Meyer Lemon -How to Help this Poor Tree?

equinecpa(4)February 8, 2012

Last summer I posted how my Meyer Lemon was absolutely ravaged by grasshoppers (thread is : Grasshopper Wars.)

As mentioned in that post I re-potted the tree in a gritty mix and brought it inside. It is inside for the winter in a cool room (max 67) with large east facing windows. I water it when the soil dries out and use fish emulsion as fertilizer. I haven't used the fertilizer the last couple of times I've watered it as I thought I read that the tree should have a "dormant" period but I'm not sure if that is correct or not?

Here are the photos of what it looks like today. In the first pic all the growth is since the grasshopper attack but as you can see there really isn't much growth

I took this picture to show the one odd branch that is about 2' longer than the rest of the tree. The leaves on this branch are the few that survived the grasshopper attack.

I took this picture because these new leaves still show evidence of something amiss. All the growth was since the attack but what would have caused the hole in the leaf and the curls?

Ok once you've stopped laughing (or crying, whichever it may be), what should I be doing for this poor tree?

I plan to cut all the dead parts off but want to verify how-do I leave just a bit of dead branch on the tree, or do I cut back to the live parts. If the latter do I put anything on the wound to heal it?

Pruning the large branch: Can I cut this back to reshape the tree? Can I try to grow this branch into a new tree? Where should I cut it off?

And fertilizing regime? Is fish emulsion enough? Should I be fertilizing every watering (In the winter I'm watering about every 2 weeks)?

I appreciate any help you can give me and this tree.

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Hello and good day.

My goodness, that POOR thing! I had no idea that grasshoppers liked orange juice.

The growth like that can be from any number of reasons from lack of nutrients, a swipe of something sharp tearing at the leaf, a pest, all the way to watering habits and or environmental changes.

There is no true 'dormant' state with citrus in containers.

In pots, they either get too cold and die, to warm and die or stall in growth, just cold enough to slow down growth dramatically, to cold or hot to use nutrients, not enough light which will cause them to drop leaves or cause branches branch die back, or just right conditions, and grow optimal.

Why are you using F.E.? Why not use a very good synthetic one that is readily available and reliable for your plants, especially in the gritty mix?

I would cut down on fertilizing to 1/4 strength and every watering or one teaspoon once a week until you can provide good sunlight.

If you are providing so sunlight at all, then that changes things. I would watch closley for spindly growth and if that happens, withhold fertilizer all together until you can give it more.

Definitely watch your watering practices. A plant not provided enough sunlight that citrus need and crave for optimal health, can rot easily if, yes, even if the gritty mix does not dry out fast enough.

Put nothing on the wounds. Let heal on their own.

I would never laugh or cry at your tree although I know you

Is there any way you can give that tree a nice sunny spot?


    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 12:55PM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

I HATE grasshoppers. we get some as big as your thumb and they can really tear things up quickly.

to add to what mike mentioned I would not remove any of the branches with leaves as they are the only source to provide energy right now.

Like mike I would never laugh at someones tree that looks like that because we have all been there before.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 1:31PM
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I should mention -the first two pictures don't really show where the tree is located -I just moved it there for the picture. The last one (the close-up) of the leaves shows the kind of light it is in. It's right in front of a large east facing window (picture taken on a cloudy day).

Should I move the tree outside and bring it in only on days/nights it freezes? Or is a constant fluctuation in temps bad too?

What citrus fertilizer would you recommend? I believe I'm using the FE because I read somewhere someone swearing by it for their I have it. I'll switch to something else if it's better for the tree.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 5:58PM
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In order for FE to become useful to your tree, it would all depend on the activity of soil biota in your pot, probably nill, before the nutrients it, (FE) contains are broken down into elemental forms the plants can absorb.
Because there is unreliable soil biota in your container, it makes delivery of nutrients less reliable and more erratic than soluble forms of fertilizer.
You will eventually see a white crust develope on the top layers of your container and soil pests associated with it's use, more so if you tend to over water.
If you see yellowing of leaves over time, I wouldn't be surprised.

I would use a fertilizer that has a good ratio in the way plants use that is readily available. I personally use Foliage Pro loaded with all the things needed to keep my trees healthy which also has calcium most fertilizers lack.

If it were my tree, I would bring it out during the day if temps exceed 55, and then bring it in at night.

I don't think it will die if you leave it in your East window, but it will not fruit or flower and it will grow ever so slowly, yet green if it should decide to push leaves. Maybe week ones suseptable to pests and definitly ones that you will have to graduate to more sunny conditions.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 7:23PM
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Thanks. I'll start moving the tree outside on nice days and see if that perks it up some.

As for fertilizing, am I understanding that while it's inside not getting good growing light, I should not fertilize?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 8:38AM
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