Kumquats, like other citrus trees, are susceptible diseases & pests in the ground if not well cared for.
Nematodes, the snake-like micro-organisms, usually attack the roots of kumquat trees, making it difficult for them to transport nutrients up & produce fruits.
These small animals can't be seen by our naked eyes, only under a microscope like this one:
Additionally, a full size kumquat tree may be too big for small yards. Its roots may not be resistant to frost in cold growing zones.
This is why many people & nurseries graft kumquat trees on nematode-resistant rootstocks in the same citrus family. This helps them get a stronger foundation while making the size of the tree more manageable.
With a grafted kumquat tree, you can more confidently grow them in the ground (even with nematodes & freezing) and take the cuttings with you to grow new trees if/when you move.
The Flying Dragon Rootstock
The rootstock people often use for grafting kumquat is Poncirus trifoliata (finger lime or microcitrus papuana) or the dwarf variety Poncirus trifoliata Flying Dragon.
The finger lime rootstock has straight thorns, while the Flying Dragon has more curvy thorns.
A compatible rootstock is important for your kumquat growth. An incompatible one might dry out the young buds & give us no growth at all.
Once a good rootstock has been selected, people use these grafting techniques to grow the trees. Let's have a look.
Citrus Grafting Techniques
Here are some of the most common citrus grafting techniques many people use:
- Patch grafting
- Cleft grafting
- Bud grafting
There are 5 techniques we've listed here, but not all of them are easy for beginners, and not all guarantee high success rates. They do require practice–lots of practice.
For beginners, the easiest method would be the T-budding. Using this method, you make a capital T on your Flying Dragon rootstock & insert the kumquat bud in.
The other techniques require a lot more dilligence. But if you're intrigued, let's have a sneak peak into how a master does the T-budding technique.
T-Bud Grafting Kumquat Tree
For this T-bud technique, you'll need:
- Grafting knife
- Alcohol (we mean, the IPA, not the beer)
- Flying Dragon rootstock
- Kumquat bud
- Wax tape
We currently don't have the pictures yet. But we'll try to ask for permission for some to show you. Here goes (please use your imagination for now):
Step 1: Clip off the thorns & leaves of Flying Dragon
Before grafting, sterilize your grafting knife. Then, cut off the thorns & leaves on your rootstock. This helps cut off extra exit ways for the nutrients & concentrate them onto the kumquat bud we're about to graft on.
Step 2: Cut your kumquat bud
Use your knife to slice off a piece of bud on your kumquat tree. The bud often looks like a bump (or a camel hump) on the stem. Here, Garden S used the Fortunella Hindsii kumquat. It's a small variety with tiny fruits that's great for bonsai.
Step 3: Make a T cut on Flying Dragon
Now, with your grafting knife, make a T cut on the rootstock. Just about the length of the kumquat bud that you cut.
Step 4: Graft your kumquat bud on & wax tape it
Carefully put your kumquat bud into the T opening. Then, use some wax tape to wrap around the graft. The tape helps hold the graft in place & keeps the bud from drying out. When the bud starts to grow, it will poke through the tape.
Step 5: Finally break off half of your rootstock
When we break off the rootstock, nutrients will not be going up on the grafted side. This signals to the tree to move all the good bits to our baby. Otherwise, apical dominance will move nutrients to the top parts first, slowing down the growth of our bud. And now, we begin the waiting game.
Growing A Citrus Cocktail Tree
The limitation of the T-bud technique is that it may limit only one type of citrus to be grown on one rootstock.
If we combine the other methods, we can grow some other types of citrus, creating our own citrus cocktail tree. Lemons, oranges, kumquats–family reunion oh yeah! But of course, we should emphasize compatibility again.
If you want to check out more, here's an article on 4 different varieties of kumquat:
And here's some already-grafted kumquat trees (1 year old) for sale:
You can order these trees online. However, due to some state's law, they may not be allowed ship to your local area. You can enter in your ZIP code to check out.
Time for Some Vitamin C
We hope this brief article was helpful to you. We're also starting to explore more about these grafting techniques for citrus. Stay tuned for more goodies! See y'all again next time, cheers.