How to Graft Roses
Grafting can be an excellent way to introduce new colors into your garden. It is also a very engaging and rewarding hobby.
So what is grafting?
Grafting is a method of attaching a part of a plant onto another plant, creating an amalgam of two or more plants. Many plant species can be crossed in such a way to varying results.
With roses, the process can be very gratifying as it caters to our imagination and aesthetic appreciation.
There are several methods of grafting, but we are going to focus on bud-patch grafting in this article. Let’s dive into it.
Step 1 – When is the right time to do it?
Grafting should be done at the right time of the year. The best time is usually mid-summer, when the ‘rootstock’ rose bush—the plant you are going to graft on—is at its healthiest state.
During the hottest days of the year, nutrients in roses travel faster from root to leaves. This can help grafts take quicker.
Step 2 – Selecting a scion
Scion is the part of the plant we want to graft on another plant. Make sure you select a young scion with healthy leaves, a softer bark and a history of striking blossoms.
This will reduce the danger of disease in the post-grafting stage.
Step 3 – Extracting the bud bark patch
Disinfect the sharp knife with ethanol or isopropyl alcohol to kill any bacteria or viruses.
Locate the bud of the rose and carefully cut around it until you have a bark patch about an inch long with the bud in the middle.
Step 4 – Preparing the ‘rootstock’ rose
After you have chosen the rootstock plant—ideally, it should be in a healthy and well-adapted state—water it generously for a few days before the surgical procedure. This will encourage better circulation of the nutrients and will increase the chances of success for the graft.
Prune and trim the stem off its leaves and thorns. The idea is to focus the rootstock’s resources on the scion – at least until it establishes itself.
Step 5 – Cut a T-shaped pocket into the rootstock stem
Using the sharp knife, make a T-shaped incision into the rootstock stem but be careful to only penetrate the bark down to the stem’s soft and moist core. The idea is to make a pocket for the bud patch of the young rose without causing damage to the rootstock plant.
Step 6 – Inserting the patch into the rootstock
With the cut made, gently slide the bud patch into the pocket until it sits nicely inside. Make sure the growth of the sprout of the bud is directed upwards.
The idea is to encourage the soft inner part of the patch to come in contact with the soft inner part of the rootstock stem, so they can ‘unite’ later on. With the patch in, wrap grafting tape around the wound to secure the patch in place, but be careful not to cover the bud.
Step 7 – Caring for the grafted plant
The initial two weeks are vital for the success of the procedure.
• The rose should be placed where it gets an abundance of space, sunlight and air.
• Water it generously every day to keep the soil moist.
• You can also add substrate rich in composed material for a better outcome.
It is advisable to trim the first few shoots of the rootstock plant in favor of strengthening the graft. Don’t worry about the adhesive tape: it will naturally fall off when the graft begins to grow.
Grafted roses are not as hardy as natural roses, so you will also need to take precautions to protect them from the cold during the winter days.
If all has been done correctly, you will get to enjoy new colors and freshness in your garden.
Grafting is an excellent hobby with clear and visible results. It is a great way to engage your artistic side during your off days, so you can enjoy the fruits of your work over a cup of coffee in the morning.