Avocado trees grown from a grocery store avocado seed will produce a tree, but its fruit may be different or even inedible. The tree will, however, be a good base for grafting branches from an existing, productive avocado that's producing reliable fruit. Once you've grown your seedling to a height of about 3 feet, it's time to start grafting fruit-bearing branches onto it in a process called topworking. Begin grafting in the spring when bark slips easily from the inner wood of the tree.
Things You'll Need
- Sharp knife
- Moist paper towels
- Bowl of ice
Select budwood from a healthy, productive avocado tree. The best buds are located near the ends of branches that are 1/4 to 1 inch in diameter.
Cut 6-inch lengths of healthy branch tips that each contain several buds with a sharp knife. Take six to eight cuttings, wrap them in damp paper towels and lay them in a bowl of ice to keep them cold and moist.
Make a T-shaped cut on a branch from the rootstock tree, about 12 inches from the trunk. The long part of the T should be about 1 inch long. Make a shorter, crossing cut that goes 1/3 of the way through the branch. Twist the knife slightly to slip the bark away from where the two cuts meet.
Go back to the bud sticks you cut and placed in the bowl. Choose a healthy bud, and cut it from the stick beginning 1/2 inch below the bud and ending 3/4 inch beyond it.
Bring the bud back to the rootstock. Slide the long end of the bud wood into the long part of the T-shaped cut, matching the bud to the horizontal cut in the T.
Wrap the budded graft with a rubber band, securing it above and below, but not actually on the bud. Repeat Steps 3 to 5 in different areas of the tree until you've used buds from all the bud sticks.
Remove the rubber bands when the bud unions have healed and buds begin to open, which should be within three to four weeks.
Tips & Warnings
- You can find special grafting rubber bands at an agricultural supply store in your area. If there isn't one, an everyday rubber band will do.
- Don't let the bud sticks or T-cuts dry out during the grafting process. Each graft is best done one at a time, rather than making several T-cuts in the rootstock branches first.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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