Cleft Grafting, Top-Wedge Graft or V-Graft on Cape Honeysuckle

For quite some time, I've been toying the idea of being able to combine the different possible colors of the Cape Honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis) flowers in a single plant. I have actually three of these colors in different plants.

In the above photo, the one on the left is a Cape Honeysuckle with the red-orange flowers. The one in the middle is another plant with orange flowers, and the one in the right has yellow flowers.

For simplicity, I'll just refer to the red-orange flowers as red flowers. I was able to obtain these plants from a friend. Only the orange one in the middle was bought from a garden show.

Although the Tecoma capensis' common name is Cape Honeysuckle, it is not even related to the true Honeysuckle plants. Curiously, the plant seller at the garden show referred to the Cape Honeysuckle as "Love and Devotion".

Combining Flower Varieties in a Plant with Grafting

Being able to get the different flower varieties from a a single plant isn't something new. Through a gardening techinique called grafting, one is able to have a plant yielding one or more kinds of blooms.

For adeniums or desert rose (Adenium obesum), this technique is performed nowadays to propagate highly attractive flowering varieties that are difficult to grow in traditional methods. The stubby branches of the adeniums are easily grafted using the flat grafting method, although the top-wedge or cleft grafting technique may also be used. A simplified Adenium flat grafting technique is also popular.

Best Grafting Method for Thin-Stemmed Plants

There are several grafting methods: Approach graft, Bark graft, Bridge graft, In-arching graft, Side graft, Splice graft, Saddle graft, Whip and Tongue graft. Some have different names but just refer to the same method or technique.

For the Cape Honeysuckle plant, I strongly recommend the cleft grafting or top-wedge grafting technique. Some also call this as a "V"-graft. I've noticed that my success rate with this technique is very high.

Cleft Grafting or Top-Wedge Grafting or V-Graft Technique

Shown below is an image showing how the scion and the stock parts of the plants are grafted using the Cleft Graft or Top-Wedge Graft technique. The scion part bears the qualities we'd like to get while the stock part (also called root stock) is that which has roots and is already planted.

The scion is cut and shaped into a wedge or a "V" as shown (thus also called a V-graft). It is then inserted into a vertical slit on the stock. A wrapping material (colored gray in the image) temporarily holds the two together until the graft heals successfully.

The Cleft Graft or Top-Wedge Graft or V-graft technique is popular among gardeners, and for good reasons. Here are three things I like about this grafting method:
  1. There is maximum contact between the cut surfaces of the scion with the stock on two sides.
  2. There is a natural support that the stock offers since the scion sits on top of the stock.
  3. The cut on the root stock naturally compresses the wedge of the scion and this makes it easier to wrap the graft.

How to Graft the Plant Using the Cleft Grafting Technique


  • Paper Towel or Clean Rag
    To be used for wiping and cleaning the cutting tools with the rubbing alcohol disinfectant.

  • Rubbing Alcohol
    For disinfecting the cutting tools (razor blade, cutter, pruning shears).

  • Grafting Tape
    Preferably 3/4" to 1" wide. The tape, in varying lengths is for tying the scion and stock together (graft wrap) and also for wrapping the scion (scion wrap). Alternatives would be pieces of cling wrap or thin stretchable plastic sheets.

  • Scissors
    For cutting the grafting tape.

  • Cutter or Sharp Thin Knife
    For cutting the bottom part of the scion into a wedge.

  • Razor Blade
    For creating the vertical slit on the root stock. The thinner the stem or branch to be grafted, the thinner the cutting tool needed, therefore the razor blade would be ideal for thin-stemmed branches.

  • Narrow Clear Plastic Bags (not shown in picture)
    For covering the scion after grafting (scion bag)

  • Tie Wires or Twist Ties
    For securing the scion bag to the branch. Thin wires that are bundled inside cables are a good alternative.

  • Pruning Shears
    For cutting the scion and the stock.

(See Part 2 for the continuation of this article)

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