Is it time to bring indoors?

citrusfreakOctober 3, 2010

I live in MD and the night temps are starting to get in the upper 40s lower 50s. Is that too cold for my citrus? When should I bring them in the garage? When in the house? Also, am I suppose to spray them with anything for insects before I bring them indoors? This is my first year raising citrus trees and I've spent so much money that I need to keep them alive! Also, do I fertilize in the winter? Thanks for your help?

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Your citrus will do fine as long as the temps stay above freezing and the days are warm. I don't heat my greenhouse unless the temps are supposed to go down to 35* or lower. My calamondin, Ponderosa and Key lime do just fine. Bring them inside when the nights get cold. Give them as much light as possible. If the light is lacking, you will see leaf drop. If you can move them inside at night and outside during the day, that will be great.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 11:42PM
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We are having similar night temps here (mid-40s) and I am leaving my citrus outside for now. In a few days, it's supposed to get a little warmer, with night temps in the low 50s.

Cool nights are good for the trees. Leave them outside as long as your nerves can take it!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 6:50AM
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Actually cool night set off bud production and harden leaves off..

The key is not to bring them into a very warm dry enviroment after leaving them outdoors this long in such cold temmps..
You can graduate them by putting in a slighly warmer enviroment by doing as T-smith says by bringing them in when very cold at night, then back out for warmer days..

You can also bring them back into a room that is not heated and cooler than the rest of the home until they get use to the warmer enviroment..

If you plan on leaving them in an unheated room where they will not actively grow, I would not feed very much, if at all, pest issues will also be dramatically reduced, and so will leaf drop..Watch your watering practices though...

I think you will be the best judge in determining whether to feed them, or provide extra light, based on the conditions you provide, and the kind of mix you use..

Happy winter growing..:-)


    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 12:39PM
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This evening when I got home from work, my citrus trees were all clamoring at me about some kind of halloween block party they wanted to go to tonight. All the cool plants were going to be there, apparently. You know how it is when they really want something and can't live without it, so I said okay, as long as they were home before 10.

Only after that did they drop on me that it is a costume party.

Since it is so last-minute, I dressed them up as ghosties.

(we have a surprise frost warning for this evening)

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 6:49PM
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I'm in Maryland as well and typically I'll leave everything out until the last week in October. I probably push it a little bit but it's just such a pain. I never thought about the shock of bringing them in a warm environment after being out in the cold but mine usually go in the basement which isn't as warm as the rest of the house.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 9:20PM
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birdsnblooms tale.
All you need are 'buttons' for eye, and marker for their noses and mouths. lol.
Trick or Treat

BG, When I had a few citrus, I'd bring them inside, at night, then out the next morning...But each day, they'd be out less time..say an hour less a day.
Since your basement is cooler, 'what temp?' it won't be as stressful as bringing inside, when temps are in the early-mid 40's, into temps 70+F. Worse when the house is dry, without humidity. Toni

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 5:04PM
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I'm in northern Maryland and I've brought my citrus all in. But they needed it: I was sick this summer and hubby watered....between underwatering and sunburn a lot of citrus plants dropped ALL their leaves and two have died: though I cut them back to green and am saving them just in case, because all the others are now putting out new leaves, in relief at being in the greenhouse again and being cared for.

I even fertilized though it's fall, because I don't think they got much of anything this summer. Just the dubious time-release beads.

I bring everything in (coleus, impatiens, hibiscus, begonias, etc.) starting at the end of September because otherwise, one is working eight solid hours with frost in the air just to save what is possible, and that's no fun. Our first frost date is Oct. 10, which I don't think has ever happened in 31 years, but I keep it in mind. I don't heat the greenhouse till the temperature gets around 40, however.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 12:35PM
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I am in Maryland as well and all of my non-hardy plants are still outside. Night time temps have not dropped too much and days are going back up into the 70s and 80s here in the DC metro area. Like the above poster said, I generally wait until the end of October.

None the less, make sure their winter sanctuary is ready in case an unexpected frost descends.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 8:11AM
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I wish I would have taken Jacklord's advice this year! Today is October 12th and they are calling for a freeze warning for most of the county. The only thing that may save me is the fact that I live about 10 minutes from lake erie and it does offer quite a bit of warmth so I get good frost protection but they aare saying that the frost wont hit till around 2:00am! I cannot sit up all night waiting to see if I have to carry anything in. Thank god I have two covered porches. I will need to carry in a lot still but today I did get my 600 watt HPS light from HID HUT and I will be able to get that installed tomorrow(Hopefully) and I will leave in most of my tropical fruit trees. I just can't afford to continue to carry in any large trees every day anymore as the temps are getting to variable now. I need to move somewhere tropical so I can keep them all outdoors year round!

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 2:41PM
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That is AWSOME Andrew!!! You will love the lights!! Just make sure you well armed in advance to fight possible pest's..

Displacer made a good point about using predatory mites ahead of time if you choose that route..One needs to be vigilant with the pest's if they are planing on actively growing them indoors with all that light and warmth..Yo could make some good bug killer juice that Toni can help you with...

Andrew, how bad is the temp suppose to get? I have used blankets in the past when temps hover juts around 32 for a night or two, and they have done fine..

Just make sure that you are not leaving them in temps below 40 too often..They WILL start to show signs of weakness...

Talk to you soon..:-)))


    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 6:44PM
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Mike saying, "Just make sure that you are not leaving them in temps below 40 too often..They WILL start to show signs of weakness..."
Helpful guidelines --- I try to keep my greenhouse at or above 50. This doesn't work, of course, but I panic and add heaters if it gets anywhere near 40, so I am glad of the encouragement that this is important.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 9:59PM
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I've never experienced the weakness problem. I only heat the greenhouse when the temps are supposed to drop to 35* or lower. We usually have 3 or 4 nights below 35* and then 5 to 7 nights with lows in the 40s or 50s. I usually only have to heat 40-45 nights each winter. Last winter was an exception with about 55 heating nights.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 12:20AM
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Does the heater make your electric bill much higher?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 7:19AM
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Hi tsmth..

Thank you for that..I might leave couple of them out, ones I don't care too much to see struggle or course a bit longer then since they are going to come into a very cool room and see if they respond well..The local nursery told me they would never leave their's out once temps start dipping into the 40's consistently by day or night..

The longer I can leave them outside without any ill effects the better for all of us..



    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 7:38AM
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I agree with Mike, tsmth, since you are in 7b,that's not much warmer than my 7a, and I appreciate your experience that your citrus isn't unhappy even if the greenhouse gets colder than it "should," which of course it always somehow does.

I'm heating now because while Baltimore temps are around 50, it gets down to 45 or lower away from the Baltimore Heat Island. We need timers set up, really. It's a Thing to go out there at 10 at night and turn on a heater.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 3:34AM
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I finally brought in remaining citrus last night. Thank God..temps dropped in the 30's..
When leaves start to curl, you know it's time to get plants out of cold winds.

This year, autumn came fast and is quite a bit colder than previous years. I pray we don't have a cold winter like we did a hot summer..

Andrew, maybe we should all pack up and head south with the
Does anyone wonder if people who live in, let's say, Fl, take their climate for granted? We, who live in cold climates wish our plants could stay outside year round, while those in warm climates don't think twice about it.
Know what I mean?
Not only for plants, but ourselves too. I dislike winter. Cold, dark days..I am not looking foreward to our winter season. Imagine stepping outside, with temps of 75F? In the morning...Nice breeze, drinking a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice...ahhh, now that's nice. Toni

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 1:11PM
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So I finally caved and brought mine in last night. Now the question is what kind of lights should I use? In previous years I used the Plant fluorescent lights but I think I read here that they're not necessary? I think I read that you can just us the "cool" fluorescent lights? I'm planning on using the 6500k color temperature lights. Hope those are the right ones.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 10:04PM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)


calculating electricity costs is quiet easy. First you need to determine what your utility company charges you per kilowatt. Take a bill and divide the total by the kilowatts used. Mine is about $0.08 Then you need to determine the watts of the heater, lets say 1500 and the amount of time you intend to use it, lets say about 10 hrs. Kilowatts is 1000 watts so a 1500 watt heater is 1.5 KW.

to calculate

1.5kwx10hrsx$0.08(my utility cost)= $1.20 for every constant 10 hours of use.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2010 at 9:55AM
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Thanks! I'll have to calculate mine.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2010 at 4:25PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

dispacer, you need to put some lights on inside those sheets so that your ghosties glow at night. Don't forget to protect that Sago palm!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 2:26PM
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