Grafting cannabis 101

Published Dec 28, 2021 02:00 p.m. ET
iStock / OlegMalyshev

Grafting is a than 4,000 year old horticultural method of fusing multiple varieties of a plant to one mother plant. It’s not the most popular, especially among inexperienced growers, as it’s difficult and not always beneficial. At the same time, grafting cannabis can be useful in certain situations, plus it’s a fun experiment for those who’d like to put their gardening skills to the ultimate test.

What is grafting?

To graft cannabis, a grower will take the scion (A young cutting (shoot or twig) of a plant) of the plant and attach it to the rootstock (Part of a plant (the stem) that is typically underground or freshly above ground with a healthy aged root system). In doing this, the propagated plants will often take on many of the characteristics of both the mother and rootstock. Many woody types of plants can be grafted, using a process that is complicated, requiring precision and at least some knowledge surrounding horticulture, which is why it’s generally only attempted by the most experienced gardeners.

The benefits of grafting cannabis

If you grow marijuana and are wondering whether or not this process could be right for you, it’s a good idea to look at the potential benefits because even if you’re not successful the first time, this learning experience could come in handy at some point down the road.

Repairing damaged roots

You could do absolutely everything right, but if you’re growing cannabis outdoors, damaged root systems are practically inevitable. Between the wind, heavy rains, hail, and root rot, all sorts of things can go wrong. Luckily, it’s also easily fixed by planting a few small seedlings around the base of a damaged plant and then grafting them to it for additional support.

Experimenting with new strains

When you graft cannabis, it allows you to attach several different strains together in one small space. For those with small growing spaces, this offers a unique chance to see what characteristics each one has before dedicating a larger area to growing them.

Fun

Grafting cannabis can be so much fun because it allows you to completely control and alter the look of a plant. Attaching several together will result in a cool visual appeal that works as a photo prop, conversation starter, and learning tool.

Education

Grafting is generally practiced by experienced growers as they have more confidence in their ability due to extensive first-hand knowledge, but there’s no reason that new gardeners shouldn’t also learn about the process and how it all works. There is no better way to learn than to do it yourself.

How to graft cannabis

If you’ve ever cloned any kind of plant, then you should do well with grafting, seeing as it’s a similar process with just a few additional steps. Here we’ll take you through it from beginning to end, in the simplest way possible, so that you have the best likelihood for success! It is however important to note that it will not work unless you’re using two or more plants that are in the vegetative stage.

What you’ll need:

  • Shears
  • Razor blade
  • Grafting tape
  • Plastic bag (must have a seal)
  • Gardening wire
  • Short drinking glass (or mug)
  • Water (enough to fill the cup)
  • Cutting board
  • Spray bottle
  • pH 6 vegetative nutrient solution

Steps

  1. Select a healthy scion from a cannabis plant.

  2. Settle on an area of the rootstock from another plant that is close in size to the scion.

  3. Use a pair of shears to carefully remove most of the leaves from the scion, leaving only a few behind.

  4. Now clear the leaves (if there are any) from the area of rootstock you chose earlier.

  5. Take a pair of garden shears and use them to remove the scion from the cannabis plant.

  6. Lay the scion down on a sterile cutting board, and then use a razor blade to cut the base diagonally.

  7. Pour the water into the cut and plunge the exposed base of the scion into it.

  8. Make a cut in the rootstock with shears just above the site you trimmed.

  9. Use the razor blade to cut the rootstock diagonally on an angle that matches the one on the scion.

  10. Grab the scion from the cup of water and spray the base of it down with a pH 6 vegetative nutrient solution.

  11. Do the same thing with the rootstock, and then do your best to line up the two cuts together in a way that leaves little to none of the internal tissue exposed. If they do not line up, now is the time to make better cuts with a razor blade, after which time another misting of pH 6 vegetative nutrient solution will be necessary. However, if they’re a good match, then you’re ready to move on to the next step.

  12. Press the two ends together and hold them in place using grafting tape to wrap them tightly. In some cases, you may need 2-4 layers to create a good hold.

  13. Seal the deal with at least one more cut of tape to add structural support and protect the cuts from exposure to light or air, which could be damaging.

  14. Take a piece of gardening wire and wrap it in a criss-cross pattern starting from below the cut on the stem and ending just above the scion. This will add even more support and ensure the two pieces stay in place.

  15. It’s time to wrap the newly attached branch with a plastic bag by spraying it with some of the pH 6 vegetative nutrient solution and then sliding it over the whole thing. Close up the seal as much as possible while leaving a small amount of room for it to breathe, which will help to keep it from moulding. Also, try to make sure the plastic doesn’t rest against the leaves you left behind on the scion.

  16. Keep a close eye on the grafted plant over the next few days, checking on the progress of the fusion at least once every 24 hours. Once you’re sure the cuts have healed together, it’ll be time to remove the grafting tape, bag, and wire that’s been keeping it there.

If you followed these steps carefully and selected healthy plants, then you should now have a successfully grafted cannabis plant!

The importance of good growing practices

Author

Related posts