Equipment for grafting cacti
- Surgical spirit or Meths
- We like to use an easy to clean and sterilized surface and find that a 30cm square of Perspex is good for this.
- Razor blades: We find the old fashioned ones with the 3 holes in the centre the best. Clean and dry regularly with surgical spirit. Regular knife blades are too dull and tear the tissues.
- Clear pen tops or plastic tube with one end sealed off.
- Rubber bands, electrical tape and tissue paper.
Pereskiopsis spathulata: grafting technique
For grafting young seedlings Pereskiopsis is probably the best option as it produces a fantastic growth rate in the slowest growing plants e.g. Ariocarpus, lophophora, aztekium etc. The photograph to the right is a 3 month old plant after grafting.
For the best results we use rooted Pereskiopsis cuttings of between 10-15 cm that are in active growth and haven’t been watered for a few days, as freshly watered plants can have too much sap that will push the scion off.
Wipe over the cutting surface with meths to sterilize it and select a few seedlings, place them on the surface.
Remove about 30 mm (1 inch) from the top of the Pereskiopsis (stock). We recommend using large tweezers or forceps to hold the plant for this operation. This will protect your fingers from the extremely sharp Pereskiopsis spines that also break off when you try to remove them and are painful.
Take a seedling (scion) and remove the bottom third along with the roots.
Quickly place the scion on top of the stock, usually at this size the cut seedling will stick to the blade, so just slide it off and onto the stock. Then gently press down on it to remove any trapped air.
For the graft to work, the vascular rings of the plants must make contact.This is probably the hardest part of using Pereskiopsis and seedlings, as it is almost impossible to see the vascular ring in the seedling and some luck is involved. We always set the scion just off centre.
It is recommended then to move the graft to a humid warm place with no extra weights to hold the plants together and out of direct sun light for a few days. In this time the plants should seal together. Then treat as a regular plant.
We find we have a better success rate by placing a clear pen lid over the graft to add a little pressure. This also creates a humid micro climate around the union and protects the graft from accidental knocks. The pen lid should be removed after 3-4 days.
We find when the graft has taken the seedling goes quite red before the new spines emerge. Also, remove any new side shoots from the stock plants as if left to grow they will sap energy from the scion. If you leave the side shoot to grow up to about 30mm before removing them at this size they will root up quite readily and provide more grafting stock.
The grafts are then grown on for 2 to 3 years, then removed and grown on their own roots, or re-grafted onto Myrtillocactus or Pachanoii.
Myrtillocactus geometrizans: grafting technique
We use Myrtillocactus geometrizans as a stock because it is very tolerant to over watering and is a fast grower. Trichocereus pachanoii is also good and the technique is the same for both.
Both stock (myrtillo) and the scion (in this case lophophora) must be in active growth for good success.
Cut the top 3-4cm (1-2 inches) from the myrtillo (stock plant). Don’t cut too low down as the younger growth is the best.
Chamfer off the top edges of the stock.
Cut the Peyote just above soil level if using a rooted plant (cutting at this height will leave enough of the plant to send out new buds).
Place the cut button on top of stock and align the vascular circles. Gently push down on top of the peyote button to remove any air.
Secure with rubber bands … or another good method is to put a pad of tissue paper on top of the cactus then secure with electrical tape.
Place in a warm, humid and shady place for 3 to 4 days. Remove the bands and place back into sun. Treat like any other plant.
Important Inside the cut surface of each cactus you will see the vascular rings, they are quite obvious small white circles in the centre. These must touch each other for a successful union. (They do not have to be exactly aligned, just need to touch.)