Grafted Cacti – what are they?

Grafted Cacti – what are they?

Grafted cacti are colourful and low-maintenance plants that can add colour to your garden or home décor.

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What Is a grafted cactus?

‘Grafted’ is a tern used when two plants are fused together to make one new plant. Grafted cacti follow this process and typically uses two species. It creates a fun and colourful plant to add to your home.


Why graft two plants together?

Grafting makes it possible for two species of cactus to thrive. It combines the top cactus (scion) with a green cacti bottom (rootstock). The scion will have been starved of chlorophyll prior to being grafted. This means it loses it green appearance and reveals some super cool underlying colours. Once grafted together, the rootstock shares its chlorophyll with the scion, allowing the often colourful scion to perform photosynthesis and survive.

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Who first grafted two cacti together?

Two Japanese growers in the 1940’s (E Watanabi and K Kitoh) were growing Gymnocalycium Mihanovicchi from seed (typically used as a scion). Some of the new plants had mutated were starting to show hidden colours of red, orange and yellow. They started to hand-pick the most interesting and brightest Gymnocalycium and to help them popped them on a rootstock or nurser plant. Nurse plants are something commonly seen in nature, where two plants help each other to thrive. This is where the first grafted cacti were born. It is something now commonly seen in Garden Centres and Plant Shops around the world.


How do you graft cacti?

  • Pick your rootstock, good cacti for this are Hylocereus undatus, Echinopsis peruviana, Myrtillocactus geometrizans and Cereus repandus.
  • Cut the head off your rootstock. You’ll need a minimum of two or three inches above the soil. Be sure to use a clean, sharp knife.
  • Cut off the head of your other cactus to create the scion. You want the scion and the rootstock to have about the same diameter where they will meet.
  • Look at the sliced part of your cacti. You will probably see a ring, or maybe some dots that look like tubes, these are basically the blood vessels for plants. You want to match these rings, or the tubes, as closely as you can on your rootstock and scion. This is the part that will make your graft successful or not.
  • Literally balance your scion on top of your root stock.
  • Secure the scion in place with some twine around the entire plant. All the way from the top of the cactus, down and around the bottom of the pot.
  • Done!

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How will I look after a grafted cactus?

Provide partial sunlight. Most grafted cacti do best in indirect light. Try an east or west-facing windowsill to provide just enough sun for your plants, without burning them with direct sunlight.

Avoid overwatering. Cacti are desert plants and do not require as much water as many other plants. You should only water your grafted cactus once the soil is dry. You can also mist the tops of your grafted cactus occasionally to keep the scions colourful. Stop watering all together in the winter months to allow your plant to become dormant.