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own root cuttings vs. grafting  RSS feed

 
Posts: 248
Location: Ellisforde, WA
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Can someone tell me the pros and cons of grafting vs. rooted cuttings? Is the root structure weaker on a cutting? Harder to propagate?
 
pollinator
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Can you give us more information about what you would like to accomplish?  Which plants are you considering to graft or plant rooted cuttings?
 
Liz Hoxie
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I was basically thinking in general. We found out we're moving, and so far I have taken 6 cuttings of birch trees. A friend has an apricot tree that I would like to take cuttings from to grow an apricot tree. The apricot tree was loaded, and the apricots have a good flavor. The tree is not watered.
 
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The problem is that trees are not an “in general” proposition. Some are easily rooted and grow strongly from cuttings; others will not take root at all, or require coddling in near-laboratory conditions.

Grafting gives you the chance to select a root stock diverse from the fruitwood you want, which can be important. But many people prefer trees on their own roots unless they have a specific need for the traits of the grafted rootstock.

Hopefully an apricot expert can chime in with some specific advice for you there.
 
Michelle Bisson
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so far I have taken 6 cuttings of birch trees.



I would be concerned about birch trees from cuttings.  They will grow into a good size tree (even though smaller than a large sugar maple) and these trees will never have a tap root since they are from cuttings.  This means that they will have a higher chance of uprooting in a strong wind storm.  You do not want it to knock down into your house.  But if you decided that you would cut them down well before they are mature in size, well maybe…. But plant them far away from doing any damage if they fall.  But most people will have a hard time wanting to cut it down once it looks beautiful, so I would be very hesitant to grow it in the first place.  Plus, trees from rooted cuttings will not have a long lifespan as one grown from seed.  

A friend has an apricot tree that I would like to take cuttings from to grow an apricot tree. The apricot tree was loaded, and the apricots have a good flavor. The tree is not watered.



Apricots trees are typically not grown to be large trees as most people will keep it pruned for harvesting size.  How well it will grow from cuttings will be an experience to maybe try, but I would not count on it success.  It can still be fun to experiment.  You might be able to take your cuttings and graft them onto another apricot rootstock.

I usually prefer to take cuttings from bushes, scrubs and vines that are known to propagate easily by cuttings.  Ex grape vines, currents etc...   Some plants are easy to propagate by cuttings others not so.


 
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Location: Western Washington
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I'd give it a shot! A lot more trees can be grown from cuttings than people often think, although some more easily than others, as mentioned. If you're not willing to waste a year on experimenting I would choose grafting as it's more surefire for apricots, as also already mentioned. I haven't heard anything about apricot trees from cuttings but that doesn't mean it's not possible, or even not easy.

I live in a very different part of the state than you, but here are my experiences. We both have dry summers at least:

--Growing from cuttings can be fantastic, because cuttings usually yield standard sized trees. This is good because these trees are larger, which makes them more drought tolerant (very key in our dry summer climate). The cons are that you don't know its disease resistance and certain other qualities, but it generally hasn't affected my trees (I have a lot of trees from both grafting as well as some from cuttings)
--Growing quince, apple, and probably pear trees from cuttings seems to be easy and reliable to grow. In fact, on homesteads, grafting quinces was relatively unheard of until sometime in the 20th century.
--Standard trees do take longer to come into production, which is a drawback for sure. I'd suggest planting a mix so that you'll have fruit coming online over time.
 
Liz Hoxie
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The birch trees will be coppiced to feed goats. I was thinking about pollarding them, but I'll look into coppice as well, since they will have no taproot. This is something to think about in the future.
The apricot tree gets NO care, this is the best way I know of at the present to get a start of the parent. It might be best to start seeds from the same tree and see which performs better in the same location. I'm thinking 10 years for a good trial.
 
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Liz Hoxie wrote:Can someone tell me the pros and cons of grafting vs. rooted cuttings? Is the root structure weaker on a cutting? Harder to propagate?



Depending on how long before you need to move, with regards to the apricot tree, try AIR-LAYERING I.e. Use sphagnum peat moss around several branches to encourage root development - Google the simple method.

This method will give you as many plants as you want and will be exactly the same as the parent tree. (Getting fruit from seed may take several years and may not be true to type, whereas air-layering will give you the exact plant with the same fruit).

F.

 
Liz Hoxie
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I was thinking about air layering the vines, but air layering is started in the spring. I had never thought about it for a tree! Also, this tree is several miles from here, so maybe it's feasible. I'll ask.
 
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Keep in mind a grafted tree has a large healthy established root to feed the grafted tree, this results in faster growth. Growing from cuttings depending on the type of plant can take a full year and you can still have a tiny plant at the end of that period. It's cheap but time consuming, especially for fruit trees (in my area at least). I still try, I can't resist a good experiment. For Poplars/Cottonwoods, grapes, it's fun and easy, stick them in the ground and watch them grow.
 
Liz Hoxie
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Location: Ellisforde, WA
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Would the apricot have a better root system if it was air layered? Would the tree itself be as drought tolerant?
 
Kalaina Nielson
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Air layering is a great method for hard to root fruit trees, however the drought resistance of some fruit trees is down to the root stock they were grafted on to. If the tree is ungrafted, grown from it's own root, then the offspring will have the exact same qualities. Air layering will typically produce a bigger root system than a rooted cutting as it still has the resources of the parent tree. Give it a go, I'd love to hear how it works for you!
 
pollinator
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I have a semi dwarf, grafted, apple tree in the garden. Its root is one of those named root stocks (MM something). It is now 10 years and root suckers regularly show up. I was cutting them down but one day decided to uproot one and pot it. There wasn't much of a root as it was coming from a finger thick main root. It has grown in the pot and I grafted it. I left a branch untouched and I am wondering what sort of apple I would get out of that branch.

The growth characteristic of a tree can be cloned using the root suckers. If it is a named root stock, it will have resistance to diseases etcetera. You can then graft whatever you want on top.

If it is an ungrafted, naturally growing tree, you may be able to clone it via root suckers as good as grafting a scion from that tree.



 
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I'd be inclined to do all three - take cuttings, air layer and plant some pits. You haven't mentioned whether your friend's apricot is grown on its own rootstock or grafted. As Kalaina mentions, the drought tolerance will be from its root stock so a pit grown tree will be hardier. No need to wait ten years to find out if the fruit grown from a pit is any good, my apricot seedling blossomed at four years old but has taken another two years to bear fruit, it is sited on an exposed steep site and lost the blossoms to wind, snow and frost in previous years. Plant lots of stones, after one year, you can graft onto the whips with buds/branches from the cuttings/air layered trees to speed up the fruiting. Here are photos of a pit grown apricot and peach tree planted in 2012
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Pit grown apricot on the right & freestone blood peach
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after a light snow the week before
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apricots
 
pollinator
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I've had good results germinating apricot pits. Pretty sure they need to be cold stratified.
 
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I am always experimenting and in the winter of 2016/17 took cuttings from apples and plums. A couple of the apples looked like they took but died later, I think they got dried out. One of the plums took and I planted it out last fall. It is now almost 6 feet tall. I have no idea when it might bloom. I just took some peach tree cuttings. I'm going to do more plums and apples and maybe some from my biggest fig pretty soon.  I also save the seeds from any fruit that I eat and plant them in tubs on my patio. There are 3 apricot seedlings out there waiting to transplant now. And I have a ton of cherry, peach, nectarine, plum, apple and jujube seeds to plant.

I have 3 avocado seedlings that have survived 2 winters now. They froze back but regrew from the roots. They are a total experiment.

The space around my big chicken house; I haven't been able to let the chickens out in their yards due to predators and me and my dog not being there to protect them the past 3 years (I had to move in with my mom who has dementia) So I have just been shoveling all the manure out of the house into the yard and planting things with the idea that when I get moved home and can let them out there will be trees and shrubs growing and I can protect them with a little fencing if needed. Well imagine my surprise to find a date palm seedling popping up. I suppose I ate some dates and tossed the pits into the chicken scrap bucket.

I read about an amatuer apple breeder once. He plants hundreds of seeds a year and when the seedlings are 1-2 years old cuts them back so they sprout branches close to the ground. He then lets 2 branches grow so it looks like a Y. The next year he cuts one branch off and grafts a good variety on. That way if the seedling fruit is crap he didn't waste all his time, he can just cut it off and graft it too. In the meantime the grafted branch is growing and making fruit.

I haven't learned to graft yet but it's on my list of new skills to learn. Low and behold my sister handed me a box of funky looking tools she found. I am pretty sure they are for grafting, including a little gadget to cut small piece of bark off. Now I have to figure out where I put it.....

I understand the concern about trees from cuttings blowing over in bad storms so that is something to keep in mind, but I would not let it deter me. Just maybe keep those trees pruned a little on the small side.
 
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