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Citrus Care

  • How Do I Select The Best Container For my Citrus Tree?

    Soggy wet roots are the leading cause of problems with container grown citrus trees. Many of those problems can be eliminated with careful container choices and a moisture meter that can prevent over-watering.
    The Deep Watering Method is the proper watering method, directions can be found here:
    https://lemoncitrustree.com/store/citrus-blog/2018/10/19/deep-watering-method-for-potted-citrus-trees/

    CLAY POTS
    Clay pots are classic but heavy choices. If you live in the southern part of the country, you may want to avoid the clay pots, as they dry out very quickly and you'll spend a significant amount of time watering in hot summers. If you plan on using clay be sure the mouth of the pot is as wide or wider than the pot itself, avoid the spherical pots with the mouth of the pot curving inward, these tend to be wide and shallow and don't have the depth needed for the deep root growth and if you ever need to transplant you may have trouble getting the root ball out if the opening of the pot is smaller than the width of the whole pot.

    WOOD POTS
    Wood containers degrade over time, allowing roots to grow into cracks and have irregular surfaces, making it harder to transplant. While transplanting you may be ripping roots out between cracks to dislodge them, so avoid the wood and look for something comparable like a plastic barrel that you can drill additional holes in. Many plastic barrels look very similar to the wood barrels.

    SELF-WATERING POTS
    The self-watering pots are NEVER recommended for Citrus trees. Citrus require infrequent deep watering, so self-watering pots do not allow for this. The self-watering type can cause overly wet roots. Also, pots that have the catch tray or saucers attached are not recommended, trees do not like "wet feet" and those types of pots can cause root rot.

    CLOTH POTS
    Cloth container pots are not recommended. The cloth can become misshapen over time as the soil settles. During the watering process, some of the soil may relocate in the pot, and this can cause the tree to eventually tip out of its container since the soil is not held firmly into place with solid sturdy sides. The cloth pots just do not work well because they are far too flexible allowing the soil to reshape the pot during the deep watering process, which will cause the tree to tip out because it has nothing sturdy to hold the soil in place.

    PLASTIC POTS
    Hard plastic pots come in a wide selection of designs and colors, making them the ideal choice for citrus trees. When choosing a pot, be sure you can actually see drainage holes in the bottom, if not it is the wrong pot. The sides should be sturdy and the plastic strong enough to drill additional holes in the bottom if needed.
    Plastic pots are easier to handle and more lightweight than clay and resistant to breakage.
    Four to five large (3/4"-1") holes are the minimum necessary for adequate drainage. Select a pot that makes it easy to inspect your tree or re-pot if needed. Smooth tapered sides with a wide mouth at the top work the best. Avoid shapes that are narrow at the top or other designs that would impede the root ball from easily sliding out.

    Do not add stones or gravel in the bottom of the container. Elevate the container pot off the drainage-tray or ground to allow the water to exit the container after watering. Water according to pot size and do not go beyond a 10-gallon container.

    For more transplanting information: https://lemoncitrustree.com/store/citrus-tree-care-containers

    LemonCitrusTree

  • Deep Watering Method For Potted Citrus Trees

    Trees will die without the essential requirements. Incorrect watering is the most common cause of issues and tree death.

    Deep Watering Method

    1. Check the tree with a moisture meter before watering. (The meter's range should be from 1-10)
    2. The prong should be deep into the pot.
    3. Only water when the meter reads 4.
    4. All trees require deep watering. Deep watering is drenching the soil until water pours from the holes at the bottom of the pot.
    5. Watering with a few cups is not acceptable, this will cause deep roots to die. Never be stingy with the water when the tree needs to be watered.
    6. Once the tree has been watered properly, recheck the moisture level again to make sure the meter reads high (9 or 10) and then do not water again until the meter reads 4.
    7. In the winter you will water far less, about twice a month (But always check the tree with a meter weekly because this can vary)
    8. The meter should never be left in the pot when not in use.
    9. Never water with cold water in the winter
    10. Never water the tree with water from a water softener.
    NEVER ALLOW TREES TO SIT IN STANDING WATER
    A space between the bottom of the pot and the tray that catches the water is required.

    LemonCitrusTree

  • Did I get a Lime Tree? Why is my Citrus Fruit Still Green?!

    We know, waiting for your citrus to ripen can seem like it takes forever. As much as you might be tempted to rush your little citrus buds along, patience really is key here. Let the tree take its time. Try to enjoy the process and pay attention to how beautiful it is. It’s natural to look forward to your fruit ripening, but growing citrus or any of your own food is about more than the end result. Enjoy the journey. More nutrients are getting packed in your fruit day by day while it's still on the tree.

    Citrus fruit only ripens on the vine so, if you pick it while the fruit is still green it will stop the ripening process. Citrus ripening times vary significantly which could vary from year to year as it is dependent on the weather in your area. If you have had a lot of rainy and cloudy days this could affect ripening times and cause a delay. Sunshine is crucial for ripening fruit. Your citrus tree should have at least 6-8 hours daily of full sunshine. In the winter if the tree is taken inside use supplemental lighting. There are plenty of growers lights that will work. Nurture your tree while the fruit is ripening and you won’t regret it!

    All citrus variety is the same, as far as starting off as a green bud. Just like tomatoes, except citrus cannot ripen off of the vine while tomatoes can.

    Here are some photos of the stages of the fruit ripening process of a lemon tree from bloom to being fully ripened. My favorite stage is when the tree is in bloom. The fragrance is wonderful! Very light and floral, with a hint of citrus zing. Mmm.

    Green citrus fruit Citrus Fruit Growing from Blossom to Maturity

    Pictured below are some small fruit in the process of growth but premature yellowing fruit (which will turn brown eventually).

    Baby Citrus Fruit Baby Citrus Fruit

    Please do not panic, all fruiting trees go through stages of fruit drop. Fruit drop is when the fruit is still very immature and it begins to drop off the tree while green, yellow or brown.
    The tree has shut off nutrients to the yellow fruit and eventually, the fruit will drop off the tree prematurely. This cannot always be prevented, as the tree is still young and has shut off the nutrients and is reserving its energy for growth rather than maturing fruit.
    It is important that the tree has appropriate nutrients such as nitrogen because if it lacks nutrients it will cause fruit drop that could otherwise be avoided.

    All citrus fruit (including Meyer Lemons ) will be green for about 8-9 months after they bud. It will take an additional 2-3 months to fully ripen and turn to their respective color. The Meyer Lemon ripened fruit color of the yellowish/orangish tint happens in the last month of their maturation process.

    The fruit is the sweetest and has the most nutrients when it has that nice orange tint. Then the fruit is ready to be harvested.

    The fruit picked prematurely will be more sour than normal. Please be patient, as Mother Nature moves at her own predetermined pace.

    Let us know in the comments what you have learned through the process of watching your fruit ripen. We love hearing from you! If you are having problems with your tree, let us know by calling 866-216-TREE (8733) or emailing us at support@lemoncitrustree.com

    Happy Gardening,
    Lemon Citrus Tree

    p.s. Our blog readers get 7 dollars off their order until 8/30/2017, use the code: greenfruit

  • 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 Terra Tray is 17.05 Inch, made to fit Fiskars 20 Inch Terra Pot

    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 Indoor 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.

    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

    Notice: Avocado Trees: adjust use of DynaGro to once per month.

          • ☼ 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

    Notice: Avocado Trees: adjust use of DynaGro to once per month.

    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 866-216-TREE (8733).

    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.

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