Citrus trees often shoot up branches from down low on the trunk. If low enough — below the graft union — then these “suckers” are from the rootstock. In a sense, these are dangerous, and it’s important to remove them immediately. See details on why and how in my post, “Beware of rootstock suckers on citrus trees.”
Yet roostock suckers can be useful. Instead of removing them, you can graft onto them and add another citrus variety to your tree.
For example, if you had a Washington navel orange tree that sent up a rootstock sucker, you could graft Cara Cara navel orange onto it. Then you would have both orange oranges and pink oranges on the same tree.
Or if you had a Gold Nugget mandarin tree that sent up a rootstock sucker, you could graft an earlier-season mandarin variety such as Satsuma or Kishu onto it in order to have mandarins from that tree for more months of the year.
A real example
In my yard, I had an old mandarin tree that sent up numerous rootstock suckers. (See photo above.) I let them grow and take over; the original mandarin branches eventually died. Then I grafted multiple citrus varieties onto the rootstock suckers (grapefruit, mandarins, etc.). Now I have started what some call a “cocktail” citrus tree.
Here’s a photo of one of the grafts:
Heres a video showing the tree:
How to graft citrus
If you’d like to try this but haven’t grafted citrus before, I suggest doing a web search for videos on the topic. There are many good videos on citrus grafting out there.
I prefer using the T-bud method on citrus if possible (which is what I used on the tree in the video), but cleft grafts work well on citrus too, as long as the diameter of the stock is small enough.
I’ve had best success grafting citrus from April through July (the above grafts were done in April), but citrus can be grafted year-round.
Where to get citrus budwood
The best source for citrus budwood to use in grafting is the Citrus Clonal Protection Program.
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