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How to graft mango 2 – Silvania grafting

July 10, 2010

In a previous blog I described “Modified Cleft Grafting¨as a method to graft mangoes. Maybe you wish to have a larger plant straight away, not wait for a small plant to grow. Then, another option is to graft the roots of the rootstock plant straight onto the branch of a tree. Once fused, you cut off the branch with its grafted rootstock and plant it. The term root grafting often refers to a scion being grafted onto a root. The technique I am about to describe here is quite different, which is why we use another name.

1. Read my previous blog about the grafting knife and the preferred mango rootstock.

2. Soak coconut powder in water for one week.

3. Take any type of small plastic bag, e.g. 8 x 12 cm, grab a fistful of coconut powder, squeeze out the water and stuff it into the bag. Make sure it is packed. Add another 4 fists of coconut powder following the same procedure.

4. Select a shady area where you prune the mango rootstock, i.e. make the root no longer than 2-3 cm, and trim the side roots. Cut the shoot so no leaves remain, but allow a stem length equivalent of 5-8 cm outside the bag. Make a 2-3 cm side cut, like with a cut rose.

5. Insert the root-end into the packed  coconut powder, about 1 cm from the plastic bag’s wall. Make sure you do not make a hole in the bag. Twist the bag around the stalk, leaving no air pockets inside. Tie a string to keep it tight.

6. Select the branch you wish to transform into a tree (about 1-3 cm diameter). Make two 5 cm long parallel cuts (about 1 cm apart). Make another cut at the lower end to combine the parallel cuts, and slit the bark open. You can cut away the lower 2 cm of the bark.

7. Insert the cut end of your bagged rootstock into the slit you have made. Fasten the bag using strings. Make sure it does not move in case of strong winds. Then cover the wound with grafting tape until it is stiff.

8. If your branch is bigger, maybe 10 cm in diameter, you may have to consider grafting one or two more roots to that branch, and perhaps use bigger bags to allow larger root systems.

9. After one month, open the bag to check if the roots are still alive, and then cut off the branch and plant your new tree in a pot or straight in the field. Do not forget the shade cloth!

10. Like I said in the previous blog, you need to practice a lot! People ask when the best time is for mango grafting. In the tropics, any time is suitable for mango grafting, if you have irrigation.

Other mango grafting techniques:

Modified cleft grafting

Bark grafting

Eric Danell, the Tropical Gardening School at Dokmai Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand

(Sharing the advice of Dr Sahha)

The roots are kept in the moist coconut powder of the bag to the left, while the shoot has been inserted into the slit of the mother branch. The next step is to fasten the bag with strings, and then to cover the wound with grafting tape.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Cris permalink
    October 19, 2011 3:37 AM

    Do you have any more pics? Very informative.. Thanks for posting this

    • October 20, 2011 8:11 PM

      in addition to cris question…a picture of the outcome seedling..

      • October 21, 2011 8:57 AM

        A seedling comes from a seed and is usually genetically different from the mother. The point with grafting is you clone your wanted plant, i.e. you make an exact copy. Yes, I shall look for more pictures in my archive.

        Cheers, Eric

  2. October 21, 2011 8:02 PM


    any alternative for coconut powder ? maybe rice hull, saw dust, as coconut powder is not readily available in my place..

    May I add…maybe a picture after removal from the mother plant..I’m curious about it how does it looks since the rootstock are small and the scion is big..will the rootstock adopt the size of the scion? How should i take care may seedlings after removal from the mother plant considering that may rootstock is small compared to the scion?

    Thanks in advance..



    • October 23, 2011 8:52 AM

      Saw dust seems like a clever substitute – go ahead and try and then let us know. I am aware of the need for more pictures and will try to meet that demand. Busy days right now though, with the aftermath of the heavy rains and the upcoming tourist season.

      Cheers, Eric

    • William permalink
      September 7, 2012 10:34 PM

      Coconut powder is also called coconut coir, around here, other popular substance is “peat moss” you can also use potting mix, as for saw dust, have to be careful with Ph, as some wood can be too acidic, or have chemicals that prevent growth. I know that Mahogany saw dust is ok in containers.

  3. Rogelio Dio permalink
    February 9, 2012 1:04 PM

    Could you kindly email me a video of how to do the root grafting. The written procedure in your website do not appear very clear to me. Thanks -Rogelio

    • February 9, 2012 10:19 PM

      Great idea – but the only problem is time to make such a video. I have to focus on survival for me and my family. Due to the embassy warnings every three months in Thailand we suffer tremendously from anything causing western tourism decline. Help me making Dokmai Garden known and I shall help you with a video 🙂

  4. bernardint permalink
    April 16, 2012 3:13 PM


    Thanks for sharing. To me, your sylvania grafting des not appear to be clear at all.

    1 How old should be the seedling
    2 I get confused with your use of root and rootstock. Can you make this point clear?
    3 How do you insert the rootstock into the branch? Do you have to make a slanted cut to the rootstock in order to insert it without taking the chance to split the branch?

    If a video is kind of a long process, can you send pictures of various stages.


    • April 16, 2012 9:57 PM

      Dear Bernardint,

      Maybe I used too many words – this is super simple – just try it and you will realize how simple it is. The age of the seedling is not important, as long as you have a healthy root system.

      I summarize here:

      Take a mango seedling. Cut off the leafy top of the green shoot. Make a slit of a selected mango branch to fit the seedling shoot. Put the roots of the seedling shoot in a plastic bag with soil and tie the pointed shoot end to the slit of the branch. Open after one month.

      Good luck!


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