Citrus Newbie Questions

ihwangNovember 5, 2012

Hi all, a couple of questions from a beginner gardener. I recently brought home two dwarf citrus trees (one Meyer lemon and one Mexican lime) in 5 gallon containers. They've been living on my porch for two months and have been quite happy in the mild South Bay weather, producing some new growth and leaves, many flowers, and even some fruit.

A week straight of rain, however, has left them with some sooty mold, powdery mildew and some unidentifiable bright yellow dusty thing. I've started to spray them with Green Light Rose Defense which was recommended by the nursery to guard against aphid and spider mite infestation (as well as a leaf miner infestation which has been going on since about two weeks after I got them). However, I've also noticed that the trees are really not getting as much sun as I though they were. In late summer/early fall they were getting about 5-6 hours of full sun, but now I think it's down to 3-4.

In light of this change (pun definitely intended) and the presence of molds, I was wondering if maybe a grow light would help. I would like to keep the plants outdoors since I'm concerned about the indoors being too humid and about the possibility of bugs living in the soil. As such, I wouldn't want to leave a grow light on outdoors while not in the apartment for safety reasons, so I was thinking of just turning on the light for a few hours after returning home from work. Does this sound like a good or bad idea? I wasn't sure if maybe plants prefer continuous light to: natural light then a patch of darkness then sudden grow lamp light for a couple hours before returning to nighttime dark. If it sounds like a go, any recommendations for what type of light/wattage?

Or, should I bring it indoors and keep it under a light throughout the day? If so, are there any tips I should follow for preventing bugs/mold hitching a ride on the plant into my apartment?

Thanks in advance.

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houstontexas123(z9a)

in the bay area, i would think the outside would be more humid than inside.

a grow light or two would probably help if its too cloudy in your area.

high wattage CFL bulbs (60W: 300W incandescent equivalent)
10-12" brooder/reflector lamps
timers
power strip/surge protector

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 8:37PM
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houstontexas123(z9a)

pic i took at walmart

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 8:39PM
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ihwang

Thanks for the light recommendations!

So, there shouldn't be a problem if I opt for turning on a grow light at night? I searched around for an answer, and I think the link below basically emphasizes that growth and respiration occur throughout the day, whether or not light is present.

Here is a link that might be useful: using grow lights

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 1:43PM
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houstontexas123(z9a)

yes, most plants do grow and respirate throughout the day. but they can't photosynthesize without light. some plants are low light plants and grow very well in full and partial shade. other plants are high light plants that require more light for a longer period of time each day than the lower light plants.

citrus would be considered high to medium-high light plants. you mentioned your trees have flowers, new growth and even some fruits. the low light conditions its in right now will not provide enough energy for them to maintain its current condition, mainly the fruits.

you can think of it in calories, say a pregnant woman or an athlete. an average person needs around 2K calories per day to maintain. we just had a son about 3 months ago, we were told and read that a pregnant woman needs to increase her caloric intake by about 500 calories. i used to workout a lot in college, if i remember correctly athletes (depending on the activity/sport) needs anywhere from 1K to 3K more calories than the average person. most people have seen the tv ads about the starving children in Africa or the documentaries of the Jews in the concentration camps and how skinny and emaciated they are b/c of the lack of food/caloric intake.

from the link below:
"Photosynthesis is the biological conversion of light energy into chemical energy. This occurs in green plants, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria.

Photosynthesis consists of two series of biochemical reactions, called the light reactions and the dark reactions. The light reactions use the light energy absorbed by chlorophyll to synthesize structurally unstable high-energy molecules. The dark reactions use these high-energy molecules to manufacture carbohydrates. The carbohydrates are stable structures that can be stored by plants and by bacteria. Although the dark reactions do not require light, they often occur in the light because they are dependent upon the light reactions. In higher plants and algae, the light and dark reactions of photosynthesis occur in chloroplasts, specialized chlorophyll-containing intracellular structures that are enclosed by double membranes.

In the light reactions of photosynthesis, light energy excites photosynthetic pigments to higher energy levels and this energy is used to make two high energy compounds, ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and NADPH ( nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate). ATP and NADPH are consumed during the subsequent dark reactions in the synthesis of carbohydrates."

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/photosynthesis.aspx

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 9:07PM
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