Orange Seedling - Progress Report

hyperinfinity11(5A)December 15, 2010

So, I planted a couple seeds from a Valencia orange about a month and a half ago, and just a couple weeks ago this little guy sprouted.(though more likely than not, he won't be anything like his parents) He hasn't had much growth for being two weeks old, and my guess is that it's due to lack of light(it's hard to get sufficient like during the cold, often cloudy, short days of late fall and winter... too close to a window and it'll be too cold, because of the draft); however, I'm quite proud of him.

I figured I might as well make a little online 'progress report' on how he's doing. I'll update it when I can. Here's a picture of him from just a couple days ago; he's starting to grow another pair of leaves!(though you probably can't see it due to the blurry picture)

Right now he's just in a seed starting soil mix... but anyone know a good recipe for a soil mix for citrus plants? His roots are sure to outgrow this teeny two-inch pot very soon.

Also, any tips on getting him to grow more and stronger? At the very least, I want to get him through this winter and into the warmer, sunnier days of spring and summer.

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call_me_wizfire(7b Central Arkansas)

ok, there is no lack of peoples soil ideas...most will work. either search the forums, or w8 a day, and people will talk about their soils, basically the most important hard thing to get right with citrus besides light. BTW the people who use AL's gritty mix seem to love it. i dont use it though.
All ready it seems that u have joined in on the personifying ur citrus, i believe we all have done it sooner or l8er. When he is bigger, probably when spring starts, u might want to start with the all important citrus fertilizer, another thing that u will not have any problem haveing people to help u with. I dont feel like im enough of an expert to reccommend what i use. Good luck on your orange seedling. A question: How long was it in the ground b4 it sprouted?
A passing note, u might want to do a little online research to see if valencia grows true from seed.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2010 at 1:05AM
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Thank you! Yeah, I can't help but personify him...I'm just so excited I got him to sprout. I just pray I can get him through the winter.

It took about a month for it to sprout. I had two planted in two seperate little pots, covered in a small clear plastic lid to keep in some humidity; I placed them on top of my bedroom TV, thinking it might help generate some heat. Only this one sprouted. The other one I already tossed in the trash; it was starting to rot under the soil.(I shouldn't have checked, but I did.)

Also, I certainly hope he'll remain true to his mother. Valencia oranges are delicious, and so juicy! But, chances are, there are lots of varieties of oranges grown on whatever orchard the orange came from, and its certainly possibly another variety was the father that pollinated it. So it might end up being something totally new. Either way, it's exciting just to have an orange growing; I'll be glad once it's at least a foot tall and much hardier than an inch tall seedling.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2010 at 2:09AM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

Cool!! Its neat how they really become like children or pets to us :)

I sprouted 3 store bought lemons about 2 years ago, 1 I gave to my mother(which died) and the other 2 I kept and are about 2 feet tall now. I have often thought of grafting to them but then I feel like leaving them as is since they were my very first citrus trees and they are doing so well

If lighting is a problem you could always get a small desk lamp and put in a 15 watt spiral fluorescent lamp right over it. 8-10 hrs of that per day should be enough to get it by till spring. Be sure if you do that get the "daylight" lamps.

Also be sure and dont over water.


    Bookmark   December 16, 2010 at 9:29AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a


I would recommend a bark-based mix known as the 5-1-1 for your seedling.
This mix was designed by Al, as well, but it is lighter weight, less expensive,
and easier to source the ingredients than the Gritty Mix. Once the tree is older -
and you plan on leaving it in the same container for 1 to 3 years, then I would consider
switching over to the Gritty Mix (which is 1 part Turface, 1 part Bark, and 1 part Granite).

5-1-1 is 5 parts Bark, 1 part Perlite, and 1 part Peat moss (or 1 part potting soil,
which is usually made up on peat moss, so it amounts to the same).

To provide Calcium and to raise the pH of the Bark, you'll add 1 tablespoon of
Dolomtic Garden Lime per gallon of soil. Garden Lime is cheap....$6 for 25 pounds is what I pay.

I also mix in the appropriate amount of Osmocote slow-release fertilizer - 4-month.


    Bookmark   December 16, 2010 at 9:33AM
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call_me_wizfire(7b Central Arkansas)

You see? Im sure more people will voice their opinions and experiences... that mix sounds really good greenman28
if your worried about lighting, a southern or eastern facing window, the larger the better, i have some of mine in my eastern facing sun room which gets a LOT of indirect sun all day, and 5-6 hours of direct sun, theyr doing good
. grow lights, the day kind will suffice if you cannot get that temperture isnt as much as a problem if hes kept inside... around 65-70 averaging temps... my sunroom is a little less than that, its not insulated well, it used to be a porch, and theyr doing great in ther...DONT i repeat DO NOT over water, you might want to water less than you think it needs, because it is small and it is winter... a week between waterings, water completely and deep, dont stop pouring water untill it comes out the bottom. I hope that this is enough, tell me if you need any more

    Bookmark   December 16, 2010 at 6:30PM
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Thank you all so much for your advice! It really helps. I've got it on a plant rack near a south facing window right now; well, a sliding glass door. The only thing I worry about is the blasts of cold air it probably gets whenever the door has to be opened; however, the door is never open for more than a second or two, so I'm hoping it won't be an issue. All our windows are terribly insulated, and a draft comes in from them, so I worry about putting it too close to a window.

I re-potted him today into a large clay pot, that he'll probably be in for a while. It's maybe 4 inches wide? 5 tops. Taller than it is wide, anyway. I found a bag of citrus/cactus/palm soil, and I mixed some of that with a little bark to help it drain better. I also put a thin layer of mulch around it, hoping to keep it's roots warmer; the black mulch really brings out the green of the little orange sprout, and he looks striking.

I did what you said, wizfire, and watered it just until the water began to drip out the bottom. I gave it a very very small amount of diluted fertilizer, just to give him a little boost.(Though I know you really shouldn't fertilize much if at all in the winter.) Does anyone know what kind of fertilizer is best for citrus?

Also, you guys should know that since I'm 19, I'm still living at home. I'm in school but don't have a job, so I'm limited as far as money goes.(I plan on bringing the little guy with me when I have my own place someday, if he makes it until then.) I've just struck up an interest in plants within the past year. :P Anyway, I'll keep you guys posted.


    Bookmark   December 16, 2010 at 8:40PM
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call_me_wizfire(7b Central Arkansas)

soil good, light sounds good, temp, dont worry about for that little time, fert all checks out, and i too am in school and started an interest/hobby in plants a year ago lol

    Bookmark   December 16, 2010 at 9:41PM
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That's really cool, ahaha.

Sorry for the lack of updates. Been busy... Anyway, there has been very little if any growth since the last update. I suspect it's because of a lack of sufficient light. It's getting enough to keep surviving(I hope, so far so good), but obviously not enough to really grow at all. I'm trying to see if I can find a desk lamp. I have an energy efficient fluorescent bulb, so that's not an issue. I just hope the little guy will hold out on me until I can get what I need to give it light...

Oh, and happy holidays to everyone!!

    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 6:12PM
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I use a 26W daylight CFL with my little tree. You might want to add more light since it is just starting growing. I started mine about this time and didn't have light or the right soil. Needless to say, my tree didn't grow very well until I switched the soil and gave it what it wanted. Now it is doing very well and I expect a TON of growth in the next year.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2010 at 11:25AM
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Sorry it's been so long since I updated. The holidays have just been a busy time. But now things have settled down again.

The little guy is finally growing a bit more!(Which I'm attributing to the extra sun we've been getting lately.) Still very slowly, but slow growth is better than none at all. I've got a picture, and though the quality on the first one I ever posted was pretty bad, I think you'll still be able to tell the difference.

Gave a spritz of diluted fertilizer about a week ago. And yes, that is mulch on top. I put a very thin layer on top, to keep the roots warmer. Also, I have a question. Are those leaves the adult leaves? Or are they just the sprout leaves. Because they look an awful lot like the leaves of mature orange trees, and if they are the mature leaves, then it never grew baby leaves to begin with. Is that strange?

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 3:42PM
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call_me_wizfire(7b Central Arkansas)

i dont no how strange that is, but your right, that very closely resembles adult leaves, while i was looking at the picture before reading your post, thaqt was exactly what i thought

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 10:49PM
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Those are sprout leaves. It's growing its first true leaf in the last pic you posted. The sprout leaves won't grow much, if at all. They'll start to die back within the next year so don't get alarmed.

I just sprouted some flying dragon seeds. They're the only citrus I've grown that don't seem to have the sprout leaves.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2011 at 5:57PM
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AHHH. It's been too long!!

I see. Thanks, Zecowsay, that's good to know. Yeah, those leaves seem to have stopped growing, and the ones coming out the middle have been very slowly but surely growing. (By slowly, I mean VERYYYYY slowly.)

Anyway, AN UPDATE! There's now a SECOND orange seedling sprouting up; it looks about the same as the first seedling did in the first picture I ever posted, although one of its sprout leaves came out very tiny and mutatedish.(I SHALL NAME IT 'NEMO'.) Is it possible for a seed to contain multiple plants? Because I know for a fact that there was only a single seed planted in this pot... And what should I do with the two? Seperate them, or leave them together?

Also, on a side note, I got an OttLite desk lamp. They give full spectrum lighting, don't generate a lot of heat, and I've heard they're supposed to make pretty good plant lights.(The bulb is only 9W!) So I'll put the little guy, or rather guys, underneath that for a few hours a day(or more if you think they need it, I'm not sure how much light they need) and hopefully that'll help them really take off. They haven't been growing very much at all, and I suspect it's because there just isn't much light or warmth during this time of year.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 7:08PM
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Yes, it's common for citrus seeds to contain more than one plant. I've had one flying dragon seed give me 6 seedlings last month. If a citrus seed gives you more than one seedling, it usually means that those seedlings will be clones of the parent. That's actually pretty rare for most other fruit trees. For instance, An apple seed from an apple won't give you the same exact tree the fruit came from.

I've got a couple of seedlings growing too, and no, they really don't do much growing this time of year. Come March they should start taking off a little more.

As for light, 6 - 8 hours of direct light is ideal for getting them through the winter. I've got some citrus (trees and seedlings) that get 4 hours of direct sunlight from a window, then I use supplemental lighting (from almost the same thing you have) for another 4 hours. If you wanted to achieve max growth, the longer the better. 12+ hours

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 5:54PM
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Thanks! Yeah, I've been trying to give them 6 hours. I'd like to give them more, but I'm not sure how long the bulb lasts...but considering it's only 9W, I can't imagine it uses all that much energy.

So, do I keep the two sprouts together in the same pot for now? Or should I seperate them into individual pots; and if so, how do I go about doing that without damaging the roots? (Or worse, outright killing them.)

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 8:12PM
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I wouldn't worry about damaging the roots. I've had lots of seedlings out and it doesn't bother them at all, so long as they aren't allowed to dry out. Just be slow and don't try and pull them out. Tipping the pot over and letting the soil fall out is the best way for me.

Also, you should consider tip pruning the taproot. The first root a citrus seedling gets is called a taproot. In nature this is sent deep into the earth to help anchor the plant. But since you're growing this tree in a pot, it doesn't need a huge taproot. In fact, it's a huge pain trying to repot a tree with a long, thick taproot. So when your seedling's taproot gets about 4 inches long, I'd gently pinch the very tip of the root. This will cause it to branch out and fill the pot more evenly.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 10:26PM
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Thank you very much for this thread and the pictures. They are a help for someone who's baby tangerines are about one week old!

If you have time to post, how are your baby oranges doing?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 11:02AM
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