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How to Clone Citrus Trees

citrus fruit image by Andrzej Włodarczyk from

Cloning citrus trees is one of the simplest ways of growing a new tree without spending a lot of money on a new plant. Cloning is done by taking a cutting from a healthy citrus tree and rooting the cutting in a small container. Propagating citrus by cloning ensures that all the same genetic material from the donor plant is passed to the new plant. Cloning by cutting may take several attempts but usually succeeds when done correctly.

Cut a healthy, 1-year-old shoot from a citrus tree in the spring or summer when the plant is actively growing. Cut the plant just above a healthy node, ensuring the cutting has new, slightly hardened shoots.

Fill a plastic planting tray with vermiculite. Tamp the growing medium down so that it is solid but not tightly packed. Make a hole in the vermiculite using the end of a pencil or similar object.

Dip the cut end of the shoot into a rooting hormone powder or gel. Place the end into vermiculite and cover it with the medium. Stick the shoot into the soil so that it is covered at least 1 to 1-1/2 inches deep.

Water the cutting so that the soil is moist, with no standing water, and cover it with a plastic bag to trap moisture. Place the cutting in an area where it gets regular, diffused sunlight. Open the bag once every day to allow air to circulate to the cutting, preventing mold.

Water the cutting when it gets dry, every few weeks so that the soil is moist. Water slowly until water comes out the bottom of the tray. Allow the pot to stand in the water for a few minutes, then drain the excess. Test the cutting after three to four weeks by gently pulling on it for resistance, which means it has developed roots.

Transplant the cutting into a regular pot when the roots have developed. Slide the edge of a flat object into the side of the tray. Gently lift the cutting with the dirt out of the tray. Transplant the cutting into the new pot and water it thoroughly until water comes out of the bottom of the pot, ensuring there is ample moisture in the soil.

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