Short guide to lemon tree patterns

When the graft takes place, a new plant is practically being achieved, since each one preserves some properties of its “previous life” and generating new characteristics with the combination of the two plants. That is why it is important to know the patterns that can be chosen according to the crop, in this case the lemon tree. Let’s take a quick look at the effects of the pattern on the lemon tree.



Spain has a long history in relation to the lemon tree patterns, since back in the 18th century in its second half some patterns were used, specifically 2, the citrus and the lemon tree for all citrus fruits. However, these 2 rootstocks were very sensitive to  Phytophtora,  a fungus that tends to attack roots and has caused quite a bit of havoc on many crops. With the need to establish a solution to the problem, Citrus aurantium L  or  bitter orange arose   and due to its excellent characteristics it came to “conquer” the main citrus producing areas of Spain.

But there was a great disappointment when in 1957 the sadness virus appeared S iendo sensitive bitter orange pattern having this disease and that about 95% of citrus in Spain were under the dominion of that pattern was predicted disaster. However, when bitter orange is combined with lemon it is tolerant to sadness, which is why this pattern is still used. In addition, there are also others that were tolerant such as the Citrange Troyer,  the Carrizo,  and the  Cleopatra mandarin,  in the case of growing grapefruit, orange or mandarin trees .



Nowadays, what is sought in a lemon tree is a rapid entry into production and an early ripening of the fruit. Currently, C. macrophylla  and  C. volkamerian  offer very good results and comply with the factors mentioned above (earliness and rapid entry into production).


The quality of the fruit is a determining factor when marketing the product and that is why it is required to be high. The P. trifoliata  pattern  together with its hybrids have good results regarding this parameter. In contrast, the patterns of  C. microphylla  and rough lemon  considerably reduce the quality of the fruit.


The vigor of a tree is demonstrated by its growth, resistance to pests and diseases, resistance to negative external stimuli, soil structure, etc. Before we have said that the rough lemon did not give good results in terms of the quality of the fruit, but it has something good, and that is that it produces great vigor on the tree.

Within this features also we found patterns that favor the strenuousness as   Rangpur lime,  the  limeta Palestinian sweet,  and  citrumelo Swingle CPB 4475.

Among all these patterns used, today the most widely used are bitter orange and  C. macrophylla.  Let’s see its characteristics:


The main characteristics of  Citrus macrophylla  is that it induces great growth and vigor to the tree, with high yields. In addition, it has the advantage that they tend to develop well in limestone or sandy soils, very common in southern Spain. Its root system is quite powerful, so it has a strong root development and is better resistant to drought.

As not all are advantages, it also has some disadvantages, and that is that it is more sensitive to frost than other patterns, for example, lemon trees grown on bitter orange.


The bitter orange pattern has been used almost all over the world, a fact that highlights its great qualities in citrus fruits. It does not usually present problems when grafting it and it develops very well in its beginnings either in a nursery or a greenhouse.

  • It is tolerant to some diseases and viroids such as exocortis, xyloporosis, psoriasis,  etc.
  • Good affinity with the Fino variety.
  • Not very good affinity with Verna.
  • Resistant to iron chlorosis .
  • Resistant to root asphyxia.
  • Resistant to salinity and drought.
  • Resistant to  Phytophtora sp.  and Armillaria mellea.
  • Very sensitive to sadness if grafted with mandarin, grapefruit, lime and sweet orange.
  • Very good quality of the fruit.

In short, when deciding on one, it is a matter of making a list with the variables that we can find in our land, whether it is limestone, if we cannot irrigate regularly (drought), if there have been problems previously sadness or  Phytophtora sp,  or if the soil conditions are so bad that it is preferable to seek vigor rather than fruit quality, etc. But yes, it is very important to dedicate time to it as it can be a very serious problem in the future, simply because we have not done careful planning when planting.

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