Budding is a horticultural practice that involves the insertion of a scion onto the stock. A "scion" is a detached bud of a plant, while a "stock" is the stem of the parent plant. Budding is also one of the methods of artificial vegetative propagation that is done to grow new plants by asexual means. It is comparable to another method of vegetative reproduction called grafting, although grafting involves the insertion of branches instead of buds. Plant budding, as well as grafting, is used to produce a new plant that has the most desirable characteristics of the two parent plants.
In plant propagation, the reproduction of plants is controlled to increase their numbers or to combine their most desirable characteristics. It is generally divided into seed propagation and vegetative propagation. Seed propagation is considered the most widely used method, as planting seeds is an easy way of increasing the numbers of plants. Growing trees from seeds, however, would take several months or years, without the assurance that the trees will manifest all of the desired characteristics; for trees, therefore, vegetative propagation is the more appropriate method.
Vegetative propagation is the reproduction of new plants using a non-reproductive part of the parent plant, such as a stem or bud. It is divided into natural and artificial vegetative propagation. Natural vegetative propagation, such as through the growth of rhizomes, involves the asexual reproduction that naturally occurs in plants. Artificial vegetative propagation, such as budding and grafting, involves the methods that people use on plants in order to induce asexual reproduction. The basis of these methods is the ability of plants to reproduce by nonsexual means.
Budding is done by first selecting and detaching a healthy bud, with the active vascular cambium surrounding it, from a plant. Vascular cambium is a layer of plant tissue that is made up of actively dividing cells. The bark of the stock is then opened with a T-shaped cut. Into this opening, the bud is inserted, uniting the vascular cambia of the scion and the stock. To secure the bud and protect it against drying out, the stock is covered with elastic tape.
The main purpose of budding is the production and cloning of the best varieties of plants, especially fruit-bearing trees. It is also used to produce new plants with improved appearance such as having flowers with unique colors. Plant budding is even used to fix plant imperfections. Budding reproduction, however, can only become successful if the parent plants are of the same kind or of closely related kinds.