This past spring, I grafted shimpaku foliage onto a Utah juniper (see “Grafting Utah juniper”). While getting the grafts right is important, I’ve learned from past experience that the after-care is just as important. Some simple takeaways – don’t open the bags too quickly; open a little bit at a time; leave the tie at the base of the graft alone for the first year.
Getting the timing right for opening the bags depends on the time of year the graft was made and the speed with which the scion is growing. If the scion really takes off, that’s a sure sign we can start to open the bag. Where should the bag be opened? At the top corner! Creating an opening along the base of the bags lets additional moisture escape and can lead to desiccated scions. After creating a small initial opening, continue enlarging the opening every week or two until the bags are wide open.
In most cases, that’s all that needs doing the first year. Unless the ties holding the scion to the host are severely cutting in, I tend to keep them in place for the entire first year or longer.
In the photo below, I’d already created a small opening. Because the scion was doing well, I widened the opening.
Tiny opening in top right corner
After opening the bag further
Another graft was already growing outside of the bag. Continuing the process begun several weeks before, I opened the bag a bit further.
Scion growing outside of the bag
After widening the opening
I’ll continue to make room for new growth over the next month or two until all of the bags are out of the way. Once I have a good sense of this year’s progress, I can then assess the need for additional grafts next year.
Utah Juniper with grafts
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