The Art of Camellia Grafting. Example 1.
Yuri Panchul, 2009.
Suppose you have a camellia you don’t like.
For example I don’t like this specimen for three reasons:
- I think it is mislabeled. I bought it as “Camellia vietnamensis” but a real C. vietnamensis is supposed to be a member of Paracamellia/Oleifera section of the genus and this particular specimen has nothing to do with any member of this section I know.
- It does not tolerate any sun. Full shade only.
- It did not bloom in my garden.
At the same time this specimen has a good root system, so it can be used as understock for grafting.
The plant I decided to propagate using grafting is Camellia x hiemalis ‘Dwarf Shishi’. This is a relatively rare miniature sasanqua originated by Toichi Domoto (1883-1992), a Japanese American nurseryman who lived in California:
This is a picture of Toichi Domoto from his high school album in Alameda county:
March 14, 2009
So let’s prepare the instruments:
Before grafting the soil in the container should not be too dry, but nevertheless on the dry side – overwatering is likely to cause the scion to fail because of rot. Water it one week in advance and let it dry a little bit.
Cut the rootstock:
Prepare the rootstock. It is a nice idea to wear latex gloves to avoid contaminating the graft union, but I did not do it with this plant:
Cut for a classic cleft graft with two scions:
Insert a screwdriver:
Cut the scions:
Prepare each scion:
Insert the scions, carefully remove the screwdriver and cover everything with a rooting hormone powder.
Actually, the hormone itself is probably irrelevant for the grafting success, but the powder contains fungicide and this fungicide helps to prevent rot.
Here is how to make a cut for another method of grafting – a so called bark grafting:
The scion for the bark grafting is prepared in a way similar to cleft grafting, but it is inserted between the bark and the wood:
Let’s do it again on another branch:
Note how the scion’s cambium should be aligned for the maximum contact with the rootstock’s cambium:
Let’s prepare a wire cage, enclose everything tightly with a plastic bag (I am using standard garbage bags), put the whole thing in a full shade (otherwise the sun will fry it under the plastic) and forget about it for three months:
July 4, 2009
Success. I was slowly preparing this specimen for the life outside the plastic bag by making a small hole in it and slowly increasing the hole during two weeks. You can do it once you notice a burst of growth from the scion’s buds. It is important not to do this too early (it may dry up and die) or too late (it may rot and die):
Note the new leaves do not look healthy – they grew up in shade inside the air-tight enclosure:
July 29, 2009
After 3 weeks the plant looks much healthier and has a lot of new growth:
August 8, 2009
Now we have a nice plant of Dwarf Shishi. I am going to prune it next year to improve its shape:
When I made this picture I put the plant on concrete surface. But you should not keep it on concrete surface for a long time because the concrete produces a lot of heat load and camellias do not like it: