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Citrus Care

  • Easy Setup Ideas for Indoor Citrus Trees

    Once again this is the time of year when trees are inside for the winter months and depending on how many trees you have, this can prove to be a daunting task.

    I think I made all the mistakes one can possibly make through the years, making it an interesting adventure. From purchasing very flimsy catch trays, to having terracotta cumbersome heavy plant trays. I found out the hard way that it is better to purchase good quality trays that are large solid hard plastic and lightweight.

    To make the job easier I have recommendations for set up.

    Purchasing  20" (outside diameter) catch trays and a small plant stand is the way to go, even if you have the tree still in a small pot. As your tree grows and transplanting into larger pots, eventually you’ll need the larger trays.

    To save money, I would recommend a tray that can hold a lot of water and the tray in the photo can hold over a gallon.

     

    plantstand

    Plant Catch Tray with Plant Stand

    After doing the deep watering method, the water pours from the holes in the bottom of the pot into the tray and any water in the tray will just add humidity in the air.
    When the trees are placed outside for the spring and summer, the trays can be cleaned and stacked one upon another to make storage easy, until you need them again in the fall/winter.

    Having the plant stands situated inside of the trays will make watering so much easier, without the worry of the bottom of the pots sitting in standing water.

     

    meyerlemononstand

    The dimensions of the tray in the photo:
    Diameter of TerraTray is 17.05 Inch, made to fit Fiskars 20 Inch TerraPot

    Product Dimensions: 17.05 x 17.05 x 2.80.

    Iron Plant Stand
    Measures 9" diameter by 5" height.

    Advantages

    ○ prevents the trees from sitting in standing water
    ○ prevents overfill if you water with a gallon of water
    ○ prevents having to move trees around, just to water.
    ○ durable, lightweight and stack-able for easy storage.

    Remember you will probably water far less in the winter than you do in the summer.
    Normally I water a few times a month when following the fertilizer recipe.
    It is very important to rely on a moisture meter. I recommend one that reads from 1-10 (water when meter is on 4).

     

    moisture-meter

    Moisture Meter

    I hope these suggestions make winter set-up a little less daunting.
    Nancy

  • Holiday Citrus Garland Decorations

    Elegant Citrus Lemon, Lime, Kumquat Holiday Garland with Pomegranate door decoration:
    Things you will need.

    ☼ 1/2-inch-diameter rope
    ☼ Evergreen (Citrus Leaves smell wonderful) or salal leaves or any natural looking leaf garland found in craft stores.
    ☼ Small oranges, lemons, limes and/or kumquats
    ☼ Fake cranberries found in craft shop
    ☼ Cinnamon Sticks
    ☼ 30-gauge florist's wire
    ☼ Scissors
    ☼ Pine cones

    Whole fruit will last one to two weeks, possibly longer if the room is on the cool side.
    Or you can dry out the fruits prior to usage and this will last the whole season.
    To do this, slice the fruit and bake in an oven at 200 degrees to dry them (be sure to dry out on a cookie sheet, flipping them every so often) or you can dry them using a food dehydrator. Follow manufacturer's instructions on drying the fruit.

    Cover the rope with leaves by attaching them with wire. Run the wire through off center of large fruit and then back through fruit and attach to garland. Run wire up through one hollow of the cinnamon stick and back down through another hollow of the stick. Add 3 or 4 cinnamon sticks to a cluster.

    Secure the fruit to the rope leaf garland where you would like. Add the cinnamon sticks.
    Attach the cranberries throughout. Small pine cones can be added by screwing in c hooks on the bottom of the cone, and attaching them. To make it more secure and position the cones  I recommend cutting small wires and bending the wire into the shape of a U . Situate where you want the cones, slip the U shape between the garland and push both ends of the wire into the bottom of the cone, this helps hold the cone in any position you want.

    Pomegranate Door Decoration:
    Make a Pomegranate door decoration by making a ribbon loop around a door knob pushing wire through both ends of ribbon into the Pomegranate, add a nice floppy bow.

     

    Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

    All of us at LemonCitrusTree

    Citrus Garland

  • Winter Recommendations For Inside Citrus

    Winter can be hard on everything, including the trees that need to go inside for the winter.
    It is so important to have a good fertilizing program during the spring and summer months so the tree is hearty for the winter. A good fertilizing recipe is found on our blog here: http://lemoncitrustree.com/store/citrus-blog/2015/08/11/feeding-recipe-for-a-happy-tree/

    Trees taken inside for the winter can continue to be fertilized, because there is no fear of frost damage.

    Good lighting is a requirement for all citrus, and this can be daunting task when sunshine is rare in the winter months. Trees taken inside for the winter are considered to be in a partially sunny environment throughout the season.

    Citrus need FULL SUN 6-8 hours a day. Anything less than 6-8 hours of full sun, is considered partial sunshine. So a tree placed near a window that gets full sunshine a few hours, in NOT full sunshine. Any real sunshine your tree might receive in the winter can be very limited, unless you have a sunroom and that will also depend on the location of your sunroom. So a good rule is, unless you have a sunroom any sunlight your tree may receive is minimal. Without a sunroom, additional lighting will be required throughout the winter months and possibly even with a sunroom you may find you need to supplement lighting.

    My main concern is to help the winterized citrus get through the winter months, and I also tried to be conscientious of costs. I wish I could recommend a metal halide (MH) as it is the best choice for citrus, but I can’t recommend them, due to the costs involved. So my second choice ( to keep costs low) I recommend a compact fluorescent light (CFL) 5000k grow bulbs, which  is full spectrum bulb which promotes overall plant growth. This should be screwed into a reflector, so the light is directed onto the tree and not used just as a bulb in a standard lamp or overhead light. Without the reflector the light is too dissipated to be of much use.

    The lights can be purchased as a full set, bulb with reflector at http://www.littlegreenhouse.com/accessory/lights.shtml

    If you chose the above option, the reflector can take up to a 150 watt bulb, so you can increase the wattage from a 40 watt that comes with the reflector up to a 150 watt, if that is your preference.

    You can also purchase the grow bulbs through Amazon with higher wattage bulbs than what is offered with the reflector at littlegreenhouse, just be sure you also purchase a reflector. Make sure whatever reflector you buy, you don’t go beyond the wattage recommended for that reflector. Please don’t inadvertently buy a reflector that takes up to a 150 watt bulb and screw in a 200 watt bulb.

    Another choice is the  MarsHydro 2PCS Mars Ⅱ 700w LED Grow Light 320W Power Draw 5W Full Spectrum Panel. Because it is an LED light, it is a great choice and will not gouge you with a high electric bill every month. These have been found on Ebay and Amazon, just copy and paste the light in your browser.

    The grow lights should be left on a minimum of  8-12 hours at least. If the tree gets good sunshine and the sunshine is shining directly on the tree a few hours EVERYDAY, then you may be able to turn the lights off after 6 hours.

    I also recommend Dyna-Gro DYFOL008 Foliage Pro. Used during the winter months.
    Dyna-Gro is suppose to help plants thrive in low light environments and that is exactly the concern in the winter. Dyna-Gro should be used an hour BEFORE lights are turned on in the morning, at least once a month (or not more than the package directions.)

    When lighting is supplemented, turn lights out at night. Plants require day and night.

    Misting trees with a spray bottle will help with humidity, adding water to the catch tray also helps, just don’t allow the bottom of the pot to sit in standing water. If you mist the tree to add humidity, only mist about an hour before the lights are turned on, as wet leaves might cause burning.

    When watering trees in winter, keep in mind the water coming out of the tap is a lot colder in the winter. Water the tree with warm water ONLY.

    It’s important not to place the tree near a heat vent, this will dry out the tree. Turn off the vent if possible or redirect the heat away from the tree.

    If you have green leaves dropping off the tree after you have placed it inside for the winter, it is more likely a lighting issue. You will need to keep the grow lights turned on longer, or may need to up the wattage of the bulb.

    Happy Winter Growing,

    Nancy

  • Bugs on Citrus; Friend or Foe?

    Most people who see any bug in the garden automatically assume that it is a “bad bug" or harming their plants.

    It’s really important to know the difference between the good, the bad and those that aren't quite so attractive.

    I always recommend people wash their trees a few times during the summer when they fertilize, as a pest preventative.

    Washing with dawn dish soap and warm water with a washcloth helps if there is honeydew on the leaves.

    Presently I have a spider that has decided to make himself a home in my Meyer Lemon. He popped out of the thick foliage and introduced himself in late spring, when I fertilized the trees and was doing the normal washing of the trees.

    I named him Eli and decided he can stay as long as he wishes. I left Eli’s home alone and moved on to washing the other trees. Eli is protecting my tree from predatory insects.

    Interesting enough, of all my citrus trees, the one tree that Eli has taken residence in, is the healthiest of all my trees.

    I made the right decision in allowing him to stay, so he gets free room and board. I just wish the rest of his family would have joined him in moving into the trees next to him.

    Right next to Eli's tree, is a tree that had a recent visitor,  the infamous leaf miner.

    Although admittedly Eli's family may not have been able to prevent the mining operation that is ongoing,  one can hope Eli was on his toes, because no mining operation is occurring in his home.

    The little guy you allow to live, could be the best of all preventatives.

    Please make certain the bug you kill is your enemy, because predators can do a better job of protecting your investment, because they are on guard 24/7.

    Moral to the story, distinguish between Friend and Foe.
    Nancy

  • Bath Time for your Citrus Tree

    People who have talked to me about pest issues on their Citrus Trees know I’m a real fan of bathing my trees. Spraying soapy water onto a leaf is only useful if used as a biodegradable wetting agent to maximize adhesion to the leaf surface, so foliar nutrients don't just roll off the leaves.Although the soapy spray will probably drown the offending bug, it won’t fix all the issues the pest caused your tree. So I don’t recommend it.

    If you are spraying soapy water to drown the offenders, you are not fixing the massive problem of honeydew.  Honeydew is a sweet, sticky liquid that plant sucking insects excrete as they ingest large quantities of sap from a plant. Eventually, if the honeydew isn’t washed off, fungi will begin to grow which is sooty mold. Although sooty molds don’t infect plants, they can indirectly damage the plant by coating the leaves so it reduces photosynthesis,  which can stunt plant growth and cause leaf drop and in sever cases branch die-back.
    THINGS YOU WILL NEED

    • ☼ Warm Water
    • ☼ Dishpan
    • ☼ Dawn Dish Soap
    • ☼ Washcloth
    • ☼ Toothbrush
    • ☼ Ziplock Bag
    • ☼ Wide Masking Tape
    • ☼ Tanglefoot

     

    1. 1. Squirt Dawn dish soap into a dishpan with warm water, make sure your solution is nice and sudsy.
    2. 2. Pick one branch and start washing top and bottom of leaves with a wash cloth. Pay attention to the bottom of the leaf, this is where most eggs and pests will be found. Also pay attention to any distorted leaves. Some aphid species inject a toxin into plants, which causes leaves to curl and distort. Depending on the severity of the underside of the leaf determines what approach I take. Sometimes I will wash the leaf repeatedly, most the time If I find a pest and it’s distorted the leaf I will  remove the leaf and store in a ziplock bag.
    3. 3. Use toothbrush in crevices that the cloth can’t reach.
    4. 4. Once the tree is completely washed, treat top and underside of leaves with Horticultural Oil OR Neem Oil.
    5. 5. Wrap masking tape above or below the graft area, STICKY SIDE OUT.
    6. 6. Add Tanglefoot to sticky part of tape, this is a barrier to keep crawling pests from gaining an access point to your foliage.

     

    Do NOT place tree against anything where foliage is touching a railing or wall. Check tree in a week, you may have to rewash only a section. Re-apply oil to the whole tree again.

    I give my trees about 6 baths annually, because happy trees are clean trees.

    Wishing you the best success in your citrus growing!

    Nancy

  • Feeding Recipe for a Happy Tree


    How would you feel if I was in charge of your care, but I simply failed to feed you?
    How long would you expect to survive? Yet this is what happens in many cases with plants that are expected to produce.

    If you starve a tree, it will starve you.
    If you feed a tree, it will feed you.

    Citrus are heavy nitrogen feeders and nitrogen leaches out the fastest of all nutrients.
    It is important to have a good fertilizing schedule, due to the leaching of nutrients in sandy soils and the fact that citrus require high nitrogen intake. Trees simply cannot produce fruit if the tree is lacking nitrogen. When watering your Citrus many nutrients are lost. So FEED FEED FEED your trees!

     

    RECOMMENDED FERTILIZERS

          • ☼ Osmocote Flower and Vegetable Smart-Release Plant Food: twice a year.
          • ☼ Espoma Citrus Tone for Citrus and Avocado:  every 30 days (approx. 3 tsps. for a 15" pot)
            OR
            ☼ Miracle-Gro Miracid, Acid-Loving Plant Food 30-10-10: every 2 weeks to 30 days. (DO NOT USE IF YOU'RE USING ESPOMA)
          • ☼ Fertilome Concentrate Fish Emulsion Fertilizer
          • ☼ Dyna-Gro DYFOL008 Foliage Pro
          • ☼ Miracle-Gro Cactus Palm and Citrus Potting Mix

    If you have just received your tree, then I suggest you not re-pot your tree until you have waited at least 2 weeks to insure the tree is not in shock. Re-potting is the worst thing you can do to a tree that is under stress. If your tree is having issues, DO NOT RE-POT!
    Many people make this mistake thinking they will fix a problem and end up making it worse.
    Use Miracle-Gro Cactus Palm and Citrus Potting Mix, when you’re ready to re-pot.


     

    FERTILIZING SCHEDULE

     

    February (beginning of the fertilizing year)

        • Osmocote

     

    March through October

          • Week 1:  Espoma OR Miracle-Gro, Spray Dyna-Gro on Foliage
          • Week 2:  Spray Dyna-Gro on Foliage
          • Week 3:  Fish Emulsion, Spray Dyna-Gro on Foliage
          • Week 4:  Spray Dyna-Gro on Foliage

     

    November

        • Osmocote

     

    December and January are rest period for trees planted in the ground, if tree is inside you can continue to feed.

    Foliar feeding is important and Dyna-Gro has 16 of the minerals essential for optimum plant growth. Using Dyna-Gro gives plants the nutrition they need. Plants take up the complete nutrient formula and foliar applications have greater mineral uptake than regular soil fertilizing.

    Foliar Application: Mix a quarter to half tsp. per gallon of water and spray directly on leaves. It is important that this is done only in the morning and sprayed on underside of leaves as well, use a biodegradable wetting agent to maximize adhesion to the leaf surface, so the nutrients don't just roll off the leaves.

    If you have any questions about fertilizing, you can reply to this blog with a comment or call us at 229-299-5555.

    Wishing you great success in your citrus growing!
    Nancy

  • Ripening your Citrus Fruit

    Citrus like sun! At least six hours of full sun per day is required. For best productivity provide 8 or more hours of full sun per day.

    Of course, the sun is much hotter in some areas than in others, so the overall intensity of the sun will also play a role. As a general rule, sour fruits need less heat to ripen than sweet-fruited varieties. Here are some general guidelines by variety:

    • Lemons and limes require the least heat to ripen, making them excellent choices for cool-summer areas.
    • The Washington Navel orange has the highest frost tolerance of the sweet oranges. Washington is primarily grown in California's climate zones where there are cool winter nights followed by warm days to pump the sugars into the fruit.
    • Grapefruits require intense, prolonged heat to ripen fully. (Heat causes pigmented grapefruits and pummelos to develop their distinctive red colors.) Grapefruit-pummelo hybrids like Oro Blanco are better suited to more moderate areas, sweetening in the San Francisco Bay Area and other coastal climates.
    • Tangerines and kumquats require high heat for best flavor. Kumquats are among the most frost tolerant of all citrus.
    • Keep in mind that all citrus fruits only ripen on the tree. Ripeness is best judged by sampling flavor, though rind color and time of year can also be good indicators.
  • Treating and Preventing Scale

    Scale insects can be devastating to citrus trees. The pests are tiny insects which suck sap from the citrus tree and then excrete honeydew which accumulates on leaves, branches and fruit. Honeydew then turns to sooty mold and that interferes with photosynthesis in leaves, and can cause leaf drop and branch die back.

    There are two types of scale, armored scales that are hard bodied consisting primarily of wax, the females of this family insert their long mouthparts as crawlers and never move again on their own, but can be moved by ants that are farming them. The soft bodied scale is not fastened permanently to the tree. The soft scale gives off large amounts of honeydew upon which sooty mold fungus forms, they can move on their own but often they are moved to other areas when ants relocate them.

    It is important to have an ant barrier of a 3-4 inch band with tangle-foot around the trunk of the citrus to help protect ants from invading citrus. Since ants have a symbiotic relationship with scale insects (and other pests as well) a tape barrier is crucial. Ants domesticate many pests that damage plants and citrus trees, and ants will move those bugs from one food source to the next.

    If you have an orchard, it is always a good idea to have a tape/tangle-foot barrier and to purchase Ladybugs and release those yearly. Ladybugs will attack all stages of scale.
    If you notice beetles on your citrus trees, do not use pesticides. Beetles are keeping your trees healthy and will protect your investment.

    Spraying soapy water onto the tree does little to remove scale insects. So it is always a good idea to completely wash citrus trees with Dawn dish-soap and warm water, with a wash-cloth. After washing treat tree with Horticultural Oil or Neem Oil.

    Check tree again in a week and repeat process if required. It is always a good idea to wash the tree every time you fertilize.

    If you need further assistance with a scale infestation, please message us here.

  • Yellowing Leaves on Citrus Trees

    Hi and welcome fellow Citrus growers!yellowing-of-leaves

    One of the questions I often receive is "Why are the Leaves Yellow" on my Citrus Tree? More often, specifically on the Meyer Lemon Tree which is the most the most popular of all Indoor Citrus trees.
    We will address what causes the leaves to turn yellow and the specific remedies to correct this common issue.

     

    Reason #1: NATURAL SHEDDING AND LEAF DROP:

    It is common for the leaves at the bottom of the tree or in the interior that are not receiving much sunlight to naturally turn yellow and drop. If you only have a few yellow leaves in those locations then that is natural and part of the trees normal leaf shedding process and poses no concern.

    Reason #2: EXTENSIVE YELLOW LEAVES THROUGHOUT THE TREE WITH LEAF DROP:

    This is normally caused by an overwatering situation and/or poor drainage. When the roots sit in soggy soil they will begin to rot and they will lost their ability to carry nutrients up to the canopy of the tree. You may need to change your pot out with good drainage holes and if you re-pot make sure the potting soil you use is lightweight and does NOT contain wetting agents. Secondly, amend your watering and fertilizing as noted below to get your plant on a healthy path (It will take several months to correct this issue, be patient).

    Reason #3: YELLOW AND MOTTLED GREEN LEAVES THROUGHOUT THE TREE:

    This is an indication that your plant needs some food. I recommend you feed your plant at least every (3) months but to really give your a plant a "POP" feed monthly starting in March all the way through November. Proper plant food and watering coupled with sunshine will help your plant thrive and aid in its blossoming/fruit production.

     

    WATERING:

    Consistency is the key with citrus watering. Citrus trees require soil that is moist but never soggy. Watering frequency will vary with soil porosity, tree size, and environmental factors. DO NOT WATER IF THE TOP OF THE SOIL IS DRY WITHOUT CHECKING THE SOIL AT ROOT LEVEL! A simple moisture meter, available at garden supply stores, will read moisture at the root level. This inexpensive tool will allow you to never have to guess about whether or not a plant needs water.  It is better for the soil to be on the dryer side when you water.

    A wilted tree that perks up within 24 hours after watering indicates the roots got too dry. Adjust the watering schedule accordingly. A tree with yellow or cupped leaves, or leaves that don't look perky AFTER watering can indicate excessive watering and soggy roots. Give your tree water less often.

    Citrus prefer infrequent, deep watering to frequent, shallow sprinklings. Deeper watering promotes deeper root growth and strengthens your tree. Generally, once or twice a week deep watering works well for container specimens. Be sure to adjust based on weather conditions! In general, it is probably best to water in the morning, but if plants are dry or wilted it is better to water them right away than wait until morning.

     

    FERTILIZER:

    Citrus trees feed heavily on nitrogen. Your fertilizer should have more nitrogen (N) than phosphorous (P) or potassium (K). Use at least a 2-1-1 ratio (For example; a 15-6 -8 or 12-4-5 or 18 - 8-10 would work well ... remember you do not have to be exact, just try to find one that the first number is about twice as high as the other numbers).  Miracid Soil Acidifier is a water-soluble product that works well and is a 3-1-1 ratio. In some regions, you may be able to find specialized citrus/avocado fertilizers. Buy a good brand and apply according to package directions. Osmocote slow release plant food is another good fertilizer.

    Any good citrus formula will contain trace minerals like iron, zinc, and manganese. Many all-purpose products will work. Just add trace mineral supplements if your fertilizer is deficient. We prefer slow release fertilizers in the granular form rather than fertilizer stakes. Follow the instructions on the package carefully as fertilizers come in different strengths, release rates, and application schedules. We recommend that you fertilize more often than recommended with most slow release fertilizers. Foliar applications of trace minerals in the form of kelp or other soluble fertilizers can be effective.

     

    Check out our Video Tutorials that cover many of these same issues by clicking here.

    Wishing you great success with your Citrus Growing!

    George

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