Grafted cacti are like the cool kids in the cactus world. Think of them as two cacti buddies, where one helps the other stand tall. The bottom is the strong base, and the top brings a splash of color. They’re neat and show how clever we can be with plants. In this article, we’ll chat about what these cacti are, how to take care of them, and more.
What is A Grafted Cactus?
A grafted cactus is essentially two different cacti joined together to form a single plant. The bottom part called the rootstock, supports and nourishes the top part, which is often a brightly colored cactus known as the scion. Grafting allows a cactus (usually the scion) that struggles to grow on its own to thrive with the help of a more robust root system. Grafted cacti are not only famous for their unique appearance, often showcasing vibrant colors on top of a standard green base, but also for their ability to bring together the best qualities of two separate plants.
Why Do People Do Grafted Cacti?
In short, grafting is a neat way to get the best out of two cacti, making them look good and grow better. But the reasons can be more:
- Supporting Growth: Some cacti have difficulty growing because they’re weak or get sick quickly. Grafting them onto a stronger cactus helps them grow better. Other cacti may grow super slow. If you graft them onto a faster-growing one, they can grow quicker.
- Better Looks: Some cacti, like the bright Moon cactus, can’t make their food. Sticking them onto a green cactus gives them the food they need and look pretty.
- Making More Plants: Grafting can be fairly referred to as a good way of propagation, especially if a cactus doesn’t naturally make seeds.
- Saving Space: Grafting lets you have two types in one pot if you don’t have much space but love cacti.
- Having Fun: This is, for me, a healthy and exciting hobby. Moreover, it’s cool to mix and match, some good time for creativity.
Note: Understanding your purpose is the very key. Before diving into grafting, it’s important to understand why you want to do it. Is your goal to rescue a struggling cactus? Perhaps you’re looking to create a unique combination for aesthetic reasons or to accelerate the growth of a particular variety. Ask yourself this before the execution is necessary.
A Common Question …
There is 1 question that I often get asked: “How big does a grafted cactus get after the process?”
A normally-grafted cactus can change in size depending on the types you use and how you look after them. Many store-bought ones, like the colorful moon cactus, stay small, often growing little over a few years. A typical moon cactus (when grafted) can generally reach about 10 to 15 cm tall and a width of 5 to 10 cm in the same period. But if you care for them, some might get bigger over 5 to 10 years. It’s good to know the type of cacti you have to guess how big they might get.
Read more: How Fast Do Cacti Grow?
Let’s Dive In … How To Graft A Cactus?
1. Necessary Tools
Grafting a cactus requires precision, cleanliness, and the right tools to ensure success. Here are the necessary tools to graft a cactus:
- Sharp Knife: You need a sharp knife or even a razor to make straight cuts on the cactus pieces.
- Alcohol: Use this to clean the knife. It helps get rid of germs that can hurt the cactus.
- Rubber Bands: These keep the two cactus parts tightly together until they stick to each other.
- Gloves: Regular gardening gloves are suitable, especially if you don’t want to get pricked by cactus spikes.
- Tweezers: Handy for picking up and placing smaller cactus bits without squeezing them too hard.
- Spray Bottle: Filled with water, this gives the cactus a light spray to keep it from getting too dry.
- Clean Cloth or Paper Towels: For cleaning up any water spills or sap that might ooze out when cutting.
- Labels and Pen: To write down when you did the grafting and what types of cactus you used. It’s easy to forget later!
So, gather these tools, and you’ll be ready to start grafting your cacti!
2. Different Positions For Grafting A Cactus
Here are the different positions for grafting a cactus:
- Flat Graft: This is like putting a sandwich together. You cut the tops off two cacti and stick them together, one on top of the other.
- Side Graft: Imagine sticking one cactus to the side of another, like an arm sticking out. That’s what this looks like.
- Splice Graft: Here, you make diagonal cuts on both cacti and stick the slanting sides together, forming a “V” shape.
- Approach Graft: It’s like having two cacti hug each other. You put two cacti close and join a part of each one without fully separating them. Once they stick, you cut off the unneeded parts.
- Tip Grafting: The pointy top part of one cactus is stuck onto another.
- Autografting: This is when a cactus is joined with another piece of itself, like patching up a hole with a piece from the same shirt.
Each way has its uses, and what you choose can depend on the cacti you have. It might take some tries to get it right, but you can do it with clean tools and patience!
3. Pick The Cactus Scion & Rootstock For Grafting
To graft a cactus right, you should ensure both the top part (scion) and the bottom part (rootstock) are healthy without any sickness or bugs. Using cacti that go well together from the same family is a good idea. They should be about the same size so they fit nicely. You’ll want a robust bottom part because it provides food and support. The top part is usually picked because it looks cool or has something special about it.
Lastly, don’t hesitate to seek advice. There are numerous gardening forums and communities where seasoned grafters share their experiences. They can provide valuable insights on combinations that work well and those to avoid.
4. Steps For A Straightforward Execution
Now that you know what you want from this grafting activity, have all the necessary tools or chosen plants ready. Here is what left to proceed:
- Prepare the Rootstock: Wearing gloves, cut a straight, flat section off the top of the rootstock using your knife.
- Cut the Scion: Take the cactus you want on top and cut a flat piece off its base. This action will help it sit well on the rootstock.
- Clean the Cuts: Use rubbing alcohol to clean both cuts to prevent infections.
- Secure the Graft: Place the scion’s flat base on the rootstock’s flat cut. Make sure they align nicely. Use rubber bands or grafting tape to hold the two pieces together. It’s like bandaging them so they stay in contact.
- Let Them Heal and Be Patient: Place the grafted cactus in a shaded area for a few days to let the cut areas heal and join. Wait for about a week before watering. This gives them time to bond correctly.
Over time, the two cacti should grow together. After a month or so, you can remove the rubber bands or tape.
The General Grafted Cactus Care
Looking after a grafted cactus isn’t too hard, but knowing some basics to keep them happy and healthy is good.
- Watering: Grafted cacti only like a little water. It’s better to water less, especially when it’s cold, as too much water can harm them.
- Light: These cacti like bright light but not direct sun. Too much direct sun can hurt them and fade their color. If they need more light, they might start reaching out to find more.
- Soil: Use soil that drains well. There are particular cactus soils at garden shops that work great. This soil helps stop the roots from getting wet and getting rotten.
- Temperature: They like it warm, around 70°F to 100°F (21°C to 37°C) during the day and a bit cooler at night. They’re okay with some humidity but don’t like being wet or damp for too long.
- Food: In the warmer months, like spring and summer, you can give them plant food (fertilizer) once a month. In colder months, you don’t need to feed them as much.
- Watching Out: If you see the color of your cactus going dull, it might be getting too much sun. If you spot mold, you might be overwatering it. Also, watch for bugs like mealybugs; they can be a pain if not taken care of early on.
Remember, every cactus is a bit different, but with some love and care, your grafted cactus will do just fine!
A Few Final Words
Grafted cacti are a perfect blend of nature and human creativity. Their lively colors and unique combinations remind us how to collaborate with nature to create something beautiful. Understanding and applying the proper care tips ensures these little wonders thrive and stand out in your plant collection. With this guide, I hope everyone can start grafting regardless of how long you’ve been gardening 🙂
Don’t leave soon! Here are a few more suggestions for your subsequent reads:
Hey everyone! Welcome to Succulent City! We are all about succulents, cacti, and a bit about air plants. Ten years back, in 2013, we began the journey with succulents. It started as a simple hobby, crafting and selling charming succulent-themed pins and decorations. But as time passed, our fascination with these remarkable plants grew, and we gained extensive knowledge about them. Therefore, Succulent City is the blog as you see it is now. Enjoy your visit and happly planting!