Frost Damaged Citrus-Best Way to Fix

bakerchic(8)March 28, 2010

Hi:

I've had an improved Meyer Lemon in the ground for almost a year. I planted it just before fall last year. Even though I covered it, it lost its leaves in the frosts. It hasn't started to leaf out yet, but the stems are green and mostly flexible.

I was really worried that it wasn't recovering, so I dug it up and put it in fresh soil in a 15 gal black plastic pot. I'm going to keep in indoors at night and put it out in the sun during the day. I still get frost on the ground in certain spots in my yard.

Is there anything in particular I should do to help it leaf out and recover from what I think is frost damage? Fertilizer? Nitrogen? Any and all suggestions are welcome. I don't want to buy another lemon tree.

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tantanman(z9Tx)

Your tree is remaining dormant due to the continued frosty weather which is exactly what you want it to do. New growth is so tender as to suffer cold or wind or burn at much higher deg F than a hardened dormant tree. It will also allow a late freeze to kill back into older wood. This is why we outdoor citrus growers in zones 8 &9 try to induce dormancy by not feeding from July till after danger of frost.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 10:06AM
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bakerchic(8)

Thank you, tantanman:
So, I think I bought and planted it at the wrong time. It was late summer and it was a "hot house flower," of sorts. I really had to pamper it to keep it from wilting. The leaves never hardened. As you know, I'm also in zone 9. So now that it's dormant, is it going to hurt it to keep it inside at night 'til the frosts are over? Or should I put it outside and let nature take it's course. It is at least in better soil now.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 11:43AM
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jsvand5

Frost won't hurt them. Freezes below around 28 degrees is what does the damage. If you are in zone 9 I can't imagine you are still getting hard freezes now. I would have left it in the ground. Digging it up after the damage has already been done will do nothing but further stress the tree. Where are you located?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 3:17PM
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bakerchic(8)

I'm in Sebastopol, which is Sunset Zone 15. I have a few microclimates in my yard and I see frost on the ground in certain spots, sometimes 'til 10:00 in the morning. The yard slopes downhill at least 30 degrees, and I think the cold air settles there along the fence. I did transplant it after dark, to minimize the stress. Thanks for the help. I'll leave it alone and keep my fingers crossed.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 6:11PM
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bakerchic(8)

Hi:
My lemon tree is now sending out little shoots along its main trunk, so it's still alive. I have it in a black plastic 15 gallon pot and I keep it on a patch of rocks that gets sun all day after to keep the roots warm and the soil kind of dry.

My question is, since it's sending out new growth, is now the time to prune off the old frozen deadwood and start fertilizing? Thanks for the advice.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 4:37PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

It's too bad that you dug it up, bakerchic. Frosts won't hurt a citrus. If, however, you are going to keep it in a container forever, be sure that you invest in a darned good potting medium.

I'd day yes to the pruning off with the damaged portions. I'd hesitate to fertilize, though, with a harshly disrupted root system. What are your plans for this tree?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 5:26PM
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Andrew Scott

HI Rhizo,
How are you doin? Since this post is about freezes and cold damage, I wanted to ask at what temps do I need to worry about my meyer? I think you saw the pics, it is around 6 feet tall. Last night I panicked because I saw snow about a half hour away from me. I got home and temps were 37 so I new I was fine but from what I am hearing here can it handle cooler temps or is it diffrent because mine is potted. Even my keylime which is supposedly the least cold tolerant made it fine.
Andrew

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 8:10PM
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bakerchic(8)

Thanks, Rhizo. My plans are to put the tree back into the ground if I can find the right spot and soil. I think citrus makes a good patio tree, so I might plant it and build a little stone patio around it. After looking at the soil and location from where I pulled it up, I think it was the wrong location. Water settled there, the soil was a combination of clay and silt with poor drainage and it was a windy spot. It did get sun all day, but that was the only good thing about it. I'll see how it recovers and then ask what to do next.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 1:25AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Hi, Andrew! Citrus planted in the ground can take colder temperatures only because the root system is protected from freezing by the soil. We don't want our containerized plants to be exposed to freezing temperatures for long periods of time. By freezing, I mean the temperature at which water freezes. Roots can be damaged. And of course, if the water remains frozen in a container, how is the plant going to have access to water?

Full buds, flowers, and fruit can all be damaged at different air temps. The foliage is pretty tough.

bakerchic, sounds like a plan!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 5:26AM
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shipman1951_yahoo_com

Feb 28, 2011
I Have a Improved Meyer Lemon tree which I bought last year. It produced fruit last summer but we had a hard freeze at the beginning of February and the tree lost its leaves. At this point, there has been no new growth though the stems still have parts which are green. Is there anything I can do to revive it or is that a lost cause? For you invo, I live in Houston, Texas. Also maybe you can suggest how I can get more fruit from my Satsuma Mandarin tree. It is healthy and produces leves though has only borne fruit the first year. I have fertilized both in spring and fall as indicated.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 4:10PM
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tantanman(z9Tx)

Michael:

My trees are in Angleton, about 45 mi. south of Houston.
Some are very ragged now.

Citrus experts say you should not do any thing to the trees until later. If leaves or limbs are obviously blackened or dead brown you can trim them a little now. Do not trim back to the green wood until later, maybe May/June.

You can use organic fert., like Microlife, now since it takes a while to break down and be useful to the trees. Or if you use chemical fert. wait till later this month. Then we should not have a killing freeze. Light freezes should not be too harmful.

In 2002 it was 19 deg F in the first week of March. Some of my trees were blooming. In 1980 it was 25 deg F in Freeport, Tx near the Gulf on March 5. So we're not out of the woods quite yet but it wont be long.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 3:03AM
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