Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How Will You Make it On Your Own? Degrafting a Euphorbia

Several years ago, I purchased this crested Euphorbia lactea, which I think is the cultivar E. lactea 'White Ghost.'  Since this plant has enough green growth, i.e., chlorophyll, to survive on its own, I assume it was grafted to help promote faster growth. Both crests and variegated plants can be rather slow-growing if left to their own devices.  Whatever the reason, I've never been fond of grafted plants, but since I wanted a white Euphorbia really badly, I accepted this marriage of convenience.

Euphorbia lactea crest scion grafted onto an unknown (to me) Euphorbia stock
But just as it did for Mary Richards, (the title of this post is from The Mary Tyler Moore Show season one theme song) the time came for this plant to break free from its ill-suited union (an engagement in Mary's case) and put down roots of its own.  It even showed me the roots:

Close-up of roots formed by the Euphorbia lactea scion, independent of its host

So I set to work with my knife and pruners, as well as safety glasses and gloves, to protect myself from the potentially caustic sap that the genus Euphorbia is known for.

The patient, prepped for surgery, along with a pot of well-draining potting mix for the severed scion.

I made the first cut straight through the rootstock plant, as close to the scion (the E. lactea) as possible.

Severed scion.  Note the white foamy sap on the cut edge of the rootstock
Another view

I then used my knife and pruners to cut away as much of the stock tissue as I could.  Since I am not experienced with grafting or degrafting plants, I didn't want to attempt actually separating the two plants.  I was afraid I might damage my crest.

Euphorbia scion with as much of the green tissue from the rootstock pared away as I could manage.

Finally, after letting the stump dry a bit, I potted up my newly independent Euphorbia:

Euphorbia lactea 'White Ghost', free at last

 And as for the poor rejected rootstock?  I'm going to keep it and see what happens. I have no idea what kind of Euphorbia it might be, but now that it's free, it could turn into a star in its own right.

The NoID Euphorbia rootstock, potted on its own

They both might just make it after all!


Diane said...

That's really cool. I hope they both make it!

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love your blog!! Keep it up!!

Julie said...

Oh, that was nice of you to pot up the rootstock too!!! I had done this a few years ago...but instead of cutting off the rootstock, I buried the whole darn thing into the soil. It has done extremely well out in my tires, in full sun!!! Have fun with your beautiful plant. I HATE grafted things as well. They just look ackward.

Karen715 said...

Thanks Diane, Julie and Anonymous!

Carmen said...

So it's been over a month since you did this seperation, how are the plants coming along?? I have one of these plants I want to try this with, but my daughter would murder me as it's her favorite plant...I've also tried seperating one of those moon cactus plants, but I just tossed the top as I know it cant survive without the graft, but it was the bottom piece I wanted...but it died, it's one of the only cactus plants that I cant keep alive...

Karen715 said...

@Carmen: The top is doing just fine, but the bottom shriveled up. It is not quite dead yet, but probably will be soon. Oh, well.

Simone Felic said...

comprei uma muda cacto que eu queia muito e ele tbém é enxertado e fiz a mesma coisa, vamos ver se vais vingar, suas flores são lindas , amei seu blog.

Amanda W said...

I have the same E. lactea, but mine came ungrafted. It started dying, but then I transferred it to a 2-gallon "Smart Pot" and it's been doing great ever since. It's even getting bigger!