Citrus Grafting Questions

I am about to venture into citrus grafting for the first time. I’ve looked at Fruitmentor’s site on citrus grafting, and have been grafting apples and pears for a few years now, but had a few questions on this citrus grafting.

First question is should I order scions from CCPP. I was planning on taking some new shoots from some Satsuma tangerine trees I have. I am aware of the citrus disease issues but this is in Colorado at 8300’, no wild citrus diseases or pests here, and all these trees are grown in screen greenhouses.

Another consideration is the state of these would-be Satsuma scion shoots. They would be actively growing new shoots, not dormant wood. While I could strip their leaves before grafting, perhaps it would be better to order scion wood to get something in the proper dormant state.

I have what was supposed to be a key lime tree which is most likely just sour orange root stock, and I was planning on grafting it over to Satsuma tangerine. I would plan on cutting of all (or most) of the current growth, and doing a few grafts to the main trunk, which would likely be ~1.5" in diameter where cut off. Which raises a couple of q’s:

Should I remove all the older growth/leaves, or leave a nurse branch or two until the grafts take? I’ve seen both suggestions.

And I was thinking of doing a modified cleft graft or perhaps a bark graft with the scions. Would that be appropriate or should I be trying something else?

Anything else I should know or be doing?

Steve, I have limited experience with citrus, but my understanding is that generally citrus, and particularly the Satsumas in California, do not go dormant.

If you order wood from CCPP I believe you’ll get budwood with the leaves removed.

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They are evergreen here, that’s why I grow them. In the deep of winter I have nothing but sticks to look at, they add some greens to my garden.

I’ve budded thousands of citrus trees. First thing you need is rootstock which mostly you have to grow from seed. Seeds are availabe in the fall. You can buy seeds from a place in California. CCPP buds are expensive. You should graft in the spring after the rootstock starts growing. You can graft to dormant rootstock but results won’t be as good. You can graft to branches of an existing tree but now to new growth. Growth must be hardened off. Actually there is a guy in Colorado growing citrus in a large green house. I’ve lost track of him however.

I’ve grafted citrus by all the methods out there. I still like tee budding the best. Had to stop selling budded citrus trees after the greening restrictions in Texas started. For rootstock bigger than 1/2 inch I do bark grafts which require bark to be slipping.Grafting kaki now. BuddingNotes - mrtexascitrus

@murky @SoCalGardenNut

Oops. Of course citrus is evergreen and does not go dormant. I guess I needed more coffee this AM before posting :grinning:

But that is good to know that if I pull the leaves off my shoots they should serve as scions. Will there be a new leaf bud down there even on new shoots, or is a certain age required before secondary leaf buds form?

@anon47724557 Thanks. I had planned on doing a bark type graft, but from your link not sure if the bark will be slipping. My GH is hitting 90F+ on sunny days but get down into the 40’s most nights. Will have to see if I can lift the bark when I cut the root stock back.

It’s a leap going from grafting temperate stuff to subtropicals. Having reason to visit SW Florida I’m winters over the years, I’ve had a chance to play with citrus, loquat, guava, and pitanga. Probably others I’m forgetting.

Grafting apples, you’re riding that predictable flush of growth from dormant to active growth, and though it’s more subtle, a similar thing is happening even for these subtropical a, which never really go dormant, as such. Still though, buds form and then push to make a shoot, as growing conditions dictate. The key is knowing when the rootstock and scion (if collecting yourself) are ready to push. You’re ideal budwood has one or more of these buds ready to go. You’re rootstock should be already starting a flush of growth, so that it’s ready to rock. I’ve grown out calamondin, Meyer lemon, and otaheite orange seedlings, and used them for rootstock, and also used rooted cuttings of meyer lemon. I’ve had poor luck with budding over the years for whatever reason. I favor a veneer graft, personally, and wrap the scion in parafilm.

I imagine things are quite different when dealing with full size in ground trees in an actual citrus growing climate. My citrus is in 15 gallon containers, and has spent the winter in a cool basement with less than ideal light.