Whip Grafting

Publication 458 - Revised by John W. Jett (1997)

Whip grafting, sometimes called tongue or bench grafting, is used primarily on species of plants that unite easily. It works best when the plant parts to be grafted are small.

The best time to collect scions is when the plant is dormant. The scions should be about to 3/8 inch in diameter and approximately 1 foot in length. The best scions will contain a minimum of three buds. Store the scions in damp sawdust in a cool place, or seal them in a plastic bag and keep them in the refrigerator until the time of grafting.

Steps For Grafting

  1. Cut off the understock diagonally at the desired point exposing a flat surface 1 to 2 inches long. The cut should be made by one drawing stroke of the knife (Fig. 1a).
  2. Starting about two-thirds of the way from the heel of the "toe" of the cut (Fig. 1b Point A), make a cleft running toward and through the center of the stock to form a thin "tongue."
  3. Repeat the above process with the scion, being careful to make the cut in such a manner that the buds will point upward when attached to the stock.
  4. The understock and scion are united by slipping the tongue of the scion inside the tongue of the understock until the scion is firmly placed (Fig. 2). The cambiums of the understock and scion must make contact on one side of the union. It is best if the cambium layers make contact on both sides, but this is not necessary.
  5. Secure the stock and scion together with raffia or waxed yarn, slipping the end under the first and last loop at each end of the tie. Rubber tape may be used in place of the raffia or waxed yarn.
  6. Completely encase the union with wax or a tree wound compound, making certain that all cut surfaces are well covered.

Important Points in Grafting

  1. The cambium layers of the understock and scion must be in contact in at least one place to ensure a union.
  2. Binding should not be so tight or left on so long as to impair or stop growth.
  3. Use only good, properly stored dormant scion wood with healthy buds.
  4. Grafting should be done at the proper time, which is when the understock begins active growth in the spring.
  5. All tools should be sharp and clean.
  6. Provide protection for the graft until the union is sufficiently strong to support itself.
  7. Cover the graft with a dressing to prevent the graft from drying out.

Grafting On Roots

Whip grafting, a method used for grafting scions on roots, is done when the roots and scions are dormant. Either the entire root or pieces of root (3 to 4 inches long) may be used (Fig. 3). The roots should be equally as large, or slightly larger in diameter as the scion.

Follow the same procedure as outlined in Steps For Grafting.