Homemade graft sealing
The final step in any
grafting project is to seal all cut surfaces so they don't dry out
before they're able to heal. Professionals buy grafting tar or
parafilm, but I wanted to try some materials I already had on hand.
The trick with using
beeswax or some other homegrown compound to seal your grafting cuts is
that hot wax can damage the cambium of the tree. I opted to dab
on mostly melted beeswax, figuring it wouldn't hurt the tree as long as
it didn't burn my finger when I dripped a bit of melted wax on my
skin. This is the most experimental part of my project, though,
since no one else seems to use straight beeswax to seal their wounds.
One recipe for making your
own sealing wax includes 1 part raw linseed oil, 2 parts beeswax, and 4
parts powdered rosin. Someone else kneaded mineral oil into hobby
clay to make a sealing compound. I suspect both of these
compounds would be flexible enough that you could paint them on cold,
which would delete the potential heat problem.
No matter which compound
you use, you want to cover the tips of each piece of scionwood, then
liberally dab wax or tar on the top and sides of the cleft tree
trunk. Do your best to be more careful than I was and not cover
up any of the precious buds on the scionwood --- I had to pick a bit of
wax off with my fingernails.
Some sources suggest
tying a plastic bag over the top of the grafted area when you're done
for an added layer of protection. It sounds like you can use
carpenter's glue to seal the graft as long as you top it off with
aluminum foil and then a plastic bag. However, plastic bags
require more work since you'll need to keep them out of direct sunlight
so they don't heat up, and then you have to take the bag off once the
scionwood starts to grow. I'm thinking of deleting the plastic
bags, actually --- what do you think?
Despite taking five long
posts to tell you about this, I performed a cleft graft on two pear
trees in less than an hour, counting all of my practice cutting
time. So don't be scared away from the process. I'll report
back this summer as our scionwood (hopefully) starts to grow.
to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the
RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.