Heartland Peony Society

My New Peony Grafting Technique
by Jackie Janson

Last fall I decided to try grafting again because I wanted to increase a favorite lutea hybrid in my garden.  I had tried in the past to graft with about a 50% success ratio.  In those endeavors I carried the grafts over the winter either (a)in a plastic bag with sphagnum moss in the basement, or (b)a raised bed outdoors which was heavily mulched.
Emerging growth from a graft of the Japanese tree peony Taiyo.
About mid October I proceeded as usual with the grafting procedure set out in the "Best of 75 Years" published by the American Peony Society (pp. 61-62). I selected healthy, clean pieces of herbaceous rootstock and made a slant cut to the top of the stock.  Then with a sharp knife, I made a V-shaped notch in the stock at the highest point of the slant cut.  The scions that I used had at least two buds on them and were cut to fit the rootstock notch, keeping the cambium layer (between bark and wood) of the scion even with the edge of the herbaceous rootstock.  I then used 3M TransporeTM  tape purchased from Osco Drug Store here in Kansas City (it is clear and stretches) to secure the graft, covering the tops and sides.

As an added precaution to prevent the tape from coming loose, I wrapped jute over it and tied it.  I then placed the grafts in a large Zip-Lock bag with slightly damp paper towels (crushed and laid over and under the rootstock only), leaving some air space in the bag.  I sealed the bag and placed it on a plastic dish and put it in the refrigerator.  Every weekend I would open the bag and wipe out the excess moisture on the inside of the bag and check for any mold.  I'd gently wipe off any mold and keep the grafts clean and dry.  In late March, after about 24 weeks in the refrigerator, I planted them outdoors, using wire cages around them for protection.  The buds appeared healthy, dark red in color and had not grown out of the bud stage.

Since refrigeration was, for the most part, the main difference from past grafting attempts, I believe it to be the reason for better results.  Seven out of seven grafts succeeded.  I encourage you to try grafting and enjoy the blessing of more of your favorite peonies.

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