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My Take On Grafting Cactus

Migrated topic.


Rising Star
OG Pioneer
My take on grafting and useful information on grafting.

I posted this in another forum. Thought it might be useful here as well. So I will be making this thread pretty large with my methods of all the different types of grafts I do. I will be continuously updating it as I go. I want you all to know that These are not my original ideas! This is a combination of research I've done and my experiences with grafting.

I will be covering the 3 types of grafts that I have done so far and 1 that I haven't attempted.

Those types are:

Impale Style Grafts
Columnar Grafts
Seedling Grafts
Areole Grafts

Understanding Grafts


Stock - The lower portion of the graft. The supporting structure.
Scion - The upper portion of the graft. This is the section that will develop most of the above ground growth.
Vascular Cambium (Core) - is a lateral meristem in the vascular tissue of plants. It is a cylinder of unspecialized meristematic cells that divide to give rise to cells that further divide, differentiate and specialize to form the secondary vascular tissues. This also transports nutrients throughout the cactus and plays an important part in the fusing of grafts.
Meristematic Cells (Undifferentiated cells) - "Unassigned" cells that form into different plant organs. Mostly found in the Shoot Apical Meristem (SAR)
Shoot Apical Meristem - This is the point of growth. With cacti it is usually the very tip where all of the ribs meet and the areoles come out. This is where most of the growth is located.

There are many different reasons that grafting is used. These include:

To get a head start on growth with a slow growing cactus and reach flowering age quicker.
When you get an albino or other type of seedling that cannot support itself on it's own roots.
To obtain benefits from the rootstock that the scion does not have (infection resistance, fast growth rate, tolerance of unfavorable growth conditions, ect...)
To make a really cool looking specimen.
To induce mutant growth that would not happen in normal conditions.
To save a specimen that is going to die from rot or other problems

There are certain parameters that make two plants compatible for grafting with each other. Two plants within the same species will graft to each other almost 100% of the time if done right. Plants within the same genus have a very high success rate also, but are not always compatible. Plants that are not in the same genus may not be compatible. It's all trial and error to find out.

Formation of a Graft

The way that the graft forms is very interesting. When a graft begins to take the plant will form undifferentiated tissues from the vascular cambiums of the stock and scion. This forms a connection from the stock to the scion. The cells will begin to intermingle as they differentiate into vascular tissues. This then connects the two vascular cambiums with together and the stock can now transport nutrients to the scion. If the cells are incompatible the fusing wont happen and the graft will fail.

Impale Style Grafting

Impale style grafting has shown very high success rate in my experience with using this style. The basic idea is exactly as it sounds. You "impale" the pereskiopsis stock into the scion. This is also sometimes called "Wedge Grafting" and there are different ways to do it other than this. This is an example of impale style grafting with a pereskiopsis.

You need rather large seedlings to do this style. It needs to be about 3 times larger than the stock. Or just big enough that you can make a hole large enough in the scion and fit the pereskiopsis into it. This style makes it very easy for the cores of the pereskiopsis and the scion to properly fuse together.

What you need

Seedling (2cm+ wide x 2cm+ tall)
Mature pereskiopsis at least 1.5" tall
Painters tape (any easy to take off tape
Very sharp razor blade or scalpel
Isopropyl alcohol
Cutting board or clean surface
Latex gloves
Paper towels

Step 1: Set up and sterilizing
Set everything up so that you don't have to keep going back and forth during the process. Get your pere and scion and all of the other supplies ready and in the area. The most important thing is that everything you use for cutting and your surrounding area is sterilized. This is what the IPA is for. So, the first step is to clean your surrounding area, hands, cutting board, and blades. Keep the IPA handy because you will be sterilizing your blade in between each cut.

Step 2: Making the cuts
First put on your gloves. I like to take nail clippers and cut all of the spines on the scion down so it's easy to handle (optional). Don't pull them out though. Cut your seedling and try to leave 3 or 4 areoles at the base. It will usually pop out another pup if you do this. After you cut that off sterilize the blade.
Now you want to cut the pere. What I like to do is is keep the top portion of the pere to root so it will keep growing. So try to keep at least 3" on the top so you can plant the pere again. After you cut the top off you want to cut the sides of the skin of down to about 1/4". You basically sharpen the pereskiopsis but DO NOT CUT ANY OUT OF THE CORE!. So it will look like a crayon with a blunt tip.
Now you are going to cut the hole in the scion. Again, wipe down the blade with IPA. You want to do this in the center where the core is, but also make it a tiny bit off center so that the core from the pere will be intersecting the core in the scion when fitted together. Not perfectly aligned. Make a circular cut about 1/4-1/2" (depending on the size of the scion) deep and just wide enough for the pere to fit in it.

Step 3: Impaling the scion with the pere
So, stick the pereskiopsis blunt tip into the hole on the scion. Push it as far as it can go and then gently apply pressure to it. This is where you want to tape it down (or any other creative way of holding the scion on the pere with some pressure). I like to just get a strip about 1" wide and long enough to start on the pere under the scion, then go all the way over the top of the scion and back down to the pere stock where you originally started. Just make sure that the scion is secured onto the stock and wont move at all. Here are some examples.

Step 4: Healing process
After the graft is done it is now time to give the healing process a head start. You will want to put the graft into a dark room for 2-3 days. I usually don't water during this time. Cactus do most of their healing in the dark. This will help the two cores fuse together and start transporting nutrients to the top scion. After the 2-3 days you want to start introducing it to light and watering again. I do this slowly. The first day I'll give it 5 hours and water it a little bit. The next day I'll give it 10. Then I will start it back on it's normal cycle. I usually only water ever other day during this time.

Step 5: Rooting after you've reached optimal growth
This kind of graft is temporary. The main point is to get a head start on growth. Once the scion gets too big for the pereskiopsis you will want to cut it off and root it, or put it on a columnar cactus that can support the weight of the scion. For me, I like to take them off when they reach 7-9 inches. What I do is i cut it off and leave about 1" on the pere. It will then pop out even more pups that you can later cut off. I then put rooting hormone and sulfur powder on the wound of the section that will be rooted and a tiny bit of sulfur powder on the wound that is still on the pere. (This is to prevent rot and is optional.) Once your scion roots and is callused you can plant it. This process will give you 2-3 times the amount of growth that it would on it's own roots. Makes growing plants from seeds a little bit faster and is a lot easier than seedling grafting.

Here is an Impale Graft I did with a bridgesii seedling. This picture is day 1.
About day 60

I have never had a failed graft using this method. It works very well. If you are not comfortable doing seedling grafts this has a higher success rate, but you do have to wait a while longer to do it. I will be adding pictures for you all soon since I'm going to be performing one of these grafts soon. I hope this helps anyone who is looking into this method. I'm also going to write up my other teks on Columnar grafts and seedling grafts.
Columnar Grafting

This style of grafting consists of taking a big columnar cactus and grafting a plant onto it. The stock can be anything from trichocereus to myrtillocactus geometrizans to hyclocereus undatus. Unlike pereskiopsis grafts, these grafts can be permanent. You can put big scions or even seedlings on stock like this.

Here are some observations I've made before I start. Grafting small trichocereus onto big trichocereus stock is kind of pointless. Unless it is a mutated form (crest, monstrose, ect.) Also, when grafting mutant bridgesii species onto columnar cactus trichocereus pachanoi does has never worked for me. So if you plan on grafting a T. bridgesii monstrose to a columnar cactus use hyclocereus or myrtillocactus. Also, seedling grafts work better on pereskiopsis in my experience rather than on columnar (also depends on the stock). I've also noticed that the bigger and taller the stock, the faster and more sporadic the growth is. The smaller stocks seem to grow slower, but more uniform and natural looking.

These are just observations, not facts.

What you will need

Columnar cactus (A mature, tall and wide specimen if possible)
A scion at least 3-4 months old
A big sharp knife
A new sharp razor blade or scalpel
Cutting board or clean surface
Isopropyl alcohol and paper towels
Tape (preferably tape that easily comes off)

Step 1: Set up
Set everything up so that you don't have to keep going back and forth during the process. Get your stock, scion, and all of the other supplies ready and in the area. The most important thing is that everything you use for cutting and your surrounding area is sterilized. This is what the IPA is for. So, the first step is to clean your surrounding area, hands, the knife, cutting board, and blades. Keep the IPA handy because you will be sterilizing your blade in between each cut. Now put on your gloves and get ready to start.

Step 2: Making the cuts
Now you will want to cut the top off of your columnar grafting stock with the big knife. (Make sure it's sterilized) If it is tall enough I usually take a cutting and root that to keep the plant growing. If the cactus is over 14" i will save 6-9 inches of the top and plant it after rooting. After you have done this you will want to taper the sides of the cactus. What i do is cut the ribs down about 1" below the cut you already made. So all around the outside you want to cut it down at an angle. It will look like a crayon with a blunt tip.
Now you will cut the scion that you will be grafting off. I use the razor or scalpel for this. Sterilize the blade and then cut the selected scion off. Make the cut as straight as you can. I usually try to leave some areoles on the bottom section of the plant you are cutting if you're cutting the main scion off. This way it will throw out pups and keep growing. If you are just using a pup then you don't have to worry. I then will apply a tiny bit of sulfur powder to the fresh wound so it does not get infected.

Step3: Attaching the scion to the stock
You are now going to attach the scion to the stock. I will usually cut a very thin slice off the stock and the scion right before setting the scion onto the stock. This way the wounds are as fresh as they can possibly be. The way that you align this is VERY crucial. The cores NEEDS to be intersecting to fuse together. They cannot be perfectly aligned or one inside the other. I am attaching a picture illustrating the correct way to align the core. (Picture #2) Set the scion down so the cores intersect.
After this I usually put a tiny bit of sulfur powder down on the wound around the scion, but not too close to the scion. This helps prevent infection, but is not necessary. After you align the scion onto the stock you will now want to gently apply pressure and tape the scion down. It is pretty easy to do, so I'm sure you can use your imagination with that part.
A good thing to do is to use a piece of foam or paper towel and put it over the scion then put the tape either from the pot, over the scion and back down to the pot. Or you can just use the actual stock to stick the tape to. The paper towel makes it so the tape isn't stuck to the scion. This way it wont damage it or pull it off when you take the tape off.

Step 4: Starting the healing process
After you're done taping it down securely you want to take the plant and put it in a dark room for 2-3 days. This helps it heal up. Then introduce it back to light in the next week. I keep the tape on the graft for about 2 weeks usually. After this you can take it off, but be careful. It should be stuck together by this point. You may see the scion shrivel a little bit before it starts getting nutrients. Don't worry! This is normal. This type of graft can be kept permanently.
Seedling Grafting (To Pereskiopsis)

This style of grafting is the ultimate way to get a cactus from seed to flowering age in a quick amount of time. The stock in this tek is going to be Pereskiopsis spathulata. The basic idea is to take the young seedling from infancy to flowering age in half the time. This style is commonly used in the cactus growing field.

What you need:

Pereskiopsis stock
Very sharp scalpel or razor blade
Isopropyl Alcohol
Paper towels
Water based lube or Vaseline (To prevent callusing)
Humidity Dome (optional)
Tin Foil

Grafting Stock Selection

An ideal specimen for grafting should be from a well established cutting that has an intact top. The reason why the specimen must have an intact top is because this is where the new growth is. Cutting the stock here greatly helps the seedling. Although you can keep a cutting of the top of the pere' and use the remainder. When selecting the area of stock to be cut, the area should be approximately one and a half times the diameter of the intact seedling. You also do not want to water the pere' immediately before the grafting. Let it dry for at least a day.

Scion Selection
You want to select the scion based on it's size in relation to the stock you're using. Keep in mind that the stock needs to be 1.5x larger than the scion. You also want them to have at least 1 areole. While this is not extremely important, it does seem to help quite a bit. The older seedlings do have a better success rate. When cutting the seedling to be grafted, you should cut above the tapered root area. Sometimes it will seem that you are trimming off too much of the seedling, but this seems to be of little importance compared to where its cut. Ideally the cutting should be made in the area where the thickness of the seedling becomes even.

Step 1: Set up
Set up all of the items you need at your work space. You want it to be somewhere comfortable and clean with no breeze of any sort. If you don't have anywhere to work that does not have a breeze you can use a clean box or even a rubber made box on it's side to block it out. The breeze can transport contaminants to the stock or scion and cause infection. Now spray down your workspace with alcohol to decontaminate.

Step 2: Making the cuts
Wipe your scalpel/razor off with alcohol. Then cover it with tin foil and heat it with the lighter for 3-5 seconds. Allow the blade to cool then take off the tin foil. Make the initial cut from the stock piece and set it to the side. Sterilize the scalpel again. Select seedling to be grafted. Cut seedling in appropriate area. What you can do is take your thumb behind the scion and the blade on the other side then CAREFULLY push the blade through the seedling. The seedling will now be stuck to the blade.

Step 3: Aligning the scion on the stock
Place seedling on stock with a pair of tweezers keeping in mind vascular ring alignment. Definitely try not to touch this with your hand during introduction. If needed, wear a pair of latex gloves. Then gently push down the seedling to get rid of any air bubbles in between the stock and scion.


Step 4: Incubation
Now you have your scion placed onto the stock. You have two options or a combination of two options, whichever you choose, for the incubation period. The first option is to take a small amount of Vaseline and apply it to the seam between the stock and the scion. It is important not to put too much Vaseline on and not to get any Vaseline in the area of the vascular ring junction. This can then be placed on a shelf of to the side with little or no lighting for two to three days. After two days it can be moved into normal lighting scenarios.
The other option is to skip the use of Vaseline and place the grafts in a humidity chamber for 7-10 days. If placed in a humidity chamber you only need a 24 hour period with little to no light. DO NOT WATER for ten days after the graft is done. Water can push the scion right off the stock. After this period a light should be placed in the chamber for 14-16 hours per day for 7-10 days. Some people like to secure the scion with the use of tape or rubber bands, but I have found this to be relatively unnecessary. After 7-10 days it can be removed from the chamber and moved into normal lighting scenarios.


A note about Vaseline and humidity domes

The only purpose of using Vaseline or a humidity dome is to limit the amount of moisture lost from the cut on the stock This prevents callousing and promotes a successful graft of the scion. There are many many different ways to experiment with and each person seems to have there own way and it is always different from everyone else. With a little practice you will find the way that is most successful for you and it is quite possible to achieve an 80 – 90% success ratio with seeding grafts.

Areole Grafting

This method of grafting consists of taking a single areole off a cactus and grafting it. It will grow into a new plant. This method is THE hardest method out there and have very very little information about it anywhere. I have never done this method, but I did find a few sources with some information. I am going to be doing some tests with this method soon. HERE is where I got this information. HERE is another website with tons of information on this style. Typically the hormone 6-BAP is used with areole grafts as to induce the areole to pup.

For grafting, one cut out an areole with a piece of tissue of tubercle or rib. The thickness depends on the peculiarities of the species and is 2-5 mm. The areoles were grafted on the upper part of the stem of Peireskiopsis, 3-6 cm from the top. It's rather difficult to graft areoles on the very top as their diameter is larger than that of Peireskiopsis. The spines of the areoles were cut out with the scissors as it's almost impossible to fix the graft without doing it. We used a thin medical rubber and elastic thread to fix it. (pic. 2)

Photo 2. Fixing areole on the stock.

As the growing point is in the upper part of the areole the cut off piece of graft should be put on the stock so that the zone under the growing point be on the circle of conductive tissues of Peireskiopsi. It makes for developing system of conductive tissues between graft and stock.

The grafted plants were placed into a closed hotbed at 20-35°С. When active growth of the graft was observed the plants were moved onto the shelves of greenhouses.

For more information on areole grafts check out some of the links I'm providing in the next section.

Other methods of grafting and resources

I wanted to provide a list of other great resources for grafting techniques. This is just basically a compiled list of videos and other resources.


"Next Generation Grafting"
"Grafting tubercles on Opuntia stock" Areole grafting onto opuntia demonstration
"Advanced Multiple Grafting"
"Pereskiopsis Grafting"
"Cactus Seedling Grafting"
"Grafting San Pedro cacti on a Pereskiopsis"
"How to graft lophophora peyote part1", "Part 2"
"Grafting G. mihanovichii X M. geometrizans Chimera by Cactus-old" Not in English, but still helps
"Grafting Echinomastas intertexus by Cactus-old"
"Peyote Bonsai 2012" Just a cool video


"PROPAGATING CACTI WITH AREOLES by G.Krastinya, Riga, Latvia Republic" Lapshin
"Grafting on Pereskiopsis" Cacti Guide
"Grafting Cactus Seedlings onto Pereskiopsis spathulata" Kada's Garden
"Grafting Cacti Areoles" Kada's Garden
"Cacti Grafting Stock Notes and Comparisons" Kada's Garden
"How to Graft Cactus" Kada's Garden
"Grafted Cacti" Dr. T. Ombrello - UCC Biology Department

List of Workable Grafting Stock

Acanthocereus sp.
Cereus jamacaru
Harrisia jusbertii
Hylocereus undatus
Myrtillocactus geometrizans
Pereskiopsis spathulata
Selenicereus grandiflorus
Stenocereus pruinosus
Trichocereus pachanoi
Trichocereus peruvianus
Good guide.
Your impale graft section is a bit odd tho, those are not impale grafts :?:
In impale grafts the perskiopsis is cut to a more acute wedge and the scion, usually a seedling 5-8 mm wide, has its hypocotyl cut off then cut up the center vertically and the scion is literally impaled by the stock wedge.
Heres a fat little macrogonus 2 weeks after grafting, just beginning to plump up.


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This is actually a method of impale grafting. Like I said there are other ways to do it. You're impaling the scion with the stock. So what else would it be?
Well, in the way you described its not strictly impalement.
If I put a apple on my chest I am not being impaled by the apple.
If I cut my chest open and shove the apple in.... call an ambulance :lol:

Both described grafting techniques are quite useful.
Well if you push the apple partially into your chest then it is impaling you. ;)
Nice thread, hostilis - various grafting techniques explained very well. A question not well addressed is why would one NEED to graft.

I have a very few grafted specimens - a Aztekium ritteri - bought as a graft as it is so incredibly slow on its own roots. A Toumeya papyracantha - regarded as very difficult on its own roots, and a Toumeya papyracantha var. cristata for two reasons - difficult om its own roots and like most cristates - needs to be kept out of the dirt.

But most of your grafted scions appear to be Lophophora williamsii - a species that grows well and quickly on its own roots - I can grow a flowering adult in 2 years - similar time to many of my globular cacti. So why do you graft it????
Spanishfly said:
Nice thread, hostilis - various grafting techniques explained very well. A question not well addressed is why would one NEED to graft.

I have a very few grafted specimens - a Aztekium ritteri - bought as a graft as it is so incredibly slow on its own roots. A Toumeya papyracantha - regarded as very difficult on its own roots, and a Toumeya papyracantha var. cristata for two reasons - difficult om its own roots and like most cristates - needs to be kept out of the dirt.

But most of your grafted scions appear to be Lophophora williamsii - a species that grows well and quickly on its own roots - I can grow a flowering adult in 2 years - similar time to many of my globular cacti. So why do you graft it????

The basic answer is I love and enjoy grafting. It's a very fun thing to do for me, and although you may think it's impractical, I enjoy it and many other people do. Also, I have about 150 species that I grow from seed, not just lophophora and trichocereus(they're the genera have the least of actually.) I graft anything from trichocereus to aztekium and ariocarpus. I can get trichocereus to sizes of 5 year old plants within a year, then I can take cuttings and make many clones of them. I also graft when plants are albino, highly variegated, or mutated in some other way that would normally make growth slow and difficult to maintain. And the most basic reason (the obvious one) is for fast growth. It's nice to take a break from the rediculously slow speeds of the small globular cacti and graft a few of your seedlings. You may think lophophora are fast, but some other people do not consider them fast.

I might also add that I only graft about 1 out of every 100 seeds I start. It gives me a glimpse of what I'll be looking at when my own roots seedlings get older.

Edit: To answer your question simply, there is no NEED to graft. Just a desire to graft.

Awesome job hostilis, I finally sat and read this thread and can't wait to when I can start to get a head start on some seedlings.
Here's a couple of pics of a graft I did just for practice/experiment. First pic, a year or so ago - the graft is only about 8mm thick and is held on with sellotape.

The second is how it looks now.


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