Grafting Succulents and Cactus: Full Guide
What is succulent grafting?
Succulents are a group of hardy plants that grow well in warm and sunny locations. Normally, grafting is one of the most common ways of propagating succulents for making new plants that involve joining two plant sections from different plants to create an exotic plant. The mature piece of a tree is called scion, while seedling or offset is rootstock. If your succulent grows some small plants at the base of the parent plant, you can take them and join them with another succulent for growing a new succulent.
There are two main reasons for succulent grafting:
First, grafting is quite a successful method to produce novel plants. When different plants are grown together, the resulting exotic succulent is unique.
Secondly, many specimens of succulents are not stable on their roots, and grafting the plant to stable rootstock increases the chances of those plants growing successfully.
So, overall, you can graft succulents to create an exotic plant.
How to Graft Succulents – Step-by-step
Before directly going to grafting, you must arrange grafting supplies such as a sharp knife or scalpel, grafting tape, and grafting wax for large succulents. Though these are simple tools, a sharp knife is a key to cutting the plant without crushing it nicely. Plus, you should also have denatured alcohol to sterilize the knife. So, after managing these things, follow this grafting method:
- Selecting the scion is the first and most important step in grafting, as every plant cannot grow on any type of stock plant or rootstock. You need to check their compatibility and then work on the next steps.
- Choose a potted stock plant from the same genus as the scion to prevent rejection of the scion. For example, succulents belonging to the family Asclepiadaceae can be grafted to plants of the Ceropegia genus. Similarly, plants in the family Portulacaceae can be grafted to Portulacaria afra, the dwarf jade plant.
- When you have selected scion and stock plant, sterilize a sharp knife by dipping it in denatured alcohol. This is necessary because the knife can transfer the infection to the plants.
- Let the potted plant in soil and make a straight cut through the stem of a stock plant that should be 1 and 3 inches above the soil level. Similarly, make a straight cut in the scion, and at this step, both joining sections are ready to be grafted.
There are three grafting ways: flat grafting, slide grafting and split grafting.
For Flat grafting, place the scion on top of the cut surface of the stock plant and arrange it, so the vascular tissues inside both plants are partially aligned. Now secure the scion in place by wrapping a rubber band around the bottom of the stock plant's pot and then the top of the scion. You can also tie a piece of string around the pot so they remain held and do not move to disrupt grafting. This type of grafting is used on plants that have the obvious trunk and branches.
Side grafting is used for succulents with thin stems. You need to cut scion and stock at an angle using a sharp knife in this method. Place the scion stem against the cut made in the rootstock, so the vascular tissues of both plants are touching. Secure the scion stem in place by wrapping string or a rubber band to hold them together firmly.
If you want to grow exotic succulents using the cleft grafting technique, make a V-shaped cut in the stem of the stock plant.
Cut a stem off the scion using a sterilized sharp knife and then make two angled cuts on opposite sides of the stem to form a wedge shape. The end of your scion plant is like a wedge, so insert it into the V-shaped cut of stock plant and wrap the two plants in cotton to hold them together as they grow to a new succulent.
Echeverias are among the most popular succulents grown indoors, floral arrangements, artwork, and terrariums. Their stunning rosette shape, plum leaves, and various colors give them a striking appearance. Although they are easy to grow and maintain, grafting Echeverias combines its features with other plants. So, you should decide on rootstock and follow the above-mentioned grafting procedures.
Normally, the Jade plant goes well with Echeveria to create exotic plants as it is thick-stemmed and stabilizes Echeveria. Similarly, Echeveria is quite an interesting succulent, and you can grow their leaves on a plant with a long stem.
So, cut the Echeveria scion and prepare it for grafting. Similarly, cut through the rootstock and insert a scion in it. Tie the graft with a band or string to keep them together and merge their growth pattern.
You can also use grafting wax to prevent the grafted section from water at the junction point.
Various cactus species are grown indoors and outdoors, but grafted cactus is a whole new plant. If one of your favorite cacti is vulnerable to pests but grows stunning flowers and the other is disease resistant but does not bloom, you can make them one with characteristics of both cactus. The resulting grafted cacti will be disease-resistant with stunning flowers.
Best rootstock for grafting cactus:
There are a few different rootstocks that are commonly used for grafting cactus:
Dragon fruit (Hylocereus undatus)
Dragon fruit is a green cactus that proves a great rootstock for grafted cactus. They are more resilient and can bear extreme weather conditions like drought. So, if you are looking for a stock plant with such characteristics, you should consider dragon fruit as one of the best rootstocks. Plus, this plant also produces fruit most commonly referred to as dragon fruit.
Peruvian torch cactus (Echinopsis peruviana)
The torch cactus is a blue-green cactus that can grow high and reach up to 20 feet tall to allow multiple cactus to attach. In this way, you can benefit f its increased surface area and graft as many varieties as you want. You can also have large white flowers on this cactus.
Blue myrtle cactus (Myrtillocactus geometrizans)
Blue myrtle cactus produces small blue and dark purple fruits resembling bilberries. You can use the rootstock of this myrtle cactus to graft with other varieties.
Peruvian apple cactus (Cereus repandus)
It is a thorny cactus with sharp bristles on the stems and can reach over 30 feet in height. As there are a few cactus that are edible either way, you can use the fruit of Peruvian apple cactus in some cuisines. So, it could be your favorite succulent to use in grafting.
Golden torch (Echinopsis spachiana)
This type of cactus grows between 5 to 7 feet tall, with branches originating from the base of the plant. You can also enjoy the fragrant blooms of this plant.
Tips to Care Grafted Cactus
Though cacti are low maintenance plants but these care tips can help your plant to thrive:
- Most grafted cacti do best indirect light. Therefore, you should not expose them to bright and direct light. East or west-facing windows are ideal for providing just enough sun for your plants without burning with direct light.
- Watering is another factor for the healthy and pest-free growth of cactus. Do not frequently water your plant, and before watering, ensure your plant's soil is completely dry. Remember, the watering plan for succulents does not remain the same throughout the year. Your plant needs comparatively more water in summer than winter. This is because overwatering makes the soil waterlogged, and plant roots are immersed in the standing water that is never favorable.
- Depending on your rootstock, you can find out the proper soil pH for your grafted plant. As many cacti prefer acidic to neutral soil, you should maintain its pH other your plant faces many growth problems.
- Fertilization of plants is essential to fulfill their nutritional requirements and supplement with depleting minerals. But timing and selecting the right type of fertilizer is the real thing. You should always use cactus fertilizer in diluted amounts to prevent plant burn.
- Similarly, fertilization during the growing season encourages healthy growth in your grafted plant.
So, regardless of the grafting procedure and plant, these tips will keep your plant healthy and blooming. Above all, the incidence of plant problems is reduced to a greater extent.
Grafting is used for ages to produce new varieties with better and adaptive plants. Many succulents and cactus can be grafted, but moon cactus, Ruby Necklace, Little Jewel, Living Rock Cactus, and Wine Cup produce really stunning exotic plants. Similarly, Pebbled Tiger Jaw, Crinkle leaf plant, and blue rose cactus can also make your grafting experience outstanding.
Thus, select compatible scion and rootstock, prepare them, and graft carefully, ensuring proper sterilization as grafting plants as the chances of their exposure to contaminants is quite high.
You will see new growth in some weeks. So, give them ideal growth conditions and take good care of grafted succulents to grow well.