Grafting is a technique whereby it is possible, for example to join one variety of Apple Tree onto another.
And even as I say it I hear you ask – “Why on earth would I ever need to do that?”
Taking a bud from one variety and sliding it behind the bark of another is called ‘budding’. Most Roses are produced commercially in this way.
And once more, there you go again – “Why?”
So, why do we need to do this at all ?
Well, it’s because in many cases today, plants have been so highly artificially bred that in some cases they maybe can’t produce seed, or the new varieties are too fragile to be able to survive on their own roots for one reason or another, or they prove to be more susceptible to pests or diseases. There are many other similar reasons.
And many of the plants that I’m talking about have been bred or enhanced or changed in some way by ‘Mankind’. Before ‘Mankind’ came along, the plants that lived on Earth came about naturally, and either thrived or declined as a result of millions of years of evolution, or as a result of interaction with Birds, Animals and Insects, Climate Change (Yes I know we thought that we’d invented that one!), and again, for a whole host of other reasons.
And in very general terms, one of the major benefits of developing as a result of millions of years of evolution from a plants point of view is that it makes you TOUGH. Built into your DNA will be the fact that going back all of those many millennium your predecessors have been able to survive many many extremes, and therefore so can you.
Now I’m not saying that plants that are altered by Mankind need massive amounts of help because, after all in most cases there is already plenty of good tough DNA in there already. BUT … a common reason for grafting is to strengthen a weaker new variety by grafting it onto a stronger root from an ‘Old’ relative, or even to reduce the vigour by putting it onto a ‘Dwarfing Rootstock’. You may recall having seen Flowering Cherries with weedy thin branches on a really thick trunk (the plant breeders got it wrong sometimes in the early days). And yes, it does have to be from the same generic family.
So when Mr. Clever-Clever finds a seedling that for this example, always usually has white flowers, but the one he’s just found has got Canary Yellow flowers instead, one way that he can reproduce it accurately is if he takes a young seedling of the white flowering species, cuts the top off it, and in crude terms sticks the new variety on top. As the tissue types are so similar they will heal together and – Hey Presto, you have a ‘new’ variety !!
And once he’s done that, and the new top starts to put on more growth, then he has more material to graft onto the root of other white flowering plants, and therefore ultimately more of the fancy yellow flowering plants to sell.