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How to Make a Bark or Rind Graft

An Easy Graft With Error-Checking

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bark rind graft

A bark graft scion (left) with properly cut base, and a rootstock (right) with a slit and bark flaps pulled back, exaggerated for the diagram. Typically, many slits are made for many scions in each piece of stock.

By Paunaro [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I love the bark graft, also called a “rind graft” because it involves slipping scions under the rind-like bark of the tree. This is a graft with simple cuts and assembly are all simple. Better yet, at three scions to one rootstock stub, it contains its own backup plan: you only need one scion to succeed for the overall graft to succeed.

This is one of few grafts to be done in the active growing season, so it’s great for working on plants out in field, including the ever-growing tropicals. Like so many grafts, it’s most used in orchard crops.

What You Will Need

  • A large-diameter, actively growing rootstock, an inch or more across.
  • Three scions with about three buds each, collected in dormancy for deciduous species and fresh for other species.
  • A grafting knife.
  • Long nails and hammer. Ideally, also twine or string.
  • Sealing wax.

Making the Bark Graft

  1. Slit the rootstock bark. Cut three slits, spaced evenly around the rootstock. Each slit should be one to two inches long, all the way through the bark but not deeper. 
  2. Slightly pry the bark from the wood. Slip your knife in between the rootstock wood and bark near each slit. Pry the bark off just slightly, creating a thin space where you will slip in the scion.
  3. Thin the scion bases. Starting one to two inches up from its base, cut into the scion about a third of its diameter, then turn the knife and slice straight down. This creates a long flat face with a “shoulder” on top, a little protrusion. Turn the scion over and make one angled slice to turn the bottom of the scion into a sharp point. Repeat this step for all three scions.
  4. Insert the scions. Each scion now has a one- to two-inch length of very thin base with a vertical flat face, thinning to a point. Insert each scion with the vertical flat face facing in, towards the center wood of the stock.The fit should be snug, held by the pressure of the bark.
  5. Bind and nail in the scions. Drive a nail through the bark flaps on each side of each slit. Each nail should pass through the bark, scion, and into the wood, and be driven all the way in to tightly hold down the bark. For three scions, six nails are used. Additionally it is a good idea to wrap string or twine tightly around the assembly, to also hold the bark and scions in place.
  6. Wax all of the unions and the exposed rootstock wood. Perform standard aftercare. After you can which graft unions have succeeded and which failed, remove all but the strongest scion.

Reference

Hartmann, Hudson T. and Dale E. Kester. Plant Propagation Principles and Practices, 7 ed. 2002.

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