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T-bud grafting of maples

I have some standard Japanese maples onto which I’m trying to T-bud the weeping laceleaf maple. I’ve had pretty limited success, so I wonder if there’s something I’m doing wrong.
I’ve tried at different times of the year: late spring, summer. I cut a young small branch off the weeping Japanese maple. Then I cut off a leaf bud. I use a very thin slice under the bud, and cut the leaf off the stem. I cut the T about an inch long in the standard Japanese maple, and slide the bud in. I’ve used duct tape and plumbing tape. I don’t cover the bud but try to snug right up to it with the tape. I only get about 5-10% success doing this. Any suggestions?


You may want to consult the American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation manual (edited by Alan Toogood; DK Publishing, 1999), as it has detailed (and illustrated) information on T-budding and chip-budding. In the description of T-budding, the book emphasizes the importance of not pushing too hard into the bud. It also says to “sever the remaining tail of the bud by cutting into the bark again at the horizontal cut. Then secure the bud in place with plastic tape or raffia in the same way as for a chip-budded ornamental tree, leaving the bud uncovered to avoid exerting too much pressure on it.” Texas A & M University also has an illustrated explanation of T-budding.

According to J.D. Vertrees’s book Japanese Maples (Timber Press,2009), chip-budding is advantageous because it can be done at almost any time of year and uses less material per graft, allowing growers to make more trees with less. In any case, as long as your grafting knife is nice and sharp and you’re working carefully, don’t worry that not every graft takes. Professional propagators sometimes make four grafts expecting only one to take.

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