Grafting techniques are very commonly used in all types of fruit trees to save time and improve the properties and capabilities of a given species. Orange trees are no exception, and grafting citrus is especially convenient because of how compatible they are with each other. In this way, we can manage to graft orange trees on rootstocks that are more resistant to certain climates or diseases, or even graft a different variety of orange tree on another to have two types of fruit on a single tree.
If you want to learn how to graft citrus, especially how to graft an orange tree and whenjoin us in this EcologíaVerde article.
When to graft orange trees
When performing a graft, choosing the right moment is a vital point to maximize its chances of success. The best time to graft orange trees It is when the tree is very active, in the middle of the growing season. At this time it will be when it is more likely that the sap will circulate correctly between the graft and rootstock and this will come out well.
This usually occurs in spring, between April and the end of July, although in some climates we can extend the grafting season until September. If you are not sure if your climate coincides with the indicated months, keep in mind that the orange tree will be in a suitable growth phase with a temperature of between 20ºC and 29ºC once the cold months are over.
How to graft an orange tree step by step
There are a lot of grafting techniques that can be used with citrus, such as plug grafting, spike grafting, wedge grafting, crown grafting, reverse L grafting, or gusset grafting.
All of them have their pros and cons, but this time we are going to focus on the scute graft. Its main points in favor are its ease of execution, which makes it more suitable for non-experts in the field, and that the inverted T-shaped cut has the advantage of facilitating the non-accumulation of water in the graft, in case it rains. or get wet when watering. Let’s see how to graft an orange tree step by step:
- Disinfect your grafting tools. It is vital that you sterilize them with alcohol or some specific product, since we are going to make open wounds on the plants and the chances of infection must be minimized.
- Clean the pattern or rootstock of leaves, branches or thorns if it had them. It is convenient that the stem is as clean as possible.
- Make an inverted T-shaped cut on the rootstock. As we have mentioned before, the cut with this shape prevents water from possible precipitation or irrigation from accumulating in the wound, something that would not be convenient and could cause the appearance of fungi or diseases. The ideal is to make the graft at a height of approximately 20 or 25 cm from the base. Why so low? The lower the graft is, the more difficult it is for other branches or shoots to steal sap and nutrients from the cutting, which, especially at the beginning, is what interests us the most.
- Cut the graft bud, keeping about a centimeter of stem above and below the bud. Nothing happens if the cut has some wood on the inside, in fact it is normal. Don’t remove it. At this point, it is highly recommended to avoid touching the yolk with your hands, as we could dirty or infect it. Grab it by the petiole or, if it has come off, use your tools.
- Insert the graft in the pattern cut, ensuring that it is well held and embedded, with as much contact surface as possible between the two. Cut off the overhang of the graft, and wrap it with grafting tape or some other inert material.
- Cut the rootstock above the graft. Leave the tree in a semi-shaded location for the first few weeks while you check to see if the graft starts to grow and has been successful. In these early days, water often. After about six weeks, you can remove the graft wrapper.
If what we are interested in is how to graft an old orange tree, it will be better to do the graft following the reed technique and do it in mid-winter.
After learning how to graft the orange tree, we encourage you to consult these other guides on Caring for the dwarf orange tree and How to grow an orange tree in a pot.
How to graft an orange tree on a lemon tree
Lemon trees, as citrus fruits, are good rootstocks for orange trees, in addition to better resisting some colder climates. For this reason, and because of the practicality of having lemons and oranges on the same tree, graft an orange tree onto a lemon tree it is a very good option.
We can continue using the previously described gusset method, although if we want the tree to grow vertically from the graft, we can make a cleft graft.
- Cut the main stem of the pattern to the desired height, making a longitudinal cut about 5 cm long.
- Prepare the stake or spike that will act as a graft, giving it a wedge shape that adapts to the cut made in the pattern.
- After inserting it, wrap the graft with rope or tape and cut the end of the stake to make room for more side shoots.
For more information, we recommend these other Green Ecology articles on When and how to graft a lemon tree and How to graft fruit trees.
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