Canadian Growing Citrus in California

SacramentoCanuck(9)June 8, 2013

Hello! I have lurked on this forum for several months now and have found a lot of useful information; thank you! I am from Vancouver Canada and recently purchased a home near Sacramento California. My mother-in-law has a lemon in her backyard and I decided from the moment I saw it there that I would have citrus all around my new home.

I have two blood oranges (Moro and Sanguinelli), a Mexican key lime, a Meiwa kumquat, a calamondin, a new honey mandarin (rescued from HD), a pink variegated lemon, and an improved Meyer lemon.

All of my plants are in containers with the exception of the IML.

The moro, lime, and Sanguinelli are in half Jack Daniels whiskey barrels. Been in their location for over a year (against back of house, facing south west). The soil is potting soil from Green Acres Nursery. To determine when to water the barrels, I use a water meter that rates from 1 (dry) to 4 (wet). I try to keep it between 2-3. This is the first year that both oranges have produced fruit and kept any, so I am very excited.

I read on here that everyone loves Foliage Pro so I ordered some online a month ago. I am using 1 tsp per gallon a week, sometimes twice in the week. This is the only fertilizer I have been using. Before I gave them FP, I fed them in March with the EB Stone Organic Citrus and Fruit Feed per instruction.

Our weather in the last 2 days has gone from high 80s/low 90s to 105+.

I want the very best for these plants. I truly value the resource this forum has afforded me.

My moro is droopy, yellowing, and has leaf drop (shown in pics). It was watered with FP on Thursday night. It has a dozen or so fruit that are over an inch in diameter. It is almost 5 feet tall and its trunk is 1.5 inches wide. I didn't water yesterday and just checked its water per the meter and its a 1. I am going to water shortly. Would you recommend using FP for this watering? I water about 2 gallons of water.

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SacramentoCanuck(9)

Here is a close-up of yellowing leaves.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 4:31PM
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SacramentoCanuck(9)

Here is the Sanguinelli. This one was also watered last on Thursday with FP. Per water meter also shows 1. Tons of leaf curl on this guy. Lots of fruit too. About three feet tall and the trunk is one inch wide.

This post was edited by SacramentoCanuck on Sat, Jun 8, 13 at 17:08

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 4:36PM
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SacramentoCanuck(9)

Close up of leaves.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 4:40PM
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SacramentoCanuck(9)

This is a honey mandarin I rescued from Home Depot on Thursday night. I watered it with FP that night and also sprayed the leaves a bit with it. I believe this is a nitrogen deficiency because the older leaves are yellower than the newer ones? They have deep, green veins.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 4:54PM
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SacramentoCanuck(9)

This one really upsets me. My IML. It's in ground on a sloped area. The soil dries out quickly but it is dense. It had a ton of flowers and small fruit and I picked all but two because it looked so sad. It is hand watered because I have to convert sprinkler next to it to a drip. It is not sprayed by the sprinkler. I think I planted too deep so I created a well. It has lost a lot of leaves. It went in ground I think in March.

This post was edited by SacramentoCanuck on Sat, Jun 8, 13 at 17:36

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 5:06PM
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SacramentoCanuck(9)

And this is my Mexican lime (house warming present from the in-laws and first citrus). Unfortunately, the Moro exploded in growth so it is being squeezed a bit by it. I plan to move it across the yard, up against the fence facing NW. This guy did poorly at the beginning and was mostly bald for 9 months. It exploded with flush and flowers this spring. It didn't get any fruit sadly, but the growth makes me optimistic for fruit in the future. I heard that limes are like IMLs and can flower twice a year? I am mostly pleased with it but it, too, has some yellowing and leaf curl. Per the water meter, it's a 2. Today it is VERY wilted but I think this is due to heat. The wilted part is soft and floppy.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 5:33PM
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johnmerr(11)

It is not planted too deep; it looks to be lacking in water and food. For an inground Meyer I would go back to the fertilizer you were using before FP; and fertilize it 3 to 4 times per year, applying the fertilizer at the drip line of the canopy, where the feeder roots are growing.

Your tree may also be suffering from transplant shock; so give it a little time to recover. The IML and your other citrus as well are also suffering from the heat; and will need watering more frequently at those temps, especially with the rather terrible clay soil of Sacramento.

You might check in with Josh (greenman here); he lives in the hills near Sacramento.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 5:33PM
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SacramentoCanuck(9)

Johnmerr, thank you for the response. I was hoping you'd provide some insight because of the wealth of knowledge you have with all your IMLs (the pics you post from Guatemala are amazing). It was your posts that inspired me to get an IML, so I appreciate it.

Since this is my only in ground citrus, it's hard for me to gauge how much to water. Any suggestions? I water slow enough that the well I created only keeps standing water for a couple seconds before soaking up.

I have seen Josh's posts too (read every post in his Moro thread - awaiting an update), so I hope he sees this and gives insight too. I don't think that I can go the way of the gritty mix, so our watering/fertilizing methods will probably have to differ slightly.

Here is another pic of my Mexican lime. See the trunk base? I can stick my fingers under it. The roots kind of arches. Then a part goes straight underground! Normal? Nothing to be concerned with?

Also, the pics show a soaker hose in the barrels. I was using these, but I find it hard to determine if the plants are getting enough water, so I think I will go back to hand watering.

This post was edited by SacramentoCanuck on Sat, Jun 8, 13 at 17:50

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 5:48PM
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johnmerr(11)

If you are using a well for watering, make sure the well is at least as wide as the leaf canopy; and water it enough at least once a week (more in the Sacramento Summer) to wet the soil to a depth of 18 inches or more.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 5:54PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hello! I happened to be in Sacramento yesterday for the 108F record :-) It was miserably hot. Went for a calamari sandwich at Fin's just to cool off.

To determine the moisture level in the barrels, use a wooden dowel or skewer. Just poke it down deep, leave it, then pull it to see if the wood is still wet. I can't tell if the trees are deficient from lack of nutrients or from over-watering.

Green Acres is a fantastic nursery, but you might consider lightening that mix with a considerable fraction of coarse Perlite. Heavy, peaty, water-retentive mixes aren't a problem during the Summer...it's the cold, wet months of Winter when the drainage properties of a mix really show their worth.

Josh

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 6:19PM
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johnmerr(11)

Sacramento Canuck... now you have the connection and advice of the local expert, Greenman... that is the beautiful thing about this forum... no matter where you are, you can find a local expert.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 6:28PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

That's nice of you to say, John, but I'm no expert ;-)
The good thing is that citrus practically grow themselves in Sacramento...citrus everywhere, full of fruit, and hardly anyone is fertilizing (or even thinking of fertilizing).

Josh

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 3:05AM
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SacramentoCanuck(9)

Thanks for the suggestions, Josh. Sorry to hear you had to endure the heat! Broke lots of records, too, I heard :) Fins is yummy.

Since the three citrus are pretty established in the barrels, how would you recommend adding the Perlite to the mix?

Johnmerr, I've been giving my IML a good, deep soaking and it has picked up again. The heat now being in the 80s probably doesn't hurt, either :)

I'm still stumped about the yellowing leaves. The veins are not green and it seems to affect the older leaves first. Does anyone have any thoughts? I'm going to get some skewers to see how wet it is deeper in the barrels, but I'm
not convinced it is an overwatering issue.

As for the honey mandarin, what's the best regime I can do for it now? I want to get the colour back in the leaves before I transplant.

Thanks for everyone's input!

This post was edited by SacramentoCanuck on Wed, Jun 12, 13 at 9:54

    Bookmark   June 11, 2013 at 1:58PM
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johnmerr(11)

The most common cause of yellowing older leaves on Meyers is a lack of food. The sucks the nutrients out of the older leaves to use for making fruit/flowers/and new leaves.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2013 at 2:15PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

The yellowing is, as John says, most likely a lack of nutrients. This could be an actual deficiency....or simply an over-watering issue, which impairs a plant's ability to take up certain nutrients.

The mix is not something I would use - so my advice is either lighten it considerably with coarse Perlite or change it enitrely. Too late in the season now, in my opinion. Next Spring, between growth flushes, I'd lift the root-ball out, re-do the mix, partially bare-root the tree, and then set it right back into the barrel.

But before you do anything (other than keep up with fertilization), employ the dowel/skewer so you can see how wet the mix is in the lower layer of the barrel.

Josh

    Bookmark   June 11, 2013 at 2:29PM
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molewacker z9b Napa CA (No.SFBay)(9b Danville E(SF)Bay CA)

Sacramento Canuck - I think there is some terrific advice in replies to your post! I am very interested in what your final determination is for the cause / issues; - for all the varieties. Please keep us updated with your progress and their recovery.

I have been battling very similar looking symptoms and best guess for my issue is root damage. ...for multiple reasons including too much water and type of soil / location. I've got citrus in containers and in the ground, and in a variety of conditions: flat, slope, sandy and heavy clay.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2013 at 8:09PM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

Just want to add that when we get temps like what you are having watering for me is usually twice daily. My kumquat has a funky root like that too. been that way for years with no I'll effect.

Mike

This post was edited by mksmth on Tue, Jun 11, 13 at 21:31

    Bookmark   June 11, 2013 at 9:30PM
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SacramentoCanuck(9)

Thank you all for your kind messages!

I am going to stick some skewers in the barrels and monitor watering that way. I just gave them all some slow release food and I am giving the honey mandarine FP. I think I will follow Josh's advice and pull the barrel citrus out and change/amend the soil in Spring. I think I'll do some root pruning then, as well. For now, I will monitor the water and keep up with feeding. I will keep everyone posted!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 10:02AM
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CalamondinKid(5)

Hey Canuck Josh,

I was taught by MeyerMike on how to check for water. I just keep the stick handy, push it in and pull it out when I want to check. If it comes out wet, add no water. If dry, go ahead and add some water. Sandy/gravel soil, giving maximum drainage seems to work best. Best of luck.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 4:41PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Mike and I are well-acquainted, Calamondin.
Infact, Mike is the fellow who got me into Citrus. I find that I don't get a good moisture reading if I just stick the skewer in and pull it out. I prefer to leave the skewers in any containers that I'm monitoring, so that I can check at a glance.

Any update on the trees?

Josh

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 11:47PM
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SacramentoCanuck(9)

Hi CalamondinKid! Thanks for the reply. I keep dowels in the large barrels now and have skewers for the smaller plants. I believe that I read I should water when the stick is nearly dry (but not bone dry). Is this correct?

Josh, my citrus are doing better. Thanks for asking! We got a fair amount of rain today, which had been on the forecast, so I didn't water today even though I could have in anticipation of the weather. My leaves look lovely today :)

I think a the leaves that we're a paler green have gotten darker. The yellow ones are hopeless. The leaves on the blood oranges aren't quite as curled. My kumquat was in full bloom last week and now has tons of tiny fruit. The biggest improvement is my IML. No new flush, bit darker green than before and perked up. I used the slow release fertilizer and made a larger well, as Johnmerr had advised.

My honey mandarine has a large new shoot which is a healthy pale green now. I just can't get the other leaves to darken. I repotted so I can't fertilize again for a week and a half or so.

Had a lot of pics but when I upload, GW previews properly but posts wrong.

This post was edited by SacramentoCanuck on Tue, Jun 25, 13 at 9:51

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 11:08PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey!
I'm sitting next to an open window listening to the rain beat the wisteria leaves and gurgle down the drain-spouts. It's been a gentle, day-long soaking...perfect for hydrating container plants.

I'm glad to hear that the trees are improving! For some reason, the pics aren't showing up...but I'm sure they're great.

Josh

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 1:58AM
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SacramentoCanuck(9)

Let's see if this will work.

Kumquats

Moro

Sanguinelli

Mexican key lime

IML

Pink Variegated Lemon

Honey mandarin (advice?)

This post was edited by SacramentoCanuck on Tue, Jun 25, 13 at 10:01

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 9:54AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

The pics work now, and I can visibly see the improvement!
I notice that the root-flare is especially high on the variegated lemon (one of my favorite Citrus) and the Honey mandarin. I'd recommend covering those roots for the Summer...either a touch more potting mix, or perhaps just a very light small bark. After mulching, just pull away any bark pieces that are touching the trunk directly.

As far as I can tell, the more yellowy plants just need to settle into their pots and receive regular fertilization.

The rain continues with temps right at 60F.

Josh

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 11:44AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Okay, Canuck, very nice. Now, with the terra cotta - that plus your well draining mix may end up with some VERY dry roots come the heat of the summer, so, those pots are going to need more water and more paying attention to. Agree with Josh on the root flare - a wee bit too much showing, so just toss a bit more soil on them to protect them. A little showing as the tree matures is actually a good thing. But with brand new roots exposed to the elements, probably best to cover them up. Again, "what Josh says", a little more fertilizer, lots of good California sunshine, and you'll be enjoying citrus very soon! I especially love the Honey mandarin, btw, one of my favorites.

Patty S.
(who also lived in Canada - Vancouver growing up as a kid)

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 6:26PM
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SacramentoCanuck(9)

Thanks Josh and Patty. I followed your advice and added more potting soil to cover up the root flare. Patty, thanks for the tip about the terra cotta planters. I will definitely keep that in mind as we are, again, on the verge of 100+ temps this weekend into next week.

I do have a feeding question. I use FP on all my plants once a week, since April. I use one tsp per gallon. Should I also use the E.B. stone citrus slow release food?

Patty, I'm happy to hear you know Vancouver. I absolutely love that city and feel blessed to have grown up there. That's part of the reason I am obsessed with my citrus - I would never have been able to grow them up there and feel like it would be a waste to not take advantage of the wonderful growing environment I have here.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 4:54PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

It wouldn't hurt to add a slow release, Canuck. I do, I use Osmocote Plus on top of watering in FP. I don't use FP with every watering, just because I don't always have time to mix it up, but many of us, especially in the summer, use a time release product as well. And I agree, so nice to take advantage of our wonderful California weather! I do love Vancouver, grew up off and on there all my young life. My entire family is from Canada, but I was born in California. Beautiful place, I especially love Vancouver Island, Victoria, and one of my most favorite places to go as a kid was Queen Elizabeth Park, especially when the roses were in bloom.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 6:30PM
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SacramentoCanuck(9)

Patty, Victoria is beautiful. I want to have high tea at the Empress Hotel one day. It's nice to know someone on here that shares my love for Vancouver :) Happy Canada Day!

Sacramento heat has been ridiculous. 100+ weather since Thursday. I have been watering everything 2-3 times a day. Supposed to be 110+ for the next 3 days and then 99 Friday. I have umbrellas over my recently transplanted pink lemon and honey mandarine because they would wilt all day long. The mandarine has new flush that I am trying to protect.

It's hot hot hot!

How are you doing, Josh?

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 12:52PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Howdy!

Up here, we enjoyed 108F and 106F temps on Saturday and Sunday respectively. I was working a fruit and veggie stand both days...but at least I had shade set-up. I heard that Sacramento was 112F on Saturday...glad I wasn't down there!

Josh

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 2:09PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Ah, Happy Canada Day today for all our Canadian forum members! And yes, it's been super hot even down here. In the 90's for us, and I'm only 7 miles from the ocean. Ugh. But, lots of nice flush for my citrus trees, they're loving it.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 9:43PM
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Steve, Micro (6B ground, 5B roof)

break out the down comforters here in cincinnati for one cold year.

SacramentoCanuck Nice whiskey half barrels

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 10:19PM
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SacramentoCanuck(9)

Josh, did I read that you're in Auburn? I went to Eisley a few months ago. Cute nursery. Had a lot of citrus. I want to check it out again this summer.

Today my car read 111. And the weather isn't even at its peak yet :(

Patty, what's the humidity like for you there?

Steve, thanks! They are authentic Jack Whiskey barrels! They smelled amazing!

I got them at OSH last year. Is OSH a statewide (or even nationwide) store? They are going out of business here.... I went there yesterday because I want a grapefruit to add to my collection (and then I think I'm done). No luck.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 11:58PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

You read that right!

I'm up here in Auburn...well, I work in Auburn. I actually live outside of Auburn, half-way to Grass Valley off of highway 49...if you're familiar with Gold Country.

Eisley's is where I do most of my garden shopping. They carry a great selection of Four Winds citrus. By the way, Four Winds is right down the road from you in Davis, so if you want a grapefruit, go to the source! ;-)

Eisley's also stocks Greenall Micro Bark, the base of my bark mixes.

Josh

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 12:21AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

The humidity has been high - in the 90% range in the morning, dropping to about 50% in the afternoon. We're getting that monsoonal moisture being pumped up from the Gulf of Mexico with this high pressure, and are having some pop up storms in the deserts and mountains. A little early in the season for this monsoon weather, we usually see this in August. The heat alert is being lifted, though, as we're having temps drop back down slowly over the next 7 to 10 days, back into the high 70's, which is much more normal for us this time of year. Ugh.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 12:53AM
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SacramentoCanuck(9)

Josh, awesome! I may have to make a trip to FWG. I didn't know they were so close. :)

Patty, yuck. In the nineties with 90% humidity is a heavy, sticky mess. The air feels thick to breathe. I don't miss that about those rare hot days in Vancouver. At least here, the heat is dry :)

I noticed in addition to my honey mandarine pushing new flush, so are my key lime and Sanguinelli. Nothing new in the Moro, though. How often can I expect them to flush? I wish I had a table for each variety to help me prepare for the growing cycles. I am thinking of keeping a citrus journal. I feel so protective over the new flush. Especially with this heat.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 1:09AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hello!

My Moro, Meyer, and Pomelo are starting a new flush right now. It shouldn't be long for your Moro to start, too.

Josh

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 3:24PM
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