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How to Graft a Citrus Tree

By Ma Wen Jie ; Updated September 21, 2017

Most citrus trees that produce sweet, edible fruit are created via grafting. During the graft, a bud from a variety that produces sweet fruit is grafted on to a root stock that is either sterile or produces sour fruit. In some cases, one citrus tree can produce several different varieties of fruit via grafting. Although grafting is not difficult, you must be careful and patient with the process.

Select a tree for a bud source that is healthy. Grafting a bud from an unhealthy tree can transmit any diseases the tree may have to the new tree.

Collect the bud during the tree's growing period. Remove the bud and a 1-inch-long strip of wood under the bud.

Select a young citrus for the root stock. Look for root stocks that are known to grow well in your area.

Make an inverted T-shaped cut about 6 inches above ground level on the root stock. Lift up the bark to make two flaps.

Slip the bud and bud wood under the two flaps of the inverted T on the root stock.

Wrap the graft with several rotations of budding tape both above and below the bud. Leave the bud exposed.

Remove the budding tape within 30 days of grafting the bud to the tree. You can tell that the bud has taken if it is green and healthy.

Cut about two-thirds of the way through the root stock, about 1 1/2 inches above the recently grafted bud.

Bend the top of the root stock over until it touches the ground to prevent it from budding and competing with the grafted bud for nutrients.

Once the grafted bud has grown to 3-4 inches, cut the top of the root stock off.


Things You Will Need

  • Grafting knife
  • Root stock
  • Sweet tree bud
  • Grafting tape


  • If new rootstock buds appear, remove them to prevent competition with the grafted bud.


  • Some states prohibit the importation of bud wood because of the risk of disease to local crops. Check with your local agricultural extension service for local regulations.

About the Author


Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.