Native to the warm climates of South America, naranjilla, “little oranges,” are thorny shrubs that produce exotic blooms and rather odd-looking, golf-ball sized fruit with a very distinctive flavor. Can you grow naranjilla from cuttings? Yes, you sure can, and it’s not all that difficult. Let’s learn about naranjilla cutting propagation and growing naranjilla from cuttings.
How to Root Naranjilla Cuttings
Taking cuttings of a naranjilla is easy. Late spring and early summer are the best times for growing naranjilla from cuttings.
Fill a 1-gallon (3.5 l.) pot with a well-drained potting mixture such as half peat and half perlite, vermiculite or coarse sand. Be sure the pot has a drainage hole. Water the mixture thoroughly and set the pot aside to drain until the potting mix is evenly moist but not sopping wet.
Take several 4- to 6-inch cuttings (10-15 cm.) from a healthy naranjilla tree. Use a sharp, sterile knife or pruners to take the cuttings from the tip of a young, healthy branch.
Cut the ends of the stems at a 45-degree angle. Pull the leaves from the bottom half of the cuttings, exposing the nodes. (Each cutting should have two or three nodes.) Make sure there are two to three leaves remaining at the top of the stem.
Dip the lower stem, including the nodes, in rooting hormone. Use a pencil to poke holes in the potting mix, then insert the cuttings into the holes. You can plant up to a dozen cuttings in the pot, but space them evenly so the leaves aren’t touching.
Cover the pot with clear plastic. Prop up the plastic with straws or dowels so it doesn’t rest on the leaves. Place the pot in bright, indirect light. Avoid sunny windowsills, as direct sunlight may scorch the cuttings. The room should be warm – between 65 and 75 F. (18-21 C.). If the room is cool, set the pot on a heat mat.
Caring for Cuttings of a Naranjilla
Check the cuttings regularly and water as necessary to keep the potting mix moist.
Remove the plastic as soon as the cuttings are rooted, generally indicated by the appearance of new growth, generally after six to eight weeks.
Plant the rooted cuttings in individual pots. Place the pots outdoors in a sheltered location where the young plants are exposed to indirect sunlight. Temperatures should be consistently above 60 F. (16 C.).
Water the young tree every other week, using a very dilute solution of a general purpose fertilizer.
Transplant the cuttings into larger pots when the roots are well established. Allow the young naranjilla tree to develop for at least a year before moving it to a permanent location or continue growing the plant in a pot.