Indoor Citrus & Rootstock

Discussion in 'Citrus' started by Junglekeeper, Aug 13, 2005.

  1. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    For citrus being grown exclusively indoors, does it make any significant difference in choosing cutting-grown plants over ones that are grafted onto a rootstock?

    Assuming the starting plant stock is pest- and disease-free, under such conditions the rootstock seem to matter much less: Cold hardiness is not an issue; tree size is naturally restricted by the container; pests and diseases do not pose nearly the same degree of problem due to the controlled environment and the use of sterilized growing medium; ability to tolerate poor drainage is not a factor if plants are properly irrigated; tree vigor may be improved in some cases.

    Overall, the lack of a rootstock does not appear to be a disadvantage when growing citrus strictly indoors. Is this a correct conclusion?
     
  2. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    In a more perfect world I would choose a cutting
    grown Citrus to grow on whether I am to grow it
    outdoors in the ground or in a container or grown
    indoors in a greenhouse or in my home.

    I think I've laid out some of the foundation of the
    benefits of cutting grown Japanese, Full Moon and
    Japonicum Maples in the Maple forum and another
    online Maple forum. I can also include other Maples,
    Magnolias, Dogwoods, Michelias and some Conifers
    also in the cutting grown versus grafting discussion
    fray as well.

    So much of the "other" sides arguments are based
    on how they learned to propagate plants and their
    lack of an understanding of these plants to know the
    benefits of both forms of propagation. One form to
    me does have a longer term viability prospect more
    so than the other at this time.

    Without going into the merits of cutting grown Citrus
    in this post I will say that many propagator/growers
    are not doing cuttings now as it is more efficient and
    less time consuming for them to bud or graft their
    plants.

    Overall, the lack of a rootstock does not appear to be
    a disadvantage when growing citrus strictly indoors.
    Is this a correct conclusion?


    I'd also add in when grown outdoors as well. In the
    mindset of the majority of people no, this is a not a
    correct conclusion as many people have never grown
    a cutting grown Citrus to know how it will match up
    against a budded or a grafted Citrus to compare it or
    them to for the long term. For the short term the
    cutting grown Citrus will take a backseat due to the
    time element difference to get a plant up and growing.
    The main issue is that we cannot adequately predict
    how large a tree will be grown from cuttings. Even
    my Meyer Lemon which is a semi dwarf, sold to us a
    dwarf, is not that much smaller in size than a standard
    Meyer Lemon is or will be grown at this location. If
    a person wants a smaller sized tree than a standard
    then they will want to purchase a budded or grafted
    tree so the dwarfing rootstock will aid in the size
    reduction of the tree. For outdoor growing the selected
    cold hardy rootstock will generally give the tree an added
    hedge against the cold than a plant grown on its own
    roots as a seedling or from a cutting will have.

    For indoor growing only, then not having a rootstock
    will not be a detriment to the Citrus. This thinking
    can be thought of as being close to being a correct
    conclusion as the area of consternation will come
    from people that have not done it. Even online
    information will come from people that have not
    grown Citrus indoors to know if the form grown
    will do better on its own roots or on a rootstock.

    I will write this though that from what I've seen a
    Kaffir Lime will do better grown indoors and on
    its own roots rather than being budded or grafted
    at this time. Not going to go into further detail
    with this subject just yet as I can predict the next
    round of questions to come about. Let me write
    this and be done with it for a while. We lose some
    of the fragrance of the plant and the intensity of
    the aroma of the leaves when this tree is budded
    or grafted as opposed to being on its own roots.
    I never wrote that I had not been around this plant,
    all I did state in a previous thread is that I have not
    grown it - yet.

    Jim
     
  3. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    So this turns out to be a topic for debate. I hope others will jump in with their thoughts.

    I'm about to find out how well cuttings will grow as many have rooted. It's less than scientific but at least they can be compared with their mother plants. I have not yet been able to root a Kaffir lime; it appears to be more difficult to root than other limes. It's a good thing the seedlings haven't been thrown out.
     
  4. AnotherAlterEgo

    AnotherAlterEgo Active Member

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    Jim --

    Until not long ago, I produced citrus trees in containers, specifically for interiorscapes and patios. I would have to disagree about the time consumption involved in grafting, versus a rooted cutting. A grafted tree involves a two-step growing schedule: the rootstock followed by the grafted plant. Growing out rootstock takes a minimum of one year. Once the tree is grafted, it can take a year longer before you have a 'saleable' product. Rooted cuttings, on the other hand, can be viable for sale within a few months.

    One of the 'old timers' in the U.S., when teaching me some grafting techniques several years ago, told me that a citrus tree on its own roots is always better. I don't know exactly what he meant, because a grafted tree has a better appearance, can have improved disease resistance and added hardiness. The main advantage to the rooted cutting is compatibility issues -- there are none. The best known exception to that rule is the Fortunella species (Kumquat) which don't typically do well on their own roots. As well, the list of compatible rootstocks for Kumquat is limited.

    I have rooted just about every type of Citrus imaginable. Some seem easier than others. For example, the one that gives me the most trouble is the Calamondin (C. mitis), yet it is commonly used as a 'teaching' aid because of the ease of rooting it. About six months ago, I rooted 196 Kaffir Lime (C. hystrix) cuttings for a nursery in the northeast. Of those two 98-cone trays, about 10 did not survive. I've seen 6' Kaffir Lime trees (started from cuttings) that were containerized in 8-10 gallon pots. So there seems to be no major limit when it comes to size.

    Finally, I would like to point out that there really is no such thing as a "true dwarf" rootstock. Some grow more slowly than others. Some even grow a few feet shorter. But, ultimately, most will outgrow your containers if given enough time. At my home, I have an Improved Meyer Lemon grafted to Poncirus trifoliate (aka trifoliate orange). The trunk caliper is approaching 2.5 inches, or more. This tree is perhaps 5-6 years old and container grown from the time I planted the rootstock seed.

    A
     
  5. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Until not long ago, I produced citrus trees in containers,
    specifically for interiorscapes and patios. I would have to
    disagree about the time consumption involved in grafting,
    versus a rooted cutting. A grafted tree involves a two-step
    growing schedule: the rootstock followed by the grafted
    plant. Growing out rootstock takes a minimum of one year.
    Once the tree is grafted, it can take a year longer before
    you have a 'saleable' product. Rooted cuttings, on the other
    hand, can be viable for sale within a few months.


    We are a ways apart in saleable sizes of Citrus. The people
    I know in Citrus do not sell liners. The smallest size they
    will sell are the equivalent of five gallons. Rooted cuttings
    as young as you suggest are going to someone that wants to
    grow them on and has plenty of time to watch them develop.
    All things being equal the rooted cuttings will take longer to
    become of saleable size out here than a budded or grafted
    Citrus will. Which plant will be able to be planted in the
    ground sooner than the other? The grafted plant will be.

    Starting from scratch it may take two years for a grafted
    plant to become saleable where you are but even then
    they are way too young to be sold in a nursery out here.
    There is one grower nursery in Southern California that
    may sell them that age, that small, to an East Coast
    nursery but those plants would not be sold in bona fide
    retail nurseries out here for any reason. I know of no
    one that sells 2 year old wholesale Citrus out here, for
    the purpose of those plants being sold for retail. There
    may be a grower somewhere that may contract out to
    a liner grower to have some liners come in but they
    are looking at no less than 2-3 years of babying those
    trees before they can be sold in retail nurseries or mass
    merchandizer retail market outlets here. Selling two
    year old Citrus or younger is an area I am completely
    unfamiliar with.

    One of the 'old timers' in the U.S., when teaching me
    some grafting techniques several years ago, told me
    that a citrus tree on its own roots is always better. I
    don't know exactly what he meant, because a grafted
    tree has a better appearance, can have improved disease
    resistance and added hardiness. The main advantage to
    the rooted cutting is compatibility issues -- there are
    none. The best known exception to that rule is the
    Fortunella species (Kumquat) which don't typically
    do well on their own roots. As well, the list of
    compatible rootstocks for Kumquat is limited.


    I agree with the sentiment that a Citrus on its own
    roots will be a better plant for the long term but
    that depends on where the plant will be growing.
    Outdoors in a cool environ the hardiness of the
    rootstock may help suppress cold damage that
    may otherwise occur to a Citrus on its own roots
    grown in cooler regions. If climate is not an issue
    the cutting grown Citrus will generally live longer
    than a grafted plant will. I am not arguing that
    grafted and budded Citrus have some distinct
    advantages over trees on their own roots. A
    lot depends on what we want from the trees
    themselves, where they are to be grown and
    I guess in your case how young they will be
    when they are sold and who will purchase
    such a young tree. I am much more used to
    the nursery and production end of things.
    For a Citrus orchard planting no one out here
    is going to plant two year old Citrus. Most
    likely they are going to be 4 and 5 year olds
    at the youngest. In most cases new plantings
    are going to be around be seven to eight year
    olds as our Washington Navels were back in
    1966. The Blood Oranges we planted in 1987
    were 12 year olds when we planted them.

    There are some dwarfing rootstock. I do not
    believe I wrote of dwarf rootstock but there
    is a well known, worldwide known I might add,
    container grower that touts their rootstock as
    being "True Dwarf". It is not the scion that is
    causing these plants to grow 6' and 7' tall when
    the standards the same age can be 15-18 feet
    tall. The dwarfing of the tree is originating from
    the rootstock.

    Jim
     
  6. AnotherAlterEgo

    AnotherAlterEgo Active Member

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    Jim --

    Nice reply. Thanks. Actually, you did mention something about how your Meyer Lemon is a semi dwarf, sold to you as a dwarf, but it's almost the same size as a standard. Interestingly, there is more than one reputable California nursery that sells two-year-old trees, including the same one that touts "true dwarf" rootstock. And, once again, they can nickname it what they will, but there really is no such thing.

    Take care.
     
  7. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    There may be more than one wholesale grower
    selling 2 year old plants but my question is who
    are they selling the plants to? I do not believe
    things have changed that much so that these
    juvenile plants are grown here, sold here, grown
    on here to be sold here later when of saleable
    size. I am not saying this is not happening but
    I am saying that this is a rather new event out
    here. The one nursery inferred is a nursery that
    I have known for quite a long while and there
    seems to be a change in their philosophy if they
    are selling these plants that young. They are
    shooting themselves in the foot if that is the
    case. I can still say that these plants are not
    going to retail nurseries to be sold here where
    I am. There may have been some shenanigans
    going on in Los Angeles and other nearby areas
    that I cannot account for but for many years it
    was not standard practice to sell Citrus less
    than 4 years old to any retail nursery. Even in
    our nursery we sold some plants at the nursery
    retail, never sold them wholesale from plants
    that came in from Japan and we waited until
    they were 5-6 years of age to let them go then.
    Offer them any younger and no one would buy
    them, aside from select bonsai enthusiasts that
    came into the nursery to buy some of our
    Hokkaido Elms and Maples.

    There is a nursery now near Los Angeles that
    is selling tubes online but they are looking for
    fast money. No one knows how their plants
    will hold up over time but these will not be
    production trees out here. I look at it as being
    a quick kill, bud the plants young, sell them
    ASAP and get out when the market becomes
    saturated with young Citrus and go back to
    growing plants that they know. There was
    talk 15 years ago that this kind of thing would
    happen as a counter when ideas of propagating
    by tissue culture was being bantered about
    more and more by some wholesale nurseries.

    Yes, our Meyer Lemon was sold to us in the early
    60's as a dwarf. We could fool people if we had
    continued to grow that plant on as a container plant.
    Instead, we put it in the ground at two locations and
    it is a semi dwarf rather than a dwarf or a standard.
    I used to monitor Citrus at the experimental station
    where that clone had been initially worked on. At
    one time there was some work done on sports to
    slow down the growth rate of Citrus but the quality
    of the fruit was always an issue. I am not arguing
    that there may not be a true dwarf rootstock yet
    but dwarfing rootstock has been around a while
    now.

    There is going to be some people that may want
    to know how you got the Kaffir Lime to root.
    You do know there is more than one clone for
    the Kaffir Lime. I'd like to know which clone
    you worked on.

    If you know something I don't about what some
    of the growing nurseries are doing out here
    now go for it and let me know, I'll appreciate
    knowing.

    Jim
     
  8. AnotherAlterEgo

    AnotherAlterEgo Active Member

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    Jim -- Thanks for your informative reply. You have an intriguing set of experiences, and I would love to know more. At the risk of slandering a nursery, I'll drop you an email about some of my own purchases from California growers. I should qualify it though. My interest surrounds container-grown stock, not stock intended for fruit producers. On the subject of Kaffir Lime (C. hystrix), I can tell you that it was VI 463, obtained through UC Riverside's CCPP a few years ago and grafted to P. trifoliate. Last year, I grafted onto Braz. Sour and experienced about 20% more growth in year one -- a different story altogther. I rooted the cuttings in Steuwe & Sons model D40 (deep pot-- the yellow UV resistant version), using Metro Mix 360. I used no rooting hormones and used a one-half strength mix of 10-50-10 (water soluble) once the majority of cuttings became anchored by roots, about 2-3 weeks after cutting. They were cultured in a greenhouse (55% shadecloth), with average daily high temperatures of 99F and overnight lows of about 80F. They were watered daily by hand, and overhead misted twice daily (at approx. 1pm & 5pm) in five minute cycles.

    I hope this is what you wanted to know. Otherwise, please forgive my ramblings.
     
  9. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    You are doing just fine. This kind of dialogue
    stirs up interest among people. You have me
    at a disadvantage though as we did not try to
    root Citrus cuttings, we mainly grafted and
    budded some instead. I'll try to absorb the
    technical info a little later. Thanks for
    providing some insight on the rooting
    process.

    Jim
     
  10. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I really do not at present know of commerical nurseries selling rooted cuttings. However, there are a lot of nurseries, many in Florida and California, selling one year old grafted trees in 4X4X14 inch "tall ones" containers. These are nurseries that grow mainly for the commerical grower, but are now also selling individual trees inexpensively to the retail market wich will mostly be grown in containers. However, here in Denver, all the retail nurseries and garden centers still sell mature citrus trees, many with fruit, in 5-gallon containers for around $40 to $50 dollars each.- Millet
     
  11. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    There is an online nursery in a NE state that sells rooted citrus cuttings in 2.5" and 4" pots. Going by the small pot sizes I would assume their plants are young and targeted towards the indoor hobbyist.

    Monrovia produces many plants in 1-gal pots. The trunk diameter of these plants is around 1/2". Approximately how old would these plants be?
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2005
  12. AnotherAlterEgo

    AnotherAlterEgo Active Member

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    That nursery in the northeast could be the one I contracted with for Kaffir Lime cuttings. But, to find a retail nursery selling rooted cuttings, go no further than Lowe's or Home Depot. Although they sell some grafted specimens, the majority of their citrus stock is rooted. Their citrus comes from the largest horticultural (wholesale green goods) company in the U.S., Hines Horticultural. Recordbuck Farms (FL) is another wholesale outfit that does primarily rooted citrus cuttings. If you've ever seen their operation, they produce gallon plants like there's no tommorrow.
     
  13. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I have an orange and a grapefruit that I purchased from a Home Depot in Phoenix, AZ and both are grafted trees. Local Home Depots and Lowes, of course, do not offer citrus as this is Colorado. Junglekeeper, you surely must be correct about citrus trees that are grown from rooted cuttings being marketed to the indoor hobbyist market. Why would a commerical grower purchase anything other than grafted trees. The rootstock of grafted trees can be matched to the soil type, rainfall, general climate and other local conditions to obtain optimum success for the grower. I have never seen a citrus tree being offered in a 2.5" pot. Why would anyone buy one? One year old grafted trees are only about $15.00 to $20.00 dollars. - Millet
     
  14. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Let's keep in mind that what you guys may see
    available in your states are probably not going
    to be seen in the retail stores out here. Yes,
    there is a grower, two that I know of, selling
    rooted cuttings to a couple of the mass
    merchandizer retail markets out here but those
    trees are certainly not 2 year olds. Our world
    for Citrus in retail nurseries is just a little
    different than elsewhere. Also, it is common
    to see Citrus from three different growers,
    sometimes four in a Home Depot and a Lowe's
    here and even then the youngest trees for sale
    are 4 year olds. Less than 4 year olds have
    come into a Lowe’s near me (there are 3 stores
    near me) a while back and they just sat there.
    No one bought them, even at giveaway prices,
    as the trees just did not look good at all
    compared to the other trees available so the
    store’s “let’s see if this will fly” experiment
    was a bust for those trees but the potted five
    gallons from other growers just flew out the
    door. A rather smart marketing ploy is what
    I thought at the time. Retail stores in other
    areas may very well have some 2 or 3 year
    olds that can be purchased but out here that
    will not be the case. Also, Citrus from Florida
    growers will not be available for sale per say
    in a retail store out here. There is nothing to
    prevent a wholesale nursery from buying
    some Florida stock and later selling it to
    retail stores but those trees are generally
    meant for other states markets and are not
    offered for sale here at all. I will say this
    though that there is a wholesale nursery
    that is not growing their own Citrus that
    can and has offered some of these plants
    in large sizes, mostly in 15 gallons to a
    few of the mass merchandizer outlets
    every now and then but these trees are
    not seen in a full service retail nursery
    here unless they have been special ordered
    in advance by a few customers. Minimum
    order for those trees to come into a full
    service retail nursery are five of a kind (in
    other words 5 Meyer Lemons or 5 Valencias
    and no mix and match orders) to an order.
    There is no real need for a retail nursery to
    order them otherwise, as so few customers
    will want that large a tree for a landscape
    or a home planting. I am mostly referring
    to large patio trees, not so much standard
    trees but they also can be special ordered
    in as well.

    Jim
     
  15. AnotherAlterEgo

    AnotherAlterEgo Active Member

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    I apparently caused some confusion with Millet, and I am sorry about that. It is true that no commercial citrus producer would have an interest in rooted cuttings. If there are, I've never heard of them. -- I'm speaking mainly of the retail market, of which I'm quite familiar with. Personally, I would take a grafted tree any day of the week. Granted, I do have more than a few rooted cuttings in my collection -- such as the Etrog, which is not Kosher if it is grafted.

    I lived in the Northeast for a spell and I remember seeing 5' (grafted) trees at a Home Depot. To this day, I consider that lot of trees to be among the most beuatiful retail offerings that I've seen. And, if I remember correctly, they had them priced at $19.95-- most definitely a bargain. Even though the market is changing, as hobbyists are becoming more educated, there are rooted cuttings galore out there being propagated by the 'big guys' and sold at some major nurseries.

    The average size tree for mail order retail nurseries is more like 36"-48" in height, with a 1/2" trunk caliper. Some nurseries (mostly newcomers) sell larger specimens, but the established nurseries have remained rather constant in the sizes they ship. Once again, I'm referring to grafted specimens.
     
  16. Nightbird

    Nightbird Member

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    I have both grafted trees and trees from rooted cuttings. As an indoor (winter) and outdoor (summer) grower I see no difference between the two as of yet.
    Here on the east cost, our Lowes offers only rooted cuttings. If you ask for citrus trees in Home Depot they look at you like you have two heads.
     
  17. AnotherAlterEgo

    AnotherAlterEgo Active Member

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    I have both grafted trees and trees from rooted cuttings. As an indoor (winter) and outdoor (summer) grower I see no difference between the two as of yet.

    ...And you may not, depending on the rootstock used and/or the rooted variety.

    Take care.
    AAE -- alive and grafting
     
  18. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Alive and grafting and selling on E-Bay
     

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