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WHIP AND TONGUE GRAFTING
WHIP GRAFTING (also called splice or tongue grafting) is one of the oldest methods of
asexualplant propagationknown. It is the predominant propagationmethod usedon apples
and is widely used on pear. Although most grapes are grown from cuttings in this
country, whip grafting is the standard when they are propagated.
HOW TO MAKE A WHIP-AND-TONGUE GRAFT
The whip-and-tongue graft is used to make a very secure graft with a lot of surface area
contact between the scion and rootstock. It is used to connect thin pieces of stock and
scion, usually roughly pencil-thick, but it probably requires the highest fine skill of all grafts.
If this proves too difficult or you have not grafted before, start with the splice graft instead.
Why You Might Use a Whip-And-Tongue Graft
Instead of the simpler splice graft, which has two faces, this graft creates a “whip” and a
“tongue” that each have two faces on both scion and rootstock: a total of eight faces.
That’s four times as much contact, which means a greater chance for the graft union healing
to occur. A professional apple grower I spoke with said he had a 98% success rate with this
graft.
The downside is the tongue cut is a technically difficult and potentially dangerous cut, during
which the sharp knife can easily slip and slice a finger if done wrong. Without great practice
this method is slow at best, and painful at worst.
I can’t think of a reason you would want to use this graft in a home garden unless you were
playing with novelty grafting to add many different scions to a fruit or ornamental flowering
tree. In these cases, where you might want to put different kids of pears on a pear tree, or
different cherries on a cherry tree, the wood you work might be small enough. But another
and possibly better option would be to make fewer grafts and work instead on a thick
branch with a cleft or side-stub graft.
What You Will Need
 Winter: all wood should be dormant.
 A grafting knife.
 Rootstock and scion of same size, a quarter up to a half inch. Scion has at least three
healthy buds.
 String and plastic tape or sealing wax
MAKING THE WHIP-AND-TONGUE GRAFT
1. Sharpen your knife. It must be as sharp as possible for this graft. If it is dull you will
attempt to make the cut by increasing the force you apply, which will increase your
risk of slipping. Also, a dull knife is more likely to turn as it passes through the wood,
making a wavy cut.
2. In one stroke make a long, smooth cut angling across an internode
at the top of the rootstock to create an oval face about one inch long, or longer if
your wood is thicker. When doing this, hold the wood tightly in one hand and your
knife tucked tight in four fingers of your cutting hand, with that hand’s thumb stuck
straight out. The cut is a single, straight pulling motion, pulling sideways across your
chest and away from your hand holding the wood. None of your fingers move from
position during the cut, thus keeping your thumb in front of and out of the way of
the knife.
3. Make a cut of the same length and angle across the base of the scion.
4. Check that these cuts match. Place these cuts against each other now and see that
they line up well, having the same angle and a straight, not wavy, face. When placed
against each other, there should not be air gaps or exposed inner wood. If there is a
problem, now is the time to try to correct it with recutting.
5. Make the tongues. This is the difficult and dangerous cut. Starting about 1/3 of the
way down from the tip of your wood, you must cut into the face. Your cut should be
straight, about half the length of the first cut, and parallel to the first cut. Make the
same cut in both scion and rootstock. When completed, the two pieces can be fit
together in an interlocking manner.
6. Slide the scion and stock together to interlock. The tongues will fit snugly together
and the wood’s natural tension should hold the graft tightly, with minimal or no air
space between the pieces of wood. If the thicknesses are slightly different do not
center the scion. Rather, offset it to make sure one of the two sides line up smoothly.
7. Bind and seal the graft by wrapping it tightly top-to-bottom twine covered with
plastic tape or sealing wax.
8. Follow up with general aftercare, such as humidity control, until the union fully takes.
Application:
 Whip and tongue grafting is commonly used for bench
grafting fruit trees. For example, it is the first of two
grafts made in the production of double worked
(interstem) apple trees. Scions of the dwarfing interstem
genotype (often M9) are grafted to the vigorous MM111
rootstock during the winter, lined out in the spring, and
then field budded with the fruiting variety in August or
September of the same growing season.
 A whip and tongue graft is also used for nurse root
grafting, described in the section on Reasons for
Grafting and Budding, to bring about self rooting of a
difficult to root species, such as lilac. A several node
scion piece of the shy rooting species, is bench grafted
using Whip & tongue onto a stock, consisting of a piece
of root. After callusing, in cool storage, the grafted plant is lined out in the field,
where the rootstockserves as the temporary root system until the slow rooting scion
has become self rooted.
ADVANTAGES:
Compared to a splice graft, the whip and tongue is stronger, because the interlocking
tongues are held under compression by the natural springiness (elasticity) of the wood of
both stock and scion. This naturally generates the pressure needed for graft union
formation, which is discussed in the section on Requirements for Successful Grafting and
Budding. The additional length of the vascular cambium exposed along the cut surfaces of a
whip & tongue graft (original diagonal cut plus tongue cut) is much greater than the length
of cambium exposed by only the diagonal cut without the tongue, in the case of a splice
graft. This results in greater cambial contact between stock and scion of a whip & tongue
than of a splice graft.
Apple nurse root graft (by whip & tongue) from
The Nursery Book, by LH Bailey, 1913
Natural pressure is generated by the interlocking
tongues of the whip & tongue graft (right), compared
to the splice graft, which is essentially the same graft
without the interlocking "tongues".
How to Whip & Tongue Graft:
The first cut is a long sloping diagonal as much as one to two inches long.
The secondcut begins about 1/3 of the way downfrom the top of the first cut.
It begins vertically, then gradually becomes nearly parallel to the first cut
surface, to create the "tongue"
Identical (complementary)cuts are made in both stock and scion
Preferably the scion should be the same diameter as the stock, but if it is
smaller, it is important the scion be placed over to one side of the stock,
rather than centered, so that the vascular cambia like up.
Stock and scion should fit together without the overlap shown here, which
indicates that the second (tongue) cut was to long.
STEPS IN WHIP OR TONGUE GRAFTING
2. Select as smooth and clean part of the
branch.
1. Use a sharp narrow blade knife and split the
stub through the middle two to four
centimeters deep. This action prepares the
tongue of the stock.
3. Get the section as in cleft grafting bearing a
number of buds, 10-25 centimeter long.
4. Cut the scion in a sloping shape. Insert the
scion on the stock into the center so that the
inner back lies against the inner most back of
the split stub.
5. With the scion in place, cover the union
with waxed string or plastic sheet. Avoid
damaging the bud.
6. Wash all cut surfaces thoroughly and let
the scion grow.
Whip and tongue grafting

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Whip and tongue grafting

  • 1. WHIP AND TONGUE GRAFTING WHIP GRAFTING (also called splice or tongue grafting) is one of the oldest methods of asexualplant propagationknown. It is the predominant propagationmethod usedon apples and is widely used on pear. Although most grapes are grown from cuttings in this country, whip grafting is the standard when they are propagated. HOW TO MAKE A WHIP-AND-TONGUE GRAFT The whip-and-tongue graft is used to make a very secure graft with a lot of surface area contact between the scion and rootstock. It is used to connect thin pieces of stock and scion, usually roughly pencil-thick, but it probably requires the highest fine skill of all grafts. If this proves too difficult or you have not grafted before, start with the splice graft instead. Why You Might Use a Whip-And-Tongue Graft Instead of the simpler splice graft, which has two faces, this graft creates a “whip” and a “tongue” that each have two faces on both scion and rootstock: a total of eight faces. That’s four times as much contact, which means a greater chance for the graft union healing to occur. A professional apple grower I spoke with said he had a 98% success rate with this graft. The downside is the tongue cut is a technically difficult and potentially dangerous cut, during which the sharp knife can easily slip and slice a finger if done wrong. Without great practice this method is slow at best, and painful at worst. I can’t think of a reason you would want to use this graft in a home garden unless you were playing with novelty grafting to add many different scions to a fruit or ornamental flowering tree. In these cases, where you might want to put different kids of pears on a pear tree, or different cherries on a cherry tree, the wood you work might be small enough. But another and possibly better option would be to make fewer grafts and work instead on a thick branch with a cleft or side-stub graft. What You Will Need  Winter: all wood should be dormant.  A grafting knife.  Rootstock and scion of same size, a quarter up to a half inch. Scion has at least three healthy buds.  String and plastic tape or sealing wax MAKING THE WHIP-AND-TONGUE GRAFT 1. Sharpen your knife. It must be as sharp as possible for this graft. If it is dull you will attempt to make the cut by increasing the force you apply, which will increase your risk of slipping. Also, a dull knife is more likely to turn as it passes through the wood, making a wavy cut. 2. In one stroke make a long, smooth cut angling across an internode at the top of the rootstock to create an oval face about one inch long, or longer if your wood is thicker. When doing this, hold the wood tightly in one hand and your knife tucked tight in four fingers of your cutting hand, with that hand’s thumb stuck straight out. The cut is a single, straight pulling motion, pulling sideways across your chest and away from your hand holding the wood. None of your fingers move from
  • 2. position during the cut, thus keeping your thumb in front of and out of the way of the knife. 3. Make a cut of the same length and angle across the base of the scion. 4. Check that these cuts match. Place these cuts against each other now and see that they line up well, having the same angle and a straight, not wavy, face. When placed against each other, there should not be air gaps or exposed inner wood. If there is a problem, now is the time to try to correct it with recutting. 5. Make the tongues. This is the difficult and dangerous cut. Starting about 1/3 of the way down from the tip of your wood, you must cut into the face. Your cut should be straight, about half the length of the first cut, and parallel to the first cut. Make the same cut in both scion and rootstock. When completed, the two pieces can be fit together in an interlocking manner. 6. Slide the scion and stock together to interlock. The tongues will fit snugly together and the wood’s natural tension should hold the graft tightly, with minimal or no air space between the pieces of wood. If the thicknesses are slightly different do not center the scion. Rather, offset it to make sure one of the two sides line up smoothly. 7. Bind and seal the graft by wrapping it tightly top-to-bottom twine covered with plastic tape or sealing wax. 8. Follow up with general aftercare, such as humidity control, until the union fully takes. Application:  Whip and tongue grafting is commonly used for bench grafting fruit trees. For example, it is the first of two grafts made in the production of double worked (interstem) apple trees. Scions of the dwarfing interstem genotype (often M9) are grafted to the vigorous MM111 rootstock during the winter, lined out in the spring, and then field budded with the fruiting variety in August or September of the same growing season.  A whip and tongue graft is also used for nurse root grafting, described in the section on Reasons for Grafting and Budding, to bring about self rooting of a difficult to root species, such as lilac. A several node scion piece of the shy rooting species, is bench grafted using Whip & tongue onto a stock, consisting of a piece of root. After callusing, in cool storage, the grafted plant is lined out in the field, where the rootstockserves as the temporary root system until the slow rooting scion has become self rooted.
  • 3. ADVANTAGES: Compared to a splice graft, the whip and tongue is stronger, because the interlocking tongues are held under compression by the natural springiness (elasticity) of the wood of both stock and scion. This naturally generates the pressure needed for graft union formation, which is discussed in the section on Requirements for Successful Grafting and Budding. The additional length of the vascular cambium exposed along the cut surfaces of a whip & tongue graft (original diagonal cut plus tongue cut) is much greater than the length of cambium exposed by only the diagonal cut without the tongue, in the case of a splice graft. This results in greater cambial contact between stock and scion of a whip & tongue than of a splice graft. Apple nurse root graft (by whip & tongue) from The Nursery Book, by LH Bailey, 1913 Natural pressure is generated by the interlocking tongues of the whip & tongue graft (right), compared to the splice graft, which is essentially the same graft without the interlocking "tongues".
  • 4. How to Whip & Tongue Graft: The first cut is a long sloping diagonal as much as one to two inches long. The secondcut begins about 1/3 of the way downfrom the top of the first cut. It begins vertically, then gradually becomes nearly parallel to the first cut surface, to create the "tongue" Identical (complementary)cuts are made in both stock and scion
  • 5. Preferably the scion should be the same diameter as the stock, but if it is smaller, it is important the scion be placed over to one side of the stock, rather than centered, so that the vascular cambia like up. Stock and scion should fit together without the overlap shown here, which indicates that the second (tongue) cut was to long.
  • 6. STEPS IN WHIP OR TONGUE GRAFTING 2. Select as smooth and clean part of the branch. 1. Use a sharp narrow blade knife and split the stub through the middle two to four centimeters deep. This action prepares the tongue of the stock. 3. Get the section as in cleft grafting bearing a number of buds, 10-25 centimeter long. 4. Cut the scion in a sloping shape. Insert the scion on the stock into the center so that the inner back lies against the inner most back of the split stub. 5. With the scion in place, cover the union with waxed string or plastic sheet. Avoid damaging the bud. 6. Wash all cut surfaces thoroughly and let the scion grow.