all my potted citrus happy except my lime - any ideas?

westgirl(8 WA)February 20, 2012

Hi All,

Until this year, my potted citrus have overwintered the Seattle winter in my unheated greenhouse. After bringing one of my Meyer lemons inside and seeing it thrive (I'd believed our local gardening expert and my ex-boyfriend who said/experienced that citrus really didn't fare well inside) I went a bit crazy on my birthday and bought some new 2-3 year old trees from Four Winds. I've had them two weeks and they are all potted in the same mix (as close as I could get to 5:1:1 with what I had on hand), and in the same unheated room with south and east light, supplemented with grow lights. The Meyer lemon, Variegated Pink lemon, Washington Navel, and Blood Moro all had very little leaf drop and are thriving with each showing new growth. My Key lime however is not happy and dropping leaves every day. I think perhaps the mix held too much water, although right now it's dry at least 2-3 inches down. I've noticed that the thorns are all half-way yellow starting at the tips, Does it need more warmth? More light? Should I re-pot or leave it alone for now? I followed Four Winds instructions and all the trees are planted in pots 10" deep and 12" in diameter. After reading some of the extensive posts on potting mixes, next time I re-pot I will screen my materials, but I'm also wondering if the pot could be too big? I'm stumped as to how all the other plants are happy in their new environs, and my lime is not.

I've been misting the plants and even that makes it drop leaves. Anything I could do to get the mix it's in to dry out a little faster? If anyone had any ideas, I would love your expertise!

Thanks, and sorry for the long post...

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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Westgirl, photos are helpful :-) Just upload them to Photobucket, then find your photo, float your mouse over it, and then click on the HTML code to copy it to your Windows clipboard. Then, just right click in the body of your message and select "Paste". That will paste the HTML code into the body of your message, and your photos will be embedded right into your message.

I suspect not warm enough, and maybe too wet. Key Limes are the least hardy of any citrus. You're much better off with a Bearss lime, which has some lemon in it genetics, and much, MUCH more cold tolerant. I don't even bother growing Key limes where I live, here's a photo of a big bunch of Bearss limes we just picked:

(That's a Valentine pummelo on top of the limes, btw.) Check out the roots carefully and see if you've got root rot going on. If so, try to trim away the decaying roots, and repot carefully. Give it as much sunlight as possible - bring it outside while it's warm, then inside at night. Watch the moisture in your mix, and it may make it.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 2:50PM
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johnmerr(11)

Patty,
Unless you are a Brit and really like that bitter flavor of limes for your Gin and Tonic, I think the Bearss lime is a much nicer fruit if left on the tree till it starts to get some yellow color; it will also have lots more juice. BTW, even the Brits were impressed by the Meyers we sent to Fruit Logistica in Berlin earlier this month.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 5:03PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Well. Kind of :-) My grandparents are Scottish, parents are Canadian, lol!! And my hubby likes his limes like that, he was the one that picked that bunch. He really likes that "lime bite" in our Margaritas. I, personally, do not like my limes so green. I pick my limes when they're just turning yellow. For me, they're perfect then. I think they make the best limeade when they're just starting to turn yellow, yumm!! But, they sure look pretty in a red bowl, I have to say :-)

I always refer to our area as "citrus" county, but if I were to be more specific, we are actually "lemon" country, so any lemons, including our Bearss limes, grow like weeds. In fact, we actually refer to them as the "weed" tree of citrus :-)

And so great to hear that the UK liked your Meyers!! So, what was the outcome overall?? Have you gotten new customers?

Patty S.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 6:40PM
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johnmerr(11)

The response in Berlin was almost overwhelming; now we have to ramp up production to meet the demand. We currently have 8,000 trees beginning production; and the 5 year goal, if we can find the capital is 50,000 trees producting 15 million fruits; that is 20,000 tons.
One of the biggest specialty produce buyers in EU, doesn't really have produce on display at the show, but has a bar at which they make drinks for customers; this year every drink with lemon was made with Meyers, and, as many of the customers are chefs and restaurateurs, we suddenly have many new contacts who want Meyers. A bit overwhelming, really; we now have much to learn about harvest, postharvest, and shipping. Luckily we have some experts in that field who have offered to help.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 1:03PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Oh boy, John. Sounds like it was better than you had hoped for!! How many acres would you need for 50,000 trees? That sounds like an enormous venture. My goodness!!

Patty S.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 2:39PM
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johnmerr(11)

Patty,
We are planting 600 trees per acre in hedgerows with 1 meter of grass between the rows for tree care and harvesting. Yes, it is a big venture... and still very much an experiment. My hope is it will create a market in the world that other Meyer growers will take advantage of.
As a gourmet and the world's biggest fan of Meyer lemons, I would like to be able to find them as easily as the Eurekas, which I expect will find them competing at a lower price range.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 3:27PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

So you'll have nearly 100 acres under production, eventually. Large venture, John! And, I couldn't agree with your more. I love the Meyer lemon. I could care less about my Eureka. Half the time the lemons fall off and roll down the drainage swale :) But, my Meyer lemon, that was nearly dead when I moved in, had been a super producer. I'm even a wee bit afraid to fertilize it, for fear of more lemons. Right now, it easily has between 100 and 200 lemons (so many I couldn't possibly count.) It is only about 8' x 8'. It is an amazing citrus. And, makes the best lemonade ever, and I cook with it constantly.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 7:31PM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Patty!!!!

EXTREMELY BEAUTIFUL!!! Oh, looking at that fruit just makes my mouth water. I can't believe you grew that, well I can:-) It looks better than any I have ever seen at the store.

Mike:-)))

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 12:11PM
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westgirl(8 WA)

Hi Patty,
I meant to thank you for the feedback, but I've been so interested in John's venture (!) that I got sidetracked. I'd evidently gotten bad information about how "easy" key limes are to grow inside, but mine is definitely not happy. I've ordered a Bearss lime and think I may wick the lime. It was just re-potted (as it's new and arrived in it's cedar shavings) and seemed awfully dry at the time so I drenched it with the initial potting. I'm also considering bringing him to my office which has great light and is warmer (although may be too dry).
Thanks again - loved the valentine Pomelo too!
West

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 1:29PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

No problem, West. We sort of hijacked your thread, lol!! Key limes are a little tempermental. And, you'll get lots more juice from a Bearss lime, as well. I personally can't taste the difference between the two limes - maybe someone that can actually eat a lime in had could - but for me, they taste the same. And Mike, thanks for the nice words :-) The Valentine pummelo hybrid was a real treat, we're all very excited about this new hybrid here in California. Hopefully, more of the online citrus sources will start offering this worthy citrus. Right now, the only grower I'm aware of is Durling Nursery in Fallbrook, CA, and the only online source is Logee's. Here's what my first Valentine pummelo looked like when cut open. Lot's of nice pigementation, and you can see that the fruit does resemble a heart, plus it's ready around Valentine's Day, hence the name:

Patty S.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 2:38PM
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