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Mr. Smarty Plants - Grafting edible plums onto Cherry Laurel in Austin

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Tuesday - May 18, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Grafting edible plums onto Cherry Laurel in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Grafting edible plums onto Cherry Laurel - possible? Insane? What? Could I do that? Could I graft, say, Green Gage Plum, or Mexican Plum, or Saturn Peach, on a Cherry Laurel and have any success? I have a Cherry Laurel in the yard which has failed to die in various droughts (we live on top of a hill.) I do not want to waste all those good roots which probably go, if not to China, at least to the aquifer. The Cherry Laurel is ugly but healthy and I'd like some edible stuff there. I am not a good grafter but I think if I get enough scion wood and try hard I should succeed with some of the grafts. (I would like any help I could get by the way . . . .) Lots of other people have Cherry Laurels and would probably like to grow something nicer, so this would be a useful experiment. I know that the fruit of the Cherry Laurel, uninteresting and seedy as it is, is not poisonous so one should be able to eat what grows on it. If anyone with you knows about this question, has scion wood, or can graft I'd like some help here. If this is the wrong time to graft I'll wait until fall (which is most likely the best time to graft.)

ANSWER:

First, while we're thinking about it, any member of the genus Prunus, including Prunus caroliniana (Carolina laurelcherry), has toxic parts. The seeds, twigs, and leaves of all Prunus species contain hydrocyanic acid and should never be eaten. Leaves of Prunus caroliniana are particularly high in this toxin. The skin and flesh of the fruit can be eaten, but if you have small children or pets that chew on things, this is not a safe genus to have in your yard. 

Beyond that, we really don't know much about grafting, because any sort of grafting or hybridization or crossing of species renders the result non-native, and we are all about plants native to North America and to the area in which the plants are being grown. However, we can Google for some articles that will offer some technical advice and also address the possibilities of grafting the species you have mentioned.

Aggie Horticulture Texas Inlay Bark Graft 

University of Minnesota Extension Grafting and Budding Fruit Trees

Home Orchard Society Building a Tree, The Grafting Skill

 

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