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The grand plan - grafting grumichama (Eugenia brasiliensis) onto Surinam cherry (Eugenia uniflora)

Gardening in a rental property presents particular challenges. I'm fortunate to have three clearly defined garden beds in which I can do whatever I like. For the last  couple of years I've mostly grown veges, but now I'm moving into the wonderful world of fruit growing as well. I've dedicated one of my garden beds to paw paw and citrus, two fruit trees that produce within a very short time frame. The rest of the yard is basically just lawn, so there are limits on what I can do. The landlord would not be happy if I put an avocado tree in the middle of the lawn, because it would eventually shade out the grass and create more work that it was worth (for him). It would also be somewhat unlikely to produce while I'm here.

Apart from all that lawn, there is only one patch of trees in the whole garden. Never mind that they are in the best spot for a vege patch, I'm quite attached to them because they are the only habitat around.

You might recognise them as Surinam cherries, or Brazilian cherries. The latter name is used to describe a number of Eugenia species. This one in particular is called Eugenia uniflora. It's listed as a weed on the Gold Coast and on the Sunshine Coast, but for some reason it doesn't get that designation here. It is certainly capable of spreading as it is popular with fig birds and flying foxes. There are varieties available now which are supposed to be quite delicious, but unfortunately this is not one of them. The fruit are sour with an unpleasant bitter resin aftertaste.

The grand plan involves attempting to turn this unproductive, weedy hedge into something much more productive. Now, I could just put new fruit trees in there. I could rip out the Surinam cherries and replace with jaboticaba, grumichama, achacha and similar trees. The problem with this approach is that it will be a number of years before those trees start being productive, or reach any kind of size. Also, the soil is pretty terrible, so even getting the trees established will be hard work. So instead my plan is to work with the perfectly fine root systems I already have and graft onto the plants that are already there.

A bit of research into grafting has revealed that often plants of the same genus are can be grafted. The Eugenia genus is a very good candidate for this because it includes both jaboticaba and grumichama. So, the first stage of the plan is to attempt to graft shoots from these plants onto the existing root systems. Also, there are cultivars of Eugenia uniflora that are much superior to the one I'm growing, so the second stage is if the other Eugenia grafts fail to take, I'll try to graft on an improved variety of Surinam cherry.

A complication is that I've never grafted before. The instructions seem quite straightforward, though, so today I attempted my first graft. I've put a grumichama scion onto the sawn off trunk of a Surinam cherry. I only paid $5 for the grumichama at Yandina markets, so the stakes are pretty low.

Everything went very smoothly with my first attempt to graft. The bark of the parent plant lifted up easily and the scion made a very snug fit. I can't wait to see if there is any growth in the grumichama scion in the next month or two.

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Comment by Pollyanna on March 4, 2013 at 14:54
What a clever idea, subverting the rental trees! I do not have any information other than what you will have already found, but why not ask the experts? I have been successful approaching a variety of sources with my oddball questions. For this one, start with Fairchild Gardens. If they don't have an answer, they may be able to suggest someone who does.

I look forward to seeing how your plan works out.
Comment by Rob Walter on February 23, 2013 at 9:47

Oh no, I really hope not! Because I've never grafted before, I want feedback. I want to know if it has worked (the graft at least I know that the graft might take and the idea still fail).

Comment by Lissa on February 21, 2013 at 13:43

You may have to wait until Spring for new growth, but it's a fun exercise isn't it :)

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