When we moved almost three years back to our new home, we left behind several fruiting trees. One among them was a Nectarine tree that was gifted by my parents on our first Ugadi (New Year) festival in our first home. I desperately wanted to bring it over when we moved, however the tree was already 7 years old and had a pretty thick trunk. I was not too hopeful that it would survive the move, and the last I wanted was to kill it. My mom is no more, and the tree holds a special place in my heart. It evokes wonderful memories of her sitting on a hammock in the backyard garden, sketching pretty pictures of the pink Nectarine blossoms in Spring.
We decided to rent out our previous home, and the trees continued to thrive. I did not bother to look into options for propagating as I had access to our home, and did not make this a priority. An avocado tree that I had planted from seed had finally started to produce fruits, and the orange tree that was barely 6 ft tall when we first moved in was now over 20 ft tall loaded with hundreds of oranges. This year we decided to sell our rental home, and I was now in a dilemma. I desperately wanted the nectarine, orange and the lemon tree to come with me. Over past couple years, I had two unsuccessful attempts of transplanting Nectarine through cuttings. Of 100 cuttings, one or two would root, but would then dry out. Having the entire tree moved completely was not even an option to consider as they were well established already, and the costs were prohibitive. I decided to make peace with the situation, as it would have been cruel to move them, and most likely not survive.
One day, in early feb, I was casually browsing gardening videos on youtube, and a few on propagation. I literally stumbled across videos on air layering propagation, and approach grafting techniques. I was intrigued by these approaches. Earlier in my school days I have successfully propagated roses through air layering, although it was somewhat different wherein I would bend a nimble stem into the adjacent ground and layer dirt over it, and leave a brick over the dirt to hold down the stem. I’ve also tried my hand at cleft grafting, not knowing the name of the technique to graft different varieties of roses. So, I knew in my heart that these techniques do work. In hindsight, useful videos popping up was perhaps natures way of reminding me of something that I already knew!
We were on a time crunch, as the house was going to be sold by early June. All of these approaches needed a minimum of 4-8 weeks time. We started the process somewhere in mid-late March, and by early June, our efforts were suitably rewarded.
Out of desperation, I decided to try both approach grafting and air layering on the nectarine to double my success. Approach grafting is supposed to be one of the methods that is pretty much bullet proof. The first approach grafting attempt was initially successful I must say, but when I cut off the limbs from the host tree, the graft was not fully bonded, and hence snapped off the recipient tree. It was a bit of over confidence and a novice mistake on my part. So, I did another attempt in mid-May, and I am yet to see the results, as each time I need to wait for 4-6 weeks. I am hoping to have access to the home since its sold already, and the home owners are really nice people.
Here’s the link Approach Grafting by Charles Malki that I followed. I highly recommend watching through all the related videos on his youtube channel, if you decide to try this technique. They are extremely useful and he explains every single step in a thorough manner. .
I was truly blown away with the success of this technique. Nectarines are generally hard to root, and based on my limited research the best way to propagate these are through bud propagation. I left my fears behind and decided to try air layering. We chose three branches of varying thickness. Some were half inch, and some were 2 inches in diameter. We carefully did the procedure, and checked in every week / 2 weeks for any signs of growth. I was slightly disappointed when I did not see any signs by 3 weeks, however by 4th week, I could see tiny white dots appearing. I was excited but it was a bit too premature to celebrate. By the 6th week, there were definitive roots, and by 7th week, the roots had grown more than 4-5 inches long. What intrigued me was the fact that the branch with the largest diameter set out the most roots. The smallest one did not make it. We carefully brought the two viable ones home, and carefully potted them in a mixture of peat moss, perlite and a small amount of compost for nutrition. I have them placed in a shaded area of the house until the root systems fully stabilize and the plant recovers from transplant shock. With tender loving care and a bit of singing to the plants just as my mom would, the plants are holding up quite well, and its two weeks already in its new home!
We took the same approach for the orange, lemons, mandarin, pomegranate, avocado and figs. The pomegranate did not make it, although this is one of the easier ones to root. Gophers had eaten up the roots of the small tree, and I guess it did not have additional energy to set out roots. I decided not to bring in the figs as I already had several varieties in my yard, and had no space for more of the same varieties at the moment. Moreover, they are very easy to propagate in just plain water. The avocado did not make it on time. There were small signs of roots, however nothing significant yet, and it was already week 6 by then. The next day we were closing on the home, and would not have regular access to monitor the progress. So, we decided to let go on this one too. However, much to our delight, the orange, lemon and mandarin were extremely successful and they all thrived. Beautiful white healthy roots were weeding through sphagnum moss, and neatly showing through the plastic wrap! Some things in life are just simply delightful experiences, especially the simple ones offered by nature. My husband and I were literally jumping with joy! The kids were truly delighted and amazed at the process. Whaaaat…..roots in a stem!! After a bit of a happy dance, we gently cut off the stem from the main tree and carefully loaded into our van. We brought them home and immediately potted them up in an easy to root medium.
All the rooted buddies are now hanging around together as pals, in a shaded spot to protect from the intense summer heat until they get a chance to fully recover. Perhaps I’ll leave it in here until early next year, as I want them to have the best chance of survival.
Couple of videos that helped me with this process:
In my experiment, I combined both techniques based on availability of materials and what seem to make sense to me. I found that using plastic as suggested by D-Vision was more practical to get to the nook and crannies of the tree limbs. Sphagnum moss in my opinion is also a must for pretty much 100% success with rooting, as there is least resistance for the root, and the medium retains moisture and humidity.
In conclusion, I wish I had explored these techniques three years ago, when we first moved from our previous home. I would have had enough time to experiment if the outcome turned out to be undesirable. The past several weeks was a bit stressful, and above that trying to rush through natures process, but I guess it worked out very well in the end, and that’s what matters! The biggest benefit is that, you can literally air layer and root at any stem / branch thickness, and basically have a mini tree growing and producing true to its parent in no time. Approach grafting is something I am definitely going to try in my mini home orchard, experimenting wildly across fruit varieties within the same genus. The possibilities are endless…
I am beyond delighted, grateful and humbled by this entire experience. Many thanks to the informative and educative videos that has enabled this.
6 thoughts on “Solutions for established fruit trees when you move homes – propograting Nectarine, Citrus and others.”
That is SO excellent that you were able to do that with so many of them! I have been trying to get copies of my old peach tree for years because it may not be alive much longer. Figs grow like figs of course, so have no problem growing from cutting. My rhubarb has been taken to every home I have lived in since childhood, so is not a problem. However, that peach still will not give me a baby!
Thank you! Do try the approach grafting technique later in the year when you get potted trees to transplant into. Or if you have any other stone fruit trees you could graft into that. I was in fact quite surprised by the air layering success. I have a pink guava that I am planning to clone 😁 through air layering. This one got me hooked!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I have tried everything with the peach tree, but to no avail. It will not even graft onto its own seedlings. It is an ungrafted seed grown tree that just happens to make excellent peaches. The problem with layers is that someone keeps ruining them. I can layer watersprouts because the tree is not grafted, but someone always digs them up to plant something there.
People messing up with your graft is a different problem to solve😁. For grafting you could perhaps get some inputs from http://www.crfg.org/about.html
Awesome. Great job and thanks for sharing!