Gardener’s Monthly, 9(3): 78-79 (March 1867)


In reading your article in the December number of the Gardener's Monthly, on the "Influence of the graft on the stock," we were very much interested in your remarks and hope they may lead us to further investigation, correct views and beneficial results.

If the importance of this subject had been duly considered, it would have received the attention it merits, and a difference would have been pointed out between the influence of stock and the influence of the graft, as you have ably and clearly done.

As regards the influence of stock on the graft, we all admit, yet we may differ in its extent; that it dwarfs the tree and hastens its maturity we agree, and that it effects the quality of the fruit under some conditions we do not deny. But, that the stock retards as well as hastens the maturity of the graft, may be questioned by some.

However this may be, whenever the natural vigor of the stock far exceeds the natural vigor of the graft, it retards the maturity of the graft, as the following illustrations will show:

We grafted the Paradise on small sections of the common apple roots seven years ago, they have grown well but have never bloomed.

We also budded the Paradise and Doucin on the Domine apple with the same results, while the same aged trees have fruited by their side. We have also budded the dwarf Almond (Amygdalis pumila) on the Plum with similar result, and have seen like effects with other species. We believe it as much a principle as a less vigorous stock will produce the opposite effect.

This may give a solution to many questions asked, but not very satisfactory answered, as the following. Why do some trees of the same variety grow with more or less vigor? Why do they bear much sooner and better? Why are they of better quality? Many of us remember the particular tree on the gentle slope near by the nil, crooked and half blown over, where we went in our youth to gather the best Rambo or some other favorite apple.

Mr. William Thompson in his treatise on the grape refers to another influence; he says, "those who have paid most attention to the subject, have come to the conclusion that many of the highest flavored of our grapes, which are at the same time the most delicate and difficult to grow with success on their own roots, will one day be grown with perfect ease, when we have discovered the proper stocks for them; a late ripening variety will be got to ripen earlier when grafted on earlier stocks." Field in his Pear culture, refers to the same influence. This is most certainly an error; how any scientific and observing person can come to such conclusions appears strange, when every day's experience proves its fallacy. The stock may hasten or retard the maturity of the tree, but not the fruit. If this theory is true, we can convert a winter fruit to a summer one.

With these hasty remarks upon the influence of the stock, we shall now endeavor to make a few remarks on the influence of the graft.

Here we find that the graft increases or retards the growth of the stock depending upon its vigor. For instance, if we graft a very vigorous variety on a dwarf stock it increases the stock's natural growth, but if we graft a very dwarf variety on a vigorous stock it retards the stock's natural growth.

It we graft on a short section of root or stock of the same vigor and species, the graft controls the tendency and conformation of the root or stock, as may be seen in grafting the Milam apple, which roots deep and has a tendency to bucker, while the English Golden Russet has a tendency to spread its roots and not sucker. If we graft on the top of well established trees the influence is more gradual and reciprocal, as may be seen in top grafting seedlings with Yellow Bellflower and Early Harvest.

If we graft a congenial Pear on a Quince stock the vigor of the Quince will be in proportion to the vigor of the graft. But the most extraordinary effect produced, is a healthy graft will make a diseased stock healthy, and a diseased graft will make a healthy stock diseased.

As remarkable as this may appear to be, it is nevertheless true and susceptible of demonstration. In illustration of this fact, if we take a healthy and diseased grape vine, for instance the Concord and Catawba, graft the Concord on the Catawba and we will have a healthy Concord vine with all of its good qualities; but if we graft the Catawba on the Concord, we will have a diseased Catawba vine with all of its diseased tendencies.

The same rule holds good with different species and become a general law. If we graft a variegated variety (which is in a diseased condition) on a plain leaved variety, the result will be a diseased tendency, which may produce a variegation in the stock, but not of the variety of the graft. We have seen several instances of variegation being produced, but always of the same variety.

Likewise if we graft the Mountain Ash with a Pear it will influence the stock for health, disease or growth depending upon the condition of the graft, but it cannot produce a "Pear shoot" from the Ash stock, neither has any other species the power or influence to change the stock; and when such cases are given they should be thoroughly investigated. We are all liable to be mistaken and may become the victims of the curious and wondering. We have heard of numerous instances of unnatural phenomena, but were always too unfortunate to be able to find them.