planting depth for a potted citrus? Meyer Mike weigh in pls!

caliloo(z6/7)March 7, 2012

In reviewing your photos (yes, I just can't stop looking at them) I noticed that a couple of your photos specifically show the root flare on several of your trees. The Limequat I bought from Lowe's last summer seems to be planted way to deep. I think I should probably lift it to get the root flare somewhere near the surface (it is almost 2 inches deep).

No, I never repotted them when I bought them, I didn't know I should (newbie mistake!) so I am contemplating doing it now. Is it the right time or should I wait until it is a little warmer? It is living in my unheated south facing Florida room and temps are between 65 during the day and a low of 50 at night.


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Hey Thank you for your kind comments Caliloo;-)

Wait! When would you consider it to be real spring there when your plants are at their optimum? For me it is about Mid May to June and that is when I do most of my transplants.

Where do you live? I think Josh or Al/Tapla might have a better answer, because honestly, I don't want to dispense bad info to you since I go against the grain at times. I do it whenever on certain trees and never have an issue. But there is an appropriate/optimum time for everything and I know they will be by to guide you:-)

It's nice to see you here by the way:-)

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 9:12PM
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You say, "citrus", as if all are created equal... they are not. If you tell us what variety, what size, etc. you wuriill get a more intelligent answer.
Most of my experience is with Meyer lemons; and for that variety you do NOT want to leave that root crown exposed. We plant our young trees (I only have 8,000 to date) at the root crown or lower; for our nursery stock to field planting, we actually plant them a couple of inches deeper than the nursery level; and the "buried" part of the trunk produces more roots... sorta like planting a tomato seedling deeper. The worst thing for a Meyer is to have exposed roots. I don't know for sure about other "citrus", so give us more information and you will get better answers.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 9:25PM
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Personally, I find an attempt to hook up a person with information in two ways... first by relating what they do, then by allowing that perhaps a couple of other growers known to have more experience should be present to help give advice not at all an unintelligent answer. To say so may be considered obtuse.

The rules here do not mention being a multiple plant grower, nor an expert with lettered degree... just a gardener willing and/or able to generously share knowledge with a nice attitude.

In many ways, all plants are created a bit on the equal side... and in other ways, each type and variety has its own quirks... just as we each have our own growing environment to deal with when it comes to containerized plants.

I'll be the first to admit that citrus is not my area of expertise, but most folks would say that re-potting usually take place in spring, when growth is strong... or in the case of a plant terribly in need, to the point of going downhill toward the plant graveyard, perhaps a look at the root structure now would not hurt, and may save the plant... so, "when" is dependent upon a few variables.

I say say let's allow for some answers and good advice from persons known to be knowledgeable and successful with trees, such as Al and Josh, which is not at all an unintelligent answer.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 5:36AM
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Wow - Jodik, I can honestly say I have absolutely no idea what your point is, other than you seem to think I don't want responses from anyone except Mike. That simply is not the case, I just mentioned him in the title since I referenced his latest batch of photos. Add to that I am growing indoors, in containers, and Mike seems to have a grasp of how to do that sucessfully in colder climates. I'm sure there are many others who are equally successful, but as a new poster on this forum I have not had the pleasure of meeting them yet.

John, thanks so much for pointing out that I did say "citrus" in the title, I had no idea that different varieties may require different planting depths. Thank you for that helpful piece of advice. Obviously I have a lot to learn, but I do appreciate your drawing parallels to how some trees will put out additional roots like a tomato - I think that is something almost all of us can relate to! LOL! That said, it is my Limequat rescue from Lowe's last year that I am concerned about.... I gently pushed a little potting mix aside and it seems the roots of the little tree are really deep. Inlight of what you said about the supplemental roots, I am presuming it is not only okay to leave it, but would be potentially beneficial to the tree. Thanks again, that helps a lot!


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 5:55AM
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I don't have any experience with limequat; but I do want to clarify about more roots from deeper planting... to my knowledge that only occurs with quite young trees; I don't think it would apply to older trees. The most important thing is to be sure to keep the bud union at least a few inches above the soil line.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 10:54AM
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Caliloo: Welcome by the way!

I can tell you that coomenst you misinterpeted from Jodik were not directed at you at all, and in no way reflects that you asked specifically for me...Trust me:-)
We all ask for specific people all the time here, and, I just did at the container forum.:-)

You can ask for me anytime, and I will do what ever it takes for you to succeed, even if I have to draft a few friends to help. Jodik was not referring to you specifically asking for me.

Anyhow, the suggestion she gave after doing from investigative work is in total agreement with many pro's here, and in the way with which I care for my trees.

When I know my trees are in jeapordy, usually due to a poor soil mix, I will repot no matter what time of the year it is.
As for a repot I can hold off, I follow protocal and do it in spring when growth is strong as Jodik explains.

She and a few others whom frequent the container forums have been dispensing great advice with growing in the within the confines of a container, that is where I started to be successful with my trees, and that is why I sent an e-mail to her and a few others to help you.
My tongue was tied, but she worded what I would of said perfectly!

John, you came across rude to a few people I know, but I know that was not your intent:-)
At least Alexa didn't see that and someone else took the heat defending her request for help:-0)



    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 12:24PM
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Thanks again for all the additional advice - I do appreciate all of it!


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 1:26PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Alexa, you may be interested in knowing that the commonly accepted best practice for planting all woody plants (in the ground or in pots) is to expose the root flare and/or root collar. I'll add that I have never heard about Meyer lemons being an exception to the rule.

There is a tendency for untrained nursery workers to cover a root ball with handfuls of soil. I've seen it with tropicals as well as woody nursery stock. Container grown plants shouldn't have their roots buried any more than field grown plants. They might think that it makes a plant more sturdy, who knows?

Good for you for noticing that something might be awry. I'm attaching a link to a thread from not too long ago. The images might help!

Here is a link that might be useful: click here to see

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 3:22PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Neither can I think of a single physiological reason the root flare shouldn't be exposed. Obviously these roots serve only as primary anchoring roots and conductive plumbing, neither of which would be compromised if the basal flare was exposed.

Actually, you can grow perfectly healthy plants with the basal flare a foot or more above the soil, if you like that particular look. There are several bonsai 'styles' (root over rock, exposed roots, serpentine .....) that require significant fractions of the roots to be exposed.


These are plants being developed as future bonsai. I'm not showing them because I think they're appealing to the eye, only to illustrate how much root can easily be exposed. Genus/species matters little, and you could do the same thing w/o the rock if you chose to.

Take good care, guys!


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 4:48PM
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Oh Rhizo - yep, clear as mud now LOL! Actually, I decided to repot the Limequat anyway and fount that the root stock had indeed sent out roots above the original root flare, so now I'm really confused. Add to that when I started to tease the roots our of the original pot bound shape, I discovered that it had probably been planted in peat or coir or some other fiberous mass and it was sodden in the middle. I did not see any signs of rot (am I under a lucky star or what?) so I just carefully removed as much of the soggy mess that I could and reset it in a loose sandy mix. We'll see if I killed it or not - but I'm sure it wouldn't have been happy for much longer in the existing conditions.

I ended up setting it so that the new roots above the flare are right at the soils line, are there any thoughts that I should root prune those and set the tree even higher? You can see the soil line was about 2 inches up the trunk from where it is now.

Pics for those who are interested:

And BONUS! My Meyer Lemon graced me with the first two blooms of the season :-) It has been in a holding pattern all winter!

And just to show that spring has come early to eastern PA - Hellebores have been blooming since the first of Feb

And their seeds have sprouted under the priimroses

Sorry for going off topic, but it was 70 here today and I jsut can't help myself


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 5:01PM
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Al - those are amazingly cool, even if it isn't exactly what I was going for! And I apologize for my blurry pics, seriously low battery.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 5:04PM
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Caliloo, please understand that my post was in no way directed at you, but rather at the other poster who appeared, by context of his post and comprehension thereof, to be slighting Mike for his response... as though Mike's reply were unintelligent. I felt Mike's response was well in order, and helpful in more than one way... first, by giving you his own opinion and sharing knowledge, but also calling in the more knowledgeable troops for help. I am sorry if you misread my intent.

I'm sure Mike can explain, should you require further information.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 6:51PM
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Caliloo! Here is a few pictures just for you:-)

I LOVE it when the Basal Flares show! That is what my plan is for all my citrus thanks to Tapla!

Jodik, any that know you well know exctly what you meant. Thanks for all you do for me here and at teh container forms along with Rhizo, a WONDERFUL bunch of reliable info, and Tapla/Al, always my mentor, and the many others who have made it possible for me to help others.

There are times when I choose not to go outside my boundries and still defer to people like you guys for extra info in which I too need reminders of! Thank you for coming here:-)

Caliloo, I hope your trees do as well as they look for a long time to come, and I hope these wonderful friends of mine were able to give you a helping hand. They did for men and they continue to do so.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 7:49PM
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ictures are great - commentary is wonderful! Thank you all for being so helpful.

However.... you haven't answered my question about pruning the roots that grew above the original root flare on my Limequat. I repotted today, so it would not be so bad if I uprooted again tomorrow to fix the problem. Should I root prune the root growth above the original root flare and repot higher or leave it to re-establish at this depth?

Thanks again so much for all the responses! I really do appreciate it.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 8:41PM
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Alexa, before you do anything, I would privately e-mail Al or Rhizo and ask them so they will help you as quick as possible. Both have been very instrumental with my trees.

If it were my tree, I would trim off those that sit above and raise my tree, but I don't want to give bad advice. I tend to do what i think works and it usually does, but that does not make it something I would suggest others do, unless I am sure of how it affects your tree. The pro's would know this one.

I can't wait to see what you do:-)


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 9:53PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Alexa, it 'appears' that you have a sucker arising from the root stock, below the graft. If so, that should be removed immediately and any others that may crop up periodically need to clipped, as well.

The ONLY growth that you should encourage will emerge from well above that graft.

Please get remove those tight ties around the stem of your plant. EEK, whenever I see that, it makes my throat hurt. Quite literally, tight wraps like that can strangle a young woody plant.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 10:37PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

John's comment wasn't disparaging Mike's advice at all.
John was simply saying, A more specific question nets a more specific answer.

Regardless, all the bases have been covered. Welcome to the Forum, Alexa.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 2:21PM
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Thansk again for all the added info. I have removed the blue plastic thingies, they were used to tie the little tree to the dowel. All are gone now. And, I did remove the root sucker and raise the tree so the basal flare is right at the soils line. The tree is now another couple of inches taller since the flare was at least 1.5 inches below the sucker. With all the messing around I am doing with this tree I don't have much hope that it will live, but it is certainly good practice for me to learn on. Plus, it wasn't expensive, it was on the clearance rack at lowe's las summer and I picked it up for $5.\

Thanks again everyone - I really do appreciate all the advice from all the responders.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 8:28AM
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