Transactions of the Horticultural Society 2: 7-9 (1818)
III. On the Transplantation of Blossom-buds.
By the President.
Thomas Andrew Knight
Read March 3, 1812.
IT has been long known to naturalists, that the blossom-buds of trees are generally formed in the season preceding that in which they unfold and execute their office; and the art of removing buds, from one tree to another, was probably almost as well understood two thousand years ago, as at present. But, as far as my information extends, it does not appear that any attempts have ever been made to transfer a part of the abundant blossom-buds from one tree to the barren branches of others; though the experiments, which I shall proceed to state, prove that this may be done with much facility, and probably, in some cases, with very considerable advantage.
I observed, in the autumn of the year 1810, that the suckers, which had sprung from the roots of the rose-trees in my garden, were in a perfectly proper state to receive buds in the end of August; and that buds, which appeared to contain blossoms, might, at the same period, be taken, with facility, from the branches of trees of more valuable varieties of the same species. The largest and best buds I could procure, were therefore inserted into scions from the roots of other plants; and these buds, being abundantly supplied with nutriment, afforded much finer roses, than they would have done, had they retained their natural situation.
In the last autumn I repeated many similar experiments upon the Pear and Peach-tree, and with equal success. An old and unproductive Pear-tree, which grew upon a northwest wall; was pruned very closely, so as to occasion the protrusion of many strong succulent shoots; and into these apparent blossom-buds, of the true St. Germain, and the winter Verte longue, pears were inserted at different periods. Many of these were inserted in the end of July and in the beginning of August; and these generally vegetated soon afterwards, and afforded leaves only; and the remainder, which did not then vegetate, still continued mere leaf-buds. But most of those which were not inserted till the end of August, or the beginning of September, have succeeded most perfectly, and are now beginning to unfold with greater vigour than the buds of the trees from which they were taken; and I do not entertain any doubt that they will afford, under favourable circumstances, very fine fruit.
I found those buds of the Pear-tree to succeed best which had formed upon the bases of abortive bunches of blossoms of the preceding year; and that, instead of taking out the wood of the bud wholly, as usual, it was most advantageous to let it remain in small quantities, and being pared very thin.
Some buds were inserted into seedling plants of four months old only, and others into yearling plants; and these succeeded so far as to live perfectly: but they were inserted in the end of July, and, like the others, removed at that period, these remain leaf-buds. I am, however, much inclined to believe, that Pears might be obtained even from yearling trees in pots, though such fruit would probably be without flavour or richness, and consequently not worth obtaining, unless as objects of curiosity. But buds inserted into the strong succulent young shoots of old trees, will probably afford abundant crops of very fine Pears, and these might be obtained with little trouble; for a moderately skilful operator will easily insert at least three hundred buds in a day. If the gardener object to the labour, as too great, he is ill qualified for his office; and if, having the disposition, he cannot spare the necessary time, he wants a better master.
I made similar experiments upon seedling Peach-trees of five months old, under glass; and I do not entertain any doubt that abundant crops of fruit might be obtained from such trees in the succeeding season. I do not, however, imagine, that such fruit would possess much richness or flavour; and as trees of this species, unlike those of the Pear, afford abundant crops whilst very young, the experiment, if successful, would scarcely prove worth repeating. It may, however, be often advantageous to transfer a part of the blossom-buds of any valuable varieties of Peach, or Nectarine, to trees of less valuable kinds: and as this can be done after the fruit of any moderately early variety is ripe, and as the buds may be sent a great distance in wet moss, the experiment may perhaps be sometimes made with much advantage; and I do not entertain any doubt that it might be made with perfect success.
Downton, February 27, 1812.
Mr. KNIGHT has subsequently informed me, that the transplanted buds of the Peach-tree, even such as were single and without a leaf-bud, have set perfectly well in the open air. Secr.