Chapter 20

Vegetative Plant Propagation

Plant Propagation by Budding

Budding is a method of grafting in which the scion is a single bud rather than a piece of stem or twig. Many of the same conditions and materials used for other forms of grafting also apply to budding. It is most frequently used to multiply a variety that cannot be produced from seed. It may also be used for top working trees that cannot be easily grafted with cleft or whip grafts. 


T-budding is used to topwork or produce new plants (See Figure 20.13). It is the most common budding method for producing fruit and ornamental plants. It works best on rootstocks of ¼ to 1 inch in diameter with thin bark. T-budding can be done almost any time that the bark of the stock slips (easily separates from the wood) and buds are fully developed. Most budding is done from late July to early September. Buds set at this time normally remain dormant until the following spring, which is desirable because young shoots produced in the fall would be subject to winter injury. Spring budding (in March and April) is possible but is less desirable than fall budding. Young plants selected for the stock must have new, vigorous growth. In early summer, remove any shoots on the lower 6 inches of the trunk. This results in a smooth surface to work on. Most budding of young plants is done 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) above the ground; however, it is possible to bud higher. The budstick is a twig, usually from the current season’s growth, that is taken from the plant that is to be propagated. It should be vigorous and healthy with plump, well-developed buds.

Patch Budding

Patch budding is a technique that uses a bud with attached bark, instead of a budstick. Patch budding is slower and more difficult than T-budding, but it is used on thick-barked trees (e.g., walnuts and pecans) that can’t be T-budded. For a successful patch bud, it is essential that the size of the bud and its attached bark be the same size as the patch cut on the understock (See Figure 20.14). When preparing for patch budding in late summer, select wood for budsticks about two to three weeks in advance. At that time, cut the leaf blades from the areas to be used, but allow the petioles to remain. Do not cut the budsticks from the tree. The petioles will have dropped by the time the budsticks are used and the leaf scars will have healed over. Then, cut budsticks as needed and keep them moist and protected from direct sun or intense heat.

Chip Budding

Chip budding does not require bark that slips on either a stock or budstick (See Figure 20.15). It can be done in the spring just as growth begins or in the summer at the same time as other budding techniques. Stocks and budsticks should be ¼ to 1 inch in diameter. Remove the chip from the rootstock by making two cuts. The first is a downward cut at a 45 degree angle, going about ¼-inch through the stem.

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