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I have a dwarf grafted citrus in a pot in my garden. The trunk is grafted with one lemon branch and one lime branch. Over the last two years the lemon half of the tree has grown well and fruited several times, while the lime half has not grown at all, and the few tiny fruit that develop after flowering drop off after about a week.

The tree is potted in a well known brand of citrus potting compost, and I've added a small amount of slow release citrus fertiliser periodically.

Here are some photos of the graft and the tree itself - the lime is the thin branch on the right in both:

What can I do to encourage the lime side of the tree to grow and produce fruit?

  • It's been a few years, I'm curious what action you may have taken and whether it was effective--any notes? – elrobis Jun 20 at 19:00
  • I took no action to encourage the lime side in the end. The tree did not thrive, and barely grew at all in the two and a half years since I took the photos. This was despite regular care, watering and feeding. Eventually, it withered to the point where it was not worth keeping, and I disposed of it a couple of months ago. I think its replacement will be a plain lime tree - hopefully one specifically suited to the sub-tropical climate of South East Queensland. – Jonathan Holvey Jun 20 at 23:43
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I'm sorry to say there's probably nothing you can do to change the situation. It sounds as if the lime part of the grafted tree is failing because it doesn't have enough vascular tissue to conduct nutrients and water to the upper parts, which is why it's displaying poor growth, whereas the lemon part is completely healthy. There may be a failure at the graft point, or the graft was poorly done initially, and it was unable to develop over time in the same way as the lemon. Unfortunately, now that the lemon is going great guns, it's unlikely the lime will improve.

Inspect the graft point thoroughly to see if there's evidence of problems there, but, unless you want to risk hard pruning the lemon side to just above the graft point in hopes this kickstarts the lime portion to start growing better,there's not much you can do. Pruning in this way is obviously a risk, and you may find the lime does not respond at all, and the lemon part of the tree doesn't recover too well.

  • This is sad news. I had originally planned on getting just a lime, but went for the dual grafted tree as it was a bit novel. When would be the best time of year for such a hard prune? I live in Brisbane so it's the middle of spring at the moment and the tree has just finished flowering. – Jonathan Holvey Oct 11 '16 at 9:31
  • Now I've seen the pictures, I wouldn't bother to do it, unless you don't really want a lemon tree - the lemon branch is three times thicker than the lime, and its very unlikely the lime will recover if you cut back the lemon, its too well supplied with extra vascular tissue. If you don't mind risking losing the whole thing, and sacrificing fruit, then cut back hard now, so long as its not currently very hot and won't be hot for a month. Sad fact is, the thin branch of the lime is the sort of size one would normally prune out because its weak. You could just keep it as a lemon & buy a lime – Bamboo Oct 11 '16 at 10:22
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You should turn the lime side to face sunlight and let the lemon side less exposed to sunlight. After a few months the lime side will grow much more and the lemon growth will slow down.

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