Fruit trees, like peach trees, are grafted for propagation purposes. Grafting is a gardening technique wherein a sliced section of a tree’s stem, is placed upon the basal section of the tree. The scion is the upper part of the graft and it grows into the top portion of the tree. Scion is also the fruit-bearing part in the graft. The understock or the rootstock develops into the new trunk and the root system. The quality of the scion decides the quality of the fruit. The rootstock determines the height, nutrition and overall health of the tree. Many kinds of grafting techniques can be used for propagating fruiting trees. Among these, wedge grafting is recommended for peach trees. This form of grafting is also called cleft grafting. Use the following instructions to graft your peach trees.
- Peach tree scion
- Peach tree rootstock
- Paper towel
- Plastic bag
- Grafting compound
- Grafting chisel
- Grafting knife
- Grafting tape
Try to procure the scion from an established, mature peach tree. Branches that are about 2 inches in diameter are ideal for obtaining healthy scions. This is best done during the winters. Trees are dormant during this time. Thus, the bruising caused due to slicing the stem does minimal damage. The scion should be about 1½ inches long and about ¼ inch wide. Choose a stem that has minimal knots. Presence of some buds within the scion is crucial. Your scion should include a minimum of three buds. For making accurate cuts, use a grafting chisel instead of shears. Making horizontal cuts is recommended to minimize bruising on the branch.
Ensure that the scion is immediately wrapped in a moist, paper towel. The wrapped scion can be further placed in a plastic bag. Ensure that the temperature is maintained within a range of 32 to 34 degrees F.
The rootstock is a combination of a tree’s roots and the basal, trunk region. You can obtain retailed rootstocks from garden supply stores. The rootstock should be marginally wider than the scion. Cut away a thin slice along the top surface of the chosen rootstock to create an even, sliced surface. This serves as the bonding site wherein the scion will be inserted. Use the grafting chisel for slicing the rootstock. The rootstock can be planted directly, in the garden. Choose a spot that has well-drained soil and is partially shaded.
Preparing Peach Graft
The scion should have a narrowed tip. This helps to secure it upon the rootstock. You need to trim the scion’s lower end. The scion should have a wedged appearance wherein the lower half is clearly narrower (sharper) than the upper half. A grafting knife is recommended for trimming the scion. Now, trim the wedged sides of the scion to expose the inner part of the stem (cambium). Using the grafting chisel, induce a 4-inch long split on the rootstock’s surface. Insert the wedge-shaped scion into this split.
Cover the graft with the grafting compound. Your can further secure the covered graft with a grafting tape. Ensure that you don’t choke the rootstock with repeated taping since it is the source of nutrition for the graft. The soil bed should be undisturbed for a few weeks. Ensure minimal traffic around the grafted peach tree to minimize stress on the graft.