Lemon trees add beauty to yards and porches and furthermore supply tart, delicate yellow fruit. They propagate well from cuttings, in spite of the fact that the subsequent tree may do not have a similar infection resistance found in commercially grown lemon trees, which are typically grafted. Developing lemon cuttings is easy, however you have to ensure you’re utilizing clean tools and giving the cutting the conditions it needs to develop into a sound, productive tree.
Nursery-grown lemon trees are propagated from budding or grafting, using a more disease-resistant root system. Phytophthora foot rot is a major problem for cutting-grown lemon trees, so only grow from cuttings if foot rot isn’t a problem in your area. Alternatively, grow cutting-propagated lemon trees in large pots with sterile, disease-free soil.
Always use a container with multiple drainage holes at the base. If you grow a lemon tree in a container, it will not grow as large as one planted in the ground.
Setting up the Container
Before collecting a cutting, set up a container so the cutting can be potted instantly. Any container will do as long as it has a lot of drainage holes and holds around 1 gallon of soil. Fill it with sterile seed-starting mix, or a homemade potting mix of half sand and half milled peat. Try not to utilize garden soil since it might contain harming fungi and bacteria.
Peat-based developing mixtures oppose water at first, so continue adding water and mixing the blend until it holds moisture.
Try not to utilize a container that has housed an diseased plant.
Taking a Cutting
Late spring and early summer are the best periods to take lemon cuttings. Take a 6-inch cutting from the tip of a healthy youthful branch, and pick one with:
- No fruit or blossoms because that both draw vitality away from root creation.
- No less than two or three nodes at the base. Nodes are the place where the leaves develop, and they contain the sorts of cells required for root production.
- No indications of disease, stress or harm. Yellow leaves and stunted growth are both signs of potential inconvenience.
Measure back 6 inches from the tip and cut the stem at a 90-degree angle utilizing a sharp, non-serrated knife that has been sterilized. Wrap the cutting in damp paper towel while moving it to your work station.
Make sure to sterilize your knife by soaking it in a half-and-half solution of rubbing alcohol and water for five minutes. Rinse it thoroughly before use.
Potting the Cutting
Before potting the lemon tree cutting, remove all but the four leaves at the tip to limit moisture loss. Remove the bottom two sets of leaves to reveal the nodes. Cut the base of the stem at a 45-degree angle using a sanitized knife, then dust the end and the bottom two nodes with rooting hormone powder.
Make a hole in the moistened growing mixture that is deep enough to hold the bottom two nodes of the lemon cutting. Stick the hormone-dusted portion of the stem inside and firm the mixture against the stem.
Lemon tree cuttings need warmth and high humidity, so cover the pot with a large clear plastic bag. Hold up the bag with chopsticks or wire to keep it from resting against the cutting, and make one or two 1-inch slices in the bag to let excess moisture escape.
Rooting the Cutting
Lemon tree cuttings need little coddling to root, but meeting their needs will give them the best chance.
- Try to provide constant warmth. Soil temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit are best for rooting, although temperatures that are too high cause stress-related failure.
- Place the cuttings in a spot that gets bright, diffuse light. Avoid direct sun because it will stress the cutting.
- Keep the growing mixture moist, but let the surface dry out a bit between waterings. Mist the cutting every day to increase humidity.
Rooting times vary, but you can test for roots starting in eight weeks by tugging very gently on the base of the cutting. If it resists the movement, it has rooted. Cut open the bag and let the cutting acclimate to normal humidity before removing the bag entirely.
Care and Transplanting
Transplant the lemon cutting into a 1-gallon nursery container filled with standard potting soil once it shows signs of growth. Set the pot in a bright, sheltered area outdoors with where temperatures stay above 60 F. Water it when the soil feels dry to the touch, adding water until the excess dribbles from the pot’s drainage holes.
Lemon trees are not heavy feeders. Water every two weeks with a solution made of 1/2 teaspoon of 10-10-10 fertilizer dissolved in 1 gallon of water.
Grow the lemon tree cutting in its pot for at least one season, then transplant into a permanent pot with drainage holes or into the garden in spring.
In general, lemon trees grow outdoors year-round within U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11, although common cultivars such as ‘Eureka’ (Citrus x limon ‘Eureka’) and ‘Lisbon’ (Citrus x limon ‘Lisbon’) grow in USDA zones 9 through 10, while Meyer lemons (Citrus meyeri) — which are not botanically true lemons — are slightly more cold hardy and will survive in USDA zones 8b through 10.