I need an EASY way to fert citrus in container

ginjjMay 19, 2011

I bought a 15 gallon orange tree as a gift for a friend. Turns out she can't use it until next spring. I either have to babysit it, give it away or toss it out. I know bad idea to toss it out.

I much prefer to find an easy way to fertilize it for the next year but it has to be easy.

I read recently and am trying, putting a mix of iron sulfate, bone meal, 10-10-10 fertilizer and topping with chicken manure on all potted plants. Now that's easy.

I love the idea of the slow acting ingredients mentioned above; no trying to remember when I last put on a liquid fertilizer.

Please tell me I can do something simple like this.

Thanks!! Of course I already have all the citrus I can manage - 2.


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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

My first thought is, if you have all the citrus you can manage what is one more, LOL.

it will probably be fine with just a dose of a good fert now and maybe a few more times before next spring. It may not thrive but should be ok. Id use some controlled release like osomcote or something similiar also.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 5:46PM
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Hi Ginny,

I just came to this forum to lookup that old thread regarding your Trovita as I've had an interesting experience with mine. I found several old fruits on the tree yesterday (May 18th) and they tasted excellent. I'm wondering if you have eaten all your fruit yet or whether you left some on for late ripening.

RE this post: If it were mine until next Spring, I'd just go buy some Miracid aka Miracle Grow for Acid Loving Plants and use that twice a month through August. You put it in those Spray bottles that attach to your hose and water your other citrus containers and in-ground trees at the same time.

Osmocote slow release is also a good idea. Buy the Osmocote PLUS and be sure to apply *more* than what it recommends. Citrus are heavy feeders and it seems I need to put tons of pellets on mine to keep them fed OK.

The best for the plant is to buy Foliage Pro from Dyna-Grow and just hand-water that one tree every week or two with a little vinegar placed in the water pail to lower the pH. I recall your ground pH was already fairly low, so I'd guess you wouldn't need much vinegar, like maybe 1/2tsp per gallon.

I can't get over how healthy my trees using FP look.


    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 6:08PM
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You can use a 6-9 month slow release fertilizer. Each time you water the tree a little of the slow release fertilizer is released, providing nutrition to the tree. This way you will only need to actually apply fertilizer once or perhaps twice a year.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 6:44PM
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I'd need to find a slow release with micronutrients in it I'd imagine since I hear citrus really need micronutrients.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 7:11PM
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That would be Osmocote Plus, a 6 month controlled release (aka timed-release, slow-release), per the first two responses to your post. ;-)

Supposedly, the Osmocote (original) isn't the greatest at slow release, but it's very easy to find and has the micros you'll need, esp for a short-term tree in your hands. Calcium is even in there. Here's the label http://www.scotts.com/smg/products/osmocote/OsmocotePlusPlantFood.pdf

Here is a link that might be useful: Osmocote Plus

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 11:07PM
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You still need to provide a water soluable.

These slow releases are not reliable unless you keep the temps in your pots at near ideal conditions which does not happen here. I am not sure about you.
But a majority of the time, my pots sit in temps of less than warm enough coniditions to release the nutrients, or in too hot conditions come the summer to make them unavailable.

That is why I use a great all nutrient fertilizer at just about every watering and a slow release as a back up at certain times.

Osmocote Plus is awesome as Cebury stated.


    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 8:16AM
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Hi Ginny, I love that name by the way.

With slow release fertilizers, it is usually feast or famine and my trees/plants use to do horrible with this form of fertilizing.

Someone who knows fertilizers well will know what I mean and maybe explain. It has to do with the temps.


    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 8:24AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

There are plenty of granular citrus fertilizers available in small amounts. If you live in a citrus area, you can probably find products in a local garden center, maybe even a big box store. Such products will have the necessary minor elements AND (a big plus) a label with directions on the package!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 10:33AM
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Meyermike is correct about slow release fertilizers releasing their nutrients according to the temperature. The warmer the temperature, the grater the nutrient release, and accordingly, the cooler the temperature the lower the release of nutrients. This is exactly what makes them so valuable to the grower. In fact slow release fertilizers are the #-1 method of fertilizing container trees, including citrus trees. In volume no other type of fertilizer comes close. This is because just about 100 percent of all commercial nurseries fertilizer their container production using a 6 9 month slow release fertilizer. The benefit of a slow release fertilizer reacting to the temperature, is that during the spring and summer season, when the temperatures are optimum for tree growth, a slow release fertilizer releases a higher level of nutrition, just at the time when the tree's growth demands it. Then during the cooler fall and winter months when a tree still requires some nutrition, but because of the cooler temperatures, the nutrition is supplied at a reduced level, again just what a tree requires. It certainly is not "feast or famine", rather it is nutrition supplied according to the tree's need. Further, many growers use both a slow release fertilizer, and a water soluble fertilizer as their fertilizer program. Osmocote Pro is a very popular slow release fertilizer. Osmocote Prod contains the three macro nutrients nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, plus all 12 of of trace elements. You can find it at most Home Depot Store.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 6:00PM
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The one thing that's always confounded me regarding slow release fertilizers is... how can we be certain they're actually releasing food to our plants on an even semi-consistent basis? How do we know that what's available isn't washed out within a short amount of time, or that what's promised on the label is actually happening as it should?

Well, in my opinion, we can't be. Therefore, I'd rather use a liquid or soluble granular plant food that I can measure to the desired strength.

The results I've gotten in the past from using time release fertilizers is about what Mike says... feast or famine... judging by the plants and their growth process.

So, to be more accurate, I feed a weak solution on a regular basis, and I've had great results. Given that we all have different climates, environments, and other differing variables, results may vary. Each of us must use our best judgment, based on what we've learned and what our experiences tell us.

Me? I'm sticking with my liquid all-purpose plant food.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 11:00AM
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Keeping with the OP who needs 1)EASY way to fert citrus in container, and only temporarily, as to 2) fertilize it for the next year, when 3) I already have all the citrus I can manage: the answer sought was clearly "Grower Convenience" (as Al puts it).

Osmocote Plus fits that need perfectly.

Apply it once, then water the tree as needed until Spring. It should keep the tree healthy enough to be planted in the ground this coming Spring. If she wants, she can apply it again in late Jan.

I prefer Dynamite w/Nutricote/Florikan technology over Osmocote, but Osmocote Plus has Calcium and better fits the question asked.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 1:38PM
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I use the Dynamite all-purpose select fertilizer. It releases a 15-5-9 ratio of N-P-K and includes all necessary minors. My citrus seem to love it, and none have any evidence of nutritional deficiencies.


    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 10:12PM
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noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)

Did I harm my potted citrus trees by feeding them Miracid mixed 1 tablespoon/Gallon of water? I didn't put a whole gallon on each plant. I had watered them a couple of hours before I fed them. Now I'm really worried that I did the little trees harm.

I haven't fed them since I got them back in March. They each came with nursery-grade slow release fertilizer in the pots.

Thank you,


    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 11:00PM
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You folks are the greatest!! Thank you so much for your thoughts on this situation. I certainly have a lot to choose from.

I hope you all get answers to your questions on GardenWeb as I have over the years. GW is the absolute best place to ask for help from "friends."

Happy Spring!!


    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 11:53PM
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noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)

Good luck with the little orange tree, Ginny. :)


    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 2:36AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

A couple things to consider when using Slow Release fertilizers.
As noted, the amount of nutrients will vary depending upon temperature and moisture.

In freely-draining soils, such as I use, far more flushing occurs with each watering.
Because of this, the Slow Release seldom lasts as long as advertised. I actually prefer this.

For me, Slow Release acts as a safe-guard for when I lag providing liquid fertilization.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 11:50AM
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