Meyer Lemon - Cutting vs. Grafted

zecowsayMarch 2, 2011

After owning around 5 meyer lemons and reading these boards for the last year or so,(and with most sources seeming to sell cutting grown meyers) I began to wonder if most of the problems people were experiencing with growing container meyers had to do with them just being more fussy on their own roots.

Last summer I decided to find out if maybe a grafted meyer would do any better for me. Having never tried a meyer in the gritty mix, I decided to purchase two and try a completely non-scientific test.

- A larger bushy cutting from ebay.

- A small, cheap twig-like tree I found at Lowes. It's grafted on trifoliate. This was my first non-cutting propagated meyer.

Both the lemons were treated roughly the same. Water when approaching dry, fertilize with foliage pro every other watering, kept in the same location, ect.

Within a month the cutting had leaves that were turning yellow and falling off. It was a constant struggle to keep it from shedding its leaves. It struggled until winter, where it kept trying to flower from stress and killed itself. Meanwhile, The grafted meyer had done absolutely nothing since I bought it. No leaf loss,(I'd hope not, it only had 3 to begin with)no flowering, no growth.. at least not until about 2 months ago. It has since put out 3 new branches of leaves, and after slipping it out of its pot for a quick look, I can see tons of new white roots.

So has anyone found similar results to me, or have you experienced trouble with grafted meyers too?

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Z You don't describe the fate of your previous Meyer lemons, so forgive me if my advice is too basic.

First, I don't think you've allowed enough time to reach any conclusions about the grafted tree other than when purchased it was in its dormant phase, and two months ago it emerged out of that phase. If all goes well, you'll probably see another flush of growth later this spring.

The cutting-derived tree sounds like it may have experienced some relocation shock or some kind of cultivation-related problem (overly dry air, too much fertilizer, a poor root-to-leaf ratio, dry pockets in the soil, etc.). However, that said, my Meyer Lemon, which may be a grafted tree, though I'm not at all certain, which I've had for 25 years, drops many of its older leaves every fall like clockwork as soon as I bring it inside for the winter (my other trees drop their older leaves too, but the Meyer is more extreme in its behavior). The Meyer lemon also always looks more bedraggled than the other citrus trees: it has a sparser canopy of leaves, and its coarse growth pattern is unsightly compared to the relatively petite branching patterns of my Key Lime, Calamondin, and seed grown orange. The Meyer Lemon is closest to my Ponderosa lemon in its appearance, which I suppose makes sense!

You may also want to cut back on the fertilization schedule when the trees are not actively growing. I've grown containerized citrus for over 30 years, and I don't usually fertilize them when they are dormant. When they are flowering and actively growing, I fertilize every two or three weeks at most, and I cut the recommended amount of fertilizer in half (I've used Peters' blend for acid-loving plants, though it is now marketed under the Jack's Classic label).

If a tree is struggling, giving it a sizable dose of nitrogen every other watering is probably causing it more stress than less. This is possibly even more so in the case of a rooted cutting, which may not have a root system that is completely up to the task of supporting new growth and flowers.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 10:40AM
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Hi, Don. Thanks for the info.

What you said about it being dormant makes sense, as a navel orange I bought at the same time is also putting out growth after doing nothing all year. I didn't really post much info about the meyer that died, outside of the basic outline, because I wasn't really looking to save it.(what with it being dead and all, lol)

It was the only plant I've lost for unknown reasons this year.(I lost two others as a result of depotting in a windstorm)Every other plant I've overwintered has made it through till now pretty much unchanged. In my mind, it was a meyer being a meyer. But perhaps I did do something to cause it undo stress and kill it. I don't think it was the fert, though. I'm fertilizing every other week w/ foliage pro using the "maintenance" dosage (1/4 a tsp per gallon of water, which is actually suggested to be done every watering)

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 5:09PM
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Z, Were both Meyers in the same potting mix? I didn't understand that part, since each were purchased from different sources.

All my citrus trees are grafted. Two advantages, grafted trees are less prone to disease and produces, 'fruit' much faster.

This might or night not be related to your question. Several years ago, I sowed a lemon seed from a store-bought fruit. (type unknown)
Propagation took a while, but within a year, the lemon bush stood a foot or taller.
Although its leaves were attractive, and when rubbed, lemon scent was way stronger than nursery-bought lemons, the stems had 2-3" thorns..Some larger than most cactus, lol.
I kept the lemon 5+ flowers or fruit. It was cared for exactly as (more recent) nursery-bought, grafted trees.

I then read 'seedlings' take 14-yrs before flowering or fruiting, opposed to grafted trees that can produce fruit at one-year-old. BTW, this experiment was done before the net, prior to buying grafted citrus trees.

I ended up placing the seed-grown citrus in the alley. lol. Junk-men, or whatever their new title is these days, are always looking for unwanted items. I also posted a note saying, Take Me.' lol. It was gone the same day.

Are you asking if one type of growth is better than the other? Toni

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 1:12PM
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