Learn About Own Root Roses And Grafted Roses

By Stan V. Griep
American Rose Society Consulting Master Rosarian – Rocky Mountain District

When terms like “own root roses” and “grafted roses” are used, this can leave a new rose gardener confused. What does it mean when a rose bush grows on its own roots? And what does it mean when a rose bush has grafted roots? Let’s look at what the differences between own root roses and grafted roses are.

What are Grafted Roses?

Many of the rose bushes on the market are known as “grafted” rose bushes. These are rose bushes that have a top variety of rose that typically is not as hardy when grown upon its own root system. Thus, these roses are grafted onto a hardier rose bush rootstock.

In my area of USDA Zone 5 — Colorado, the bottom part of the grafted rose has commonly been a rose bush named Dr. Huey rose (climbing rose) or perhaps one named R. multiflora. Dr. Huey is an extremely hardy and strong rose that will keep on going like the Energizer bunny. In my rose beds, as well as many others, the top part of the grafted rose bush had died and seen the Dr. Huey rootstock send up new cane shoots from below the graft.

Many a rose loving gardener has been fooled into thinking the rose bush they loved is coming back only to discover that it is truly the prolific grower Dr. Huey that has taken over. Not that the Dr. Huey rose blooms are not pretty; they just are not the same as the rose bush originally purchased.

A concern with letting the Dr. Huey rose bush keep on growing is that he loves to spread out and take over! So unless you have a lot of room for him to do so, it is best to dig out the rose bush, getting all of the roots that you possibly can.

Another rootstock used for grafted roses is named Fortuniana rose (also known as Double Cherokee rose). Fortuniana, while a hardy rootstock, was not as strong in the more harsh winter climates. But the Fortuniana rootstock grafted rose bushes have shown far better bloom production that either R. multiflora or Dr. Huey in tests that have been conducted however they still have the cold climate survival drawback.

When looking for rose bushes for your gardens, remember that a “grafted” rose bush means one that has been made up of two different rose bushes.

What are Own Root Roses?

“Own root” rose bushes are simply that – rose bushes that are grown on their root systems. Some own root rose bushes will be less hardy and a bit more disease prone until they get well established in your rose bed or garden. Some own root roses will stay less hardy and more prone to disease throughout their lifetimes.

Do some research on the own root rose bush you are considering for your rose bed or garden prior to buying it. This research will guide you as to whether it is better to go with the grafted rose bush or if the own root type can hold its own in your climatic conditions. The research also pays huge dividends when it comes to having a happy, healthy rose bush versus having to deal with a sickly one.

I personally have several own root rose bushes that do very well in my rose beds. The big thing for me, apart from doing the research on their own root health, is that if these rose bushes die all the way back to the ground level over the winter, what comes up from that surviving root system will be the rose I loved and wanted in my rose bed!

My Buck rose bushes are own root roses as well as all of my miniature and mini-flora rose bushes. Many of my miniature and mini-flora rose bushes are the toughest of roses when it comes to surviving some harsh winters here. Many a year I have had to prune these wonderful rose bushes all the way back to ground level in the early spring. They continually amaze me at the vigor they come back with and the blooms they produce.

Grafting and Budding Nursery Crop Plants


Skip to Grafting

When to Graft
Unlike budding, which can be performed before or during the growing season, most grafting is done during winter and early spring while both scion and rootstock are still dormant. Containerized plants may be moved indoors during the actual grafting process; after grafting, these plants are placed in protected areas or in unheated overwintering houses. Field-grown stock, of course, must be grafted in place. Some deciduous trees are commonly grafted as bare rootstock during the winter and stored until spring planting. Indoor winter grafting is often referred to as bench grafting because it is accomplished at a bench.
Selecting and Handling Scion Wood
The best quality scion wood usually comes from shoots grown the previous season. Scions should be severed with sharp, clean shears or knives and placed immediately in moistened burlap or plastic bags. It is good practice during the harvesting of scions and the making of grafts to clean the cutting tools regularly. This may be done by flaming or immersing them in a sterilizing solution. Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol also works well as a sterilant, although it evaporates quite readily. An alternative sterilizing solution may be prepared by mixing one part household bleach with nine parts water (by volume). However, this bleach solution can be highly corrosive to certain metals.

For best results, harvest only as much scion wood as can be used for grafting during the same day. Select only healthy scion wood that is free from insect, disease, or winter damage. Be sure the stock plants are of good quality, healthy, and true to type. Scion wood that is frozen at harvest often knits more slowly and in lower percentage. If large quantities of scion wood must be harvested at one time, follow these steps:

  • Cut all scions to a uniform length, keep their basal ends together, and tie them in bundles of known quantity (for example, 50 scions per bundle).
  • Label them, recording the cultivar, date of harvest, and location of the stock plant.
  • Wrap the base of the bundles in moistened burlap or sphagnum, place them in polyethylene or waterproof paper bags, and seal the bags.
  • Store the bundles for short periods, if necessary, either iced down in insulated coolers or in a commercial storage unit at 32° to 34°F.
  • Never store scions in refrigerated units where fruits or vegetables are currently kept or have been stored recently. Stored fruits and vegetables release ethylene gas, which can cause woody plant buds to abort, making the scions useless.
  • Keep the scions from freezing during storage.

NOTE: In grafting, as well as budding, the vascular cambium of the scion or bud must be aligned with the vascular cambium of rootstock. In woody plants the cambium is a very thin ribbon of actively dividing cells located just below the bark. The cambium produces conductive tissue for the actively growing plant (Figure 1). This vascular cambium initiates callus tissue at the graft and bud unions in addition to stimulating tissue growth on the basal ends of many vegetative cuttings before they have rooted.

Types of Grafts
Nurserymen can choose from a number of different types of grafts. This section describes only those basic types of grafts used on nursery crop plants.
Cleft Graft
One of the simplest and most popular forms of grafting, cleft grafting (Figure 2), is a method for top working both flowering and fruiting trees (apples, cherries, pears, and peaches) in order to change varieties. Cleft grafting is also used to propagate varieties of camellias that are difficult to root. This type of grafting is usually done during the winter and early spring while both scion and rootstock are still dormant. Cleft grafting may be performed on main stems or on lateral or scaffold branches.
The rootstock used for cleft grafting should range from 1 to 4 inches in diameter and should be straight grained. The scion should be about 1⁄4-inch in diameter, straight, and long enough to have at least three buds. Scions that are between 6 and 8 inches long are usually the easiest to use.

  • Preparing the Rootstock. The stock should be sawed off with a clean, smooth cut perpendicular to the main axis of the stem to be grafted. Using a clefting tool wedge and a mallet, make a split or “cleft” through the center of the stock and down 2 to 3 inches. Remove the clefting tool wedge and drive the pick end of the tool into the center of the newly made cleft so that the stock can be held open while inserting the scion.
  • Preparing the Scion. In cleft grafting, one scion is usually inserted at each end of the cleft, so prepare two scions for each graft. Select scions that have three or four good buds. Using a sharp, clean grafting knife, start near the base of the lowest bud and make two opposing smooth-tapered cuts 1 to 2 inches long toward the basal end of the scion. Cut the side with the lowest bud slightly thicker than the opposite side. Be sure the basal end of the scion gradually tapers off along both sides.
  • Inserting the Scion. Insert a scion on each end of the cleft, with the wider side of the wedge facing outward. The cambium of each scion should contact the cambium of the rootstock.
  • Securing the Graft. Remove the clefting tool from the cleft so that the rootstock can close. Pressure from the rootstock will hold the scions in place. Thoroughly seal all cut surfaces with grafting wax or grafting paint to keep out water and prevent drying. If both scions in the cleft “take,” one will usually grow more rapidly than the other. After the first growing season, choose the stronger scion and prune out the weaker.

NOTE: The temperature of grafting wax is critical. It must be hot enough to flow but not so hot as to kill plant tissue. Recently, paint-like sealants have replaced wax in many areas because they are easier to use and require no heating.

Bark Graft
Bark grafting (Figure 3) is used primarily to top work flowering and fruiting trees. In contrast to cleft grafting, this technique can be applied to rootstock of larger diameter (4 to 12 inches) and is done during early spring when the bark slips easily from the wood but before major sap flow. The rootstock is severed with a sharp saw, leaving a clean cut as with cleft grafting.

  • Preparing the Stock. Start at the cut surface of the rootstock and make a vertical slit through the bark where each scion can be inserted (2 inches long and spaced 1 inch apart).
  • Preparing the Scion. Since multiple scions are usually inserted around the cut surface of the rootstock, prepare several scions for each graft. Cut the base of each scion to a 11⁄2- to 2-inch tapered wedge on one side only.
  • Inserting the Scion. Loosen the bark slightly and insert the scion so that the wedge-shaped tapered surface of the scion is against the exposed wood under the flap of bark. Push the scion firmly down into place behind the flap of bark, replace the bark flap, and nail the scion in place by driving one or two wire brads through the bark and scion into the rootstock. Insert a scion every 3 to 4 inches around the cut perimeter of the rootstock.
  • Securing the Graft. Seal all exposed surfaces with grafting wax or grafting paint. Once the scions have begun to grow, leave only the most vigorous one on each stub; prune out all the others. Bark grafts tend to form weak unions and therefore usually require staking or support during the first few years.

Side-Veneer Graft
At one time the side-veneer graft (Figure 4) was a popular technique for grafting varieties of camellias and rhododendrons that are difficult to root. Currently, it is the most popular way to graft conifers, especially those having a compact or dwarf form. Side-veneer grafting is usually done on potted rootstock.

  • Preparing the Stock. Rootstock is grown in pots the season before grafting, allowed to go dormant, and then stored as with other container nursery stock. After exposure to cold weather for at least six weeks, the rootstock is brought into a cool greenhouse for a few days before grafting takes place to encourage renewed root growth. The plant should not be watered at this time.
    Make a shallow downward cut about 3⁄4-inch to 1 inch long at the base of the stem on the potted rootstock to expose a flap of bark with some wood still attached. Make an inward cut at the base so that the flap of bark and wood can be removed from the rootstock.
  • Preparing the Scion. Choose a scion with a diameter the same as or slightly smaller than the rootstock. Make a sloping cut 3⁄4-inch to 1 inch long at the base of the scion. (Use the bark grafting technique shown in (Figure 3).
  • Inserting the Scion. Insert the cut surface of the scion against the cut surface of the rootstock. Be certain that the cambia contact each other.
  • Securing the Graft. Hold the scion in place using a rubber grafting strip, tape, or grafting twine. Seal the entire graft area with warm grafting wax or grafting paint. Remove the rubber or twine shortly after the union has healed. Never allow the binding material to girdle the stem.

Splice Graft
Splice grafting (Figure 5) is used to join a scion onto the stem of a rootstock or onto an intact rootpiece. This simple method is usually applied to herbaceous materials that callus or “knit” easily, or it is used on plants with a stem diameter of 1⁄2-inch or less. In splice grafting, both the stock and scion must be of the same diameter.

  • Preparing the Stock and Scion. Cut off the rootstock using a diagonal cut 3⁄4-inch to 1 inch long. Make the same type of cut at the base of the scion.
  • Inserting the Scion. Fit the scion to the stock. Wrap this junction securely with a rubber grafting strip or twine.
  • Securing the Graft. Seal the junction with grafting wax or grafting paint. Water rootstock sparingly until the graft knits. Over watering may cause sap to “drown” the scion. Be sure to remove the twine or strip as soon as the graft has healed.

Whip and Tongue Graft
The whip and tongue technique (Figure 6) is most commonly used to graft nursery crops or woody ornamentals. Both the rootstock and scion should be of equal size and preferably no more than 1⁄2-inch in diameter. The technique is similar to splice grafting except that the whip on the rootstock holds the tongue of the scion in place (and vice versa). This leaves both hands free to wrap the joint.

For the whip and tongue graft, make similar cuts on both the stock and scion. These cuts should be made with a single draw of the knife and should have a smooth surface so that the two can develop a good graft union. Up to this point, rootstock and scion are cut the same as for a splice graft.

  • Preparing the Stock and Scion. Cut off the stock using a diagonal cut. The cut should be four to five times longer than the diameter of the stock to be grafted. Make the same kind of cut at the base of the scion.
    Next, place the blade of the knife across the cut end of the stock, halfway between the bark and pith (on the upper part of the cut surface). Use a single knife stroke to draw the blade down at an angle through the wood and pith. Stop at the base of the initial diagonal cut. This second cut must not follow the grain of the wood but should run parallel to the first cut.
  • Inserting the Scion. Prepare the scion in the same way. Fit the scion into the rootstock so that they interlock whip and tongue. Be certain that the cambia are aligned.
  • Securing the Graft. Wrap the junction with a grafting strip or twine, and seal it with grafting wax or grafting paint. Never allow the binding material to girdle the stem.

Saddle Graft
Saddle grafting (Figure 7) is a relatively easy technique to learn and once mastered can be performed quite rapidly. The stock may be either field-grown or potted. Both rootstock and scion should be the same diameter. For best results, use saddle grafting on dormant stock in mid- to late winter. Stock should not be more than 1 inch in diameter.

  • Preparing the Stock. Using two opposing upward strokes of the grafting knife, sever the top from the rootstock. The resulting cut should resemble an inverted V, with the surface of the cuts ranging from 1⁄2-inch to 1 inch long.
  • Preparing the Scion. Now reverse the technique to prepare the base of the scion. These cuts on the rootstock and scion must be the same length and have the same slope so that a maximum amount of cambial tissue will make contact when the two halves are joined.
  • Inserting the Scion. Place the V-notched scion onto the saddle of the rootstock. If rootstock and scion are the same diameter, cambial alignment is easier; otherwise adjust as needed.
  • Securing the Graft. Wrap the graft with a grafting twine, tape, or strip, then seal it with grafting wax or grafting paint.

All of the preceding techniques are used to top work horticultural crops for a particular purpose. Occasionally, however, grafting is used to repair injured or diseased plants. Two common techniques available for this purpose are bridge grafting and inarch grafting.

Bridge Graft
Bridge grafting (Figure 8) is used to “bridge” a diseased or damaged area of a plant, usually at or near the base of the trunk. Such damage commonly results from contact with grading or lawn maintenance equipment, or it may be caused by rodents, cold temperatures, or disease organisms. The bridge graft provides support as well as a pipeline that allows water and nutrients to move across the damaged area.

Bridge grafts are usually done in early spring just before active plant growth begins. They may be performed any time the bark on the injured plant “slips.”

  • Preparing the Scion. Select scions that are straight and about twice as long as the damaged area to be bridged. Make a 11⁄2- to 2-inch-long tapered cut on the same plane at each end of the scion.
  • Preparing the Stock. Remove any damaged tissue so the graft is on healthy stems. Cut a flap in the bark on the rootstock the same width as the scion and below the injury to be repaired. Gently fold the flap away from the stock, being careful not to tear the bark flap.
  • Inserting the Scion. First, insert and secure the scion below the injury; push the scion under the flap with the cut portion of the scion against the wood of the injured stem or trunk. Then go back and insert and secure the scion above the injury following these same steps. Push the scion firmly into place. Pull the flap over the scion and tack it into place as described for bark grafting (Figure 3).
    When grafting with young stems that may waver in the wind, insert the scions so that they bow outward slightly. Bridge grafts should be spaced about 3 to 4 inches apart across the damaged area.
  • Securing the Graft. Secure all graft areas with warm grafting wax or grafting paint. During and after the healing period, remove any buds or shoots that develop on the scions.

Inarch Graft
Inarching, like bridge grafting, is used to bypass or support a damaged or weakened area of a plant stem (Figure 9). Unlike bridge grafting, the scion can be an existing shoot, sucker, or watersprout that is already growing below and extending above the injury. The scion may also be a shoot of the same species as the injured plant growing on its own root system next to the main trunk of the damaged tree. With the inarching technique, the tip of the scion is grafted in above the injury using the same method as for bark or bridge grafting.

Figure 1. Cross section of a woody plant stem.


Figure 1. Cross section of a woody plant stem.

Figure 2. Cleft graft.


Figure 2. Cleft graft.

Figure 3. Bark graft.


Figure 3. Bark graft.

Figure 4. Side veneer graft.


Figure 4. Side veneer graft.

Figure 5. Splice graft.


Figure 5. Splice graft.

Figure 6. Whip and tongue graft.


Figure 6. Whip and tongue graft.

Figure 7. Saddle graft.


Figure 7. Saddle graft.

Figure 8. Bridge graft.


Figure 8. Bridge graft.

Figure 9. Inarch graft.


Figure 9. Inarch graft.


Rootstock is a portion of the stem and root system onto which a scion or bud eye has been grafted. Rootstock is also referred to as understock.

Why Rootstock is Important to Grafting

The most common way to propagate roses is through grafting, a practice whereby a bud-eye or cutting of a rose is inserted into a rootstock of another variety.

  • First, a mature rootstock plant in grown.
  • T-shaped holes are cut in an area of the bark.
  • A bud is placed into the cut and is then wrapped securely until roots are set into the bark.
  • Once the graft takes, the upper branching of the rootstock is cut off, leaving only the grafted buds to grow, forming a new bush.

This method of propagation is fast and inexpensive compared to growing rooted cuttings. However, it comes at a price. The place where the bud has been added, called the crown or bud-union, is a weak area on the plant. A hard, freezing winter can easily damage the crown, leaving only the rootstock to grow. Rootstock has tendencies to sucker and revert to its natural state, creating a constant battle in the rose garden. Rootstock suckers must be continually pruned out to maintain the original rose.

Grafted Roses

Base of a Grafted Rose

Many people are unaware that the underground portion of their rose may be different from what they see above ground. That is, until an unusually cold winter kills the top growth. Come spring, a new rose with different flowers sprouts. Gardeners with grafted roses should be aware that if left unchecked, the rootstock (usually more vigorous) has the ability to strangle out the original rose bush.Two Roses in One

Grafting Pros and Cons


  • Grafting has been the primary method of producing roses ever since the first Hybrid Tea rose was introduced in the late 1800s. ‘La France’ had a beautiful bloom but the plant was weak.
  • By budding it onto rootstock, it took on more vigor and budding soon became the method of producing the modern rose.
  • This type of propagation provides more instant gratification (being sold at a larger size than own-root roses).


  • Grafted roses have a shorter life expectancy than own-root roses.
  • Over time, a grafted rose will outgrow the bud union and need to be replaced. The bud union can become quite large, creating an unsightly “battle of the bulge.”
  • Grafted roses have less winter hardiness and disease resistance and they are more susceptible to rose viruses.
  • They have a tendency to sucker.

For hundreds of years, home gardeners have been propagating their own roses by taking cuttings and growing them on their own roots. With Heirloom Roses, gardeners can enjoy the many benefits own-root roses have to offer without having to worry about rootstock.

Beware of Imposters!

Dr. Huey Root Stock

There are a number of rootstock plants used, depending on the company growing the rose and where in the country it will be sold. If one of your roses is behaving differently and growing out of control, you probably have an imposter – it has reverted to rootstock. The most commonly used rootstock is Dr. Huey, it has a long budding season, stores well when bare-rooted, and does well in all parts of the country.

Some roses used as rootstock are:


Used mainly in warmer parts of the country. Fortuniana is very vigorous, does well in sandy soil, but is not extremely cold hardy. It is tolerant to nematodes, which are pests that invade the roots and are common in Florida.


This light pink Noisette is used extensively at companies in California. Manetti has more flexible roots that do not break as easily as Dr. Huey.


Has a tendency to pick up salts and is not happy in alkaline soil. This particular rose is very susceptible to virus.

Dr. Huey

The most commonly used rootstock. It has a long budding season, stores well bare-rooted, and performs consistently in all parts of the country.

De La Grifferaie

Used for “standards” or “tree roses” as an inner stock between Dr. Huey and the grafted rose.


Often used when grafting is done at the same time rooting of the plant takes place. Very prone to sucker and crown gall.

Dealing with Grafted Rose Suckers

Jerry Coleby-Williams

JERRY COLEBY-WILLIAMS: Earlier this year, I visited the beautiful garden belonging to Penny McKinlay – a rose expert from Pittsworth in Queensland. Whilst I was there, she had some great advice about caring for grafted roses.

PENNY MCKINLAY: Now Jerry, here’s a problem with grafted roses. When you have a grafted rose, you have two plants. You have an under stock which is a very strong, common plant….

JERRY COLEBY-WILLIAMS: That’s the root system.

PENNY MCKINLAY: That’s the root system…and then you graft the special one on to that.

JERRY COLEBY-WILLIAMS: And that’s the bit with the flowers.

PENNY MCKINLAY: That’s right. Now this blighter….see how he’s attached under the graft on the rose and gardeners look at it and they say, “Oh isn’t that a healthy shoot.” It’s not and it will eventually be so strong and so big, it will take over and the big mother rose will gradually get weaker and weaker. Now they’ve got to be eliminated and don’t just cut them with secateurs. That is not a good…they will grow again. So I’m going to do it with my foot and also, if you’ve got a very sharp, sharp knife, you could pull it down and scrape right into the trunk and then dab a bit of water based paint on where it came out of and then pile your soil up around it.

JERRY COLEBY-WILLIAMS: There you go. A bit of leg work on your grafted roses will keep them in top shape. Great tip. Thanks Penny.

COSTA GEORGIADIS: I really love Penny’s down to earth approach. Roses certainly do bring joy to all the senses and Jane’s found a garden where they also bring peace.

How to Graft Roses

Grafting can be an excellent way to introduce new colors into your garden. It is also a very engaging and rewarding hobby.

So what is grafting?

Grafting is a method of attaching a part of a plant onto another plant, creating an amalgam of two or more plants. Many plant species can be crossed in such a way to varying results.

With roses, the process can be very gratifying as it caters to our imagination and aesthetic appreciation.

There are several methods of grafting, but we are going to focus on bud-patch grafting in this article. Let’s dive into it.

Step 1 – When is the right time to do it?

Grafting should be done at the right time of the year. The best time is usually mid-summer, when the ‘rootstock’ rose bush—the plant you are going to graft on—is at its healthiest state.

During the hottest days of the year, nutrients in roses travel faster from root to leaves. This can help grafts take quicker.

Step 2 – Selecting a scion

Scion is the part of the plant we want to graft on another plant. Make sure you select a young scion with healthy leaves, a softer bark and a history of striking blossoms.

This will reduce the danger of disease in the post-grafting stage.

Step 3 – Extracting the bud bark patch

Disinfect the sharp knife with ethanol or isopropyl alcohol to kill any bacteria or viruses.

Locate the bud of the rose and carefully cut around it until you have a bark patch about an inch long with the bud in the middle.

Step 4 – Preparing the ‘rootstock’ rose

After you have chosen the rootstock plant—ideally, it should be in a healthy and well-adapted state—water it generously for a few days before the surgical procedure. This will encourage better circulation of the nutrients and will increase the chances of success for the graft.

Prune and trim the stem off its leaves and thorns. The idea is to focus the rootstock’s resources on the scion – at least until it establishes itself.

Step 5 – Cut a T-shaped pocket into the rootstock stem

Using the sharp knife, make a T-shaped incision into the rootstock stem but be careful to only penetrate the bark down to the stem’s soft and moist core. The idea is to make a pocket for the bud patch of the young rose without causing damage to the rootstock plant.

Step 6 – Inserting the patch into the rootstock

With the cut made, gently slide the bud patch into the pocket until it sits nicely inside. Make sure the growth of the sprout of the bud is directed upwards.

The idea is to encourage the soft inner part of the patch to come in contact with the soft inner part of the rootstock stem, so they can ‘unite’ later on. With the patch in, wrap grafting tape around the wound to secure the patch in place, but be careful not to cover the bud.

Step 7 – Caring for the grafted plant

The initial two weeks are vital for the success of the procedure.

• The rose should be placed where it gets an abundance of space, sunlight and air.
• Water it generously every day to keep the soil moist.
• You can also add substrate rich in composed material for a better outcome.

It is advisable to trim the first few shoots of the rootstock plant in favor of strengthening the graft. Don’t worry about the adhesive tape: it will naturally fall off when the graft begins to grow.

Grafted roses are not as hardy as natural roses, so you will also need to take precautions to protect them from the cold during the winter days.

If all has been done correctly, you will get to enjoy new colors and freshness in your garden.

Grafting is an excellent hobby with clear and visible results. It is a great way to engage your artistic side during your off days, so you can enjoy the fruits of your work over a cup of coffee in the morning.

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Rose Plant Grafting

Today, we are discussing Rose Plant Grafting Methods; Techniques; Procedure.

Grafting is a process in which two plants are joined together so that they can grow as one. The upper portion of the plant which is called as scion will be attached to the lower portion of the plant called rootstock.

Reasons for Grafting:

  • Grafting is mostly done to the trees which bear fruits and almost all the trees present in orchards will be grafted.
  • The process of grafting in the orchards takes place because the seeds of trees which bear fruits will not be able to reproduce their real genetics. Hence, a branch will be taken from any desirable tree and grafted to a rootstock which is suitable.
  • Grafting is a process which takes place for the production of plants which are dwarf and are almost genetically true to their species.
  • A plant which is less desired can be modified by inculcating the process of grafting a species which is more desirable to the rootstock.
  • Many varieties can be grafted to one rootstock in order to produce a tree which will produce a different variety of fruits on one tree. Many of the roses are the product of grafting done to a different rootstock.

Grafting can be done through the stem cutting to the rootstock and also through budding. Budding is a process in which a bud from the stem is grafted instead of the whole stem. This method is most preferred for the trees of apple and other few trees as well. Usage of wax is done in order to cover the area which is grafted and then wrapping is done by using the growing tape in order to protect it at the time of healing.

Many varieties of plants can act as the rootstock, but preference would also be given to the flowering quince as is remains tolerant to the climate in the north. If grafting is done to a rootstock which is hard, it gives the plants a capability to grow in a climate which is cold without undergoing the freezing of roots.

Identification of a Grafted Rose Plant:

A plant which is produced by the method of grafting can be identified through a lump which occurs at the stem base where it gets attached to the rootstock. The point which is grafted should not be buried. If it is buried, the rootstock will start growing instead of the upper portion of the plant which is grafted.

Rose Plant Grafting Procedure:

Preparation for Rose Plant Grafting:

  • It is better to perform grafting on your roses in the middle of summer because this is the time when the sap present in the plants will be flowing. If the nutrients along with the sap keep flowing, there would be a better opportunity for the grafting to take place and also for the survival of the new roses.
  • Scion which is also called as a bud is the plant which you are going to graft onto other plants. In the case of roses, the selection of Scion is done based on the flowers which are beautiful because it is these flowers which continue growing after the process of growing is done. The scion which would be the best is the stem which is the youngest of the plant. The stem should have a good establishment of leaves on it and the flowering should have been done recently and there should be a start of hardwood developing on it.
  • To get the best of the results, you need to select a stem from which the bloom has faded recently.
  • The rootstock is the plant to which the fusion of the graft will be done. Rootstocks are selected considering their health and hardiness, irrespective of the flowers and their beauty. For the process of grafting to take place, the rootstock should belong to other rose plants.
  • Rose plants are the ones which need lots of water for survival and the grafting will have a good chance of success if both rootstock and scion are watered well before the process takes place. You need to start providing both the plants with plenty of watering on a daily basis for the first 15 days before grafting.
  • Ensure that the roses are watered regularly before two days of the graft and also till the previous night.


  • Plants are very much prone to bacteria, fungi, and viruses similar to human beings. These can be prevented by making use of the gardening tools which are sterilized mainly when you have chosen a sensitive method like grafting. This will not only ensure the successful grafting but also the survival of the plant.
  • The simplest way for the sterilization of the grafting knife is by using isopropyl alcohol or ethanol.
  • Use cloth damp with alcohol and then start wiping the blade in a thorough manner by ensuring that you get the sides, base, and the tip of the grafting knife. Be careful while doing this process as it may hurt you. Now, keep the blade aside so that it would dry in air for some time.


  • By using the clean shears of pruning, start pruning your rootstock plant so that the foliage which is dead can be removed. Choose a stem which is healthy and has a large number of leaves which are developed for the actual grafting. By making use of the grafting knife, take off all the buds and prickles from the center part of the stem.
  • It is not that necessary to remove the prickles, but it will help because this will reduce the chance of hurting yourself in the process.
  • Bud removal is very important as the buds have to grow from Scion and not from the rootstocks.
  • While pruning, make the cuttings in an angle of 45°to decrease the damage and improve the circulation of air.

Read: Organic Garlic Planting.

T-shape Cut:

By using a grafting knife, cut a T-shape into the bark of the rootstock which has a length of an inch. Remember not to penetrate the layer of cambium which would be wet and also in green color looking pale. By making use of the tip of the knife, carefully open the flaps which are created by you in the bark.

The best location for the T-cut to take place is near to the center of the stem in between both the nodes. Nodes are the locations where the buds and leaves grow out of the stem.

Cutting and Thinning of the stem for Rose Plant Grafting:

  • Now, cut the stem which you want to use as a scion. The upper portion and lower portion of the stem have to be cut off by leaving a section of up to 5 cms at the center. While doing this, ensure that the section of the stem has a minimum of one eye bud where the growth of a new leaf takes place from the stem.
  • By making use of the grafting knife, you can cut the buds, prickles and the leaves from the part of the stem you have taken.
  • Now start trimming the stem for 2.5 cms beneath the bud eye located at the lower portion.
  • After that, locate the knife on the stem at the upper portion of the bud eye. Insert the blade very deep into the stem so that the penetration of the cambium layer and the bark takes place. This layer would just be behind the bark which consists of the nutrients.
  • Now cut the bud eye by ensuring that the bark, as well as cambium layer, are taken by you.
  • Ensure that the bud eye is towards the upward direction as it means the stem is towards the correct direction. When the scion is inserted into the rootstock, the flaps of the bark will be opened around the scion. Now start pushing the scion into the bottom of the T-cut by leaving the bud eye which has been exposed at the upper portion of the flaps.
  • The cambium layers of the rootstock and scion will be in contact with each other and this is what is required for the grafting to take place successfully.
  • Now close the flaps of the bark over the scion. Start wrapping some layers of the grafting tape surrounding the graft. The top and bottom area of the bud eye should be wrapped and make sure that the bud eye is exposed.
  • Do not be frightened while pulling the tape in order to stretch it as this is important so that we can make sure that the cambium layers are in contact.
  • Thinning will help in the removal of the branch at its origin. It will help in cutting the branch back to the plant base. This does not result in strong and healthy growth beneath the cut. Hence the plant will be open and there would be fewer branches which in turn increases circulation of air. This prevents diseases.


  • The plants which are grafted will require plenty of water. For the next 15 days, you need to water the rootstock on a daily basis to make sure that the soil is moist. The soil should not be soaked wet but it should be damp.
  • As soon as the scion will start creating new growth on the rootstock, it will start growing fresh buds. Bur when the scion is still in the establishment stage, the buds will be very heavy and can even cause damage to the union of buds. To decrease the stress on the union of buds, you need the trim the first four buds which grow till the graft is completely healed.
  • Use a knife which is sharp in order to trim the buds immediately after their emergence.
  • To help the new plant, pruning can also be done to the rootstock above the graft.
  • Grafting tape is a kind of tape and as time passes, it will decompose naturally and falls off. Make sure that you are not removing the tape from the rootstock. When sufficient time has passed, the tape will fall off and this will make sure that it stays for a long time till the graft heals.

Different methods of Rose Plant Grafting:

Rose Plant.

There are different methods of grafting which have been devised for the vegetative propagation of plants to take place artificially. The methods of grafting which are used commonly for the rose plants are bud grafting and whip grafting.

Whip Grafting:

This is the simplest and the most commonly used method for grafting small rose plants. If you are grafting for the first time, trying this method is always suggestible as it is very simple.

  • The first thing you need to do is to make a slanting cut on the rootstock of the plant.
  • The Scion in the process of whip grafting is a branch which consists of a minimum of two grafting buds and very few leaves. Make a slanting cut as you have done for the rootstock, but this should be complementary.
  • Ensure that the cambium layers of both scions and the rootstock are in contact. The cambium layer gets infusion to form a bridge of living tissues in the form of a callus.
  • Now place the scion on the rootstock in a careful manner and start applying some grafting wax. You can buy it in stores and the grafting wax consists of resin and beeswax in the ratio of 3:1.
  • Wrap the scion in a polythene strip which is perforated and tie it in place. Then make the scion secure by using a rope. Do not tie it too much tight as it restricts air circulation. It should not be loose too.
  • The fusion of the graft takes place in 45 to 60 days. To make sure if the grafting of the scion is done, unwrap the graft gently and check. It is always better to leave the graft without even touching it for at least 75 days so that the scion will be grafted with the rootstock for sure. If there is any sort of disturbance in the arrangement for checking the process, the fusion may fail.

Bud Grafting:

Bud grafting which is most suitable for the rose plants which are grown in small pots or the rose plants which are grown in nurseries with thin branches is the process which takes place when the rootstock is very delicate with a diameter of 1 cm. In such cases, grafting the complete branch on the rootstock gets tough as there is a chance for the branch to get dried or wilt before the fusion takes place. Moreover, if the branches of the rootstock are thin, then the entire arrangement will turn up to be delicate for the grafting to be completed successfully. In such scenarios, bud grafting is preferred. This is simply called budding. In this process, the scion is a vegetative bud. As per the cut which is made on the rootstock, budding is classified into two types.

  • Patch bud grafting
  • T-Bud grafting

Patch Bud Grafting:

In this method, a patch is taken from the rootstock plant to make a place for the bud in order to fuse. While cutting the patch o the rootstock, it is very important to make sure that the stock is not getting wounded in a way which is not at all healable. The patch cut should not be so deep. Expose the inner portion of the stem and that would be simple rather than cutting it so deep. The below steps can be followed in the process of patch budding.

  • Choose the plant you want to graft and cut a vegetative bud from it and this is termed as the scion. You need to ensure that you are cutting a very little part of the stem and the bud.
  • Patch cut should be made as per the shape and size of the rootstock. For budding, the size of the scion will be very small. So, ensure that the patch cut which has been made will be in such a way that it fits the scion.
  • Gently put the scion on the stock plant and start applying some grafting wax.
  • Protect the scion same as in the whip grafting method. You need to take proper care when protecting the bud graft, as the scion here is just a vegetative bud which is very small. There is a chance of the scion falling off if not protected properly.
  • It is simple to monitor the bud graft fusion. The scion will grow as a branch after the graft is fused with the rootstock in a proper manner. Hence, there is no need to open the graft to check if the fusion happened. You will know it when the branch starts growing out of the graft.

Read: Mango Tree Grafting, Training, Pruning Techniques.

T-bud Grafting:

In this method, a cit which is of T-shape is made on the rootstock plant so that the partial peeling of flaps from the stock takes place. The main advantage of T-budding is that, because of the T-shaped cut, a pocket is created which would be small and this would be created on the rootstock. Due to this, the scion can be inserted into the pocket in an easy way. This type of graft arrangement is very secure.

  • After cutting the vegetative bud or the Scion, make a cut on the rootstock which has a T-shape. Now gently grab both the ends of the T with a couple of forceps and start peeling them from the stock so that the inner portion of the stem gets exposed. Do not peel them completely from the rootstock.
  • Now insert the vegetative bud or the scion into the T-shaped cut in such a way that the bud will come out of the cut and is not sealed by the flaps.
  • Application of grafting wax should be done now. Flaps should be closed and the graft has to be protected.
  • The union which is made from a T-bud has a great chance of success than the plant which is bud grafted. This is because the scion is safe inside the pocket and hence it is not vulnerable to any forces which cause damage.

Advantages of Grafting:

  • Grafting is the only method which helps in the preservation of the characteristics which are desired of the seedless hybrid plants.
  • Grafting makes the plants resistant to the diseases caused by pests and also the diseases which occur to the soil. This is considered to be the biggest advantage as the plants attain resistance from viruses, bacteria, fungi etc.
  • The plants show improvement genetically. Grafting helps in the creation of a new plant by using improved technology and being faster than other conventional methods.
  • The physical growth of the plant will be improved by grafting. There would be a tremendous improvement in the number, size, and quality of the fruits.
  • The productivity of the plant increases. It would be more tolerant to adverse situations such as excess humidity or salinity.
  • The plant gets established in a short time which would be a great help if raised on commercial purposes.
  • The old trees can be renewed by grafting.
  • The standardization of the production of fruits will be done. This will help in propagating the varieties that are not adapted well to the conditions of soil or the plants which are having the root systems which are weak by grafting them into strong patterns.
  • The juvenile period of the plant will be reduced and hence, they enter into production prior to the plants which are not grafted.

Disadvantages of Grafting:

  • Skilled labour is required to take up the grafting process and hence they need to get trained.
  • If the execution has failed, the growth of the plant gets affected and there would be disorders appearing physiologically.
  • There would be some incompatibility which occurs at several stages of grafting and this will have a huge impact on the genetic composition of the individual plant.

Read: How To Grow Saffron.


Ray R. Rothenberger and Christopher J. Starbuck
Department of Horticulture

Budding is a method of grafting in which the scion (upper portion of the graft) 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

Budding is most frequently used to multiply a variety that cannot be produced from seed. It is a common method for producing fruit trees, roses and many varieties of ornamental trees and shrubs. It may also be used for topworking trees that can’t be easily grafted with cleft or whip grafts. The stone fruits, cherry, plum and peach, are examples.

Why propagate by budding?

Budding, particularly “T” budding, is faster than any other grafting technique. With a little practice, the right conditions and compatible plants, the percentage of successful unions can be high. Experienced budders may get 90 to 100 percent take. Even for the beginner, the percentage of successful unions is usually greater than with other forms of grafting. Budding is also well adapted to plant shoots from 1/4 to 1 inch in diameter. In larger branches, buds may be inserted in vigorously growing twigs near the upper part of the plant.

Besides ease and success, a stronger union is formed than those made with other grafting techniques. Because only a single bud is inserted, you can produce a number of new plants even when scion wood of a new variety is scarce.

When is the time to bud?

“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 (fall budding). Buds set at this time normally remain dormant until the following spring. In cold climates, bud growth in fall is undesirable because young shoots are subject to winter injury. Fall budding is the most common technique for producing fruit trees. Spring budding (in March and April) is possible but is less desirable than fall budding. Another process called June budding is best suited to climates with relatively long growing seasons. Beginners should select fall budding.

How should stock be prepared?

Young plants selected for the understock must have new, vigorous growth. In early summer, take off any shoots on the lower 6 inches of the trunk. This gives you a smooth surface to work on. Most budding of young plants is done 2 to 3 inches above the ground; however, it is possible to bud higher.

What are budsticks?

The budstick is a twig, usually from the current season’s growth. It is taken from the plant of the desirable variety to be increased. It should have average vigor, be healthy and have plump, well-developed buds. Buds on the center of the twig are generally better than those near the tip or the base (where the twig may have branched from another limb).

As soon as you cut the budstick from the tree or shrub, clip off the leaves; allow about 1/2 inch of the leafstalk to remain as a handle. Use budsticks as soon as they are taken from the tree, but if necessary, they may be stored in cool, moist conditions.

How should buds be selected and prepared?

As in other forms of grafting, a very sharp knife is important. Special budding knives are available that can be used for making the cuts and lifting bark for easy bud insertion. To cut a bud from the budstick, start 1/2 to 3/4 inch below the base of the bud (Figure 1). Make a smooth, slicing cut upward that extends 1/2 to 3/4 inch above the bud. As you finish the cut, bring the knife upward to release the bud. You must cut the wood (shield) attached to the bud straight (Figure 2). Beginners often remove buds with a slightly curved cut. A curve in the shield (wood attached to the bud) makes poor contact and most likely will not form a union. When you cut the bud from the budstick, you must immediately insert it into the understock before either dries. Any drying or dirt on the bud shield can mean failure. Some budders remove the wood from the shield, leaving only the bark and bud for insertion. However, beginners will be more successful if they leave the wood on the bud piece.

How should the understock be prepared?

The most common and successful cut made in the understock for budding is the T cut. Select a smooth, branch-free location on the stock. Make a vertical cut parallel with the grain of the wood by drawing the knife upward (Figure 3, left). The cut should be about 1-1/2 inches long. Position this cut so the bud will fall in the proper location. Remember that once inserted, the bud should be placed in about the center of this vertical slit.

After making the vertical cut, make a cross cut which forms a T at the top of the vertical cut (Figure 3, right). Make the cross cut at a slightly downward angle to make insertion of the bud piece easier. Cut through the bark but not into the wood.

Figure 3
Forming a “T” cut in the stock.

Figure 4
Slide the bud into the vertical slit until the top is even with or below the cross cut.

How is the bud inserted?

After making the two cuts to form the T, gently lift the bark at the junction of the two cuts with the knife. However, if the bark is slipping properly, this step may not be necessary.

To insert the bud, place the base of the bud shield into the slit at the top of the T cut. Slide the bud down into the vertical slit until the top of the shield is even with or below the cross cut (Figure 4).

Leaving the 1/2 inch of leafstalk as a handle can make insertion easier. However, with experience, buds can be inserted without it. Prompt insertion as soon as the buds have been cut from the budstick is important.

Figure 5
Wrap the bud tightly with a budding rubber.

How should the bud be wrapped?

After the bud has been placed in the T cut, it should be wrapped. Rubber budding strips are common and easy to use. However, string or raffia may also be used. You can start either above or below the bud, but generally it is better to start above and wrap downward to keep from pushing the bud out if the bark is loose (Figure 5). Make three or four wraps above the bud and three or four below. Finish with a self-binding loop. Try to cover the horizontal cut of the T with one loop of the wrap. Never cover the bud.

What care does the young bud require?

Check the bud one week to 10 days after it has been set. By that time you should be able to tell whether or not it has formed a union. If both the bud and the surrounding bark of the bud shield are shriveled and dry, it has not taken. You may have time to graft another bud on the stem. If a union has taken place, the bud and shield will look fresh. If non-elastic wrapping materials were used, cut them off at this time. If elastic wrapping bands were used, they may be cut at any time. Some will deteriorate naturally in a few weeks.

In spring, after the bud starts swelling, cut off the stock near the cross of the T. Occasionally, birds may present a problem. They may light on the developing bud shoot and break it loose before it is completely healed. In such situations, it is better to cut the stock off 4 to 5 inches above the bud to avoid such breakage. This stub above the bud can be cut back later when the shoot is larger and more durable.

As the bud begins growing, buds from the rootstock may develop shoots. They should all be removed as soon as they appear before they are more than 2 to 3 inches long.

Do not prune the new branch that has developed from the bud during the first summer. If there is danger of it being broken by wind, it would be better to tie it to a stake or devise other means of support than prune it.

What is patch budding?

Among the several budding techniques, patch budding and T budding are the most frequently used. Patch budding is slower and more difficult than T budding, but it is useful on thick-barked trees that can’t be T budded. In Missouri, patch budding is suitable for walnuts, pecans and their relatives.

For successful patch budding, both the bark of the understock and the budstick must be slipping easily. This form of budding is most often done in late summer or early fall, but you can do it in the spring as soon as the bark slips. It is best to have the budstick and understock about the same size in diameter, although it is possible to place a patch bud on stocks as large as 4 inches in diameter.

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. For this reason, double-bladed knives or other special tools have been devised to make perfectly parallel horizontal cuts. These cuts are usually about an inch apart.

How should the bud be prepared for patch budding?

When you prepare for patch budding in late summer, select wood for budsticks about two to three weeks before you plan to do the budding. At that time, cut the leaf blades from these areas. Allow the petioles to remain. Do not cut the budsticks from the tree. By the time you plan to do the budding, the petioles will have dropped or are easily removed, and the leaf scar will have healed over. Cut these budsticks as needed and keep them moist and protected from direct sun or intense heat.

To remove the bud from the budstick, use the double knife to make parallel horizontal cuts equal distances above and below the bud. Then, make vertical cuts about an inch apart at each end of the horizontal cuts. This makes a patch about 1 inch square. Remove this patch from the budstick by pushing sideways. If you pull it from the stick, you may pull out the center of the bud. If the core of the bud stays on the budstick, the patch bud will not grow.

How should the understock be prepared for patch budding?

A patch similar to that made for the bud must also be made in a clean, straight-grained portion of the understock. Remove the bark from the understock and quickly insert the patch containing the bud. Do both operations quickly, so neither the bud nor the understock have a chance to dry out. The inserted patch should fit snugly on all four sides. Cut the patch in the understock before the patch-bud is removed from the budstick. It is more important that the patch fit snugly at the top and bottom than the sides; however, a snug fit on all four sides is best.

How should the patch bud be wrapped?

Immediately after insertion, wrap the patch. If the bark of the understock is thicker than that of the bud, pare it down so that the bud will not be loose after wrapping. Don’t cover the bud during wrapping, but all four cuts must be covered. Nurserymen’s adhesive tape or masking tape are sometimes used. Heavy cotton string may also be used to hold the bud tight, but the edges of the patch must be waxed.

Don’t allow the wrapping to constrict the bud union. About 10 days after budding, check the buds and release the wrapping by making a single vertical cut on the back side of the understock away from the bud. Do not try to pull off the wrapping if it sticks to the bud or understock. You only want to release tension.

How should the understock be cut back?

As with other forms of budding, don’t cut the stock back until the bud union is completed. When the budding is done in fall, don’t cut the stock back until growth starts in the spring. If the budding is done in the spring, cut the stock back about 10 days after you inserted the bud and it has formed a union.

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