My attention has been called a number of times to the unsatisfactory records and directions concerning the grafting of herbaceous plants. There appears to have been very little attention given to the subject, and the scant discussions of it are mostly copied from one author to another. A few years ago I made some attempts at herbaceous grafting, but it was not until last winter that experiments were seriously undertaken. The work was put in the hands of J.R. Lochary as a subject for a graduating thesis.

The experiments were undertaken primarily for the purpose of learning the best methods of grafting herbs, but a secondary and more important object was the study of the reciprocal influences of stock and cion, particularly in relation to variegation and coloration. This second feature of the work is still under way, in one form or another, and we hope for definite results in a few years. As a matter of immediate advantage, however, herbaceous grafting has its uses, particularly in securing different kinds of foliage and flowers upon the same plant. There is no difficulty in growing a half dozen kinds or colors, on geraniums, chrysanthemums, or other plants from one stock of the respective species.

Six hundred grafts were made in our trials last winter. It was found that the wood must be somewhat hardened to secure best results. The very soft and flabby shoots are likely to be injured in the operation of grafting, and union does not take place readily. Vigorous coleus stocks, three months old, gave best results if cut to within two or three inches of the pot and all or nearly all the leaves removed from the stump. Geraniums, being harder in wood, made good unions at almost any place except on the soft growing points. The stock must not have ceased growth, however. Most of the leaves should be kept down on the stock. Cions an inch or two long were usually taken from firm growing tips, in essentially the same manner as in the making of cuttings. Sometimes an eye of the old wood was used, and in most cases union took place and a new shoot arose from the bud. The leaves were usually partly removed from the cion.

Various styles of grafting were employed, of which the common cleft and the veneer or side graft were perhaps the most satisfactory. In most instances it was only necessary to bind the parts together snugly with bass or raffia. In some soft wooded plants, like coleus, a covering of common grafting wax over the bandage was an advantage, probably because it prevented the drying out of the parts. In some cases, however, wax injured the tissues where it overreached the bandage. Sphagnum moss was used in many cases tied in a small mass about the union, but unless the parts were well bandaged the cion sent roots into the moss and did not unite, and in no case did moss appear to possess decided advantages. Best results were obtained by placing the plants at once in a propagating frame, where a damp and confined atmosphere could be obtained. In some plants, successful unions were made in the open greenhouse, but they were placed in shade and kept sprinkled for a day after the grafts were made. The operation should always be performed quickly to prevent flagging of the cions. Or, if the cions cannot be used at once, they may be thrust into sand or moss in the same manner as cuttings, and kept for several days.

In one series, tomato and potato cuttings, which had flagged in the cutting bed, revived when grafted. And cuttings which had been transported in the mail for three days grew readily, but they were in good condition when received. The mealy bugs were particularly troublesome upon these grafted plants, for they delighted to crawl under the bandages and suck the juices from the wounded surfaces.

Although it is foreign to the purpose of this note, it may be worth while to mention a few of the plants upon which the experiments were made. Sections were taken of many of the grafts and microscopic examinations made to determine the extent of cell union. Coleuses of many kinds were used, with uniform success, and the cions of some of them were vigorous a year after being set. Even iresine (better known as Achyranthes Verschaffeltii) united with coleus and grew for a time. Zonale geraniums bloomed upon the common rose geranium. Tomatoes upon potatoes and potatoes upon tomatoes grew well and were transplanted to the open ground, where they grew, flowered and fruited until killed by frost. The tomato-on-potato plants bore good tomatoes above and good potatoes beneath, even though no sprouts from the potato stock were allowed to grow. Peppers united with tomatoes and tomatoes united with peppers. Egg plants, tomatoes and peppers grew upon the European husk tomato or alkekengi (Physalis Alkekengi). Peppers and egg plants united with each other reciprocally. A coleus cion was placed upon a tomato plant and was simply bound with raffia. The cion remained green and healthy, and at the end of forty-eight days the bandage was removed, but it was found that no union had taken place. Ageratums united upon each other with difficulty. Chrysanthemums united readily. A bean plant, bearing two partially grown beans, chanced to grow in a chrysanthemum pot. The stem bearing the pods was inarched into the chrysanthemum. Union took place readily, but the beans turned yellow and died. Pumpkin vines united with squash vines, cucumbers with cucumbers, muskmelons with watermelons, and muskmelons, watermelons and cucumbers with the wild cucumber or balsam apple (Echinocystis lobata).

Another interesting feature of the work was the grafting of one fruit upon another, as a tomato fruit upon a tomato fruit or a cucumber upon another cucumber. This work is still under progress and it promises some interesting results in a new and unexpected direction, reports of which may be expected later. - Cornell Station Bulletin.


This article is condensed by permission from a thesis prepared for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, by James Edward Rice, a graduate of the class of 1890. The work was planned and wholly carried out in the most careful manner by Mr. Rice under the immediate supervision of the Director. The results have been thought worthy of publication in the Cornell Station Bulletin.