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Cactus graft: how to do it and care

Cactus graft: how to do it and care

You have probably seen at some point, either online or in a florist or specialized store, one of those showy colored cacti grafted onto a base of another cactus. If you want to learn how to make one of those striking grafts yourself and in the process learn more about this type of union between two different species, join us in this EcologíaVerde article. Next, we offer you a cactus grafting guide, how to do it right and its care.

What is a graft and what is it for?

A graft is nothing more than make two plants join forming one. The usual graft consists of two parts: the foot or rootstockwhich is the plant that forms the base and provides the root (and therefore the feeding function) and the graftwhich is the part that will develop thanks to the support of the other.

This, although a priori it is simple, cannot be applied with any two plants. grafts must be compatible with his feet. Usually it will be enough for them to be plants from the same family, but in any case, if you have doubts, the best thing you can do is check the compatibility of the two species you intend to graft.

The usefulness of the graft lies not only in its aesthetic qualities, but in the ability to alter the rhythms and strengths or weaknesses of a plant with certain feet. For example, a plant with slow growth and complicated multiplication will develop much faster on a fast-growing foot, and therefore it will flower earlier and it will be easier to multiply it and even obtain its fruits or seeds.

Another plant that does not want to be in direct contact with the ground due to humidity problems, can be grafted on top of a taller one, and thus avoid danger.

And with cacti, there is also the case of colored cactus graft. These beautiful cacti do not have chlorophyll and therefore cannot survive on their own, their only way to survive is through grafting.

Cactus graft: how to do it and care - What is a graft and what is it for

How to make a cactus graft – step by step

The first thing to consider is whether the species you are going to graft are compatible each. Check the viability of the graft with a professional or with an online search. Some feet are more beneficial to some species than others, and your graft should have the best chance of success.

Then you have to take into account the time of year. For the union between the plants to be done correctly, you need them to be in a time of active growth, so the best seasons or times to make cactus grafts are spring and summer.

Also, keep in mind that it is preferable that the diameter of the foot is slightly larger than that of the graft itself, and never the other way around. Finally, it is convenient to water and fertilize the plants more abundantly a week before carrying out the operation. Bearing all this in mind, you can go on to make a cactus graft with these steps:

  1. Sterilize the blade you are going to use by submerging it the night before in ethyl alcohol. You can use any type of blade as long as it is as sharp as possible and makes clean cuts.
  2. Cut the foot of the cactus that is going to be the base. The cut should be as clean as possible. Once the cut is made, round the edges to prevent it from shrinking and wrinkling as it heals. You can wrap the cactus in kitchen paper to avoid pricking yourself with its spikes.
  3. Cut the cactus to be grafted, in this case with a completely straight cut and without rounding.
  4. Place the graft on your foot. It is vital that you do not put it in any way: you must match the vascular bundles of the two plants in the best possible way, make sure that they intersect and coincide in at least two points. They are that point or circle that can be distinguished in its section, and through which nutrients are transported.
  5. Finally, hold the joint with transparent film or elastic bands that apply light pressure. The graft should be attached in approximately 10 to 15 days.
Cactus graft: how to do it and care - How to make a cactus graft - step by step

Grafted Cactus Care

A recently grafted cactus is much weaker and more vulnerable due to the aggressiveness of the process, since it has to heal the wound and thus join the two parts. These are the tips on caring for grafted cacti what we offer you:

  • It is important that in those first days they are in an area without direct incidence of sunlight and covered by extreme temperatures.
  • Once this time has passed, they can be exposed to light, but not throughout the day or during the hours of greatest incidence.
  • Regarding irrigation, as always with cacti, you should avoid overwatering, trying to give the substrate some moisture when it is very dry.

What to do if a grafted cactus is sick

If one of the two parts of the graft becomes unrecoverably ill, you can try undo the graft to save the healthy part. The process is similar but in reverse, and you need to make sure to sterilize the tools.

Yes the patient is the graft or top, you can simply remove it and let the foot close the wound or add another graft to the cut. On the other hand, if the patient is the foot, the part of the graft will need a substitute foot compulsorily. Treat this type of plants with great care and use specific fertilizers before and after changing the graft.

In addition, we recommend this basic care guide for cacti.

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