Watering Requirements For Citrus Trees in Pots?

gardenathome(9B/10)March 19, 2010

Hi, we absolutely adore citrus fruits and managed to get some fruit trees this year. Our Meyer Lemon, Mexican Lime, and Washington Navel orange trees are still in their original 5 gallon? pots from the nursery. It's getting awfully hot here with temps in the upper 70s during the day. Would like to know how much to water these citrus trees so that they can be sure to be cared for properly. Thanks in advance, all! :-)

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Andrew Scott

Mike and I use long bamboo skewers. You take the sharp end and push it through to the bottom of the pot. Take it out and touch it to your skin. If you feel moisture then don't water. If the bamboo is skewer is dry, then water. This method is great so you don't over water and end up with root rot. If your temps are warming up like that(lucky you!) then you may end up watering every day or every other day but to be safe, check with a bamboo skewer or a sharpened pencil if it is long enough(probobly not though!)
Andrew

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 9:40PM
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gardenathome(9B/10)

Hi, Andrew78. Thank you so much! If it appears dry how much water should we put into each container? Sometimes it helps to use the water draining from the bottom as a gauge but with : 1) over dry pots where the soil is shrunken this may not be the best method 2) this method sometimes will drain necessary nutrients from the soil as well?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 9:57PM
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Andrew Scott

Each time I water I water until I see the water run out of the pot. I do it winter, spring, summer, fall, it does not matter if it is 110 degrees or 40 degrees. There are roots at the bottom of the pot and if the water does not get to them then you are stressing those roots and they may die along with the tree. The fertilizer will inevitably run out of the pot, but remember, if you are fertilizing right, then you should be using fertilizer daily or at least at every 3rd watering. I think fertilizing constantly is a good idea. These are not decidous trees. They grow constsntly. Even if you don't see new leaves, branches or flower buds, does not mean the roots are not growing. Some people here will think I am crazy for saying that, and some will say that you should not feed during the winter. My keylime bloomed at least 5 times from the time I brought it in when fall started and temps went below freezing, to now. I know I would not have had my keylime bloom and set fruit if I didn't fertilize it and water the way I told you too.
Andrew

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 10:33PM
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gardenathome(9B/10)

Hi, Andrew78! I wish our lime tree would bloom like crazy like that! Thanks for your time and helpful tips!!! :-)

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 9:36AM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Watering to the point of draining out is a must. If you water in sips, the salts from the fertilizers you use accumulated over time in your containers will kill your plants faster than you can blink an eye if you do not flush them out at each watering..

If you have a soilless mix that does not flush out the salt residue, allow for good gas exchange, that does not compact at this moment, then I would change it sooner than later with a good mix that drains freely.

It is almost impossible to kill you plants from over watering once outside in long hours of light, from salt accumulations, and from compaction.....

This tells me your mix is not good..:-(

)" over dry pots where the soil is shrunken this may not be the best method 2) this method sometimes will drain necessary nutrients from the soil as well?"

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 9:57AM
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Andrew Scott

The over dry pots will have nothing to do with the nutrients. You wont lose them from the water running out. It doesn't work that way, so don't even worry about it. Your lime would bloom like mine if the soil was changed out to a fast draining soil and you watered and fed your tree regularly.
Andrew

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 12:44PM
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gardenathome(9B/10)

Thank you! We've seen plants in very dry soil before. So dry, that the shrunken soil mass is very noticeable in the pot. Hence, we were wondering, if in that instance, how would we determine how much water that plant would need. Wouldn't the water drain a lot faster in that scenario? Subsequently, will that make it more difficult to use the "water draining out from the bottom" method to gauge how much water to give the plant?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 10:20PM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

In that instance, you can water until the cows come home, and your plants will still die of thirst...That is of course unless you sink your pots in a sink for a period of time..

Mike..:-)

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 10:44PM
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Andrew Scott

I agree 100% with Mike on this one. Also, I would never let a citrus dry out like that. Maybe appropriate for some plants like cacti. If you have that happen, I would run water in the pot for a few minutes, then wait maybe 5 minutes and repeat until the soil is softened and not rock hard and cracking. Also important to say, If the soil gets hard like that, you need to change it. That kind of soil wont provide the good drainage the tree needs. Al's mix and even the mix in the pot that I bought from a greenhouse is mixed with bark and other additives that keep the soil more friable and loose. If I didn't water mine for a week the soil would still be nice and friable. Very important for the trees survival.
Andrew

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 10:54PM
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gardenathome(9B/10)

Hi, Meyermike & Andrew78! Thank you both for such great tips! Will apply and hope our citrus trees will all bear fruit soon! :-)

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 11:26PM
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tsmith2579(7B)

If your soil has shrunken to the point that water runs through it, it isn't soil. I hate those mixes new plants come in. I suggest that you find a good sandy-loam and repot. The sandy-loam will hold moisture and drain well. During warm weather, I water almost every day. During the winter, when the plants are in the greenhouse, I water very well every week. The key is having soil that will hold the moisture but drains the excess.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 12:10AM
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