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  • Writer's pictureTom Lau

Tom Vuong's Terrific Grafting Techniques

Tom Vuong was our guest demonstrator for the month of February. Again, I'm totally enthralled with his no nonsense way of doing bonsai. Everything he showed us was down to earth and practical in every way.

Tom spent the next two hours talking and more importantly showing us his technique in grafting junipers and black pine. The photo above is the example of what the finished product would look like. Just clean neat cuts and clean and neat bandage job.

Tom's scion graft on the receiving tree is simple work your way in from outside in. The reason for working outside in is because the more grafts you put on the same branch their will be a higher and higher chance you will move or knock your previous work if you work from the inside out.

The series of photos presented here is to show Tom's knife technique. The technique works on both the scion and planting branch. Bring right-handed Tom's uses this right-hand to hold the knife close to his chest with the knife facing away from the grafter. In this method, the strength of the dominate hand and side is to hold and stabilize the knife, while the left hand or the weak hand provides the movement of moving toward the body.

In this movement, there is no lost of limbs or self cutting. Also if you are cutting into the planting branch, the left hand thumb helps provide additional pressure and control on that particular cut.

An additional to this technique the chances of cutting through the branch is rare because of all the control you have restricting the cutting movement.

In scion cutting, the technique is the same. The only different is the double cut.

One cut on one side and another cut 180 degrees from the first cut.

The finished product will be a wedge shaped scion with one side slightly longer than the other.

Again, Tom uses his left thumb to help push and control the movement of the scion.

He turns the scion 180 degrees to cut the other side.

Above is the finished cuts.

Tom uses the above tape to seal all his grafts initially. He claims this product helps seal in moisture and keeps insects out.

He first uses a small amount of tape and stretches the tape out to form a tight bond between the scion and branch.

Tom make sure the tape is seal around itself at least three times to confirm a tight bond.

Then, he uses some small zip ties to archor each scion to the branch. Normally, traditional grafters will use grafting tape for this entire process.

Tom also zip ties it the opposite way so the bond is tight and non-moving. The combination of the seal tape and zip ties technique Tom utilizes modern tools to speed up the grafting learning curve of traditional methods.

The final touch up is some liquid sealer on the crutch of the scion / branch union. This completes the grafting scion technique by Tom Vuong.

He also notes that the aftercare is 50% of the battle after you have learned how to graft. He bags the entire tree is a clear plastic to help with humidity.

Tom leaves the bag over the plant for about 2 months or until about the beginning of May in a semi-shaded location with indirect light. During the next 2-4 weeks in May he slowly exposes the plant to open environment. He notes that you should not move the plants location during this time. In around late June to early July Tom will remove the zip ties for all grafts, but leaves the seal tape on until the following year. Tom says he gets about 60-80% success rate from this type of grafting technique.

The great part of the day was Tom personally training anybody in the club that wanted their personal try at grafting.

He really goes above and beyond the call of duty at this meeting.

Tom also graciously donated the demostration tree to the club raffle and it was won by Walter and Octavia Chin! Congrats! Thank you Tom for your time and knowledge you shared with the club you are truly our club treasure!

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