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Chip budding is one of the easier forms of grafting. A bud, rather than a shoot, is attached to a rootstock to make a new plant. With practice, this technique can be mastered by anyone and, as just one bud is needed to make a tree, it is very efficient.
Close up of chip budding (grafting) a Malus domestica 'May Queen' (apple) at RHS garden Wisley
Chip budding is often used for fruit and ornamental, deciduous trees. Trees in the rose family such as apple, cherries, hawthorn, pear, plums and Sorbus are especially amenable to chip budding. Acers, Laburnum, Magnolia and Robinia are other trees frequently budded.
For chip budding, a bud on a sliver of wood, complete with bark is inserted into a matching notch on the rootstock.
Chip budding is carried out between mid-summer and early autumn. This is an advantage over T-budding which can only be carried out in mid-summer.
Before you start, you need to choose a rootstock (the plant you will be propagating onto). Rootstocks can often be bought from rootstock growers and nurseries that specialise in the type of plant in question. Alternatively, they can be raised from seed or cuttings.
Choose a rootstock with desirable characteristics; such as a dwarfing habit that makes fruit trees more compact, or a rootstock that resists root diseases, or one that is easier to propagate than the scion (top part of the budded tree).
From mid-summer choose the buds you wish to chip bud, by selecting non-flowering shoots that are a similar diameter to the rootstock, from well-ripened, current season’s growth. Remove these 'budsticks' from the parent plant so that they can be budded onto the rootstock.
Failure of buds to take usually results from not cutting accurately enough to get the cambium layers to match. Practise on spare shoots until a really good match can be reliably cut. Some less experienced gardeners like to attach several buds as at least one should take. The RHS, horticultural colleges and others offer budding courses and these are strongly recommended.
Knowing when to remove the bud ties can be difficult; the bud and the cambium must have united and this is indicated by swelling of the budded part of the stem.
Cuttings: hardwoodCuttings: rootCuttings: semi-ripeCuttings: softwoodLayeringGrafting ornamental plants and fruit treesT-budding
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