Pine grafting time

The best time to graft new shoots onto pines is when the roots are just waking up, but just before candles start to push. As was explained to me, this is to ensure sap is flowing when the scions “wake up” and are ready to grow.

This year, I have done more grafts on pines than in years past. Call it a battle of attrition, or practice. Hopefully the results will come.

Parafilm is a lab product used to cover beakers, flasks and tubes. It is photodegradable, stretchable, and it sticks to itself. In bonsai, it is used like grafting tape, but has these advantages, making it easier to work with.

The process is straight forward. Create a flap in the stock, insert a scion, and ensure the cambiums are lined up.

This is an Ondae corkbark black pine, so I used a strong shoot from the same tree. Here is the scion:


Reduce needles to 4-5 pairs:


Wrap the scion with a strip of Parafilm to keep it from drying out. Stretch, wrap, repeat:


Make clean wedge-shape cuts in the scion to expose the cambium (green layer between bark and wood):


Insert the scion into the stock, ensuring cambiums line up. This is a critical step, so take the time and get it right.


Seal it up with Parafilm, and secure it with raffia:


Return it to sunlight, and with any luck the candle will start to push through the Parafilm right along with the other candles. Here is shot taken about 10 days later…is that a candle trying to
push through…?


Another, that hopefully will become part of a future update!








And one last:






Grafting is a valuable tool all bonsai practitioners should have in their bag. It is good to be lucky and get a bud to break. It’s better to be able to place one where you want it.


5 thoughts on “Pine grafting time

  1. Do you orient the graft in any particular direction? Also do you only expose one side of the cambium, or all the way around?

  2. Ditto on Judy’s questions. Excellent clarity and delivery to your directions. Are you a teacher in real life? Thanks.

  3. can you talk a bit about how much bark you removed in the area on the trunk? i realize you need to have cambium layers meet but it looks like you removed a large area of bark, and how will that heal over time?

    1. Thanks for reading. I removed the older, flaky bark so the flap I cut on the stock was flexible. It will heal over and form new bark in a couple seasons.

      Ron and Judy:The scions are inserted so they will emerge in the direction I want them to grow. So often we wire branches down, so if that’s the intended direction of growth, it’s easier to start them headed down fight off the trunk. And, yes, I cut both sides of the scion, but only lined it up on the side facing the middle of the trunk. Good if you can get both sides, but should work if they’re touching at all.

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