What is a grafted fruit tree? You may have heard the term but not really known what it means. Can’t you just grow a lemon, a plum or an apple from a seed? This story is especially for Daryl, who asked that question.
Let’s take a step back and start at how stuff is bred from seed. Walk with me through this…
>> Bred for strength <<
> Seeds will grow to be a mix of the DNA of parent plants, so where parents are the same species, the new plants will turn out mostly true to type (same as parent) 🙂
>> Many fruit trees though have been in cultivation (grown by humans) for a long time, so different Variations (subspecies) have been bred to showcase different features. 🙂 The best features of strong breeding in fruit trees are disease resistance, climate adaptability and size specs.
>>>Breeding is a slow process though, to grow and wait to see what develops, generation after generation. 😕
>> Cloned for taste <<
> Every now and again, a chance seedling can produce a spank-me-silly-awesome fruit with amazing taste that everyone wants. 🙂
>> but in many fruits, the chances of getting TWO like that, to breed from are ridiculously small 😕
>> So instead, we clone it, which is to grow by cuttings of the original, which all end up genetically IDENTICAL. 🙂
>> but given these chance plants don’t have stable breeding, they are usually tasty but weak overall; beautiful but vulnerable, and that is no guarantee of survival.
cake fruit and eat it too <<
Thousands of years ago, people figured out that plants in the same family may well grow if joined. Pretty soon, the art of joining tough roots to tasty shoots was perfected. This is grafting.
>> So, can I grow a lemon from seed? <<
Yes. It will however be a SIBLING of the original scion plant, not a CLONE, so you may or may not get what you expect. It can be fun to try though 😀
>> How best to grow a grafted tree <<
- Promptly cut off any shoots that grow from the rootstock, from below the union. That rootstock is tough and bullish and any shoots will quickly take over, starving the scion of energy and will kill it off 😕
- Don’t allow soil, mulch or water to sit on or around the graft union, as that encourages the rootstock plant to shoot and take over as well. Clear away any high mulch from the stem and be able to see the graft to check it routinely at a glance.
- If the rootstock does shoot anyway, it may be a sign that the scion is unwell. Applying some seaweed solution in the watering for a while can help and keep on top of any pest attacks.
- If you would like to give grafting a go yourself, it is not difficult, and quite fun. Here is a quick tutorial from Tino, at Gardening Australia.
- Here also on the GA website is another story about choosing a grafted lemon in Australia.
>> If you are keen to try grafting, we have an affordable grafting knife in the shop <<
Look wide; grow well, folks 🌿