The tools and accessory materials required for grafting have changed little during the hundreds of years that the craft has been practiced. Today’s materials have the benefit of being produced and sold commercially, so it is unnecessary for propagators to make their own. Even so, many still choose to do so. Regardless of how the materials are obtained, grafting requires the following basic items:
A knife The knife must be well constructed of good steel that can be sharpened repeatedly and retain a good edge. Fixed-blade knives are preferable to folding knives because they have greater strength, especially important with woody material. Budding (described later) requires a modified knife styled for the more detailed and intricate needs of the techniques. NOTE: Severely cut fingers are common, even among experienced propagators. Finger guards for the thumb and index finger are recommended, especially for beginners.
Tying materials Some grafts require tying. The tying material must have strength with elasticity so that it will not girdle the plant as the graft union forms and expands. Materials range from ordinary string to commercially manufactured plastic or rubber tapes. All must either rot away or be removed soon after the graft union forms.
Grafting wax Wax serves as a sealant to keep moisture inside the graft region and to keep insects and inoculum out (Figure 14-6). The wax must be water repellent or it will be washed away. It must be elastic enough to permit expansion as the graft union grows. In addition, it must not melt in warm temperatures. Both hot and cold waxes are available from commercial sources. If hot wax is used, a source of heat is required to melt the wax. A brush is used to apply the wax.