No matter how you look at it, it's impossible!

meyermike_1micha(5)August 13, 2014

Impossible, or at least almost impossible to keep our trees looking as good and fruit laden as our friends in much warmer climates....

So, stop trying to make them look like our good friends that grow them where these trees belong.
They belong south of me for sure in places like Florida, California, Texas, Guatemala and other states that get at least heat and lots of sun, something lacking here no matter how you cut it.. Hello all you southern folks!

But take heart us northern folks, you can keep them healthy and thriving if you apply principles that defy all odds...
There are many here such as Brian, TMC and others that grow them very well in pots despite location and I am proud of them.

If I personally get at least 4 days of 90 per summer, I am lucky.
If I get any heat that lasts more than a month I am lucky.
If I get strong sunshine more than three months a year, I am lucky.
If I get more than three months in which I can leave my trees outside, I am lucky.

If I can keep my tree green, healthy, fruiting, flowering, full and growing, I am real lucky!

How do you feel about your location and your attempts to grow your citrus trees?

Some principles to defy odds.I use a great soilless mix, fertilize, give as much sunlight as possible, and keep them all on the shorter side..What do you do to be successful?

As for my Desert Roses and Plumeria, all in the trash..Now they are


This post was edited by meyermike_1micha on Wed, Aug 13, 14 at 9:35

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RyanLo(NC 7B)

One word Mike. GREENHOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 10:26AM
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For better or worse, here's what I do with mine...

I keep them outside in full, unobstructed, southern exposure from early April till November (it is against a building with a bit if an overhang so it tends to be hotter, then there's all that blacktop).

I use soil (not any gritty mixes)

I use the slow release CitrusTone fertilizer, very occasional supplemented with some MiracleGro for acid loving plants.

I keep them well watered in the growing season

They overwinter at January-February temps from a high of 60-65 to a low of 35 F, under humid conditions. I keep them on the dry side in Winter and do not fertilize.


I currently have fruit but some are still recouping from insect issues once they moved outside in the Spring (leaf chewing, aphids, scale). Don't usually have this problem and normally there would be more fruit. Keep in mind, even under ideal circumstances, Citrus are vulnerable to bug issues. (Isn't there a current issue in Florida regarding their health?) Otherwise, has not been bad weather for Citrus this growing season, though January and February could have been more normal.

I might add, I do find that with Citrus that sometimes less is more. They may go through periods of inactivity in which they appear to sulk, and suddenly they will head into a growth and/flowering spurt. So maybe add a bit of tough love and patience to the above list. Regards.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 12:02PM
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Nope, no matter how you cut it, a greenhouse will never compare to the heat and long hours of sunshine like the south! The south is where these guys thrive the best...
But I must admit, a greenhouse will get you ahead of those who have to subject theirs to just indoors and artificial lights for 6
Besides, you you are one of those southern states...

Njosasis..You do a great job with yours despit being far up north..Great ideas from you as always and keep that ste-up at the ready..I have a feeling it's going to be a VERY early cold spell...
By the way, for those of us with trees, we are even screwed further...Unless I stick mine on the roof, I will only get about 6 hours of sun at any given location in my yard, and that is only up until the beginning of September!


    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 1:25PM
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I often tell new-to-tropical fruit gardeners that you cannot expect flavor and appearance to be the same as the tropics. You might be able to keep the plant alive and you might be able to coax it to fruit and that fruit might taste wonderful; but very few plants will behave the same as they do in the home zone.

The natural light in any season is different than the light around the equator. It isn't just the temperature. I have plenty of tropical fruiting plants that look great here in zone 7 but those plants don't know what to do with the long days of summer and the wimpy light of winter- even when kept warm in a greenhouse. Down there the days and nights are 12 hours on, and 12 hours off regardless of season.

I have also been in the high altitudes of South America where people often have citrus in their gardens and their trees also look horrible and the fruit quality is poor. The weather was cool to cold and often cloudy and wet - not optimum for most citrus. So it isn't only us crazy Americans.

They are still worth it for me, but I'm in zone 7b where our winters are more like zone 8.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 2:21PM
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John, well said...That is exactly what I was thinking and have been dealing with for years...It still doesn't deter from from growing them though..I still enjoy them but I never expect them to look anything close to our friends trees here in those perfect climates for sure...

Thanks for your insight and for your part of sharing info and nice trees)


    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 3:39PM
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The way I look at it is that Citrus really do not make good 'houseplants'. If you can keep them out of the house you have a good chance even in the North. I used to overwinter them in the house...with terrible results (mostly scale). One year, I just decided to let them ride the winter out in my big, sunny garage come what may (not a greenhouse though, it gets CHILLY but w.o. freezing.) Big difference!! no bugs, leaf drop , etc.. If you have to overwinter in a house, I really recommend either kumquats or the Calamondin (itself a kumquat/mandarin hybrid). They do much better in normal house conditions.
As much as I love my citrus, I do not make their maintenance drudgery....if they make it fine, if not ,so be it. My palm collection is what keeps me going anyway! LOL!

I am blessed with tons of long...year long...that does make a difference.

This post was edited by njoasis on Wed, Aug 13, 14 at 17:11

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 4:48PM
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RyanLo(NC 7B)

The amount of direct sunlight a citrus receives is a non issue for producing good fruit. Remember, native citrus are a understory tree to the tropics. surviving and fruiting under low light conditions naturally. Volume of fruit production is dependent on sunlight. Tree with more sun produces more.

Fruit quality is more dependent on a long warm to hot growing season and for proper maturity, fluctuation between day and night towards ripening time.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 5:17PM
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Zone 3 here, and boy did I not know what I was getting myself into when I bought my Meyer!

No regrets, though. The fruit will not be the same as if I lived in the citrus belt, but it will be better than store bought, and that's what counts. I love the novelty of having citrus. And hopefully I will have a sunroom in the next few years to keep the citrus in over the cooler months to give it a longer growing season - a greenhouse/sunroom is not comparable to the natural area they grow, but if I restricted myself to plants that naturally grew here I'd have a sad garden. Most of my plants are tropical.

I am hoping that even if I do not have my desired sunroom in the few years coming, I will have an unheated porch or garage that will stay warm enough to winter them in. I have a basement that would really be perfect at my mother's house, but there are lights on 24/7 (A shared basement in an apartment complex) so the tree would not get the light/dark cycle.

I make do! I don't mind the extra work bringing them in over winter. At least not so far, when I only have 2.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 5:31PM
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Mike thank you for your very kind words . Mike your at the top of the list for growing citrust in northern climates . I have seen pictures of your citrus in the past what can I say but truly amazing . You are the one we all go to for advice and you are always there like a true friend Thankyou . You helped me this year with my soil , you warned me i could run into salt problems and watering problems in the winter and as soon as I changed the soil my trees responded rapidly with all kinds of growth and flowers . Very important people to listen to good advice . My trees Thankyou . Mike I am 300 miles north of you the way the crow flies and what I think make my trees so healthy and large and the fruit taste amazing is the micro climate in my backyard . Truly I don't think I would have the same success in another backyard . You need lots of sun and heat and never let the trees dry out . My backyard has the heat just not tonight the sun and I provide the fertilizer and water . I never stroll to far from home for very long because I know my trees can only go 36 hours between watering . Doesn't bother me in the least because everything I love is at home . The GH makes a big difference I will never try growing citrus inside the house again . So many problems with bugs and sticky stuff coming off the trees . It's almost like watching something you really love die a slow painful looking death . Hats off to the people who have had great success growing them inside there houses these people truly are the ultimate citrus growers . Mike I know you grow a tree in the ground in the GH I think it is a Satuma. Do you have any problems with frost in the ground . How do you stop the frost from reaching the roots do you have a underground foundation under the GH . I would love to try something like that someday .

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 9:23PM
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Steve, Z (6Bground,5B roof) Cincy,OH

Greenhouses are great but they are not the best way to grow up north. I have used lights indoors with tree---mendous success. My Meyer lemon will reside under this lamp in the middle of my living room. The 4 foot by 4 foot light box shown in the link below will be replaced by a 4 foot by 15 foot box to hold my much larger trees. My trees will sit on the second floor of the box. The first floor will hold my microgreens so that the heat rises and heats the roots of my tropical citrus and figs. The electric used to light the plants will be much less than that used to heat a greenhouse and will help heat the house. The plants will freshen the air for my wife and I.


Here is a link that might be useful: BOX 4 BY 4 BY X

This post was edited by poncirusguy on Wed, Aug 13, 14 at 21:51

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 9:35PM
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I've been growing a lemon tree for around 5 years and although it's otherwise healthy, I have yet to see a flower or fruit. I still enjoy growing citrus for the novelty and challenge though. To be honest I've had more trouble trying to grow pears than citrus.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 10:08PM
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BarbJP CA 15-16/9B

Ah, I feel your pain. Pears=Fireblight, at least around here.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 1:20AM
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Long ago I lived in a house that didn't have much of a backyard and without the hoophouse/greenhouse I have now. Back then I had one small un-used bedroom that I could stuff full of potted plants in the winter and crack a window so that the outside humidity would seep into the space. I did have a few bug problems but overall the plants did so much better than they did when I had them in the main part of the house. I think houses are just too dry along with being too dark.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 1:44PM
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I think most normal houseplant locations inside a home don't get nearly enough light or humidity for citrus. My lemon tree doesn't seem to mind the conditions, beyond going mostly dormant. Some day I'd love to get a greenhouse, but I'm probably going to get some sort of grow light setup to for this winter.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 8:32PM
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