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Are you are one of many who has planted a citrus fruit seed you have plucked out of your healthy snack in hopes of growing your own tree, only to be disappointed? If so, these tips will help you to, not only grow a lush plant, but will also teach you the best way to strengthen your tree to insure healthy produce.
Taking your fruit right from the refrigerator, separate the seeds and place them in a solution of weak tea and 1\8 teaspoon of epsom salts to soak. After the seeds have soaked for 24 hours, plant each seed about 1\2 inch down in a mixture of sphagnum moss and good potting soil. The soil should be kept at about 70 to 80 degrees, slightly damp and the seedlings should be exposed to indirect sunlight. When you see the first sprouts from your seeds the plant can be moved into a southern window where they get more sunshine. Since citrus trees require an acid soil, using a bit of coffee in your water will help perk them up. Keep in mind that most tap water is alkaline and if you notice the leaves are looking yellowish with green veins, the plant could be iron deficient and you might need to add 1\8 teaspoon of iron chelate to your watering regimen.
Once the tree is approximately 4 inches tall, be sure to keep the soil moist, but not wet, at all times. If you plan to dwarf your fruit tree, you should begin pinching it back when it reaches 6 inches. You do this by pinching back the new growth in the center of the leaf clusters. You will begin to notice new branches appearing as the trunk becomes thicker and taller. If it is late spring or summer, this is a good time to put you tree outside in direct sun, making sure to give it plenty of water. Continue to pinch back new growth in the centers of each branch as it appears. You will be tempted at this point to replant the tree in a larger pot but this is unnecessary until the tree has reached a height of 2 feet and in fact could be harmful. Most fruit trees will show blooms within the second year and tiny fruits.
When the tree is 3 to 4 feet tall, you will have a good stock tree and if you plan to grow hardy fruits this is the perfect time to graft a small nursery variety tree to yours. This will insure a stronger tree. To do this check with your local nursery to be sure you are purchasing a fruit tree which is compatible with the one you are growing. The purchased tree should be as close to possible to the same size as the tree you have grown. Ask for a plant that does well in your area but if you live in an area where fruit trees rarely grow, you might explain that you plan to dwarf the tree and keep it in your home during the colder months. Once you have a compatible fruit tree, remove it from the container and measure the diameter of the base 6 inches from the soil on the tree you have grown. Match this with an area on the purchased tree and with a sharp knife make a slanted cut completely through the tree. Make a matching cut on the home grown tree 6 inches from the base, being sure that the cut surfaces match as closely as possible and the cambium layers line up. To complete the graft, wrap the joining area with tape and seal with grafting wax.