Patch budding is an easy grafting technique that can be used to either replace or add a new fruit variety to an existing tree. I have used patch budding to graft citrus trees and have found that it gives a high success rate. Patch budding is a popular method for topworking citrus trees to new varieties in Spain. I have found that it also works very well as a technique for adding new varieties to an existing citrus tree to make a multi-variety citrus cocktail tree.
An advantage of grafting citrus with the patch bud compared to T-budding and chip budding is that the larger surface area of the graft makes it less likely to be absorbed by a fast-growing target branch before the buds sprout. A disadvantage of patch budding compared to scion grafting techniques such as the cleft graft and the bark graft is that the buds can be slow to start growing. Although the particular graft demonstrated in this tutorial is of a Mato Buntan pummelo, I also found that patch budding works well for oranges, lemons, and limes; I expect that it would work well for any type of citrus.
Patch Budding Citrus Trees – YouTube Video
In addition to this step-by-step tutorial, I have also made a YouTube video (see below) showing the patch budding of citrus trees.
Citrus Budwood from a Disease-free Source
Citrus cuttings have the potential to spread tree-killing diseases. It is often not apparent when a tree is infected with a fatal disease. This makes the source of citrus budwood for grafting very important.
In California where I live, we now have both exotic diseases that kill citrus trees and also the insects that spread the diseases. The situation is so severe that it now against the law in California to graft with cuttings taken from backyard citrus trees. To save our trees from deadly disease, hobbyists in California no longer swap citrus cuttings with friends. We now instead order our budwood at a nominal cost from the Citrus Clonal Protection Program (CCPP), a program that exists to provide disease-free budwood for the grafting of citrus trees.
The CCPP will ship budwood anywhere in the world where the local government allows it. Many citrus growing regions where CCPP budwood is not allowed have their own disease-free citrus budwood programs. Here I have created a web page that lists some other programs: Citrus Budwood Programs.
The below YouTube video goes through in detail the process of setting up an account and placing a budwood order with CCPP.
Disinfecting Grafting Tools
In order to both maximize the probability that the graft lives and also to prevent the spread of disease from tree to tree, it is important to disinfect grafting tools between grafts. To learn more about disinfecting grafting tools, please see the following link: Disinfecting Grafting Tools.