Earlier this season I did quite a number of approach grafts on trident maples and hackberries I have in development. Unlike thread grafts, approach grafts can pretty much be done throughout the growing season which suits me fine as early spring, when thread grafts must be done is way too busy generally.
I like making multiple use of the material I use for grafting with, as the image below illustrates. I will often use the same rooted cutting or seedling to improve the nebari and to place a branch where there was none before. It's quite a successful and time saving technique.
Image caption. The tree featured in this blog with several grafts.
There are two grafts which are the subject of this post though. The one was for what may well become the main branch in the future. Below is a photo of the graft I refer to.
Image caption. Approach graft for a future branch
The other is the graft I am using to create a new trunk line with. I felt there was not sufficient taper or movement in this part of the tree. So I cut it off and grafted a seedling onto the trunk at the angle I would like the trunk to take. As the tree was very healthy it took. Notice the large difference in girth of the seedling before and after the graft area. A sure sign that it has fused and can now be separated.
I use tacks which are found in some hardware stores in Japan. What makes them so handy is that they have rubber-like stoppers which prevent you from harming the surrounding plant tissue when you nail the graft in place. I have now made these available for purchase here.
Image caption. Another approach graft, this time with the purpose of creating a new apex.
The grafting of a possible future main branch also took very well indeed. It is clear that sealing the graft very well is key to success. I can strongly suggest the Japanese made Kiyonal tree sealer, as this makes an airtight seal around the graft, which will help ensure success.
I will also mention that from what I have seen, scoring the bark especially on thin branches or seedlings, leads to that graft failing. Hence I tend not to score the bark and simply attempt to get the graft to fit as snugly as possible. This is achieved through a combination of tools; first I use a very fine toothed saw (You can choose from one of these) to make two parallel grooves, then I will use a grafting knife to recut the edges of the cuts made by the saw and test fit the scion. If necessary I will enlarge the cut with the grafting knife until when you test fit the scion it stays in position without being held. After that it is nailed into place with the approach grafting tacks.
Image caption. The successful graft has been shortened, close to a dormant bud which was purposefully positioned here when the graft was done.
Its always a very good idea to position a dormant bud close to the graft. This will help make it possible to adjust the angle of the grafted branch later on, to create a more interesting angle where it emerges from the graft or simply to prevent too long an internode.