This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Budding, or inoculation, is one of the most general, and, in this country, by far the most important method of summer propagation. This operation consists in removing a bud from the variety to be propagated, and inserting it on another which is called the stock. Its success depends upon the following conditions: In the first place, there must be a certain degree of affinity between the stock and the parent plant from which we propose to propagate. Thus, among fruit trees, the Apple Crab, Pear, Quince, Mespilus, and Mountain Ash, all belong to the same natural family, and may be worked upon each other. The Plum, Apricot, Nectarine, Peach, and Almond, form another natural division, and work upon each other. The Cherry must be worked upon some kind of Cherry, and Currants and Gooseberries go together. In general practice the Apple is worked either upon Apple seedlings, which are called free stocks, or upon the Doucain, or Paradise, which are dwarf growing species, and are used for the purpose of making small trees.
The Pear is worked either upon Pear seedlings, which are called free stocks, or upon the Quince, to make dwarfs; occasionally it is worked upon the Mountain Ash and Thorn. But it must be borne in mind that while all varieties succeed on the Pear seedling, a certain number fail entirely on the other stocks we have named. Lists of such as succeed particularly well on the Quince will be found in previous numbers of the Horticulturist. The Cherry is worked either upon seedlings of what is known as the Mazzard, a small, black, sweet cherry, that forms a very large, robust tree; or, for dwarfs, on the Mahaleb, or perfumed cherry, which is a small tree with bitter fruit, about as large as a common pea.
In the second place, the buds must be in a proper state. The shoot, or scion budded from, must be the present season's growth, and it should be mature - that is, it should have completed its growth, which is indicated by the formation of a bud on the point, called the terminal bud, and the buds inserted should all be wood buds. On a shoot of this kind there are a number of buds unsuitable for working; those, at the base, being but partially developed, are liable to become dormant, and those on the point, where the wood is pithy perish. The ripening, or maturing of the buds, must regulate the period of budding, so that the time at which any given tree, or class of trees should be worked, depends upon the season, the soil, and other circumstances which control the ripening of wood. In our climate Plums usually complete their growth earlier than other fruit trees, and are, therefore, budded first; we usually have ripe buds by the middle of July. In some cases, when the stocks are likely to stop growing early, it becomes necessay to take the buds before the entire shoots have completed their growth, and then the ripe buds from the middle and lower parts are chosen.
Cherries come next, and are generally worked about the first of August The buds must be mature, or a failure will be certain.
In the third place, the stock must be in the right condition - that is, the bark must lift; freely and cleanly from the wood, and there must be a sufficient quantity of sap between the bark and wood to sustain the inserted bud and form a union with it Stocks, such as the common sorts of Plum, Pear, and Cherry, that finish their growth early, must be worked early; while such as the Peach, Quince, wild or native Plum, Mahaleb Cherry, etc., that grow late, must be worked late. If these stocks that grow freely till late in the autumn be budded early, the buds will be either covered up - "drowned," as it is technically called - by the rapid formation of new woody substance, or they will be forced out into a premature growth.
• A very great degree of sappiness, in either the stock or bud, makes up, in part, for the dryness of the other. Thus, in the fall, when Plum buds are quite dry, we can work them successfully on stocks that are growing rapidly. This is a very fortunate circumstance, too. Young stocks with a smooth, clean bark, are more easily and successfully worked than older ones, and when it happens that the latter have to be used, young parts of them should be chosen to insert the bud on.
In localities where buds are liable to injury from freezing and thawing in the winter, the buds are safer on the north side of the stock, and when exposed to danger from wind, they should be inserted on the side facing the point where most dangerous wind blows from. Attention to this point may obviate the necessity of tying up, which, in large practice, is an item of some moment.
In the fourth place, the manual operation must be performed with neatness and despatch. If a bud be taken off with ragged edges, or if it be ever so slightly bruised, or if the bark of the stock be not lifted clean without bruising the wood under it, the case will certainly be a failure. The budding-knife must be thin and sharp. A rough edged razor is no more certain to make a painful shave, than a rough edged budding-knife is to make an unsuccessful bud. It takes a good knife, a steady hand, and considerable practice to cut off buds handsomely, well, and quick. As to taking out the particle of wood attached to the bud, it matters little, if the cut be good and not too deep. In taking out the wood, great care is necessary to avoid taking the root of the bud with it Then, when the bud is in its place, it must be well tied up. Nice, smooth, soft strips of bark, like narrow ribbons, are the best and most convenient in common use. Every part of the cut must be wrapped so firm as to exclude air completely; and this should be done as quickly as possible, as the air soon blackens the inner surface of the bark, and prevents the perfect union of the new parts that are placed in contact.
We have thus stated briefly, for the benefit of beginners, the chief points that require particular attention in budding, or inoculation. Amateurs, who have little to do, should choose the mornings and evenings, or cloudy, cool days to do their budding; but nurserymen must work in all weathers, and in all hours of the day; but their superior skill and quickness render it less hazardous. When only a few stocks are to be worked, and the weather happens to be dry, a thorough watering or two will be of great service in making the bark lift freely.