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Vegetative propagation is the process in which a plant can reproduce asexually, through the use of a vegetative part of the original plant. While this process can occur naturally, the use of it is especially beneficial when applied to fruits or vegetables to create new plants from a single parent plant. This has been used with varying degrees of success in attempts to help developing nations produce greater sources of food for their citizens.
Plants can reproduce in two different ways. Much like other organisms, plants can reproduce sexually through the spreading of seeds that grow into new plants. Vegetative propagation, however, is the use of other parts of a plant, the vegetative portions, to create new plants. This is often done naturally through certain plants that have buds on their leaves and can grow new plants from where fallen leaves land along the ground. The process can also be done by a person utilizing one of a number of different vegetative propagation techniques that depend on the plant being used.
There are two primary types of vegetative propagation used and these are referred to as rooting and grafting. Rooting is the use of a single plant to create a new plant or plants. This is often done through the separation of the original plant from another part of itself, such as the separation of individual rooted stems or separating a runner plant from an original mother plant. No matter what technique is used, a single plant is separated into one or more new plants that are allowed to grow individually.
Grafting is a form of vegetative propagation in which parts from two different plants are used to create a new plant. This is typically performed by grafting the bulb of one plant onto another larger plant. This then allows the newly grafted bulb to grow and become strong. Similarly, two root stocks that have been damaged can be grafted together to grow into a single healthy plant.
One of the greatest advantages of this process is that, unlike sexual propagation, the new plant is a clone of the original plant and will have identical properties as the original. This is often beneficial when used with fruits or vegetables to ensure that a new plant will have advantageous qualities of the original, such as larger fruit or a more appealing flavor. Vegetative propagation was utilized in ancient China and was used by both the Greeks and the Romans to spread plants throughout Europe.
I have always been really interested in grafting as a form of vegetative reproduction. I have heard of people grafting the branches of a pear tree onto an apple tree to create a kind of hybrid fruit. The potential of this seems limitless and I have always been intrigued by what these combined fruits taste like.
It sees like this would work for lots of different fruits. Imagine combining a peach and a plumb. Or a nectarine and an apricot. I could sit here all day and type out intriguing combinations. If I had the means I would try some experiments myself. Unfortunately there is probably not an apple tree within 30 miles of my house and peach trees are even more rare. Hopefully one day I will get a chance to tinker.