Human beings have long liked to tinker with nature to see the results. As such, crossbreeding of plants is quite common. This practice has resulted in the emergence of plant varieties that are hardier than their original versions, offering better yield or more ornamental value. Grafting happens when a piece of one plant is grown onto another plant. While grafted cactus is a direct result of human intervention, there is more to it than meets the eye.
So, what is grafted cacti? Simply put, grafted cacti is a combination of two different cacti species on one plant. To be grafted, both plants need to be cut, and then the pieces are joined together with a special grafting technique. It means that the stem of one cactus is grafted onto the rootstock (base) of another. The result is a single plant with two separate parts – one on top and the other at the bottom. The top part is known as the scion, while the bottom is known as the rootstock.
This blog post discusses everything you need to know about grafted cactus, from how it’s done to why this technique is so popular. So, let us get started.
Grafted Cactus: An In-depth Analysis
Perhaps, the grafting technique for cacti plants is started in the wilderness and only aided by human beings.
What do we mean? Well, in their natural habitat, some cacti species produce pups that get detached from the mother plant after some time.
When the mutant pup separates itself from the mother plant, it has no choice but to die since it cannot photosynthesize.
The primary reason it can’t photosynthesize is that it lacks chlorophyll, which is critical in photosynthesis.
For the mutant pup to survive, it must have other means of getting water and nutrients. That is where the grafting technique comes into play.
The pup is grafted onto an existing cacti plant to get nutrients from its “host” via the roots. The mutant pup then grows slightly faster than normal since it has access to more resources. This process gives rise to a new plant with features from two different plants.
However, the grafting process in a home environment is a little more complicated. It requires you to have the right tools and techniques, as well as a high level of expertise.
You must also understand the compatibility of the two cacti species to ensure a successful graft. If you plan on trying this technique, make sure you research thoroughly before attempting it.
Grafting Cacti Plants: Why Do It?
Cacti plants are grafted for many reasons. You can choose to graft your plants to produce a different cacti species mechanically.
The process produces a faster-growing, more robust species with enhanced ornamental value.
You can also graft cacti plants to create a unique shape or size that you otherwise wouldn’t get from regular cultivation.
Grafting helps protect the mutant pup from the environment since it can draw nutrients from its host’s roots.
The process also helps the new plant to resist pests and diseases better since it is a combination of two different cacti species.
Grafting is relatively common in fruiting cacti species since it increases the overall growth rate and maturity of an existing cactus plant for earlier fruition.
Typically, the scion inherits the characteristics of its mother plant, while the rootstock now turns into the base of the new plant.
The union is usually at the vascular cambium, where the scars of the rootstock and the scion are carefully sealed together to aid healing and joining.
Once the wounds have healed completely, no special grafted cactus care is needed. All you have to do is take care of it like you would do for any other cacti plant.
What Are the Common Rootstocks for Cactus Grafting?
As mentioned earlier, you need to fully understand the compatibility of the two cacti species before you attempt grafting.
Generally, you can use any species as a rootstock. However, many experienced gardeners prefer using any of the following cacti species as rootstocks:
1. Dragon Fruit
The dragon fruit is a green cactus plant that makes an excellent rootstock for grafted succulents because it is more resilient and adaptive to sudden environmental changes like temperature and humidity. The dragon cactus produces a fruit referred to as the dragon fruit or pitaya.
2. Barbary Fig
The Barbary fig is a firmly rooted species that readily take in the tissue for scions it is grafted onto. It thrives well in hot climates, making it an excellent rootstock for such conditions.
3. Peruvian Torch Cactus
The Peruvian torch cactus is a columnar cactus species that grows well in most types of soil. It is often used as a rootstock for other succulent and desert plants because it can tolerate extreme conditions like drought, frost, and intense heat.
It can reach up to 30 feet high with the right growing conditions. The cactus also produces an edible fruit commonly used in South American Cuisine.
4. Golden Torch Cactus
The golden torch cactus grows between 3-6 feet tall and is a desert-type cactus. It can tolerate extreme temperatures from both hot and cold climates and requires minimal maintenance, making it an ideal rootstock for grafted cacti plants.
5. Blue Myrtle Cactus
The blue myrtle cactus is a Mexican plant with a columnar shape and dark blue-green color. It is often used as a rootstock for grafting due to its ability to tolerate extreme temperatures and soil types. This cactus also produces an edible fruit that is sweet and juicy.
Though these cacti species are excellent for grafting, it is also essential to research thoroughly and understand the compatibility of the other cacti species involved.
Grafting Cacti Plants: The Process
The process of cacti grafting is a bit labor-intensive, but once you understand the steps and the materials required, it becomes easier. Here are some tips to keep in mind when grafting your plants:
- Choose healthy scion and rootstock plants that have similar or compatible sizes. Check for signs of disease or infection before you start the grafting process.
- Use a sharp blade or scalpel to make a flat cut at the top of the rootstock and then create a slit down its side about 1/4 inch deep.
- Place the scion onto the rootstock and be sure the vascular cambium layers are touching.
- Secure the scion with a rubber band or any other material to hold it in place while it heals.
- Water the grafted plant regularly, but do not overwater or underwater it.
- After a few weeks, the scion should have successfully taken over the rootstock. To ensure this, inspect the top of the scion and ensure it has started growing new roots and shoots.
- Once the scion is securely joined to the rootstock, you can start taking care of your cactus as usual.
Tips for Grafted Cactus Care
Grafting is a delicate process and requires special care to ensure successful results. Here are some tips on how to properly care for your grafted cactus:
- Get the temperature right – Cacti prefer warm temperatures between 18-25 degrees Celsius, with slightly higher temperatures during summer and slightly lower temperatures during winter.
- Water appropriately – Grafted cacti need regular watering but should be allowed to dry out before their next watering session.
- Monitor for pests and diseases – Keep a close eye out for signs of infection or any kind of damage caused by environmental changes or pests.
- Provide enough light – Grafted cacti need plenty of sunlight, so make sure to give them at least six hours of direct light each day for optimal growth.
Moon Cactus and Why It is the Most Ideal Cactus to Graft
The Moon Cactus, or Gymnocalycium mihanovichii, is a type of cactus that was first discovered in the 19th century.
It is native to South America and has been cultivated as an ornamental plant. The Moon Cactus has a unique shape and vibrant colors, which make it stand out among other cacti species.
Perhaps, one of the standout features of the moon cactus is its colorful appearance. Unfortunately, this cactus lacks chlorophyll needed to help it manufacture its own food. Therefore, the cactus usually needs to be grafted onto a compatible rootstock to survive and thrive.
It is also a popular choice for grafting due to its ability to tolerate extreme temperatures and drought conditions.
Overall, the Moon Cactus makes for an ideal scion because of its bright colors and resilience to extreme weather conditions.
That is why it has become popular for grafting among gardeners looking for an ornamental cactus.
Grafting cacti is an effective method for propagating and cloning your favorite plants.
The process involves selecting compatible rootstock and scion plants, joining them together in the right way, and giving them proper care they need to thrive.
With a bit of patience and dedication, you can easily graft your own collection of cacti plants. Good luck!
Last update on 2023-10-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API