Inlay grafting, an ancestral multiplication technique


Marc-Henry Doyon presents to us in this video an ancestral technique for multiplying plants and obtaining very specific varieties: inlay grafting.

From the choice of the graft and its conservation, to the detailed gestures to carry out the graft and its follow-up, you will know everything about inlay grafting!

What are the benefits of grafting a plant?

In our example, we are on a plot producing des robiniersotherwise named ‘acacias‘ in popular parlance.

These trees come from seeds sown three years ago. If they are not grafted they will adorn themselves with white flowers. If we want to get a pink flower subject, transplant will be needed.

There are varieties that have been bred for their desirable characteristics such as golden foliage or pink flowers, but also a particular disease resistance.

If you take seeds from an acacia hybrid which blooms pink, the plant obtained will not necessarily have the same characteristics as the mother plant. The grafting will therefore make it possible to reproduce identically a plant which has been chosen for its beauty, the color of its flowers, the taste of its fruits or for other more technical characteristics and to make exact copies of it.

The grafting also makes it possible to grow a plant sensitive to certain characteristics (nature and pH of the soil, drought, humidity, diseases, hardiness…) on a rootstock that will withstand these constraints and therefore allow the growth of the grafted plant in an environment that was not necessarily accessible to it at the start, by making it more resistant.

Grafting is an age-old knowledge since it was already practiced in the 15th centurywe said then that we “was” a plant.

Long years of training are necessary to master the perfect gesture and obtain a good percentage of resumption of grafts, which is why in the professional environment we call on master grafters.

When to perform an inlay graft

A rootstock is necessary for the operation. In our example, we have a 3-year-old Robinia from seedlings, raised in a stem. The grafting period is important.

In the spring, the plants are vegetating, the leaves are developing.

Grafting is a race against time between the success of the welding at the level of the graft and the rootstock and its possible drying out. The goal is to have a perfect quality of execution. The grafter is a goldsmith who will know put the graft in very close contact with the rootstock and prevent its desiccation by using putty.

The graft was harvested in dormant period, ie in winter and was kept in the refrigerator until the day of grafting. Our scion therefore thinks it is always in winter while the rootstock knows that spring is here!

This difference is important because the scion not being in sap, it will not dry out much, whereas the rootstock which is in full sap will have the capacity to nourish the scion.

How to perform an inlay graft?

Thierry our master grafter will show us how to proceed.

The chosen graft will be taken from a very straight and very vigorous branch. The gesture must be assured and the well-honed grafter et previously disinfected.

  • The base of the graft is bevelled just below one eye.

  • The rootstock is pollarded and then incised in order to introduce the base of the graft.

  • The eye of the scion should face outward and the barks of the rootstock and the scion are perfectly joined. There should be no space between the two elements.

  • The welding will occur at the level of the barks and the rootstock will feed the graft at the level of this zone. The good junction of the barks is therefore essential in the process of successful grafting.

The next step is to application of a grafting putty. The mastic must remain flexible enough to withstand the vagaries of the weather and temperature variations. The interest of this mastic lies in the protection of the graft from desiccation and also of the entire part where the bark joins between the graft and the rootstock.

Another purpose of puttying is to prevent water penetration which could cause contamination by fungi, viruses or bacteria. Cutting areas are always potential entry points for pathogens that can cause disease in the graft.

After grafting

An important step after grafting is named disbudding. Naturally, the rootstock, ie the lower part planted in the ground will tend to push vigorously which will be done to the detriment of the graft. It is therefore important to monitor throughout the season following grafting, that there is no regrowth on the rootstock. If there are new shoots along the trunk, just run your finger to remove them. If the shoots are longer, they will be cut flush with the trunk with pruning shears. This step is very important for promote good graft development.

Now it’s up to you to perpetuate this centuries-old technique!


Source: Au Jardin, conseils en jardinage by www.aujardin.info.

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