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Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions..

Posted by treeguy123 AL 7a (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 3, 12 at 21:50

The Juniperus virginiana grafts that I tried grafting back in late February have all mostly healed together (scion are solidly held to the rootstalk after grafting band removal), however most grafts have yellow and green foliage with no growth (alive and dying foliage), a couple grafts just have green foliage and no growth, and the couple of larger branches that I tried the approach grafting technique have green foliage and a tiny bit of growth (approach grafting with the scions in jars of fungicide water to prevent xylem plugging for a longer time).

So I have three graft conditions (Starting from poorest looking to best looking):

Condition #1:
>Scion are solidly held to the rootstalk after grafting band removal (you can see what looks like pretty good smooth and calloused unions on parts of the scion).
>Cambium layer of the scion still green after a small bark scratch test.
>Green and also yellow dying foliage.
>No growth at all.

Condition #2:
>Scion are solidly held to the rootstalk after grafting band removal (you can see what looks like pretty good smooth and calloused unions on parts of the scion).
>Cambium layer of the scion still green after a small bark scratch test.
>Green foliage.
>No growth at all.

Condition #3:
>Scion are solidly held to the rootstalk after grafting band removal (you can see what looks like pretty good smooth and calloused unions on parts of the scion).
>Cambium layer of the scion still green after a small bark scratch test.
>Green foliage.
>a very tiny growth on the two approach grafted ones (you can see a tiny light green healthy growth that pushed out of maybe 25% of the buds on these). But I'm not sure if this is due to these scions being in jars of water or if the water has gave a longer and better time for the scions to heal to the rootstalk. (might be a combination).

What do I do now? All of the grafts are still in the mini green house with 85 to 90% humidity, and I'm still spraying the grafts with fungicide regularly when I see that white cotton ball like fungus come up. In the greenhouse it's getting up around 75F to 80F in the daytime now. Light is still about the same as it was in February, one window next to the greenhouse is blocked out where I have it (so the green house won't get too hot). And there are 4 other windows by it that bring light into the area. I would describe the light conditions as being at the floor level of a car an hour after sunrise (no direct light, only indirect light but pretty shady conditions).

The only problems I can think of might possibly be:
>Light too low.
>Too infrequent between rootstalk waterings (but all of the rootstalks are pushing out good new green growth, one rootstalk has a tiny bit of yellow foliage near the middle).

Why are the scions held tightly to the rootstalks but they have no growth and have yellowing foliage (Condition #1 & #2 above)???

Any ideas on what to do now to hopefully save the grafts of my most favorite tree in the world (incredible weeping Juniperus virginiana) would greatly be appreciated.

One of the poorer grafts (in the "Condition #1"), you can still see green under the bark:


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

A few thoughts, tough to say without seeing foliage and other photos...
- This might be premature alarming and everything will be okay, you might want to give them a few weeks. The wound will often heal, or callous prior to pushing new growth.
- You might be overwatering, how have you been determining when to water? By pot weight, or simply watering ever x days? At 85-90% humidity, ET goes down (evapotranspiration).
- Do you have a thermometer in there? You mention 75-80, but if it's getting hotter than that it is not a good thing.

-Brent


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

Patience. They'll push eventually, whether this year, or next. Everything sounds well except I'd start cooling the greenhouse area and if they're still tented throughout the day I'd start opening the tent in the morning and spraying down all the grafts with cold water and also spray the walls, floor, inside of the tent & on sunny days you should be covering the sun predominant walls with shade cloth to keep the entire operation from overheating.

For several weeks I've been opening my tent and twice a day I hose down everything, here.

You still need to keep the plants protected from frost that may still occur yet and then the grafts may go outdoors. You can either keep them on an east facing location or, you can keep them in a shade structure, or, keep them under a large tree so they receive filtered light and late afternoon sun for a few 2-3 hours. That'll be your aftercare.

Best of luck,

Dax


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

Thanks Brent, I've been watering when the soil at the top of the potted rootstalks become dry. Yes I have a digital thermometer in there that also tells the humidity.

The reason I've been worrying is because of the yellowing foliage and I also read this online in a book about juniper grafting:

"5% to 10% are healed in 1 to 1.5 weeks (7 to 10 days)
25% healed in 2 weeks
Most (90%?) healed in 5-6 weeks
New growth on scion is a sign for succsessful healing."

And it has been over 8 weeks since grafting and still no growth on all the many regular grafted ones, but they seem to be hanging on to life even with no growth and they've had some yellowing/dieback, this is what has had me worrying.

Thanks for the info Dax, any extra comments on the above would be very appreciated also.

Dax,
I could start misting, but where the greenhouse currently is, I could only do a few squirt on each graft because there is carpet under the greenhouse. And I would not be able to squirt the walls of the greenhouse really because it would run down to the carpet, unless I install some plastic at the bottom. But plastic at the bottom would be a pain to lift the green house up everyday to dump out this water filled plastic, but I'll do what ever I can to increase the chance of these grafts surviving. What would you recommend I do if you were me in this situation? I've had the humidifier on straight for over 8 weeks now, that's when I grafted them around Feb. 7th to the 11th. Should I still keep the humidifier constantly on, and spray fungicide on the grafts every two or three days like I've been doing? It is getting more and more hardier to control the fungus outbreaks every couple of days. Keeping it on all the time keeps the humidity at a constant 85% to 90%.

If I keep the grafts indoors with no humidity I'll have to spray them daily since they get spider mites very easily if the foliage is dry indoors. Or I could put them outside in the rain and that would keep them off. The humidifier has been the most help in keeping them off while being indoors I think.

The mini greenhouse is in our unheated/uncooled breezeway with several windows. I've been keeping the nearest window blocked with a large piece of cardboard to keep out all sun in that window, but last night I replaced that window with some fabric sheet to let more light in, is this good? I've been opening all the windows if the temp start climbing too fast as the sun shines in the other windows during the late afternoon. This prevents it getting over 80 to 83F in the breezeway.

I have about 11 regular grafts and a couple of approach grafts. I removed the bands on about 7 of the regular ones. They all were green under the bark except one. The brown one you could barely tell a diffidence in foliage coloration. It was just a very subtle yellow green color, compared to green mixed with yellow on the other alive ones. I pealed the dead one off the rootstalk. I had to give a tiny force to separate the hardened resin which gave a tiny pop sound. I scratched the rootstalk flap on this one and the flap was dead and brown which surprised me, maybe that contributed to the death of this scion. I'm guessing the flap got bent too harsh at its base killing the flap base tissue when grafting.

So the dead one gives me even more confidence the others are still hanging on for life.

Here is a example of a graft in Condition #1, see how some of the foliage is turning yellow and dying, and there is no growth on these:
Condition #1:

Condition #1:

Condition #3:

Condition #3:

Should I put the rubber bands back on these Condition #1 & #2 ones to keep them pressed together (to prevent resin graft separation). Or is it good I removed the bands, since they seemed attached and I saw a tiny bit of rootstalk scarring where the bands were constricting expansion like in the below picture? How long do you leave the bands on your grafts Dax?

One after band removal:

And About the cold, yes, I'm kind of a amateur meteorologist so I stay close to the latest weather. :-) We'll have to watch for frost possibility around April 11th.

I'll be forever grateful to you if these grafts start growing, since you've help me a lot and this tree is very special to me.


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

Do you Dax or anybody know why many scions have some yellowing and dying foliage, but are still green under the bark and look like they've healed together at least some? Is it maybe sacrificing or dropping some foliage to compensate for lack of scion water uptake and a poor union? If it is from a poor union it's probably because I cut the scions off the parent tree too late (in early February as they were coming out of dormancy).


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

Overall, the grafts look ok. I agree that patience is key at this stage.

I usually start moving plants out of the humidity chamber at about 5 weeks post-grafting. I don't see a problem with putting bands back on, that might help protect the union from being broken due to accidental bumping, etc. I have a few juniper grafts from last season that still have their bands on!

It sounds like you'll be able to move these outside pretty soon, if April 11 is your last frost date.

Good luck!


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

Thank you.
So what I understand from Dax and you sluice is I move them outdoors to a brighter but fairly shady spot as soon as I can when the frost threat is gone for good. But does this apply to my grafts since most grafts like you all do usually start pushing by now? So what about humidity since my regular grafts have not pushed yet? I keep wondering do I even need to move them outside in a more windy and dry environment when they have not even pushed out growth yet, plus they look stressed since they have partly yellowing foliage like seen in my above pictures? I just don't want them to die. My gut tells me not to bring them to the windy/dry outside environment anytime soon until they green up and push some growth (especially during 90+F days in the summer). But on the other hand outside would lessen the fungus problems with better air circulation and give more light. What do you all think?


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

Wean them off the humidity slowly and wean them off to the outdoors. It's the same process to how you go about weaning off annual flowers in flats, prior, to planting.

Dax


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

Hi,im new to grafting myself but i am an experienced gardener of 25 years.Try putting one of your plants in more light.See if it picks up.If it does then put them all in more light.The photo you have shown resembles what healthy conifers do if its too shady-they die back.


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

Thanks Dax and wallsg7, I just hope it's lack of light that is causing the yellowing foliage and not a poor union. If it is a poor union that's why I was worrying that attempting to harden it off to outdoors might be too harsh for the scions until they knit together more so the scions can receive a larger volume of water & nutrient uptake. But I trust you guys more since you all have more years of experience. I guess I can just gradually harden if off very slowly over a week or maybe two weeks to less humidity and more light and hope for the best.


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

Well you don't do it now, you wean them off to the outdoors when there won't be any more frost-danger. In the meantime, wean them off the humidity.

There's nothing at all wrong with any of your grafts that I can see. Nature isn't perfect, expect some minor this' & thats'. You did take those bands off prematurely, so put them back on and leave them on till next year or until they fall off on their own.

Dax


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

Thank you for the help Dax.

A couple of more last things, I just watched some more of the Coenosium Gardens grafting video on aftercare and heard that once the scion shows signs of life then they are uncovered from the plastic that keeps the humidity very high. And it also said that once the scions show signs of life knitting has taken place and the grafts no longer need the plastic tent to keep in high humidity.
I guess that's what was in the back of my head from watching it a couple of months ago, and what had me worried this whole time.

That begs the question should I still wean them out of humidity chamber and then to the outdoors starting in about 1 or 2 weeks since the scions have not grown any and may not until early summer or next spring (last frost chance here will likely be April 12th). I know you probably would remove them from the humidity like you've been saying, but the video would suggest not to until the first sight of growth. I guess my late budding scion exceptions have me a little confused on aftercare. lol

It also said that once the danger of frost has passed you can bring the growing scions out then transplant the rootstalks from the tiny square pots and pot it up to a larger size like a gallon container. But once you pot it up you must definitely remove all of the bands. (I assume this is because there will be rapid stem expansion and scion growth, and the rubber can girdle the stem and graft which can kill them).

So I guess on this part like you said I will replace the bands and keep them on until the scions start growing, then when they start to grow I will remove the bands and pot them up immediately into 1 gallon containers.


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

Maybe it's just a matter of at least some union knitting, and not necessarily scion growth/push as to whether it's ready to start weaning off the humidity. Think that is right?


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

It doesn't make any difference if you remove the plastic or not. What is more important is that you do things gradually.

You gotta remember that those guys in the Pacific Northwest have it real, real easy. It's not sunny all the time...it's not cold...it's not hot...it's not freakishly weird in the spring with one day 80F and the next it's snowing. They don't deal with any of this sh#t. And when it rains, any open areas to the greenhouse naturally raise the humidity within. They have a ridiculous advantage.

I never remove the poly from my tent and I open it only when it becomes too hot. Then, I wean the grafts off humidity for a few weeks minimum, then I wean them outdoors to at least a week minimum.

Everybody has their way man. You'll have to see what works for you.

The bud strip deal. Don't be concerned.

Dax


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

I hear you on that, in the in the southeast and midwest U.S. we likely have some of the most extreme weather variety and changeable weather in the world.

I'll likely gradually wean them off like you do mainly starting in 1 to 2 weeks but I may reduce the humidity over a longer period since they have not pushed yet, so maybe over 6 or 7 weeks instead of about 3 weeks. 90% now to maybe 60% (avg. summer noon humidity) by 6 or 7 weeks.

Thanks for all the help.


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

How are they doing?


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

All of the side wedge grafts one that looked like they healed together seem to be turning more and more yellowish green and drying up. If I touch the foliage on most of these then they just flake off.

But one of the approach grafted ones (in the jar) is sending out one very good green shoot (maybe almost a half inch long now), so I'm almost 100% sure it has healed pretty good on this one. :-D Yes!

I'll be super happy even if I get just this one graft to survive from the slow transition of the indoor humid chamber to eventual full sun exposure outdoors.

They are still in the humid chamber and I now have the humidity down to 75% during the afternoon. (I'm thinking maybe 1 more month in the chamber before the transition outside? It will then be 60% humidity in the afternoon) And they now only have one thin bed sheet covering the window next to the chamber during the afternoon.

Any more tips on the slow transition to eventual full sun in the ground would be appreciated. Like when to pot, potting soil type, and when will it be ready to plant in the ground in full sun etc.

Thanks.


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

Sounds like you're having some amount of success. Nice!

I can't speak to your local humidity conditions, since I graft in basement with forced air furnace, then it's outside to a semi-arid climate. But the timing seems about right. You might even be able to move things up a little. When moving to the outside, eastern exposure with morning sun only, or some sort of dappled shade is good.


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

Thanks.
We do have a 60% humidity on average on summer afternoons (sultry), so that's what I was talking about that I'll eventually get it down to 60% to match the outdoors before gradually exposing them more and more to the outside wind and brighter sun. :-)

Do you all think miracle-gro cactus soil will be good enough for a Juniper tree? I think I might pot up the first one to a 1 gallon pot in a week or two.

And after keeping them in dappled shade all summer what do you all do for the fall, winter, spring, and summer afterwards. Do you all plant your grafts out in the ground in full sun the next year, or do you plant them earlier like in the fall of the same year or something.


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

The cactus soil sounds like a good choice (although I have no experience with it).

I've planted out grafts in the full sun, southern exposure, as early as the same summer after grafting (i.e. less than 6 months). Not ideal, but it can be done. Fall planting is better than summer, and also you don't have to over-winter in the pot.


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

Sounds good, thanks for the info.


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

Sorry for the very late update, but all the grafts failed in late spring or early summer, I just didn't feel like even posting after the deaths for a good while. Also, a little later all the scions died (Maybe party because I was too depressed to even water the scions after the grafts died) :-(
Sigh, What went wrong???
Dax or others, any suggestions for my one last try this coming winter/spring?


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

Do them like you did, the mechanics. This time though, bag the grafts and open the bags each morning to replenish fresh air or when there is a significant build-up of condensation on the lining of the bag. No heat pads, just simply bag them. Once you see the scion show signs of growth, remove individual grafts from the bags.

Clear/lightweight bags work great. Remember to allow the understocks to lose much of their water, prior to bagging/grafting. Not so they're dry, just so they're not not at all wet. You want some water.

Aftercare, give them a sip of water after they've been removed from the bags if necessary but don't water them heavily until two weeks have passed, after the scions have began growing.

When all danger of spring frosts have passed, they must go outdoors to dappled light. Don't allow them to hang around in your house. I seem to recall you wanted to keep them indoors longer than necessary. When it's time, ween them off to the outdoors over the course of a week.

And don't think you're the lone ranger. Grafting takes time. You can do the mechanics perfectly, but it's the aftercare that often nips you.

Dax


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

Thank you Dax.

This was about my third year in trying to propagate this J. virginiana.

The first year I tried strong rooting hormone on cuttings, that failed.

Second year I tried grafting with a knife (not razor sharp, just sharp) and doing the bag method except I did not let them breath, those all failed (quick), Spider mite infestation on the root stalks, and the knife not being razor sharp was likely the main causes for a quick death.

Third year (this year) The scions seemed green for a long time in the humidity chamber after grafting, but I think that was just because the humidity preserved the chlorophyll even though the scions where getting little to no water uptake from the root stalk (guessing). The only ones to eventually grow a tiny bit and did not turn brown for the longest time, were the ones I had half in a jar of water (approach grafts), and they actually grew, but after I took the "graft" out of the humidity and removed the jar the tender new growth quickly shrived up and the last couple of scions I had died.

I don't know if this guess is true or not, But I've been guessing (and hoping) the the only reason they failed is because I got the scions off the parent tree as the tree was coming out of dormancy in February (pollen cones on the tree where large and swollen, and just about to burst open). A very warm winter did not help either (breaking dormancy even earlier than typical.)

So perhaps the scions did not have time to heal before the water started to transpire out of the foliage of the scions and juices flowing in the scions, thus a very poor graft union that was very susceptible to even tiny stresses in the aftercare (in other words: little to no water and nutrient uptake for the scions). Does this sound likely or not, (I don't mind if you disagree with what I said above, I want to learn as much as possible, so you can tell how you think about it).

This time I want to get the scions in the dead of winter (in January).

Do you think bagging the grafts could be better than the humidity chamber? Bagging them would be more work and I worry about spider mites, but I don't mind to do what ever it takes to get a successful cone of it, I'll do it.

I would even spend hundreds or maybe even thousands of dollars to graft/clone it successfully. lol
You probably know how it is for me, ones favorite plant/tree of a plant enthusiast is kind of like a very close family pet.


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

Definitely a problem to graft scions that aren't dormant.

Use your chamber if that's what suits you best. I personally don't believe spider mites being in the bags were casual of the bags, themselves.

Get a no.3 scalpel and I'll send you some blades. You won't need more than one, but I'll send a few. Much-much-easier.

Lastly, you really should send (me) a couple understocks (I don't have any) and if I get them to go, I'll return a plant to you. Or, you could send scions to Gary Gee at Gee Farms or to Jason Hupp at Western Evergreen. There's a nominal fee, but maybe in your case it could be worth it. I believe Jason charges 5 bucks a graft, or somewhere in that ballpark. Gee, I don't know what he charges.

Dax


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 17, 12 at 13:44

Gee is at $10 to $20 depending on the understock.


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

Thanks very much Dax, I don't really care what I use for aftercare as long as it works good. I might try both this time, the chamber and the bag method (Are you talking about covering the whole root stock and grafted scions, or just each individual scion?).
Also the spider mites were not in the small ziplock bags I had over each scion, they were on the dry rootstock foliage, about half of the rootstalk foliage died because of the mites. (I also did not know you need to trim up the rootstocks back then before grafting etc.).

I now have a Tina grafting knife that I used this year for the attempted graft, I sharpen it with stones to get it hair shaving sharp, but surgical scalpels might work better perhaps.

That is just what I was wondering about in case my graft don't take this coming spring. I will likely get someone else (like you or the nursery grafters) with a lot of experience to graft it in 2013/2014 if I fail at it again. Do those nurseries ship the whole plant back to you after the graft heals and the tree is weaned off/ready for planting?


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

Sure they will. If you sent a scion large enough to feed the understock root-system, then they will either completely remove the understock, or send it to you and then you can remove it.

Dax


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

Hopefully next year things will work better. You might also try coating the union with a sealant like Doc Farwell's. It can help keep the plant tissues well hydrated, so they knit together more quickly. Not sure what to suggest about the mites. Maybe an insecticide spray?


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

Thanks Dax and sluice.

Yeah I was thinking about using Doc Farwell on many of the grafts this time also, I think it could help as long as it doesn't seep down into the graft (But I've read some put a little caulking at the top to prevent this).

If they are kept in the dry air of the indoor unheated breeze way in the winter and spring, they get spider mites very easy (only the exposed rootstalk foliage gets them, the bagged grafted scion parts do not get any because it's too moist of a environment for them I guess).

Yeah, if I do the bag method I will likely need some kind of insecticide, or just make sure the root stalk foliage doesn't get too dry.


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

I bag the whole plant, not just the scion. Then once a day (or maybe twice), take the bag off for a minute to do a fresh air exchange.

humidity chamber (bagged)

humidity chamber (unbagged)

When doing the actual grafting, I try to make flat cuts on both the scion and the understock, so there is a good fit at the union.

Then I wrap with grafting bands, which holds the whole thing together.

After that, I put on a coat of the sealant, which is viscous.

This way, there is no drippage of sealant into the union.

Once the sealant dries it becomes like a hard shell, and also helps keep the scion attached to the understock.

Here's a pic from this morning. This Juniperus scopulorum was grafted last March.
The bands and sealant start to fall away from the union over time.


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RE: Grafts in critical condition update in + grafting questions.

I was wondering if the whole plant was bagged, I now know. It does looks like it could be a good way since you can easily change the air out etc. in that particular way.
Thanks very much for the info.


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