Citrus Tree Mother Entering first winter

keenasfa(5)October 8, 2013

Hello everyone!

I am so excited to make my first post to this forum. Below are pics of my Improved Meyer lemon/citrus tree Olivia.

A little background...
I purchased her back in June this year (2013) where she was kept indoors.
I also kept her indoors until late June, and then moved her outside around the end of june when the nightime temps finally reached around 50-60. Then almost all of the leaves fell off within 2 weeks. The leaves quickly grew back along with flowers. I had a big round of beautiful blooms mid July and then a small handful (about 6) flowers bloomed in August. I now have about 6 fruits on my tree now.

Soil, Water, and Feeding...
I used the soil she came in from the garden store, and then when I repotted i added black gold, and compost. I water about once a week. I have liquid Dr. Earth 3-3-3 all purpose solution that i fertilize with about once a month. every 6-8 weeks I will fill a big container with water, and set the pot in it for about 30 min to give her a good deep watering.

I am posting for help because I live in Wisconsin and the nighttime temps are getting cooler. I need to prepare to bring her inside. I just brought her inside tonight (about 10 minutes ago) for the quick photo shoot.

My issue...
Some leaves have some white spots on them
Some leaves are curling under
some leaves have lighter green spots on them.

I am worried that the leaves will fall off again with the move back inside. Will the lemons fall too?
I am worried about what kind of bugs i might bring into the house in the soil.
Any suggestions on inexpensive lighting? (websites/stores)
Should I get a humidifier since indoor is warm and drier than the moist Wisconsin air?

Please help. I would appreciate any advice/suggestions that you take the time to leave, and I will update with progress.

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Spots on leaves curling under

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 8:39PM
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Leaf has some dark green spots on it.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 8:42PM
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garret_87(Zone 6)

Nice photo! I love seeing new Meyer Lemon enthusiasts! You asked many questions so I apologize if I don't hit them all or have answers for everyrhing. I am still learning as well.

Yes it is that time of year to move the tree in. Any nights that temps are below 50 you should bring it in. They can take some low temps, but only briefly and it stops growing below 50 degrees.

As far as lighting - how much direct sunlight does your tree get inside? Is it by a window? South facing windows would be the best position with some supplemental lighting. My first two winters I used a 2ft 4bulb T5HO Flouresant. This worked alright but last winter I upgrades to a HPS 150w grow light. I got them both from for reasonable prices. I would recommend a grow light if the tree does not recieve a full days sun thru the window.

I 100% think that you should get a humidifier in the same room as the tree. I use two humidifiers. The idea is to replicate nature. You want to air to be nice and humid. Others have said to use a pebble tray with water and other plants to raise humidity, and that helps, but in my opinion it is not enough.

You are right to think about bugs. My tree gets attacked by scale every winter. Head down to lowes and pick up a bottle of organic insecticide. That is only $6 with tax. Use as directed to get any bugs that may be hiding among the leaves.

Onto the trees 'issues':

-Do the white spots wipe off? Do they look like powdery mildew fungus? Easy to google search images of that.

-Four Winds nursery has this to say about the leaves curling down: "Sometimes leaves will cup DOWNWARD in the late fall or early winter. This is not a problem to worry about, as the new growth will come out with normal shaped leaves in the spring." Also, the lemons may be able to hold on even if it loses more leaves.

-Can you take photos of the light green spots on the leaves? And the white spots? Pictures are always helpful.

Where did you get the tree?

Hope these first tips are helpful in your quest to grow Meyer Lemons.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 9:14PM
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garret_87(Zone 6)

Sorry I saw that you posted pictures while I was typing the previous message. The white spots look like dried water residue. Try to clean the leaves and see if it goes away. If it does - good. If it doesn't then we will proceed with other options.

I am not sure about the dark green spots. Maybe someone else will know. Might just be vestiges of healthy tissue that remained after the leaves turned a light green. Really not sure tho.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 9:27PM
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Hi Garret,

Thank you for your helpful and encouraging response.

I do not get a lot of direct sunlight through the one window in my small apartment so I will check the website you provided for some lights like yours, and update with how thinks work out.

I wiped off the leaves with a damp towel about 10 min ago and the spots have not returned so I think that solved that issue. HOORAY!

I purchased the Tree from Johannsen's Greenhouse in Madison, WI. it came in a small Monrovia container.

I forgot to mention that I have an organic powder called gnatrol that i dissolve in water and water the plants with. I used it mostly on my tomato plants when I had fungus gnats due to overwatering earlier this summer. Should I use this? Or would the lowes insecticide work better on the bug threat?

Thank you again for your help.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 10:02PM
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garret_87(Zone 6)

I usually get fungus gnats after I fertilize with Espoma Citrus Tone. It is because they love the organic matter. I use the insecticide from
Lowes and it removes the flying ones and seems to do a number on their egg and larva. Another cute organic way I found to manage this problem is to invest in Carnivorous plants like Sundew and Venus Fly Trap. I currently have one of each stationed around my meyer lemon tree. The sundew catches the smaller pests like fungus gnats and fruit flies.

I never heard of gnatrol, but I will have to look into it. If it is organic then maybe I'd consider purchasing. Maybe someone else will know as they read through the forum.

I have found that growing Meyer Lemons is all a learning experiance. Eventually you will get enough of its specific needs down that you can read the plants warning signs.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 10:53PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Gnatrol is a bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt. It is a safe, effective and organic way to get rid of fungus gnats if you use it as a soil drench, but it does not control most other pests. it kills the fungus gnat larva in your soil if you use it as directed.

Bt is also the active ingredient in mosquito dunks. You can break up a mosquito dunk and soak it in the water you use for your plant if you can't find gnatrol. The fungus gnats are there primarily because of the black gold and compost you added to your potting mix. If you use a fast draining mix that doesn't stay so moist, you won't have a problem with fungus gnats. Fungus gnats don't really cause problems for adult plants though. But they are a sign that your potting mix is not a good one for container plants.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 12:39PM
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Should I change the soil that the tree is planted in then? If so, when would be a good time of the year to do this without upsetting my tree, and what potting soil would your recommend?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 2:58PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

keenasfa: I was hoping someone with more experience growing citrus would respond to your question. I have only grown a few citrus trees in containers -- a key lime and a Ponderosa lemon -- but I have a lot of experience overwintering other tropical plants in my house. The right potting mix can make a big difference in how well they do.

I wouldn't transplant your citrus in the fall because the plant will already be struggling with the move indoors. It's best to wait until spring when the tree starts a new growth spurt. While you are waiting, I suggest you do some research on the best potting mix to use for citrus in containers. In the mean time, be careful not to allow your mix to get too soggy over the winter. That is the risk with ingredients like peat, manure and compost.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 1:50PM
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garret_87(Zone 6)

I would also wait till spring unless big problems with the soil happen. I replanted during last winter only because the tree was greatly suffering. There is a lot of info on this forum and google about the right soil mixes for citrus. I have not made specific mixes like the 511 mix that people recommend on this forum. I have had success with using Fox Farm Ocean Forest soil with 1/3 perlite. This is not what professionals use, but for me it was materials that I already owned and it has been working well.

I would recommend that after you water to always empty the drip dish under your tree. Never let water sit in that dish. Citrus hate wet feet and this could develop into root rot.

How is Olivia doing?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 2:41PM
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While you wait until spring, if your mix is holding water way too long for you, you can always use a wick made of cloth or rayon at the bottom of your pot...

This way the wick will fool your perched water into coming out past the bottom of the pot and help your mix dry out faster until you repot in spring...


    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 5:06PM
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