Expert Tips for Propagating Trees and Shrubs – Budding & Division

Propagating Trees and Shrubs

propagating trees and shrubs


Budding is essentially the same as grafting, the only difference being that the scion is in actual fact a growth bud which is inserted behind the bark of the stock. It is really only another form of grafting. The shrubs and trees which can be grafted can be budded as well, but this is carried out between June and mid-August.

Roses are also increased by this method. Again, the appropriate stocks must be used, in many instances the common counterpart. Roses are budded on to the common briar. Purchase the stocks from a good nursery and plant them during October or November in well-prepared ground. Space them 1 foot apart in rows at least 3 feet apart. They are then left to grow on until budding time the following year.

Selecting the Buds

The buds can be seen at the base of leaf stalks and when selecting them ensure that they are good plump ones and are contained on a young shoot. Just before budding commences remove a complete shoot from the plant and cut off the soft tip, as the buds in this area are not suitable. This is then called a ‘bud stick’. Remove the leaves from the bud stick, leaving about 1/2 to 1 inch of each leaf stalk, and place the sticks in a bucket of water to prevent them from drying out.

The Method of Budding

The method of budding for propagating trees and shrubs is done only when the bark of the stock can be lifted easily with a knife. During dry weather this may not be possible, therefore the stocks may have to be watered two or three days before budding takes place. Incidentally, I would recommend using a proper budding knife with a flat end to the handle.

grafting trees budding

The stocks are not cut down as is the case with grafting. Rose stocks should have some soil scraped away from their base as the bud is inserted just below ground level. This soil is not replaced after budding. Other trees and shrubs are budded 3 to 4 inches above the ground.

A T-shaped cut is made in the bark of the stock; the cross cut first and then a 1 1/2 inch vertical cut to join it. The end of a budding knife is used to prise open the bark on each side of the T-shaped cut. A bud is taken from the bud stick by making a slanting cut, starting half inch below it, drawing the knife under the bud and finishing half inch above it.

The result is a shield-shaped piece of bark with a thin sliver of wood behind it. This sliver must be removed carefully so as not to pull out the small green protuberance behind the bud, otherwise the bud will not ‘take’. The base of the shield is then placed in the top of the T-shaped cut and pushed down behind the bark.

Ensure that the bud is inserted the right way up. If part of the shield remains above the T-shaped cut carefully snip it off, and bind the whole length of the cut very tightly with raffia, leaving the actual bud showing. The bud is then left to grow.


In the case of roses, the stocks are cut back to within half inch of the bud in the following February or March.

With other trees and shrubs they are cut to within 5 inches of the ground. The shoots from the buds can then be tied to these snags. In September cut out the snags just above the budded area. Remove any shoots from the stocks regularly.


Trees that are grown as standards, such as cherries, crabs, sorbus, laburnum and so on, must be trained after they have been budded or grafted to produce a straight, single stem. This is a matter of keeping the terminal shoot growing, at the same time removing most of the side shoots. The stem should be tied to a stake to keep it perfectly straight. When it has reached the desired height the tip can be pinched out, and it will then branch out at the top. Standard trees usually have a 6 foot stem.

Incidentally, weeping trees and standard roses can be budded at the top of a stock of a suitable height. Sometimes two or three buds are inserted to give a really good head to the specimen.


plant division This is one of the easiest forms of propagating trees and shrubs and division simply involves lifting a shrub and splitting it into several parts, each with some fibrous roots attached. These portions are then replanted. The best time for this, I find, is in early spring before growth commences.

Not a great many shrubs lend themselves to this method of increase, of course, but the usual ones ‘which are divided include Hypericum calycimem, Butcher’s Broom  (Ruscus aculeaius), some of the spiraeas and the Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus).

Some gardeners increase hardy fuchsias by division.

29. July 2010 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Plants & Trees, Propagating | Tags: , | Comments Off on Expert Tips for Propagating Trees and Shrubs – Budding & Division


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