A few citrus basics.

mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)May 6, 2013


First off Please dont reply to this topic. Gardenweb doesnt have the ability to "sticky" a topic so in order for this post to stay up top where anyone and everyone can see it easily this must be the only reply. Unfortunately because of that you wont be able to post and tell me how Awesome I am :), but on the other hand you wont be able to tell me how Awful this is too, haha. If you dont find the answer to your questions here, please feel free to make a new topic so we can help you out further!

I started this to sort of have an FAQ topic of the most common items we see posted here. There is a dedicated FAQ section but it seems to be lacking a bit. It can be found at the top of the 1st page of this forum if you would like to check it out.
I am far from an expert in growing citrus and my experience is solely with container plants so my inground knowledge is not that great. There are several members here who live in the Citrus growing areas and they will be more than happy to help out.
Obviously there is a lot more to growing citrus but here I will highlight what seems to be the most common issues and questions asked here.

Soil & Watering
This is a big issue when it comes to citrus. The soil in your container, and for that matter the ground as well needs to be very well draining. Your trees roots do not like to be soaking wet, but they also dont like to be bone dry either. There are 1000's of ways to accomplish this and 1000's of recipes here and on the web. For the most part typical "potting soil" from the Store is not very friendly to your tree. A couple great resources to learn about soils are Garden Web's Container Forum and specifically this topic within that forum Container soils-Water Movement and Retention.

Without happy feet you get nothing to eat!!


If you are growing in a container it is probably because you need to be able to protect your tree when it gets cold. Now the sun is outside and your tree is inside. Well how do we solve the light problem. Ideally your tree wants 6 hours or more of bright sunshine per day, preferable more since the angle of the sun is lower. How do we do that. If you dont have a sunny window or greenhouse then you need to resort to some artificial lights. Once again there are 1000's of ways to achieve this so I will direct you to this forum that is dedicated to just that, Growing with lights Light and temperatures go hand in hand so read below on how both affect each other and how to get your tree ready for its winter home.

If it is not very bright your tree wont look right!


fertilizer is probably one of, if not the most debated, diagnosed, tested, blamed, scheduled and argued topics when it comes to citrus and really any plants. I can say this for sure, your tree is hungry! They love food just like we do. However too much is just as bad as not enough. You want to provide a good product that gives your tree the 3 majors and all the minors. Be sure the product contains Magnesium(Mg) and Calcium (Ca). A lot of products that claim they have minors dont have these 2 so look closely. Epsom salt and Gypsum are a common way to add these 2. Once again I will direct you to the container forum and this post specifically for more great information.
Fertilizing Containerized plants
A forum favorite is Foliage Pro by Dyna gro because it has everything our trees like in great ratios.

Feed me Seymour!!

Pest and Disease
We really need to treat this topic on a case by case basis. Pictures are almost a must for us to ID and diagnose a problem. However for the most part pests like spider mites can be controlled with most any kind of horticultural oils and some even has success with using home made sprays or even diluted fish emulsion. Sorry I dont have a source for you to go to on this one. Just post up a photo and we will help you out.

Bugs gotta eat too, right?

Ok so this comes up a ton here. How warm should my tree be?

Im going to focus on growing indoors specifically because outdoors is fairly straight forward...dont let them freeze! With the exception to a growing population of cold hardy trees that can see some pretty cold temperatures you are most likely growing one that cannot see temperatures below freezing. For the most part if you area is starting to get or is still having temperatures in the low 40's (Fahrenheit) its probably best to start thinking about protection. It is also best if we make this transition slowly by using shade to reduce the light gradually. 2 weeks part shade, 2 weeks full shade, then inside. Reverse this process in spring. Keep that in mind when Fall approaches. You may want to start adjusting a month in advance of the cold. Unless you are going into a greenhouse or something very similar to the conditions the tree is coming from, the environmental change can shock your tree and cause some issues. Yellowing or even loss of the leaves is the most common.

Winter leaf drop is very common in citrus that are brought indoors to overwinter. What happens is you place your tree by a sunny window, which is what you are supposed to do, but all of the sudden the leaves drop.

Why is that? Well what happens is the roots arent active enough to send water up and cool the leaf surface when the blazing sun hits them so the tree just sheds the leaves.
How do you stop that? Easy. Warm the roots. To keep it simple just figure out how you can get the roots above 55 degrees F, heat mats, lights, warmer ambient room temperatures, whatever it takes.

Now say your situation makes it hard to provide a good amount of light. You will need to keep your trees on the colder side. Your tree wont go into dormancy like a deciduous, but you will force it to slow way down and not grow which is what you dont want to happen if you can provide light.

Keeping it simple
If you provide high light, you need to have high temperatures
If you provide low light, you need to have low temperatures.

Fruit Dropping

So your tree has bloomed and set fruit, awesome right! But all of the sudden it starts to drop the tiny fruits, oh no! Dont worry this is completely normal for any age and size of tree. Assuming of course the tree is in pretty good shape. Your tree knows exactly how many fruits it can support and will shed the ones it cant. As it gets older and larger it will be able to support more. So dont worry it is just fine.

That's it for now. I hope this helps. And please if anyone would like to add to this please email me through GW mail service. Now that we can edit posts we can leave this one at the top if you want and Ill add to it. Ill be here all night, LOL.

Sorry this is more container grower focused. Its just what I do. In ground growers please email me if you would like to add some content and I will be more than happy to edit this.

Finally Like I said before. I am not a "Pro". I dont have a degree or even work in the citrus industry. I am just an average citrus hobbyist like most everyone who comes here. There is tons and tons of info on growing citrus out there. So much so that it can make your head spin. But I believe in one thing. Keep it simple.

Good drainage, lots of light, feed them well, and keep them warm. If you can do that you can grow a citrus.


This post was edited by mksmth on Wed, May 8, 13 at 9:17

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