rooting lime cuttings

stropharia(8b louisiana)January 13, 2011

Hello all, I live in an apartment and will be moving after the summer. There is a giant lime tree in the back yard (not sure what kind, best guess is a Persian), and I'm going to miss having so many limes available. I'd like to take cuttings and bring it with me if possible.

I have rooting hormone, and minimal experience taking cuttings, but I'd love some advice geared towards citrus. I don't have any rootstock to work with, so I don't know if it's worthwhile. Outside of dwarfing, disease resistance, and speedier growth, what is the point of using another rootstock? Is it worth rooting a lime cutting to grow on its own roots? Any suggestions are welcome.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Why don't you cruise by the Home Depot or Lowe's or a nursery and see if you can afford a little tree that will be making fruit in a year. You won't have to wonder if your sprigs will produce some day. Just sayin'...

    Bookmark   January 13, 2011 at 8:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Stropharia..I'd follow Kumquat's advice. It takes 7-14 years for ungrafted citrus to produce flowers/fruit.

Plus, grafted trees grow and produce quicker than seedling/cuttings. Also, less chance of disease.

I've rooted citrus cuttings and sowed seeds, but don't know a thing about grafting. I'm sure someone on this forum has grafting experience.

PS: My ungrafted seedlings and cuttings grew, one 3', thorns were unbelievably large and sharp. Put a cactus to shame, lol. I ended up tossing the whole shabang in the compost.
If you want a cutting for sentimental reasons, it's worth rooting a cutting.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2011 at 8:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
stropharia(8b louisiana)

Good info here, thanks for the quick replies. I didn't know it took so long for flowering...I would have thought only a couple years, due to the cutting carrying the age of the parent.

I plan to eventually buy a lime or two to add to my quickly growing citrus collection (Meyer lemon, Moro blood orange, Meiwa kumquat so far). I was just curious about the feasibility of cloning citrus.

And wow, if your thorns were any longer and sharper than the ones on my lime tree, I don't blame you for throwing it out! What's up with citrus and thorns?!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2011 at 9:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you have nothing to graft onto, don't worry about grafting. You'd want an established plant to graft onto which would take years. The only thing grafting would impart besides what you mentioned is fruit quality.

Grafting is a slow process. Budwood often won't start actively growing until the next year. If you take a cutting from mature fruiting wood, and it takes and roots, it's then capable of fruiting at anytime. This is actually something you'll have to watch out for. I wouldn't let it flower/fruit in its first year as it could stunt the tree's growth.

If I were in your shoes, I'd take some cuttings. Though honestly, you could wait till next year and pick up your own lime at a home depot/lowes for cheap in the summer. I've found keylimes at my lowes, and I live in upstate NY.

As for actually rooting cuttings, it's pretty simple. You'll need:

- To select cuttings from last year's growth. A mature, harden off branch around 8 inches and roughly pencil thick. Cut off just below a leaf node. I'd take as many as you have room for.

- You want to wound the cutting. I take and cut two half-inch strips of bark off on each side of the cutting just along the base, and then dip it in the rooting hormone.

- Some sort of greenhouse. A simple plastic baggie will do, though you'll want to prop up the inside so that the plastic isn't laying directly on the cuttings. The best succes I've had was using a small 1.5 gallon fishtank with damp gritty mix at the bottom and plastic wrap on the top.

- Sticking the "greenhouse" in a spot that receives even temperature. In my experience, this is the most important thing. Being in front of a window gives lots of sunshine, but also lots of temp. flux. I rooted 4 out of 5 meyer lemon cuttings in a bedroom that gets little direct sunlight.

- Bottom heat. If you have a heating mat, that's great. If you don't, don't worry. The cuttings will still root, it's just slower.

- Take the cover off every day or two and let the temp. even out.

The hardest part isn't getting citrus to root, it's then taking them out of the "greenhouse" and accumulating them to the cooler, less humid environment outside. You'll want to either open up/remove the lid of greenhouse a little bit longer every day and slowly accumulate them. Even doing this I still lost half of my meyer lemon cuttings.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2011 at 9:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just saw your last post, so I'll ramble a little more.

Citrus clone pretty easily. Meyer lemons, key limes and calamondin oranges are sold more often than not as ungrafted cuttings, because they root so easily. Meyer lemons especially so. They'll root easily even without rooting hormone.

I have a calamondin orange cutting I bought that's not even 2 years old yet, is less than a foot tall, and I've literally been cutting flower buds off of once or twice a month since I brought it inside last Sept.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2011 at 10:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Rooted cuttings may start flowering in a year or even less, while seedlings may take from 4 to 15 years to flower and fruit.
Therefore, yes, it makes sense to root cuttings! Many lemons are grown as rooted cuttings, in fact. I am not sure about limes though.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2011 at 10:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
call_me_wizfire(7b Central Arkansas)

i wont tell you how to get your cuttings, because, i saw it perfectly on an earlier post
okay, if your cutting is from a tree of fruiting age, and it has already fruied (or at least put out flower buds) before, than it will fruit the next season after it takes, even maybe more from stress, but (even though its up to you) you really should cut them off quickly, as the citrus energy alottment goes (from lowest priority) roots, stem, brances, leaves, foliage buds, flower buds, flowers, fruit. you really need its growing energy to go to its roots and leaves whille it is a young cutting

    Bookmark   January 13, 2011 at 11:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
madferret(UK 8b-9a)

I don't know about regular lime, but I took some cuttings (3) from a kaffir lime while I was in Malaysia last year, 2 have long roots and the 3rd has somehow still got it's leaves (although not as hairy root-wise). Time taken about 1 month.

All I use was a gritty mix of perlite vermiculite and peat moss compost no heat at all in particular. Although they are now in a sunny window above a radiator.

Hope that answers your question :)
Oh and I did peel about 1inch 'bark' off


    Bookmark   January 14, 2011 at 2:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have grown limes and lemons from cuttings. Nothing real fancy. A variation on Zecowsay's method. I used the liquid

I cut older slightly striated wood not quite pencil thick. Striated wood has tiny grey streaks in the green bark. Collect in the morning and keep in a plastic bag to avoid dehydration. Don't store too long before prep to hormone below.

Best results is from actively growing wood in mid to late spring before real hot weather.

One medium size leaf or half a large leaf is left on to produce food for growth. Leave two or three buds.

The rooting end is cut at an angle in a long single cut making a sharpened end to stick into the soil (also exposing greater area). No need to peel away bark.

Use a second pointed instrument of similar size and make a hole for planting your cutting. This keeps the hormone intact on the cutting. You can do this before the previous step if the cutting size is known.

Dip your prepared cutting in hormone and place in the hole about 2 in deep or deeper for it to be stabile. Don't waste time between the slant cut and this step.

Use your hands to firm-up the soil into good contact with the cutting.

The cutting should be set out in a bright place but not in direct sun. I did this in a pot or regular garden soil.
Cut the bottom from a clear 2 liter drink bottle and cover the cutting by firmly setting the bottle into the ground.

When the cutting has added 2 or 3 leaves remove the cover and transfer it. If it is in a pot harden in the sun beginning with short exposure of 1/2 to 1 hour. Or you
may have put it under a shade that can be taken off to get the same effect.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 7:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Stropharia, I hope you took a clipping of your favorite lime tree because you could easily have limes by now. If the tree that the clipping is from is already mature enough to produce fruit, then you will NOT have to mature your clone for 7-14 years to get fruit. It can take 7-14 years from SEED.

I have had clippings produce fruit within 18 months. I have a 2 year old orange clipping in my living room that has 3 dozen ripe/semi-ripe oranges, and another 4-5 dozen that are green and still developing.

It was your typical sized clipping when I received it, 5-6 inches tall 3-5 leaves.

This post was edited by HopsBreeder on Thu, Nov 27, 14 at 6:29

    Bookmark   November 27, 2014 at 6:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Steve, Micro (6B ground, 5B roof)

Go ahead and root the cuttings. Do a bunch of them. They will flower after they get established. Almost all trees will do better on their own roots than grafted. Grafting is done mainly to solve disease and soil compatibility problems. Big box store get their trees from speed grafters. They graft to the easiest and fastest rootstock. These rootstocks are often not the good choice and your tree is dead in 6 years

Meyer lemon from cutting in 30 gallon container.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2014 at 8:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Steve, Micro (6B ground, 5B roof)

Don't grow from seed. If your tree will be outside get a tree from a reputable grafter. If your tree will be a container tree you probably will never get fruit.

Sweetlee tangerine tree from seed would never get to fruiting size in a container. She will have to get to 2 time its current size before fruiting.
----------------------------------------------- Pictured below ------------------------------------------.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2014 at 9:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Curious why we are dredging up a 3 year old message thread?

Patty S.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2014 at 11:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Steve, Micro (6B ground, 5B roof)


I read the the response and checked back at the original question, but failed to take note of the age of this thread. The particular question is out dated and I would not have responded. I'll stand back and let this one die. For those who have read this I hope it has proven useful


    Bookmark   November 28, 2014 at 1:26PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
citrus tree gratfting 101
I would like to start grafting my own citrus trees....
rj campbell inc
Bugs 16
Bugs 15 is getting to big so starting this one. Trace...
tcamp30144(7B N.ATLANTA)
Help with citrus scale
Hello all, my satsuma mandarin is dropping leaves....
Need help with my Meyer lemon!
Hi everyone, new to this forum and to gardening in...
Broken Satsuma and Kumquat trees
Hello all. Last May, I planted satsuma and kumquat...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™