Grafting below ground level into Sweet Chesnut’s

Firstly I have been asked how can you do a graft, but then not see the graft on a Sweet Chestnut tree. Well I hope to explain things further.

Firstly a picture of a typical sweet chestnut seed growing and the names of the parts. I would to thank for sharing this picture. The Cotyledons are normally the seed leaves that are inside the nut/seed shell.

seedgrowing1The options for grafting here are in the Radicle, Hypocotyl or the Epicotyl. We will hopefully show you the stages.

We will start with the basics. As these are new ‘born’ seedlings they are very fragile and are susceptible to disease. Cleanliness is number one. All tools must be sterilized. You would have normally been using Perlite as a growing media, but we are using coarse recycled compost, that has been microwaved for 10mins and let to cool off. Keep it slightly moist.

sc10-2016-04-15 10.59.41We will start then grafting into the Radicle or root graft. Seems easy and straight forward. But we got 0% success.

sc12-2016-04-15 10.55.47Select a suitable sized scion. These would normally have been thrown away as they are to small in diameter for normal graft.

sc11-2016-04-15 10.49.33Select the germinated nuts, and handle them carefully.

sc5-2016-04-15 11.53.34Give them a good wash in clean water. Handle carefully or you may get very fine snapping of the stem.

sc7-2016-04-15 11.18.18The radicle was cut off and a normal cleft graft used. Note that no tape was used on any of the graft joints.

sc4-2016-04-15 12.00.50No need to go any further with this as they all died. Maybe should have left for the mother plant to have got older before cutting the nuts from it.

Next attempt was in grating into the Epicotyl, just above the Cotyledons . This is more of a traditional cleft graft that you do on a larger tree, but in this instance on a very small delicate scale. The scion is cut with 2 sloping faces about 20mm long, and then a vertical slot into the Epicotyl. Use a thin bladed knife or razor blade in a safety holder. The whole graft joint being held by a plastic clip.

sc9-2016-04-15 11.06.37 sc8-2016-04-15 11.08.18 sc6-2016-04-15 11.20.36 The batch of grafts were the put into a ziplock plastic bag, with some of that dampened sterilized compost.  This bag is then to be kept at 20 deg C for only 2 weeks, and you should then observe callusing and new roots being formed.

sc3-2016-04-25 19.33.26-3 sc4-2016-04-25 19.33.26-3

After the 2 weeks, very very gently they can be separately potted up, and then kept at a slightly cooler temperature to harden off. Progressively reduce the temperature.

The next graft attempted, is one where you insert the scion directly into the nut. The shoot is totally cut of and a vertical cut made into the nut, between the 2 Cotyledons. The scion is just pushed in hard.

sc6-2016-04-15 11.47.33Here we are after 2 weeks.

sc1-2016-04-25 19.32.27-1Time will tell whether this method will take.

Next year we will graft direct into the Hypocotyl.

sc10-2016-05-02 09.52.53Here we are gradually being hardened off.

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