Plant surgery: The most challenging form of propagation

So, you say you want a challenge? One of the most difficult methods of plant propagation is grafting, or the combining of two plants so they join and grow as one. This method of propagation is almost universally used in the creation of fruit and nut trees, as it shears years off the time it would normally take for the trees to begin producing quality fruits and nuts.

The basics: Most grafting takes place between members of the same species, although sometimes you can get away with grafting in the same genus (ex. peaches on a plum tree). The bottom (stock, or rootstock) and top (scion) meet at a point called, appropriately, the "union." There are many, many different types of grafting, among them veneer grafting and chip budding.

The not-so-basics: The term "surgical" is usually somewhere near whenever "grafting" is mentioned, and with good reason. This is a difficult propagation method, requiring proper timing, tools, and expertise - three very good reasons why grafted plants are usually so expensive in garden centers. Still, it isn't brain surgery, and a good reference book should be sufficient for one willing to take on the challenge.