Asked January 17, 2018, 4:30 PM EST

Hi we recently moved from the sf bay area. I cut several branches- lemon-olive and avocado the avocados are hass the othrs unknown . They have been just a few days I water. I have the crazy idea to graft them. I am aware they would need moved in side in winter a local nursery shooting star nursery does not do grafting and had no stock. My question is would you recommend not doing this or make an attempt. if so perhaps a recommendation on were to purchase stock. Thanks Mike

Jackson County Oregon

2 Responses

Hi Mike:
Gardening should be an adventure; but in this case, I think the adventure might end in disappointment.. First of all, "rootstocks" are not something you can readily buy, and if you could find some that would work (i.e. lemon, olive, avocado rootstock because the rootstock and scion must be compatible) they would have to be planted and thriving in order to take on the added stress of growing another plant. This usually takes at least a year or two. When you purchase grafted fruit trees in the nursery, they are usually 3 to 4 years old; the rootstock part has well-developed roots and the top (the scion wood) is healthy and growing. Secondly, your scion wood must be prepared correctly; 3 to 4 inch pieces of a branch 3/8 to 5/8 inches in diameter which contains dormant buds. Scion wood is usually stored in a refrigerator (not freezing) with humidity enough to keep the branches supple. Finally, the varieties you have chosen, unless they have great sentimental value to you, are very tricky in Southern Oregon.It's not just the winter cold; it's the lack of tropical heat and moisture for the avocado, the fact that most olives do not thrive in our climate (despite the fact that it's called "Mediterranean", only the Spanish olives such as 'Arbequina' are worth trying), and the ultimate size of the lemon tree (unless it is a Meyer) that makes the winter chores difficult. All in all, you've set an almost impossible task for yourself. May we suggest that you study a very thorough discussion of grafting to be found on the website? Click on publications box and search for PNW 0496,Grafting and Budding Plants to Propagate, Topwork, Repair.
If you really want to grow these fruits, there are many nurseries in Oregon which sell lemon and olive varieties which will survive provided you can shelter them in winter.Avocado remain a very tricky fruit to raise: Haas varieties are not suitable for our climate, but some of the thin-skinned ones, such as Zutano can be grown in greenhouses. I'm sorry to discourage your idea, but it isn't a very sound bet for success.

Marjorie thank you for your expert advice. I will visit a nursery soon to purchase seasonal local varieties.