How to graft lemon onto a lime tree

Written by frank whittemore
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Because lemon and lime trees are related, they can be grown on the same tree. In fact, citrus trees can bear branches with many kinds of fruit including tangerine, orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit. This is accomplished by grafting. Grafting involves implanting a live stem, called a scion, from one type of citrus tree into root stock of a different type of citrus. Once the tree accepts the scion, that branch will grow to bear fruit like the tree it came from. Grafting a lemon scion onto a lime tree using T budding has a fairly high success rate.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Sharp knife
  • Rubber band strips

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  1. 1

    Gather a branch with buds, called a budstick, from the desired lemon tree. Select a branch from mature growth from the previous season and up to 1/2 inch in diameter. Collect the budstick in the late winter, while the buds are dormant.

  2. 2

    Remove the budstick from the tree with pruning shears and clip off any leaves. Wrap the budstick in a damp paper towel to keep it moist. Place the budstick in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator until spring.

  3. 3

    Do your T budding in the spring as the buds on the lime tree that is acting as root stock are just sprouting.

  4. 4

    Remove a bud to be grafted from the budstick by slicing under the bud, starting about 1/2 inch below the base of the bud and ending 1/2 inch above it. Trim the top edge of the bud's bark square to form a little shield shape.

  5. 5

    Remove the inner wood under the bark of the bud by gently squeezing the cutting until the wood comes loose. Do not let the newly removed bud dry out.

  6. 6

    Make an inverted T-shaped cut through the bark of one of the larger branches on a young lime tree selected as the root stock. Be careful not to cut too deeply. Lift the corners of the cut with the tip of the knife to loosen the bark from the trunk.

  7. 7

    Slip the pointed part of the lemon bud's bark into the T cut so that the bark is under the lime tree's bark. Insert the bud until the top of the shield meets the cross cut in the T.

  8. 8

    Wrap the trunk with rubber band strips to hold the lemon bud in place. Do not cover the bud.

  9. 9

    Check the lemon bud after 2 weeks to see if the graft has taken. As the bud starts to grow, cut off the lime tree branch above it. From this point on, the new growth will bear lemons instead of limes on that branch.

Tips and warnings

  • Be sure to label your graft with the origin of both the root stock and the scion.

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