'T' budding is the preferred method for grafting tangerine trees and is primarily done to join desirable fruit-bearing qualities of one type of tangerine to the disease resistant and hardy understock of another citrus tree. This is performed by taking a live bud from one tree and implanting it into the root stock or 'understock' of the other. The growth that comes from the cutting will bear fruit that is genetically identical to the tree it was taken from. 'T' budding is a fairly simple process with a high success rate.
Gather a bud stick from the previous season's growth and up to 1/2 inch in diameter from the desired tangerine tree. Ensure the stick has several bud nodes on it.
Remove the bud stick from the tree and clip off any leaves. Wrap the branch in a damp cloth or sphagnum moss to keep it moist. Place the bud stick in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator until needed.
Remove a bud to be grafted from the branch by cutting under the bud. Begin the cut around 1/2 inch below the base of the bud and slice upward, ending 1/2 inch above it. Trim the top edge of the bud's bark square to form a little shield shape.
Squeeze the cutting, gently, to remove the inner wood under the bark of the bud. Do not let the newly removed bud dry out.
Make a 'T' shaped incision through the bark of the trunk on a young tree selected as the understock. Do not cut too deeply. Lift the corners of the cut with the tip of the knife to loosen the bark from the trunk.
Insert the pointed part of the bud's bark into the 'T' so that slides under the bark of the understock tree. Slide the bud in until the top of the shield meets the cross cut in the 'T'.
Wrap the trunk with rubber band strips to hold the bud in place. Do not cover the bud.
Check the bud after two weeks to see if the graft has taken. The bud should remain dormant until next spring.
As the bud starts to grow, cut off the stock above it. Remove any shoots sent out by the root stock to encourage the new bud to grow.