Lemon trees are so decorative – whether grown indoors or out. The Meyer lemon, though just as striking, is actually a cross between a mandarin and a lemon, so it has different qualities than your basic lemon: it’s sweeter, the skin is thinner and it’s heavenly to cook with. Best of all, if grown in a pot, it remains well-mannered and somewhat small.
Since citrus trees tend to be pricey at the nursery, I grow my own from cuttings. I’m sure there are other methods out there, but this one worked for me in my work as a professional propagator, so it should work for you as well.
Preparing the Container
Any container with holes in the bottom for water drainage will suffice when rooting your Meyer lemon cutting. I save my 1-gallon plastic nursery pots, sterilize them (learn how, here) and reuse them when rooting citrus cuttings. The best soil to use is a commercial seed-starting mix (I like Pro Mix for its fungicide). Yes, these can be pricey, but they’re typically soilless and sterile, which helps avoid rotting the cutting.
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The soil must be completely wet before planting the cutting so pour water over it and stir it, mixing until it is saturated. If there’s a lot of peat in the mix you may find yourself repeatedly pouring and stirring, but it’s important that the mix be moist.
Next, create a planting hole for your cutting. I keep a pencil on the potting bench just for this purpose. Set the pot in the sink to drain while you take the cutting.
Taking the Cutting
Although cuttings taken at any time when the tree is in active growth will root, you’ll have the best luck if you take the cutting in late spring or early summer. We use a scalpel on soft cuttings but a sharp razor blade or ultra-sharp snippers will work just as well.
Take the cuttings from the tips of branches. Ensure the following when considering a stem to cut:
- It has two to three nodes
- It does not have fruit
- It isn’t flowering
Measure the stem from the tip toward the tree and cut off 8 to 10 inches. It is critical to keep the cutting moist until you stick it, so wrap it in a moist paper towel and stick it in a bag or bucket to keep it out of the sun.
Preparing the Meyer Lemon Cutting
Snip off all but the top three leaves from the stem. These will help the cutting carry out respiration while it’s forming roots. Then, check the length of the cutting to ensure there aren’t any small buds. Use your fingers to rub off any that you find.
Use your scalpel or razor blade to cut one inch off the cut-end of the stem, making the cut at a 45-degree angle, then lightly scrape the bottom inch of the cutting with the scalpel or blade. Don’t scrape too deeply – just enough to rought it up a bit. Then, dip the end of the cutting into the rooting hormone (I have the best luck with Hormodin, but you can use whichever you have) Ensure that at least 2 nodes are covered with the hormone and then stick it into the holes in the potting mix. Press the soil around the cutting so that it makes good contact.
Now all you have to do is wait. The cutting, if kept in bright but indirect sunlight and somewhat warm (a minimum of 68 degrees Fahrenheit) should root within 8 weeks. When you see new leaves you’ll know it has rooted.
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