Your First Easy Graft, Step By Step

A field technician applying a graft to an avocado plant
Getty Images/Alvis Upitis
  • 01 of 04

    Your First Easy Graft, Step By Step

    Are you ready to try your first graft? If you are looking for an appropriate first experience with grafting, an approach graft can be a satisfying and low-risk way to start. The cuts for this graft are simple, and both scion and rootstock are whole plants living on their own roots, thus easier to care for as they heal.

    You Will Need

    • Actively growing plant material. Approach cannot be done during dormancy.
    • Two plants which can be brought close to each other. Potted plants are fine.
    • A grafting knife.
    • A tight binding, ideally raffia twine, poly grafting tape, or waxed string.
    • Plastic tape or sealing wax.
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  • 02 of 04

    Making The Cuts for Your First Approach Graft

    Find an area of smooth wood, an internode, in each of the plants. 

    Hold your grafting knife tucked in the four fingers of your dominant hand, the thumb stuck out away from the blade. When you cut, draw your whole hand in this position, the knife and hand moving as one unit. Neither fingers nor knife flex or twist.

    Slice into the bark and then a bit into the wood underneath. Don’t just skin the bark off; go just a tad deeper.

    Draw your knife along the grain for an inch or two, then back out again. Do not let the knife twist; you want to make a perfectly straight cut.

    Repeat to make a matching cut in the other plant on a stem of the same thickness.

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    Joining Your First Graft

    In every graft, the scion and rootstock are made joinable by complementary cuts.

    In this step, move the wounds against each other. Match them up to check the quality of your cuts. A perfect match means no air space between the cuts.

    In an imperfect match,

    • Cut surfaces may be wavy, preventing a close, airless match. Having a dull knife or loose grip will make this happen.
    • Cut faces are different sizes. Cutting into different-sized stems can cause this.

    Mismatch is a concern if there is no way to match the wounds and press them together without leaving an air space between them.

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    Binding and Aftercare for Your First Graft

    Bind and Seal the Graft

    In all grafts, the final step is to seal the two wounds to each other tightly. Holding the stems in place, bind them together.

    If using a tape, wrap from bottom to top and overlap; this sheds condensation off the tape instead of trapping it into the graft.

    It's a good idea to wax all cut surfaces. Waxing prevents water loss from the wounds, which will kill the scion faster than it can heal.

    Going for a Second Graft

    If approach went well, you'll next want to try a graft more applicable to your plants. There are many types of grafts to choose from, with each being best for different plants.