Citrus Propagation

Citrus Rootstocks:
The Foundation of a Tree

Rootstocks are almost universally used for propagation of citrus trees in the United States because trees produced by grafting a mature fruiting cultivar onto a rootstock have several important advantages:

They combine good fruit traits with good root traits in the same tree. Most cultivars that produce good quality fruit do not produce their own roots with resistance to root diseases. Grafted trees also begin bearing fruit many years earlier than trees reproduced by seed.

They accurately reproduce good fruit traits, while plants derived from seed often do not.

A genetically separate rootstock gives the opportunity to alter tree size, productivity, and other traits through rootstock influence, while maintaining identical fruit characteristics.

Seedlings of a good rootstock that have been prepared for grafting. Seedlings or clones of a good rootstock are grown and prepared for grafting.
A budwood slice from a good cultivar is inserted into the rootstock bark. A small slice of budwood from a good fruit cultivar is inserted into the rootstock bark.
The tissues of the rootstock and bud heal together and the fruit cultivar bud begins to grow using water, nutrients, and sugar from the rootstock.
The tissues of the cultivar and rootstock heal together
The shoot of the fruiting cultivar grows while the rootstock shoot above the bud is pruned and eventually removed.
The bud grows into the fruiting cultivar.
A healthy tree is transplanted into the field. A healthy tree is transplanted into the field. The root system and lower trunk are derived from the rootstock and have its traits, while the fruit, leaves, and branches develop from the fruit cultivar bud source.