visual Recap

Please read my previous post on grafting for a more in-depth explanation.


Additional Techniques


My last post describe the act of beveling the graft, but that I wasn’t completely sure why it’s necessary. I’ve learned that without beveling, the scion will begin to sink into rootstock as the root stock loses moisture through the cut, making for a messy visual. It’s both an aesthetic technique, and can possibly increase the health of the scion by restricting the edges of the rootstock from interacting with the scion.




Preventing Infection

Slicing open a rootstock is a traumatic action for any plant to go through. You’re essentially beheading the plant, so it’s amazing that they bounce back at all! Having the exposed tissue can allow pathogens to enter the root stock and ultimately kill both plants.  To increase the success of the graft, some grafters (new noun?) have been applying sulfur powder on the exposed areas.  This acts as a barrier between the exposed tissue and the environment as the rootstock begins to callus.

Is it completely necessary?  No.  But if you want to ensure the health of the graft, it can help.


A variegated scion

Use Every Bit of the Scion

I’m going to be honest and say that I haven’t done this technique myself, not for any particular reason, but that I’m waiting until my plants are out of dormancy (writing this in January).  I had previously been only using the top half of the scion, but working with Texas Cactus, I observed him grafting both the top and bottom half of the scion.

To do accomplish this, all you do is flip the bottom and match the two exposed tissues.  You’re essentially placing two apical meristems on top of each other, which seemingly would spell the death of the graft.

What occurs instead is that the flipped scion will begin to produce babies around the graft, which will most likely result in a multi-headed graft!  I will try this technique and present my results, but if successful, you can essentially double your grafting possibilities!

I will finally say that there is never one way to accomplish your botanical goals. There is always another approach, and I often feel some of the more popular garden forums tend to discourage different approaches. If you have any techniques that work for you, please send me an email at james@baetanical.com and I’ll happily include it!



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