Q: I have a Meyer lemon tree in my yard that produces great-tasting lemons. It is a semi-dwarf tree, and I took several seeds from these lemons planting them in pots where they are growing nicely. When these trees grow larger, will they still be a semi-dwarf tree or what can I expect? Also, can I expect the same quality lemons that I currently have? Plus, do you have any tips for how I should go forward with growing these trees?
A: Generally speaking, when you plant a seed for a fruit tree, you are unlikely to get a tree that will produce fruit that is as good as the original tree. For instance, if you plant seeds from any commercially grown apple (one that tastes good), the resulting tree is 99.999% likely to produce apples that taste awful. This is due to cross-pollination – the good apple acquired random genetic material from other apple trees and there’s a lot more genes out there that produce mealy tasteless fruit. Eating an apple from a seedling apple tree will make you appreciate the tremendous amount of work that goes into plant breeding and selection!
Citrus is the exception to this rule since their seeds are polyembryonic. Simply put, this means that citrus seeds are very likely to result in trees that produce fruit that is similar in quality to the original parent tree.
Semi-dwarf trees are produced by grafting a scion (a cutting from a desirable variety) onto a hardy rootstock. These “Franken-trees” will not grow to full size, making care and harvesting much easier. The hardy rootstock also protects against some soil-borne diseases and pests.
If you plant a seed from your Meyer lemon, you are likely to get a tree that will produce Meyer lemons, but that tree will not be a semi-dwarf. Keeping the tree in a container will probably limit its size. I don’t recommend trying to graft it onto a rootstock because the rootstocks are difficult to come by and home-grafted citrus is more likely to spread citrus greening disease. For more information on citrus greening disease, see https://californiacitrusthreat.org/
Q: How can I keep the racoons out of my grapevines?
A: Good luck with that! We’ve had grapevines in our sideyard for years – nicely trellised along the wood fence separating our yard from our next-door neighbor’s. Every fall we get raided. My daughter’s bedroom window looks out over the grapevines and one night she heard a lot of rustling and commotion outside. She shined a flashlight toward the grapevines and seven little masked faces looked up. We went outside to shoo them away, but they just kept coming back.
My recommendation is to clip off all the grape clusters (if there are any left). Hopefully, they will move on!
Looking for more gardening tips? Here’s how to contact the Master Gardener program in your area.
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