Grafting in the gardening sense simply means taking a donor cutting (limb) from one plant, which is called a Scion. Then attaching this donor limb/Scion to another plant known as the Rootstock. In theory utilizing the grafting technique, we gain the ability to have multiple strains growing off the one mother plant. This of course opens up the grower’s world to more choices strain wise, whilst also keeping your plant numbers under any required levels.
Grafting cannabis, although it is not an extremely popular growing method, is one of the coolest ways to grow marijuana, because it allows you to grow several strains of the same plant, while keeping all the genetics pure. The grafting method itself is quite ancient, and it has been used in history to join two different plants together to be able to grow different fruits or flowers from what is essentially the same stick.
So what are the reasons for grafting cannabis and using cannabis cuttings?
There are real benefits to this growing method, especially if you are keen to try a lot of different strains and don’t have the room to do so. This process allows you to grow a single branch of a strain of bud before committing to growing an entire plant of it. Therefore, grafting is especially valuable when there is a strain that doesn’t have an enormous yield, and you’re looking to use cannabis cuttings to test it out before having an entire plant.
It also pays to use cannabis cuttings if you live in an area where it is illegal to have above a certain number of plants. This gives you the freedom to grow several different strains without having a high count of plants. This is also a desired way to grow for those who don’t have a lot of space, because you can try several different strains while only using the space of a single plant.
Basic equipment required for grafting cannabis
- Scalpel or razor blade
- PTFE Tape/Plumbers tape (Its clean, malleable and creates a perfect seal)
- Clear sticky tape for first off Graft alignment (optional)
- Plastic sealing bags (Humidity tents)
- Garden wire (Plastic coated)
- Glass of water
Firstly, make sure that all of your plants are in vegetation. You should use the most sturdy plant as the mother to your grafts. The more branches it has, the more space you are going to have for grafting. It also helps if it is a mother plant that is easy to grow, because you need to be able to see this plant right through to harvest for your project to be successful. Finally, have everything you need ready to go and have a general idea of what you have to do before you begin. This process needs to be done quickly and efficiently in order to achieve the best results. Make sure your branches don’t dry out!
So, you want to choose healthy plants to select your donor Scions from and then match these to a healthy and vibrantly growing rootstock. You can even use a male Rootstock if you so desire. Now once you’ve selected these you want to look for branching on both plants that have similar structure and girth. This is important as were trying to match up the different tissue levels within both graft and stock. These selected branches of similar structure become your chosen grafting pairings. Then pick your method/style of graft. I’ve experimented with both common ways of cutting the graft point and believe the slanting single cut (Whip Graft) approach to be the best for simplicity and speed.
The other method (Cleft Graft) is to cut a V into your stock and a pointed V ending to your corresponding donor, then fit together and bind. To me this takes time and a very steady hand and can cause the graft point to start drying out.
Now please make sure both donor Scion and Rootstock are both watered plentifully at least an hour before you attempt any grafting. Then get your equipment ready and close to hand. I personally prepare my new Razorblade by running it through some spare cannabis plant matter, this to me is far better than cleaning with a substance alien to your plants! Then pre-cut your sections of tape get your glass of water handy and get ready to start the process. Using the Whip graft technique speed is key, as simply put, the less time you have either point of the graft exposed to the air, the better! Also for the best suited grafting sections, I try to use the straight part of the branching space between each node.
So we prepare the donor Scion by stripping away any excess foliage along its length and only leave a small amount of foliage at its growing tip, you also trim these leaves just as you would when in preparation of a Clone. With the cut itself just try and make its gradient, or angle as gradual as you can, (giving more surface area to the graft point). We cut the donor section first, as we then submerge this in water whilst preparing the rootstock side of the graft. The Rootstock side we just repeat the same process on an opposing angle to Scion’s cut, paying special attention in trying to match the angle and length up as best you can.
Then as quickly as possible, match the donor and stock graft points up, taking special note of the internal tissue layering. Once you have the best fit, give a firm squeeze. This should help the freshly cut ends weep slightly and this helps expel any water from the join and aids in the bonding. Then firmly bind up the graft point with the plumber’s tape (PTFE). To do this, firstly secure your Graft in place as best as you can with one section of tape. Then drape another piece of tape across this same point, with the Graft running through the middle of its length. Then using a crisscross lacing motion, working under and over, your able to then pull the tape against itself, helping to form a very tight bonded seal against both light and air. (This PTFE tape is to be removed carefully a couple of days after you know you have a successful graft.) Then I also take a small piece of gardening wire and wrap this around the graft point forming a short coil. This will aid in meshing your graft point together as the section grows against the wire creating a stronger bond, (this is to be removed later once its properly established). Then lastly, for keeping your Scion donor cuts hydrated, just sprinkle a touch of your water into your plastic self-sealing bag, then cover the grafted limb with your humidity bag and seal it up nearly all the way. (leaving a small gap for the cut to breath)
Grafting cannabis requires your lighting schedule to be set on 24/0 lights on, at least until you observe new growth from the Scion. Otherwise graft attempts wilt whilst lights are out and die. As for humidity and temperatures, your normal levels should be just fine.
We have to take into consideration the point that grafting or bonding of two separate plants takes time, so the turnaround between attempts can be quite slow. This itself causes issues and means grafting to smaller young cannabis plants is probably more beneficial than working with a larger plant from the start. I’ve already successfully grafted to younger plants meaning the ability to produce a small mother plant with multiple strains is indeed possible. The Grafting process may take up to 2 weeks for a limb to fully take. This in my mind is far too long to observe and possibly still fail. So I pay attention, keeping my eye out for wilting of the donor Scion. If the grafted section wilts too much immediately or doesn’t bounce back by the third day and look perky again, then to me it’s just not going to happen, so I simply remove the attempt, cut back the same stock branch slightly and go again!. I’ve now had a good number of successes with this process and honestly believe my above approach to be an efficient one for the home gardener.