Bonsai trees are slow growing. It can take years, decades and even longer to achieve a good bonsai tree. There are very few ways to mitigate this delay.
The slow growth of some species can also contribute to branches missing from important places in certain specimens. A good formal upright should be structured in a specific way. That is left, right, back branches in a repeating order. Other styles have specific requirements.
With limited branches and slow growth most bonsai take a long time to grow.
What if there is a way to get around this problem?
Grafting and similar achieves just that.
Grafting is a way to take branches from one tree. You than transplant these to another tree. This can replace or make new branches in places where they are needed but already present. It can also accelerate the development of branches.
Another option is to graft trunks. This takes 2 or more trunks and fuses them together. It adds mass to the trunk which would otherwise take years to achieve.
The problem with grafting is among other things the risk. Not all grafts take. Some cause damage when they fail. Some can cause tree death.
Why and how this happens is not entirely clear. There is a body of evidence that explains some of the biochemical processes. These models are not great at predicting success.
The best grafts are in fact clones from the parent stock.
Hello and welcome to this video on the ways bonsai trees fuse together this is a useful thing when you graph branches roots and even hold trunks some bonsai or trees in general will not take to grafting it does not matter how many where or when you graft it simply does not work part of this can be understood from the way trees fuse together other uses for this knowledge include how best to graph different parts of your bonsai it can also help in understanding how best to promote certain kinds of growth while this form of fusion is not the same thing as grafting it is very similar it’s something known as inosculation a natural phenomena it’s most common when you have two branches of two trees coming together and joining they grow together it’s not common between species but it can happen this is also a term that if you are searching for it you may be mindful of the usage in plastic surgery although used in that field it’s a very different thing when we talk about this the grafting or enuscalation or fusing of parts of trees in the same species or even different genre and families of trees is what we’re talking about here it’s the cambium of two trees coming together grafting and growing together to form at least in that one location a single plant in order to understand what’s happening we need to start with the structure of your tree or at least the branches there are different layers of the tree and these are made up of different kinds of cells the outermost of which is the bark that you would be familiar with this is the thing that you see at all times these cover a thin layer of active living cells known as the phlegm inside this lies another layer of cells known as the cambium the cambium are the active growing cells of the tree those that contribute to its size and appearance further inside this you’ll find the sapwood and heartwood these two parts of the tree are slightly different but almost entirely related to each other sapwood is as the name would suggest filler sap and this is responsible for movement of fluid that in turn spreads nutrition removes waste heartwood is responsible for supporting the tree when we talk about fusion or an oscillation we’re talking about the cambium layer in this case the cadmium is the growing active part of the tree in its simplest terms when you have two parts of two different plants where the cambium is exposed for example from bark wearing away the two parts of the cambium from different trees can come in contact continue growing and fuse together the bark layer then heals over and around this sealing it in this creates what looks like an otherwise mundane and normal juncture on a more technical level which is where we want to get into some detail for you it’s a little more difficult to understand the way a tree heals is somewhat similar to the way the human body heals and that’s an important part to remember there are some distinct similarities and some very clear differences let’s start with the assumption that you’re continuing with an otherwise normal graft you have a cyan and a parent plant that you’re putting the scion into once you have these two parts of the plants put together you begin to activate various mechanisms within them primarily those that detect and deal with wounds the way the plant deals with this is the same as the human body it begins to heal or regenerate plants can do that different ways and how they respond will depend very much on how they view the graft first thing you get is the changing transport along that cambium the fact that you have different fluids moving in different ways sends out signals that tell the plant that something is wrong the transportation has been interrupted this means you normally get movement of fluid from the leaves to the roots and vice versa this means photosynthesis isn’t happening the way it should because you’ve interrupted the movement of the fluid and the nutrition within you get accumulation of oxen and sugars above the site where the graft is happening but a reduction in these below that point this causes changes in the chemical structures that are there and the cellular functionality this is how it begins to detect the wounds are occurring you then get various genes being expressed there are several that could occur and for now we’ll simply focus on the process overall rather than any single gene this occurs within hours and it begins to encourage cellular differentiation and proliferation this is the same as the human body and increase the number of cells to fill in the wound while that occurs in the human body the way the plant and the bonsai tree in particular does this is notably different there is production of proteins and this includes pectins these are important in helping the cells to begin adhering and to strengthen the graft junction the grafting won’t happen if you don’t have both these pectins occurring and the right modification to the enzymes in that part of the plant once that happens you begin to see the plant being rebuilt around where the damage occurs this allows for attachment to continue and the merging of the two parts of the graft if you have incompatible graphs this is where things deviate somewhat you see the same sort of events occurring but the attachments begin to weaken and as they weaken they will eventually stop working altogether leading to the death of the graft and possibly the whole plant you can think about grafting occurring or more accurately failing in two particular ways short-term failures and long-term failures short-term tends to be fairly obvious and will occur within weeks maybe months at the longest this is a result of vascular tissue in the cambium failing to form across the graft junction and because there’s no joining of the vascular tissue there’s no movement of material from the roots to the leaves and vice versa this is why you see death in very short order the alternative long-term failure occurs when graphs have adhered and taken despite this the grafted psion eventually fails this can take months or years as a result it’s much harder to understand exactly what’s happening but it’s often a case of incompatible graphs occurring you may only find out about the incompatibility well after it occurs at a fundamental level you can find out what’s happening by measuring certain stress responses within the plants the most important and immediately obvious is reactive oxygen species this coupled with lower transcription levels of antioxidants means the plant can’t cope with the stress when you couple this lower ability to deal with stress and the increasing amount of stress or stress-related radical oxygen species you have a problem in it causes damage this can also lead to an increase in phenolic compound production and other things that are byproducts of the incompatible grafting eventually it will kill both the graft and the plant that you were grafting too despite some of these very obvious problems and difficulties in grafting grafting can be incredibly useful and fusing multiple trees is an easy way to create one very big tree the advantages of grafting and fusing trees in general is that you have much greater control over where branches are growing you can increase the size of the trunk nebari and more you are not going to be cutting large sections of the trunk or tree away there’s also the ability to get growth very quickly and very easily in the right places the downsides to this are many of the things we’ve mentioned you often have failures with grafting sometimes there can be many sometimes you can be very successful it will depend on the species and the tree in question sometimes a tree simply will not take a graft despite being otherwise entirely compatible in other cases you could be looking at issues of certain species not being compatible in general and that means you need to find the right species to put to the right species to get these graphs to take some of them are overall simply incredibly difficult if you are trying to graph something you need to be aware of competition between the two plants both the one you’re grafting from and the plant you are grafting too if they’re in the same pot they may be competing for limited resources in other cases the graft may be competing with the rest of the original plant you’re grafting too and this can be somewhat disadvantageous to the tree that can slow down growth and cause some harm another issue is hastily done graphs can cause more harm than good done incorrectly they can cause die back and damage that will take years to recover from one way to overcome many of the issues we’ve just described is to take cuttings from the trigger going to graph two grow these and use the effectively cloned tree as your original material to graft to this allows you to take the cloned material and put it back on the parent tree that will remove many of the issues of compatibility it will also allow you to let’s say recycle or upcycle material although at a more technical level than many of our other bonsai videos hopefully this has been of interest to you and helped you to understand some of the complexities of what’s going on with grafting and fusion and some of the more technical information such as the correct term for this thank you for watching the video if you found it interesting consider liking sharing and subscribing please post any comments questions or suggestions that you have below