How Often Should I Fertilize a Meyer Lemon?

greenpointmary(6 or 7)November 6, 2009

I am wondering how often I should feed my potted lemon tree? I noticed in September that the leaves were a little yellow, so I gave the plant some Holly-Tone organic fertilizer. It seemed to immediately perk up, sent out lots of new growth and loads of buds. Now, my plant is in full bloom with dozens of flowers, still outside due to the warm fall weather, and HAPPY! My question is, how often should I give it this organic fertilizer? It says three times a year on the package (I think), but I have seen four times a year on some sites, to once a month! Which is the correct solution?

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Feeding only 3 or 4 times a year on a potted citrus is a sure way to make its health decline. That is advice for in-ground citrus. I water all of my potted citrus every 1-2 weeks. It sounds like you have the wrong fertilizer, one meant for outdoor citrus. The best NPK ratio is 5-1-3. They loooove nitrogen, so a high nitrogen feed will be fine. Try and get one at close to that ratio as possible. I often see 5-3-3 and 12-3-6. Flush the pot with lots and lots of water 4 times a year to get rid of salt build-up in the mix.

It is very important to feed your tree regularly. They are very greedy and appreciate frequent feeds.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2009 at 5:58AM
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First off, I personally don't use outdoor fertilzers, especially organic, since it can add to the compaction of your soil,quick decompistion of its structure, and possibly pest issues, such as fungas knats and spidermites, in a pot over a short period of tiem..

I feed mine with FP..I have lost a many citrus due to many problems with my soil because of organics, and yes Holly-Tone. In fact I used this stuff on just one of my many yellowing ponderosa a couple years back, and the stuff you speak of never works that fast. It usually takes time for organic fertilzers too be used by plants. What greend them up was cooler temps at night.

Maybe you did something other, that caused it to come back so fast? Maybe the weather? Lighting? You said it "seemed" to perk up.
Anything could of attribured to such a drastic change, even a shock of some sorts. It would be nice to read their minds ha?

Very important!

Watch out for inground fertilizers for potted plants as aesir22 says...

His way of fertilizing is kind of how I do mine too..

In fact a very important point, to quote him..

"They are very greedy and appreciate frequent feeds"

YES!!! That is why I feed mine at "every" watering, all year regarless of what time of year.
That is of course if you have them in a fast draining coarse mix..You never have to worry about salt build up, and what the tree doesn't utilize, it just gets flushed at the next watering...


    Bookmark   November 8, 2009 at 1:00PM
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greenpointmary(6 or 7)

Thank you!
I scoured the forums, and I am guessing FP stands for foliage pro?
Everything I've read seems to be positive about this plant food. The name seems counter-intuitive to use for citrus, since I want blooms and fruit. Has your Meyer been pretty productive with this?

    Bookmark   November 10, 2009 at 12:41AM
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Oh ya...All you have to do is look at my pics...


Happy growing!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2009 at 8:55PM
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greenpointmary(6 or 7)

Awesome pix, saw them in their autumn home! I hope you can keep them out there as long as possible. My tree is still outside since we haven't had a freeze yet, yippee!

Thanks for the tips, the hydroponic store has ordered some FP, can't wait to use it!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2009 at 10:12AM
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Aw..Thanks for the kind words..

You'll be excited with FP..:-)

    Bookmark   November 12, 2009 at 2:23PM
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I use Holly-Tone fertilizer on occasion and my citrus and other acid loving plants respond quite favorably to it. Like greenpointmary, I, too found that the plants greened up rather quickly. That may have something to do with it acidifying the soil and making nutrients already present in the soil quickly available.

Holly-Tone is not the sole fertilizer that I use, I always change off and I like both organic and inorganic fertilizers. Some of the other things I use are miracid, fish emulsion, Schlutz's, and a few others.

In my opinion, variety is good and this works for me and my growing style and conditions. I don't fertilize from October to January/February and let the plants rest.

Besides fertilizers, I like to sprinkle in some magnesium sulfate (epsom salts) because plant cells needs magnesium.

With fertilizers, I'd rather underfertilize than over do it. Too much and at the wrong time can kill your plants.

Mike, I don't know why you lost your citrus (very sad to hear that), but could it have been too much love? Maybe?

    Bookmark   November 13, 2009 at 12:08AM
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Hi citrusnut,

Thanks alot for your kindness....

I didn't know how to work with organics in my container grown citrus, and still don't, even with following explicit directions, in the past. But then I learned why they wouldn't work for me and for my area when I joined the "container forums" and learned of many reasons..

Without saying what is best for someone else, I will just say that for me. Because I never got the right training and proper info on soiless mixes in the past, the mixes would break down, compact within months, disinigrate, breakdown, which then would suffocate the root systems to most my plants, especially citrus.
They were always sick looking after an initial burst of good vitality...
I would pull them up from the pots after looking sickly and examine the roots, only to see that after a few months of growing in this type of soil, the roots would look horrible. Not white at all. Anything but healthy looking. Some to late to save. Some, I couldn't even sqeeze the root ball due to the the soil being hard, caked up, almost always wet, never drying out, and or sticky..If I tried to break the soil away to replace with fresh soil, chunks of roots would come off with the soil.
Usually full of knats.
Of course when soil breaks down such as so, I was inviting a root rot problem.
Some say it was from overwatering, but I say it from soil that took WAY too long to dry out from all the organic fertilizers and other organic material which eventually built up in the soil..
Now I use a soiless mix that stays open, airy, well draining, and that does not break down so rapidly. The only 2 things alllowed in my pots or soiless mix that will eventually break down, at a much slower pace, is a bit of peat, if at all, and bark.
Therefore I can water more frequently and see my containers dry out rapidly between waterings, without fear of root rot, even up here in my area.

All compaction of my soil was due to organics in my soiless mixes.. Lets'see, bat guamo, wormcastings, fish emulusions, organic "citrus and Avacaodo" food, coffee grinds, and others at various times.. So was salt build up...All suggested to me by nursery

My soil would collaspe as fast as a deflating balloon, like the one that they thought that boy was in.

Now I play it safe with my soils as suggested at the container forums, especially my citrus, and I use just one good all around fertilizer, which is FP, which is quickly taken up from my plants.
It has everything in it that most fertilizers do not.. I havn't had a problem yet..

I do use vinegar in my water quite often to keep my soiless mix on the acidic side and make available the nutrients in the soil that would otherwise stay locked up...

It is much easier for me, I can relax knowing my trees are getting proper nutrition all the while the roots breath freely. I am having great sucess thi way.
It is good to see alot of having sucees with different means and sharing their stories..sweet...What works for one may not for another.

I have never seen anyone have trouble with the soiless mix and fertilizer I use..

They can certainly be finiky plants if not on top of them ha...:-)

Stay happy and good health to you!


    Bookmark   November 13, 2009 at 8:40AM
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ashleysf(9 San Jose,CA)

Sorry to hijack the thread, but, Mike, I have 2 questions for you. Since you fertilize at almost every watering and add vinegar too, how do you accomplish this? Is it manually? Like filling a watering can and watering each and every one? Or, do you use a spray attachment to a hose?
Another question: what do you do if and when you travel or cannot water frequently? I am worried about this aspect the most - because some days are so busy that I do not reach home in time to water them and it seems like this soil less mix would dry out the plants and now I am worried about killing my plants in the summer. FYI, I have replanted 4 citruses and 2 jasmines in the soilless mixture already. I have about a dozen more to go when I thought I would stop and ask these questions.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2009 at 1:43PM
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greenpointmary(6 or 7)

FP and even Pro-tekt purchased! I have another question, though. If I used an organic fertilizer (5-2-6) last weekend in the container, 3 TBS in a 3 gallon pot, how long do I need to wait to start the plant on the FP and the pro-tekt?

Great discussion everyone, I am learning a lot!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2009 at 5:52PM
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These are great questions..Not sure about how long to wait on the fertilizer....What kind of soil mix did you put it into? If it was in the mix I used, I would start as early as the next watering..That is just me though..:-)

Ashley, I was stopping by before going out and wanted to amswer your questions fully..I will be back when my schedule frees me up.I can answer here, which would probably be a lttle lengthy, or e-mail you privately...

In fact, many of us asked these same questions along with when we started...We have alot in common and so do our plants...:-) help you need., I am here.:-)

    Bookmark   November 13, 2009 at 6:54PM
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Mike, if you used the store bought bags of soiless mix and added non-composted and composted organic material, then that is a super lethal combination. You're right, once you water your plant, the water just stays there.

I've killed more plants using soiless mixes than any other way. The mix is heavy on the peat moss and peat moss holds alot of moisture. Also after 6 months the peat moss breaks down and plants tend to decline rapidly.

For me plain old potting soil as a base always worked. Now (because of Al) I add alot other stuff to it like bark chips, turface, perlite, charcoal, and even a little peat. I like the turface alot and it doesn't break down. I learned to incorporate these additives from Al's formulation and it has improved my growing conditions. So thanks to Al for all of his knowledge and sharing.

Summer of '08, I tried Al's mix straight on a Persian lime that got root rot from over watering while in dormancy. I treated the root rot and repotted in Al's mix. At first the lime responded favorably and got lots of new growth and looked really really good and I was very happy with the results. It was oustside with all the other citrus and getting watered every day just like the rest of them. Then one day it just died , rather quickly, too. I don't know what went wrong, but I was really bummed.

After that, I went back to what I was comfortable with, a modified Al's mix. Someday, I may try it again, but for now I like the mix I'm using.

It just goes to show you, there are many different ways to successful growing. And what works for one person and plant may be wrong for another.

Happy growing!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2009 at 9:35PM
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Hey Ashley,

I had a couple of minutes to share..

I remember feeling just like you, worried about my plants dying of thirst when I first started using the gritty mix...I use to go to work wondering if my plants would be dead of thirst everday, in the first summer, by the time I got home. I would run to the yard, even came home at times for lunch, expecting to see them wilted. It never happened...

In fact,

You're probably still watering more than you need to because the gritty mix holds lots more water than you think. It holds almost as much water as peat-based soils (not quite, though) but it holds the water INSIDE particles rather than between them. You CAN still kill a plant from overwatering, if not careful, but it seldom happens..

Ashley do you have any made yet? Try some experiments. Plant a plant that wilts easily. After it's established (that's important because of root colonization so the plant can reach water), stop watering and see if the plant will go 3-4 days w/o water.

Usually for smaller pots, I try to think ahead of time, as to which plant can go without a drink for a while, and which can not. There are different things you can do. You can plant only drought tolerant ones such as succulents in this mix in clay pots, which I do, or mix in more turface to keep them moist longer, adjusting the mix. You can also use plastic for your convienence,this too keeps the soil moist longer. There are other ideas at the container forums which has been asked before..

I have a plant nanny come in, and water mine when I am gone for a few days..
Another advantage, is that no matter what time of year I go, and no matter how in expereinced the nanny is, I tell them to just water everyday, and my plants never suffer.

If you can't get a plant nanny, you can gather the plants together & tent them to raise humidity, which will slow transpiration, or situate the plants above a water source & wick water for the duration.

The thing is, it makes no sense to put your plants in a soil that is bad for them all year long so you can leave them for a few days. You just have to do what you have to do, and if there are sacrifices to be made to optimize vitality, you need to decide what your priorities are and compromise if you have to.

One more thing ,

You can put your plants in stuff and only water once each month or once a week, too - but your plants are eventually going to let you know they're unhappy.

If you want to grow in a highly aerated soil, you have to water more ofen - that's part of the deal. You can sacrifice vitality by using a soil that makes thins convenient for you, but you can't have it both ways.

At least 90% of the 'problems' people come to the forums with, including root rot, high salt levels in the soil, bugs, and diseases, can all be traced back directly to a poor soil or to the reduced vitality resultant from using a poor soil.

As for fertilizing..If I go more than 3 weeks without feeding, my plants start to show signs of malnourishment.
Even in winter months. I just won't ever let it get to this point..

Hope I was of help, and I hope your plants will be pleased with you as mine are, if you decide to let fear go..I have been growing this way for over 2 years now, and my plants have no complaints...:-)

I told you this was going to take a

I am sorry if there a any typos, I didn't have a chance to re-read and fix them. I have to run.

Take care Ash,


    Bookmark   November 14, 2009 at 2:59PM
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I almost forgot...First of all, thankyou for your ideas and involvedment here..I love your enthusiam for these trees too..:-)

I read a thread where you mentioned that you have manderins..I have been contemplating growing some..
Are they easy to care for? Do they flower alot? Are they fragrant and fast growers?

I also noticed you had a little "red ruby" I think, grapefruit on its way?...Sweet. They are fun to grow. I wonder if you are getting yours from the same source.

Take care and keep smiling,


    Bookmark   November 14, 2009 at 3:16PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Hi Mike!! How are you??

Quick questions about FP...since you've been using it a little longer than me I think? I mostly use it for my
Hoyas...What do you think of the amount...1/2 tsp per gallon water every 6-7 days. Should I be diluting it more? Remember, its still in the mid to upper 70's here pretty much for another few weeks, sometimes longer. Our nights cool off to around mid 50's for this month. I usually stop fertilizing around the end of Nov. and start back up in March. Just want to give the just the right amount, not too little or too much. Just don't want to over-do.

Thanks for your help!!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2009 at 12:32PM
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Hi Nancy!!

If you are growing in the same medium as I am, which I think you are, feed at 1/4 strentgh at every watering all year, or at least once a week.

Remember, if you are growing in the gritty mix, the fertilizer will wash out very quickly at any watering.

Anything I have growing in the 5.1.1 mix, I tend to be more lax..I fertilize once a week since the peat holds a bit more fertilzer. On many I still fertilize at every watering as a habit, and my plants perform well..

FYI..I never withhold fertilzer on my plants, no matter what time of the year it is. As long as we are providing good light and root temps are above 58 degrees, plants are "always" growing and in need of a meal..:-)

Hers is an article you will appreciate:,5013300


    Bookmark   November 15, 2009 at 1:22PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Thanks for the help Mike. Appreciate it. That was a good article...thanks for the link, I have it bookmarked :o)

    Bookmark   November 15, 2009 at 6:32PM
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Here is a pic of one of my trees taken yesterday fed at every watering all winter in the 5.1.1. mix...

It continues to be green and healthy month after month.:-)

    Bookmark   November 15, 2009 at 9:46PM
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Mike, I've got a satsuma mandarin and a new kishu mandarin. Both seem to be quite easy to grow. The flowers are smaller, very white, fragrant, but not as fragrant as a meyer or navel orange. The satsuma flowers in the Spring, the kishu flowered last summer but I don't know if it will flower more than that. They are probably fast growers, but none of citrus grow fast.

In my house they are kept cool and are kind of dormant during that time. I like to keep my house cool at night and lower the thermastat to 55 when I go to bed. It makes for great sleeping.

Right now I have 10 citrus plants. I lost a persian lime and a limequat last year to root rot when I decided to flush them too early in the Springtime and they never dried out. The persian lime almost made it but didn't. I gave away my dancy tangerine when I found out that it came from seed, just to make room for things that flowered and fruited.

I bought a new persian lime cause that is my favorite lime to eat and it produces fruit every year. One of the local landscape centers actually had it in a 3.6 gallon pot. I also bought a lisbon lemon there that was the same size. These 2 are my largest plants.

The ruby red grapefruit came from Logee's and is tiny. The plant measures 8" without the pot. It is the smallest citrus I ever bought and is in a 2.5" pot. It is a cutting. It is small but it should get good fragrant flowers and this type of grapefruit is supposed to be able to hold its fruit for a long time so it may mature for me. I'm hoping anyway. Also hoping for fast growth.

The satsuma came from McKenzie Farms in the Fall of '07 in a one gallon pot. It flowered and in '08 and produced 5 mandarins that were very delicious. It put out such energy to produce last year, that it rested this year. looking forward to getting fruit again.

None of my plants came from Four Winds, even though I've window shopped there alot and drooled over their stuff, their shipping far exceeds any where else. And I don't care to get things bare root either.

How many trees do you have now? Did most of your's come from Four Winds?

    Bookmark   November 15, 2009 at 10:35PM
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ashleysf(9 San Jose,CA)

Thanks a lot for all the information, Mike. It is very informative and helpful as always.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 12:54AM
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That's a fine looking tree, Mike. Has a nice shape to it,too. Looks like you've got an ideal growing situation.
Those windows are terrific. Boy would I love those.

Your watering regime is similar to that recommended for orchids which is: water with 1/2 strength fertilizer 3 times and the forth time use plain water.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 2:10AM
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You will never believe what I split up amoungst all my family yesterday...The only "oro blanco" grapefruit I aquired from "four Winds" I grew through the summer...IT WAS SOOOO SWEET! It tasted like an orange and grapefruit Combination...Delicious!

Citrusnut, this is soo awsome. You have a manderine, and it tastes good...I think I will get one...Do you know that I too have a "red ruby" from Logees that I picked up there a few months back, and yah, it small for sure...Let me take a picture and I will post here for you..

Oh man, I have so many, I will go home and count them and take a few pics of some ok...Now that I have one of my skylights installed, boy are they happy as

Thanks for the compliment...I appreciate it coming from someone who does so well with his too..You know what?I had no idea that is how orchids were fed and watered..Very interesting..

I too am keeping my plant room filled with mostly citrus on the very cool side..I am seeing a REMARKABLE difference in growth. They seem to be thriving....My oranges are breaking out in bloom and many others. The leaves stay on with no drop...No pests for the first time, and watering has almost come to a halt...I can let a pot dry out for days in these cool temps, and the plants do not wilt..I like it this way. I also save on my heating bill..

Today, they are all outside again in the sun. It is in the 50's to 60 today, and I gave them all a hose down..They love that

I will be back here with a count on my trees along with some pics..Just give me a day or two..

Hoping you are well, and it is sooo good to see you back like old times...

You know who knows how to grow citrus remarkably, Toni, "hopefulauthour"...She is a smart cookie..:-)


    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 12:22PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Mike, BEAUTIFUL and healthy tree you have there. I have my citrus potted in the gritty mix. My Meyer and Kumquat are loaded with fruits this year...but the tree is not very attractive with all the CLM...UGH!! I hate them!! Thank goodness it doesn't affect the fruits!!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 7:37PM
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Wow Mike, thank you for the OroBlanco grapefruit info, that is one that I've got on my future list, but didn't get it for fear that it may be too sour, have lots of thick skin and hardly any fruit; and the only place I see it for sale is Four Winds. Looks like I'll have something to order form them after all. What size tree did you get and how long have you had it?

I am amazed that you got your ruby red grapefruit from Logee's, too. I can't wait to see yours. How long have you had it? Does it grow fast?

Next Spring I plan on ordering another Owari satsuma from from Stan McKenzie, but a larger one this time (hope he can still ship out of state). I ordered the small one in case the fruit wouldn't be so great, cause heard of that happening. But it was so good that I want the same one again.

Puglover, your tree is beautiful, with great shape and form. And the trunk is so thick, too. How old is it?
What is the fruit on it?

Yes, it would be nice to have Toni here dispensing her citrus wisdom. But it's good that we have you here. You keep things going and interesting. And have a large amount of knowledge; and passion for our foliar friends. You too, Puglover, glad you're here for all the same reasons.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 9:14PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Thank you Citrusnut for the kind comments :o)
That is a Nagami Kumquat Nagami, and I believe its about 4 years old. I really need to go up a size on that pot next year and the lemon too.

Some of the fruits are starting to ripen.

My Meyer lemons..

Meyer in bloom taken in June

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 10:03PM
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Wow Nancy!!!

Those are some mighty good-looking trees you have there, and they are in containers...You know what? See the difference just another 12 extra months of sun per year can make down there?
I gotta tell you. If you were not fertilizing them right, even with all that sun, they still wouldn't look as good as yours. If they were in a poor soiless mix, same thing! You are doing something right, and I am so proud of you..

Way to go!!

Citrusnut, are you ready for the count?

Chalamondin (1)
Orange "navel" (2)
Ruby grapefruit (1)
Red ruby grapefruit from Logees,lol (1)
Oro blanco grapefruit, my favorite (1)
Lemon meyer (5)
Ponderosa lemon (4)
Lime (3)
Vraiegated orange (1)
You are going to laugh, but I go to Logees so often, that I failed to realize that I bought, just a couple months ago a, yes a "satsuma manderine"!! It was 29.00 dollars in a 4inch container..YIKES

My red ruby is just a bit embarrasing to post..It is as small as yours and hasn't grown much since I bought it in the summer...About 8 inches tall without the container added

NOTHING COMPARED TO NANCY'S!!! God they are so beautiful! Can I pick one?

I miss toni here. She also has some really nice looking trees..:-)

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 8:46AM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Thank you Mike! Don't sell yourself short. Your citrus and plants are wonderful,healthy and thriving! You live in a zone that is a lot harder to grow than me! You and the rest of everyone here deserves a big pat in the back for growing plants and pushing the zone limits. You guys are the ones that deserve the compliments...for sure!

CLM's have been a constant battle for me, so I just gave in. As long as the fruits are not affected, I will live the unsightly contorted new leaves!

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 3:35PM
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Mike, you do have alot of citrus. I counted 19. Boy, you're lucky to live near enough to Logee's to go visit. It must be fun to go hunting for little treasures there. All I can do rummage thru the catalogs.

Puglvr, it's always fun to push the limits, isn't it?

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 9:17PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Beautiful trees, Mike and Nancy!
Thank you so much for sharing pics.
I can't wait to get started with citrus.


    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 12:56AM
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Thankyou Josh!!

Talk to you later..:-)

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 11:14AM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Citrusnut, yes it is fun and a lot of work,lol. I am also growing some young Mangoes and Lychees here in my zone(where we get a few days of freeze) I have to go into "freeze mode" a few days a year and protect my trees. I almost lost them all last year, it was a very bad winter for us...worst in 20+ years. Keeping fingers crossed it will be milder this winter?

Thanks Josh, congrats on deciding to grow citrus, You are going to have a lot of fun growing them. Especially once they start fruiting and being able to pick your own fruits from trees you've grown and nurtured! We want pics when you start! Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 12:37PM
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Josh pics...? No dought about it....You better throw some pics here of your new citrus tree. Starting with a ponderosa lemon baby tree if you want one...Just let me know Josh.

I hope you start, and you become a part of these forums..You are fun to have around..;-)


    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 2:12PM
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greenpointmary(6 or 7)

Wow! Nice pictures everyone, thank you for posting! I hope I can get my Meyer lemon on that path, looks like I may need to repot it in some gritty mix. Mine is still in the nursery pot. :(
I wonder if I can safely repot while it is flowering and setting fruit? I need to do some research...

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 10:32PM
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Hi...Thanks Mary!

If your plants is doing fine in that soil, I would wait till the spring.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 10:38AM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Hi Mary, Thanks also!!

I agree with Mike...if it were mine I would wait till Spring or right after your fruits ripen. I would def. look into the gritty mix, it has served my purpose very well with all my potted fruit and houseplants.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 11:41AM
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greenpointmary(6 or 7)

Thanks guys, that's what I will do!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 6:13PM
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