If you’ve spent any amount of time visiting specialty nurseries (like Desert Creations ::cough cough::) chances are you’ve seen some odd, often top-heavy looking specimens. You’re not looking at a bizarre twist of nature as with crested specimens, but rather two plants which have been artificially fused together by a grower in a process known as grafting. Part art form, part growth tool, grafting can be accomplished with almost any species of cacti provided you have a little patience and a compatible scion.
Grafting involves cutting the the upper part or scion of one plant (common cacti grafting scions are Myrtillocactus geometrizans and Trichocereus.) fusing to root system or rootstock of another plant. It’s most commonly done to speed the growth of specimens which may otherwise take much longer to reach maturity on their own roots. Compared side by side, a grafted cactus might see double or triple the growth in the span of a year compared to plants on their own roots.
Additionally, a scion also grants otherwise fragile cacti specimens an added degree of environmental resilience and a boost of nutrients they might not otherwise have on their own; for example, Rebutia canigueralii f. rauschii can be difficult to cultivate on their own roots, but when grafted they’re resistant to rot and practically explode with head growth. Scions also provide a lifeline to variegated cacti such as “Moon Cactus” and Chimeras which lack the necessary chlorophyll for photosynthesis which is made up for through their union with their scion.
Health and growth benefits aside, we can all agree that grafts just look cool. Although a simple process to execute, those who have perfected the art can fuse the smallest scions to massive root stocks and vice versa, producing head-turning show pieces capable of taking home one competition ribbon after another. If you’ve warmed up to the idea of adding a graft or two to your collection, check out our range of grafted specimens waiting to make your acquaintance.