Vaughan has now been grafting plants for 60 years. And that is his method of choice for propagating camellias. Vaughan has been kind enough to offer to show everyone how it's done. Vaughan is working on a "Bob Hope” that we talked about earlier. He takes a cutting, camellia people call it a scion. Vaughan is the scion of his dad. This is a scion of Bob Hope. This will have Bob Hope DNA when it takes in the graft. Vaughan uses a sasanqua which is not a beautiful plant to most people. It's a pretty camellia, but it's a hedge row basically, but it's root rot resistant and it's a hardy grower. So, that's what he calls the mother plant. Vaughan has shaved off and exposed the wood by angular cuts two ways. By doing that he’s exposing the cambium layer or the growth cell layer of the plant. He's also done that on his scion of Bob Hope. He next soaks that in some fungicide while he cuts his mother plant. What he is going to do next is to make a cleft graft, a cleft incision, in the mother plant and exposes the cambium layer. The cambium is only a few cell layers deep. It's that little layer between the phloem and the xylem. That's actually what translocates the nutrition from the root stock to the top of the plant. And the cambium layer between the phloem and xylem is the growth cell of the plant. Vaughan makes a cleft graft now with his knife, takes the blade of his knife right below the cambium layer, about a quarter of an inch. He next uses some growth hormone. Some people don't do this but Vaughan has done it for 60 years because his dad did it. And he has about an 80% success ratio, sometimes 85, if lucky. So he continues to do the same thing he has done for all these years. It's not broken, don't fix it. That's his theory. This is just a standard hormone you can get in any store, any hardware store. On the rootstock he lines the wood up, opens it with the blade of his knife. Then what he does is puts it in angularly so it will cross the cambium layer. When he first started grafting, Dad would put it straight down and try to catch the cambium layer. If you angle it, put it in at an angle there's no way you're going to miss the cambium layer and that's why he puts it in at an angle. It just improves the probability that those little, like three or four cells deep, actually that green on green has to touch. Vaughan then brings the end of the scion out the other end of the cut and actually runs his finger across it. It’s obvious that the cambium layer of the scion has crossed the the cambium layer of the mother plant. For added tensile strength Vaughan puts a rubber band around the joint. Some grafters do not do this. Vaughan does it just about every time because, again, his dad did it. Even though they're in a greenhouse, Vaughan puts this in an additional, little small greenhouse, nothing more than a styrofoam 32 inch cup. He then builds a base to the greenhouse with wet sand. That does two things. It's a foundation to his greenhouse and it retains moisture for the plant. One big thing with camellia lovers is identification. As soon as he cuts off this scion from Bob Hope he wrote Bob Hope under the highest leaf. And then on his new, small greenhouse, puts Bob Hope on it so he'll always know exactly what this graft is until it sprouts growth.
Vaughan believes the new plant needs to stay under this greenhouse about eight weeks. At that point the growth will be coming out of the growth bud if it has taken. Next cut a small hole in the top of the greenhouse with a pencil. That growth will go to the sunlight in that hole. As it starts bumping the top of the cup, Vaughan will cut that hole out larger and larger so the top of the cup will eventually be cut out totally. He also cuts these leaves so the growth will be going to the growth bud and not to support the leaves. Plus that limits transpiration or water loss through the leaf, so you help keep more of water inside of your cutting. Vaughan next wants the sun to do the photosynthesis deal on top of the leaves, thus orients this pot toward the morning sun. He uses his Bob Hope scionage to show where those leaves are pointed toward the sun. Some people will go six weeks Vaughan believes that if it's growing, it's going to still be growing in eight weeks. With all of the pots around the greenhouse, and he has about a hundred now, he waits eight weeks.
By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photographs courtesy of Suntory Flowers
Holidays bring beautiful plants and inspiration we need to make spirits bright. One trend is a looser, more spread-out floral display down the center of the table.
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