This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Of late years an impression has prevailed that hybrids may be obtained by grafting as well as by seeds. Sachs makes no mention of this in his text-book, but it has had a place in the literature of horticulture for over a hundred years. Bradley says that a variegated jasmine grafted on a common green stock infused the variegation throughout the whole plant; and there is an idea among some horticulturists that an intermixture in apples can be obtained by uniting two halves of different buds and grafting them together. Thousands of people have laughed at these notions. No one has tried them. But only a few years ago it was found that Bradley was right; and we have in cultivation new variegated forms of abutilon, as well as some other things originated by the graft process. During the past few years it has been asserted that new varieties of potatoes have originated in this way: - a tuber is taken and all the eyes cut out. A wedge with an eye of another kind is then inserted into the eyeless mass and planted. The results are said to be true hybrids. Many of our best physiologists doubt this. I have not seen these cases; but I must say the evidence offered is much stronger than much of that on which some popular theories have been built.
I tried the split and grafting process, not believing it would result in a hybridity. I merely wished to test the popular notion. I am pleased to be able to say now that it is correct. New varieties can be obtained in that way. I took the Rhode Island Greening and the Red Astrachan - two very distinct varieties of apples in every respect. The grafts with a single bud were split as near through the centre as possible, and a piece of each kind fitted together so as to appear one complete scion. Twelve of these were grafted; three grew; two of these have fruited; neither are Rhode Island Greening, and the two are unlike each other; one of these has a flower like the Rhode Island Greening, and the flower of the Red Astrachan is rosy and in many ways distinct from the large white one of the Rhode Island Greening; but the fruit is, in many respects, Similar to that of the Red Astrachan. The second variety has the flower similar to that of the Rhode Island Greening, and the fruit somewhat the color of the Red Astrachan, ripening about the same time, but is but half the size, very much flattened, and with a slender stem near two inches long, and as much like that of a Siberian Crab as can be.
There is no doubt but two varieties, distinct from their parents, and distinct from each other, have resulted from this graft process. Some may suppose that the union of a Red Astrachan and a Rhode Island Greening apple should result in producing an exact intermediate, and that the union of buds in several graft cases should each produce identically the same, and therefore the two distinct varieties from the same process be a surprise. But no two children of the same parents are exactly the same; and this is the experience of plant hybridists.
Our fellow-member, Mr. W. Saunders, of London, Ontario, crossed the American gooseberry (Ribes Cynobasti) with the red Warrington, an English variety, but both with hairy fruit. The hybrid product has smooth fruit, thus introducing a character not extant in either parent. And as regards variety, I have myself, from one single berry of a fertilized Fuchsia, produced several score of plants, among which no two were alike. I do not know that there is any pomo-logical value in the new varieties of apples I have raised, but I am delighted with the scientific results, proving that hybrids by bud-grafting is more than a popular delusion.