Simple Guide to Grafting Tree Peonies

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Posted by @magnolialover on
Grafting tree peonies can be done from late August into September and is a great way to propagate this often rather expensive plant.

Thumb of 2013-08-31/magnolialover/4244bcThe best way to increase numbers in tree peonies is to graft them. Last year I grafted my first tree peonies in a class that was offered by my local peony society. I will try anything once, mostly just to see whether I can be successful. The average success rate is 30-50% for grafting, which isn't all that great. It was easier than I thought, though, especially after practicing a few times. By the third graft or so, you really get the pattern down and it goes pretty fast.

Things you will need:

Sharp knife or blade
Isopropyl alcohol
10% bleach solution
budding tape (my favorite!) or grafting tape of your choice
Scion from desirable tree peony
rootstock from herbacious peony at least 3 inches in length.
large plastic bag
moist sphagnum moss
tape to label your graft.

Select scion. I use two-bud scions normally because it seems as if there is more food storage availability for growth and success. Single bud scions work just fine, however. You look for a bloom bud or a shoot bud. Either of these will work. If you use a bloom bud, you will sacrifice a bloom on that tree peony in the next year's blooming season.
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Selected and trimmed scions (removing tree peony leaves).

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Herbaceous peony root stock soaked in 10% bleach solution and dried. Lactiflora peony roots are preferred, but any herbaceous root will work. This root will be the nurse root to temporarily establish your tree peony while it grows and develops roots of its own. The root stock should have no eyes, just root. If eyes are present, just trim them off. Digging around an established herbaceous peony often will give you the root material you need. Be sure to orient your root properly. Upside-down roots don't grow well.

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Using your knife or selected cutting tool that has been wiped off with the alcohol solution and dried, cut in the center of the top of the herbaceous root about an inch or so deep, maybe a little more.

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Take the selected scion and cut it into a wedge shape or, as I like to call it, almost a triangle, with the peak of the triangle at the base of your scion. Your knife will cut on both sides of the scion so that the inner protected layers of the tree peony scion bark are exposed.

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Next you want to take your scion and wedge it into your herbaceous peony cut, making as little space as possible at the bottom. The tighter the fit, the better your probability of success with the graft will be. The goal is to get as tight a fit into the herbaceous root as possible when you form the union.

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While holding the union tightly with one hand, wrap a rubberband around the union and secure.

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Next take the budding tape and wrap from the base of the union to the top. I love budding tape because it is waterproof and super stretchy. (I have also read that people have used 3M surgical tape called Transpore. It doesn't stretch as well, but it is easier to obtain locally. Budding tape can be purchased easily online.) Waterproof wrapping helps to keep excess moisture out of the union and also allows for the graft to heal.

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Label your graft

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Place your graft in damp sphagnum moss in a large plastic bag. High 70s to 80 degrees F are optimal temperatures. I allow my grafts 10-14 days to heal before planting in a prepared bed.

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Plant in a well-drained prepared bed. Be sure the graft line is below soil level. I plant very deep to be sure that no damage occurs to the grafted scion. After planting, I cover the bed with a large sheet of plastic. The plastic acts as a protectant against excess water that may seep into your graft over the winter. In late March or April, uncover your graft bed. You may see signs of growth. If you planted the graft deep and covered the scion, shallow digging around the graft will allow you to see new growth, just be sure to keep the graft union below soil level.

Some grafts will flower that first year, while others will take another year or two.

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Grafting is an age-old technique in plant propagation. It can seem overwhelming at first, but once you get started, get the feel for it, and gain some experience, you soon will be an expert. In my first year, I had a 50% success rate. Good luck and happy tree peony grafting!

Comments and Discussion
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
First time to graft a TP by ST52 Apr 27, 2019 11:59 AM 0
This year's grafts by ol434445 Nov 13, 2018 10:01 PM 0
Great tutorial! by kousa Oct 6, 2018 7:10 AM 0
Untitled by ol434445 Sep 19, 2016 7:18 AM 1
Not for the South by hazelnut Sep 25, 2015 11:32 AM 9
Wonderful tutorial! by pardalinum Aug 1, 2015 7:01 AM 12
How COOL! by fixpix Sep 20, 2013 12:58 AM 0

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