Advanced Techniques > Advanced Grafting Discussion

Grafting using Parafilm

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Peter Tea was in this past weekend for our local study group.  One of the things covered was grafting.  Peter said the method I have been using, with the little baggies, is old school.  He was kind enough to share with us the grafting technique using the 1" Parafilm grafting tape.

One of the benefits of using the Parafilm method over the baggies is that you needn't worry about shielding the scion from the sun.  Also, there's not need to worry about when to cut the bag and acclimate the graft to a less humid environment.

Take the scion as usual, either from the same plant for a new branch, or from another more desirable cultivar to replace foliage entirely.  Cut off some of the unnecessary needles.  Stretch the tape end a little, then begin to wrap the scion near the base.  Be sure to leave enough room to make the wedge cut at the base.  Wrap all the way to the end of the needles and twist the end.

Cut the offset "V", long side will be against the branch/trunk for maximum contact.  Cut the long side first, then turn the scion 180° and make the second cut.  If you've made the second cut at 180° you will notice that the end is perfectly straight.

Next, make the cut into the understock/branch/trunk, mimicking the same angle and length of the long side "V".  For younger material (like our example here) you can cut deep into the stock as it will grow and heal quickly.

Note that the cut is nice and low, right on top of the roots. 

Now, insert the scion into the cut, trying your best to align the cambium layers.  Be sure you insert all the way deep into the cut, nice and snug.

Peter said that you can use another section of Parafilm, but hasn't done this yet.  Here he uses strong plastic grafting tape that doesn't stretch very easily.

Begin at the back and wrap around the understock, pulling snug at the back so as not to dislodge the scion.

Wrap several times, then finally tie a knot.

Peter takes an extra step and seals the tape with some of the liquid cut paste.  When the scion begins to grow the new bud will extend out through the Parafilm.

Wow.  That looks a lot less maintenance-intensive than the little baggies.  What's the aftercare like?  At what point do you unwrap the "joint"?

It doesn't look it, but I guess the parafilm allows enough sunlight in to the scion?

Another question I always seem to have:  how do you get branches at the correct angle off the trunk when you're grafting them in (usually pointing upwards)?


The Parafilm is wrapped so that it overlaps more than 50%, providing adequate shade, but allowing in some sunlight.  It will start to rot(?) away, but you can help it by September if it hasn't fallen away enough.  Just keep an eye on it.  I usually leave the tape on for a year with the baggie technique, and I imagine this will likely be the same.

Grafting secondary branches on main branches requires that you attach the scion to the side of the branch, in the direction you want the new growth.  For attaching scions to a larger trunk you can make the cut with a sharp chisel in the direction you want the new growth.  Michael Hagedorn has a good post on this on his blog.

By the way, Peter reports that this technique works on a variety of trees, especially pines and junipers.


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