Rooting a cutting question

sjeffery(z7 MD)August 18, 2006

Happy Friday everyone!

If I root a cutting from a yet-to-bloom, 2 1/2 year old seedling lemon tree, would the rooted cutting be beginning it's existance at year zero (same as if I planted a seed) or beginning as a 2 1/2 year old tree? Thanks! Stephanie

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I assume we're talking juvenility and the time to flowering, here, right? If so, the plant is not really measuring years of age; rather, it is counting number of nodes (the spots on the stem where leaves come out) away from the original seed. So of you cut a cutting which includes nodes 23 through 27, the cutting will "remember" that, and will next make node 28, when it grows again. It's waiting for some specific (but not exactly known) node number, which will define "maturity" and will have the ability to flower. Had you rooted a cutting from the top of a mature tree, it may have had nodes 1253 through 1258, and would already "know" that it was mature, and could flower immediately.

So on your seedling, take your cuttings from as far away from the root system as you can, to be sure you're including the highest node-numbers available.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 4:18PM
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sjeffery(z7 MD)

What an informative answer! That makes total sense. Thanks for taking time to give such a great explanation. Stephanie

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 4:28PM
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ejohnson44(Z9 Houston)

If I'm reading this correctly you're saying a person can take a cutting from a lemon tree and plant, it will root itself? I thgought citrus could only be grown from seed.
Ernie J

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 5:20PM
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Ernie, of course you can take cuttings from citrus. (S) I would think cuttings are what many people graft to stock..Toni

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 8:55PM
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ejohnson44(Z9 Houston)

That goes to show you what I still have left to learn. Now I'm really going start something new. So what are the procedures for doing this? Just cut a limb from one of my trees and start rooting.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 9:13PM
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The answer is -- yes, and no :)

Most citrus can be grown from rooted cuttings but some have more desireable root structures than others. Some types of citrus roots are more succeptible to foot rot, and tristeza virus than others. Also, some types of roots are more cold hardy than others.

For example, kumquats and satsumas generally do not root very easily and grow very poorly on their own root systems. Lemons and limes are grown readily from rooted cuttings, as are calamondins.

Propagating a fruiting branch from a mature tree is the best way to ensure fruit of the same type, and to get the earliest flowering and fruiting. This can be done several ways -- rooting, air-layering, or grafting/budding.

So you could root a branch, or use air-layering to generate roots on the fruiting branch. The more common technique for citrus propagation is grafting or budding. Here a desirable rootstock (like trifoliate orange for example) is grown from seed and then the fruiting variety is grafted or budded to it. So in the ground you have the good properties of the more hearty/healthy rootstock from seed, and up top you have the fruiting variety you desire.

Hope that helps explain things a little bit.


PS if you want to learn more about grafting and budding, there are some excellent tutorials posted on another citrus forum.

Here is a link that might be useful: Citrus Growers Forum

    Bookmark   August 19, 2006 at 10:34AM
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I've found that the Meyer Lemon roots very easily. I've also trimmed a couple branches off my "frut cocktail" tree and tried to root them. A few took, unfortunately I have no idea what they are. I just dipped the cut end into rooting hormone and stuck them in a pot of vermiculite. I put the pots in plastic bags to keep them moist. It took about 6-8 weeks for them to root. I'm growing some Flying Dragons that I plan on attempting to graft some budwood onto next spring. I think it's called T-budding? Well see how successful I am at that.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2006 at 5:13PM
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ejohnson44(Z9 Houston)

I have a question. I have a tangerine that was grown from seed.It's 2 maybe 3 years old and hasn't bloomed yet. Can I in turn take a cutting from another tree like a tangelo and graft it to this tree and speed up the process of fruit bearing? And if so what part of the tangelo tree should I get my cutting and how long should it be? The tree is close to 10 feet tall.
I've been reading about grafting but haven't quite grasped the whole process.
Ernie J.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2006 at 9:03AM
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rickjames(9 Cali)

Grafting in citrus generally involves the process of transplanting tissue (the scion) from a mature tree onto a rootstock of choice, in order to propoagate the genetic material of interest--it gives you the specific type of fruit that you are interested in (essentially a clone). It also allows production of fruit significantly faster than if planted from seed, in that the material propagated should generally be from mature wood that is able to fruit (see Dr. Manners' comment above). Another advantage is that grafting allows one to select a particular type of rootstock in order to introduce certain characteristics that may allow your grafted material to thrive better--it doesn't change the genetics of the grafted portion, but may allow one to manipulate or adapt to conditions that may harm the tree, or to provide certain advantages. For example, some rootstocks can increase tolerance to low temperature, tolerance to salinity and or infectious organisms in the soil, influence growth rates or eventual size of the tree, or influence fruit quality and size. The roostock does *not* alter the genetics of the fruit produced, but one way to think of it is as another tool for manipulation of the immediate growing conditions. The rootstocks themselves are generally grown from seed.

So yes, you can graft a tangelo onto your immmature mandarin tree, but if you get fruit from the graft it will be a tangelo and not a mandarin, and if you graft immature tangelo wood (ie, not of fruiting age) onto your existing tree it still won't fruit until it reaches its specific node count. I think tangelos do not come true from seed, so I will make the assumption that the tangelo tree from which you will take a graft from is--in itself-- prolly grafted. Therefore, the entire fruiting tangelo tree is prolly mature, fruiting-age wood (once again not necessarily by time or size but by node count) and so it shouldn't matter where you take a graft from. If you're not sure, just look for the graft scar.

If it is mandarins that you are interested in from this particular tree, the only thing you can do is wait for it to mature--I'd take care to feed and water it properly to encourage as most growth as possible. Or, if you want, graft another mature mandarin scion onto it so it can produce, or plant another fruiting-age, grafted tree (Delayed gratification is sometimes overrated :).

You may wish to research t-budding, in that it is an easy and commonly-used citrus propagation technique. I think Mr.Texas has a nice site on that...look him up.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2006 at 11:48AM
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