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Overwintering Citrus in containers

Posted by granburyflowergirl 7 (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 14, 10 at 10:54

What do you all do with your citrus plants over the winter and what have you found to be the pros and cons of your method?

I am in Zone 7 with relatively mild winters but the potential for hard freezes. I have access to an unheated storage building with no windows: that's it. Anything else I will have to buy or build and I am willing to buy or build something but I am on a budget.

I have thought about putting the pots in bigger pots in the ground with Styrofoam between them and heavy mulch on top, then a thick vinyl curtain attached to the house and light bulbs/Christmas lights (along the south wall of the house). Would this be enough?

Or would they survive just being stuck in the storage building with no light except once or twice a week when I am over there? (I learned last year that plumerias here can be just plucked out of the ground and stuck bare root in the garage over winter with no problem so I thought it might be worth asking)

Any other ideas? Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Howdy...What's the coldest it gets, and how long do freezes last?

Some people overwinter citrus in dark, cool areas, 'basements/garages' but I've never gone that route. I believe when citrus are wintered this way, most allow citrus to go into total dormancy..infrequent waterings, etc.

Since you're on a budget I don't know if this idea is feasible, but is it possible to cut and add windows in your storage building? Large windows? What size is the building? Is it big enough to overwinter tall or 'X' amount? In other words, if you were to invest in the building, would it be worth the expense?

Some citrus are hardier than others, so before buying, do your homework. Citrus are sub-tropical, therefore most cannot endure long, freezing temps.

Even FL has freezes.
Quite a few people I know who grow citrus in containers, wrap a blanket atop the soil..Although their winters are nowhere near as harsh and long as mine..2-3 wks @ 32F. Still, their trees do great.
Citrus need a short cold period anyway. Among other reasons, the cold helps sweeten fruit.

If your freezes are short, you should be able to grow citrus with some protection..be prepared for those icy days and nights though.
Do Christmas light bulbs emit heat? The larger bulbs do or did, but I'm unsure about small lights. Keeping roots from a total freeze, 'long term' is a must.

Does anyone in your area grow citrus? If so, ring their door bell and introduce yourself..lol..it might sound weird, but you never know..you might meet a wonderful garden friend. Admiration does wonders. Ask about their tree/s. Type, age, or any other question that pops in your head.

Also, there are 'Location Forums' here on GW. Browse Forums. Your state might be listed. If it is, ask away.

I'm in IL, z5. The only citrus hardy enough to survive winter is Poncirus 'trifoliate.' Poncirus is primarily used for grafting.. Its oranges are seedy and bitter. Mine lived 4 years until someone/thing stampeded the trunk in mid-winter. By spring it was a goner. Literally. I never found it or its remains..lol.

All my other citrus are grown in containers. They're placed outside from spring until autumn, when temps drop in the mid-upper 30's, then some are brought in the house, others, in a small green house..

Good luck, Toni


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

I'll start..

Citrus need light to survive and they are nothing like plumeria for sure since I too have dozens of both.

Your idea sounds pretty good, and you could even use a space heater on real cold nights. I use a pop greenhouse that you can get at Lowes or HD for less than 150 bucks..

I use to store them in warm temps all winter with lot's of sunlight and supplemental lights, but no more..Acouple of VERY informative threads I think that will help you a lot I linked for you..

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/citrus/msg1111311928687.html?29

Here is a link that might be useful: Very informative about overwintering and lighting


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Toni,
Too late for doing homework, I already bought them! Lol
I don't know the answer to your first 2 questions, all I could find was "average" winter low: 32.2 and high: 62.2. I believe I saw something about 650-700 "average" annual chilling hours too. I learned the hard way about averaging temperatures when I first moved to Texas from California...The book "Placed Rated Almanac" stated something like "the average temp in Texas: 75F, so I figured it would be just like California - surprise! They also have a saying here: "if you don't like the weather in Texas...wait 15 minutes" a bit of an exaggeration but we do get real swings and although we sometimes dip into the teens, I don't remember it ever staying that cold for more than a few hours (I could be wrong).

I have posted the question on the Texas forum, but TX is so big we have 4 zones with totally different growing conditions.

Adding windows to the shed is not a feasible option, it is a crappy old 8X10 located right where my future garage will be (when I win the lottery-lol), so not worth investing in.

I have a Meyer Lemon and a Mexican Lime that have been in the ground 3 and 2 years respectively with Christmas lights (the old large kind that do heat up and are probably a fire hazard?) and blankets...both froze to the ground last winter. They surprised me by coming back after I bought new ones, but they are much smaller than they used to be with no flowers or fruit. I have not seen any other citrus trees in neighbor's yards, several people around here have told me they keep them in pots and treat them like annuals, replacing them every year!

Sorry to hear about your orange, it didn't sound too appetizing though!

Okay Mike, so the shed is out, I needed to know that...it figures, that would have been too easy.

What is a "Pop" greenhouse? I have not seen anything at Lowes or HD in that price range, I bought a really small one last year for 49.00 but none of my citrus would fit due to the shelves which cant be removed, it is more for flowers and seedlings.

Thanks for the links, I don't mind if my plants go dormant in winter as long as it doesn't harm them, I can't bring them inside, like you, all of my one appropriate window space is taken and I couldn't deal with the bug issues. The thick vinyl is super clear so they would get tons of light if I went that route.

re: keeping the roots warm, would an electric blanket on low during the coldest nights work?


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

granburyflowergirl,
Since we are in the same zone and I'm in South Central Oklahoma, let me tell you what I do.
I take all my citrus containers into the garage., since it is also my woodshop I have lots of flourscent(SP?) lighting, and I leave it on about 14 hours a day, in really cold times I've got a gas heater I can run to keep them somewhat warm.
On days that the temperature will be warmer I take them outside and let them have some sun. This has worked very well for about 3 years now with no ill affects. For me it takes a little time moving all of them in and out but I think it is worth it.

Charles


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Grand...which citrus did you get? Do you have room indoors?
One thing about growing citrus inside, the house smells, SOOOOO sweet when flowering.
Meyers do well indoors. In fact, they bloom/fruit most of the year..As long as the room isn't too hot and/or stuffy. Is Mexican Lime the same as Key Lime?? Keys do fair..depends on light, ect.

And like you said, "if you don't like the weather in TX, wait 15 mins." lol.
You can always set them outdoors on nice days. How big are they? Heavy?

We here in Il rarely get to take plants out after late Nov. Although the last few years, my Gardenias and Geraniums were put out as early as March 1. Not permantly, only nice, warmer days.

Since the shed is out, 'oh BTW, good luck winning the lottery, lol,' I guess your options are 1. bringing inside, 2. grow in containers (out)w/shelter, 3. plant in the ground also with shelter. 'Mulch, lights, blankets.

Ever go to Dave's Garden? There's a good number of threads from ppl in Tx who grow citrus in the ground. It's a thought.
I can't imagine buying a citrus and tossing in fall. I have problems ridding annuals,lol. Perhaps in Tx, citrus are inexpensive???
A couple of my citrus care from Tx..a nursery called Acorn Springs..Ever hear of it?
I'm praying the FL ban will end..how long can it go on? It's been 4-6 yrs. I miss ordering from Briteleaf and Harris Citrus. You'd think the Canker problem would be resolved by now. Guess not.

As long as your Christmas lights are for outdoor use, they should be safe.

Mike, do you keep your pop-up gh inside? What its size? Does it need air to expand?


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

This will be my first Citrus wintering, and my plan is to use a small hoop-house (pop-up).
I'm going to put it on the north-east side of my house in a protected location.

Josh


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Hopeful, I got one of everything! lol Lowe's had a huge sale: 4.50 for satsumas, 6.50 for lemons, limes and calamondin oranges...The only thing I don't have yet is grapefruit and blood orange. I don't have space in the house or garage for more than one of the 13 citrus, hence my quest for overwintering solutions.

Mike, tell us about your pop up greenhouse! Do you have pics?

Josh, are you making your own hoop house or buying one? I would like to hear more details about it, I already have a cattle panel hoop frame that I might be able to rig into something
Thanks!


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Hi Granburyflowergirl, I will take a few pictures this week and post them. It i just a cheapy I got at Lowe's or HD, can't remember, and I just put them all in their until the first snowstorm of 20's start start to roll in...The sun and space heater keeps that pop house at great temps, above freezing..:-)

Josh, go for it..It feels GREAT to be able to extend the growing season for the plants outdoors, while there is less time for any pests to party in doors if you ever get the....I love the fact they stay outdoors for as long as possible, and that I can walk in there, with what tiny space I have to open a fold up chair in there, and sit after I have sprayed the entire inside down with water, and feel like I am in a hot house while it's cold outside..lol

Hi Toni::;;:-):-):-)Hug!
The pop up is about 8 by 12 feet...
I put a small fan in there that blows the air around, and keep the temps on the cooler side if I can..Seems like my citrus LOVE the cooler temps over the warmer more stuffier air I use to keep them at..Right about the time they start to pop blooms from this environment, it is about December when they come in and create a nice fragrance through the house most the winter, PEST FREE!...It was your idea, as in many that has helped me keep the bugs away and get the most out of my plants all winter..
Make no mistake, you have been around for quite sometime, and I have taken so much valuable information away from here, as many people should be aware of...I still thank you, so I can share this with others..Let no one underestimate your knowledge of citrus, since you do very well with them I have seen the evidence..:-)

Mike


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Ack!!! $6.50 for a lemon? I paid $50.00 for mine.

My citrus comes into the house and goes under lights with a timer as soon as nights get cold.

If there is electricity in the shed, it is cheap and easy to hang a florescent fixture over the trees. About $12 for a 4' shop light, $6.50 for a pair of cool daylight bulbs, and a cheap timer, maybe another $6.

If there is no power, maybe you could run an exterior extension cord over from your house.

My lemon and lime are happy with the cool daylight bulbs hung just over their heads. I set the timer to mimic the actual hours that the sun is out. House temperature is kept pretty close to 68 F all winter. That seems to be fine with the trees (or as my son calls them "the babies").


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Oregon, I could totally do that! I have an outside extension cord that will reach the shed easily, and I have a timer too! Are you saying to get a shop light and put "daylight bulbs" in it? Or are those 2 different types of lights I would need? What is a daylight bulb exactly? Is it a fluorescent grow light? Where do you get them? My shed is 8 x 8 and has no windows or heat at all, so I doubt it would stay 68 degrees all winter like your house but I don't know, It could heat up in the sun during the day and hold the heat over night somewhat. Are the daylight bulbs the only light your plants get in the house or are they also by windows? Thanks!

Mike, I still want to see pics of your pop house!


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

You cannot depend on citrus to not freeze in Zone 7. I'm in zone 7 and this past January (2010) we had about 3 weeks of very cold day and night temps. Remember, they had freezes and citrus tree damage in Florida in zone 9A&B this year. We have these type winters every few years when we have snow, sleet and bitter cold. We had freezing cold that would DEFINITELY kill citrus in 1962, 1977 & 78, 1982, 1993, 2002 and 2010. The hard freeze and ice storm of Jan 1982 practically wiped out the northern Gulf Coast satsuma business from Louisiana to Florida's Cedar Key. Your best bet may be to replace your shed door with a clear glass (plexi-glass)storm door, seal your shed and run a power line to your shed for a heater. All you need to do is keep it above freezing. They will do well even down into the mid-30 degrees if they have light. Just don't let frost fall on them or let them freeze. Here we have second hand stores and salvage stores. I bought a storm door and frame at a thrift store for $15. You can buy a salvaged wood panel door, take out the panels, use the frame and cover the door with clear corrugated polycarbonate. Use your imagination and make-do with what you have and can afford.


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

I totally forgot...I will take pictures tomorrow for you..:-)

Mike


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

I think all you have to do is to keep the temperature above freezing.

The long light bulbs for the florescent shop lights have color ratings. It has to do with the spectrum of light they emit. I buy the ones that are labeled "cool daylight". They have more blue spectrum than regular bulbs.

There is a "warm daylight" that is more yellow.

The bulbs labeled as grow lights are quite expensive and you do not need to buy them. I've grown all sorts of different plants under the cool daylight bulbs and all are quite happy, grow well, and have great color.

The warning is that the bulbs do not emit ultraviolet, so you have to be careful when you move your plants back outdoors. They will sun burn if you don't introduce them to sunlight gradually. Think of it as taking the time to develop their tan before putting them in the sun full time.


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Oregon, thanks for clearing that up for me and good to know about the need for a base tan:-)

TSmith, What a great idea! I hadn't thought of just replacing the doors with Plexiglas ones, that would be easy and cheap enough to do and that together with the shop light would surely be enough light. That may even help the plants with their base tan :-).

The shed is pretty well sealed except the door anyway. What kind of electric heater would be safest to use in a small wooden shed? I imagine I would only want to heat to just above freezing or would warm light bulbs in addition to the shop light still be the way to go?

Now I just need to get all the crap out of the shed before winter...


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

I would suggest one of the ceramic heaters. You can pick the up from the big box home improvement stores for about $40-$50. The one I have for our basement den oscillates, has a high and low setting and electronic thermostat. If this is the only plant going inside the shed, you shouldn't have to worry about humidity. It is a 120 volt heater. Shop now before prices rise for the winter. Another option is K1 kerosene.


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Hi Grandburyflower..As I promised..It only cost me about 110 dollars and far worth the price I paid..LOVE it!

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Mike:-)


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Mike-
Thanks for the info- I have more questions. I also am in zone 5. For the last 2 yrs I have had growlights in my basement to overwinter citrus for 6 months. I battle leaf drop and lose plants.
About what dates did you bring plants inside from your small greenhouse and what dates back out?
When you brought them in, did you stay away from the grow lights and just use window light? What was the house temp?
Thanks for the info. I do not have much natural window light so use artificial light and am stuck with using the basement where the temp is stable at about 68 degrees.

Kyle


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Thanks Mike! Looks great, more questions: How big is it? How do you anchor it so the wind doesn't take it out?


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Hi Kyle..

I keep them in that house until I know the temps at night would kill my plants while I sleep if I should loose electricity...So I wait until the temps regularly drop into the 20's before I bring them in..Last year it wasn't till December before I had too..I think it was at the end of Febuary is when I put them back out...It certainly cut the pain of them having to stay inside by a huge margin.

I did not use light after bringing them in..Just natural sunlight in south facing windows..I kept the room often into the 50's to low 60's...If I had provided heat in that room and raised the temps into the high 60's, then I would of got lot's of leaf drop even with the amount of sun they got in the window.To many trees share the same windows...If one tree got ALL the sun to itself, then maybe warmer temps would of been ok..

What a pain, battling leaf drop...If you have no sunny windows and have no choice but to stick them under lights, then temps will play a major role with leaf drop and light.
If you are keeping your room temps above 60-65, then at least 14 hours of bright light is needed...Many here will probably suggest many good lights that would have to be provided that will work well for a room with no sun.
It would have to reach the center leaves and bottom, along with top. The lights would have to be very close to the trees also..You would also want to provide air movement...I would surround them with aluminum reflecting material that would keep all the light around them..
If you do not provide this much light, the plant will loose it leaves because the roots are still in work mode with temps that warm. If there is not enough light, then the leaves will drop so the roots can support themselves on little light. If you kept those temps below the low 60's, then 8 -10 hours of light would be ok..Of course, less that 8 would mean certain death for the plant. What a balancing act. It takes a lot of trial and error, lot's of questions to get it just so. IKt took me over ten years..Lost a lot of trees in the process..:-(
I wish i knew of the forum before that..

Hope this helps you..:-)

Grandbury, hello..It is I think 9 by 12 and 8 feet high...Thye come with ground stakes and rope strings for tying...So far so good...


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Thanks for the response Mike- a balancing act indeed!
It brings me to something I wanted to mention for the benefit of others and to add to the discussion.
As an experiment last year, I took some of my more cold hardy citrus, some trifoliates, a yuzu and a satsuma and left them a staircase in my garage. Almost no light and temps ranging from 35-50 for 5 months. I did not lose any plants and did not drop any leaves. Growth took off again in the Spring.
So- I have to respectfully disagree with the comment you made at the top of the thread about citrus needing light. They can go dormant without significant light.
I plan to expand the experiment a little this winter but my ultimate goal is to grow plants through the winter. Hence, my earlier questions for you.
The garage dormancy may not work for less cold hardy citrus. I also do not know how it would effect immature fruit and blooms. I suspect I would lose all fruit.
All of this written to show another end of the heat/light balance and spectrum.


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I have read a bunch of these and am no closer to finding my own overwintering solution. For every citrus buff that says X will cause Y, another says X will not be a problem.


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Follow one suggestion at a time, until one works for you.....

I have mastered over wintering them by the very forum in which you find contradicts itself.

You will get it some day..:-)

Mike


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Yes but the margin of error might been a dead plant.


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

@jacklord Ive been growing container citrus for about 15 years. The first 5 years I use to call them summer trees because every winter they would croak.

About 10 years ago I meet a northern container citrus grower that specialized in growing container citrus in the north that help me.

Some postings made by a few steady show boat members are and will be something to question, Makes me wonder.
So jacklord the bottom line is their are other web sites on the web that will help you. Tom


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"Some postings made by a few steady show boat members are and will be something to question, Makes me wonder."
- Like who, Tom?
- And what do their postings make you wonder?

Josh


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 8, 10 at 12:38

Of course Tom is correct. Though I don't see any evidence of it in this thread at all, there will always be those that consistently tend to operate at well beyond the limits of their knowledge. They're very easy to spot, because when logic or one of the plant-related sciences is employed to illustrate any error(s) they often turn surly to shift focus from the actual topic and avoid an uncomfortable issue.

This has been a nice thread, with lots of people doing their best to be as helpful as they can - nothing in the way of 'showboating' that I can discern.

Al


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Al I new you would be here blowing your horn. Heaven forbit anyone that doesnt agree with you.


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

"Al[,] I new [sic] you would be here[,] blowing your horn. Heaven forbit [sic] anyone that doesn[']t [sic] agree with you."

Huh? Plant54, how did I know that you would be here to stir the pot, eh?
Have you noticed that you only comment and back-pat those who disagree with the logical posits Al puts forth?
I've noticed, and I bet others have noticed, as well.

The only thing that remains to be seen is whether you're going to offer any help to the OP.
This snide arrangement might be to your liking, but I find it obnoxious and childish.

Josh


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 8, 10 at 15:03

Gee - I'd say I was agreeing that in some threads, there will always be those posting that are 'in over their heads', which is what I took the meaning of showboating to be. I wasn't disagreeing with anyone, even though I don't agree with the way it was said ...... i.e unless you really DON'T think this has been a nice thread until the innuendo, and now, the personal effrontery.

Flower girl - I have over-wintered several citrus, but not recently. My focus is on trees that I'm able to shape into believable bonsai trees w/o having to fight too hard against their growth habits. Those trees I DID over-winter were under fluorescent lights in a basement grow room. The lights were cool white and almost touching the foliage. The temperature ranged consistently between 60-65*, and I was able to keep the RH level between 55-60%, though that was for the benefit of my other trees. Citrus should tolerate humidity levels lower than that. The plants did very well & remained healthy - no (or very little) leaf loss. I prepared the plants for their indoor visit by moving them to shade 2-3 weeks before I intended to bring them in, and by treating them with 2-3 applications of cold-pressed neem oil at 1-2 week intervals prior to bringing them in.

Good luck.

Al


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

@ Tomcitrus: I am happy you found someone to give you good advice and you have been successful overwintering your citrus for 10 years, but it would be much more helpful to me and probably others reading this thread if you were to actually share what works for you.

@jacklord: I feel your pain, but I really don't think there is a magic one size fits all answer, everyone's situation is a bit different so you have to figure out why "x" causes "y" for one person when it is no problem for another and then see whose particular situation is the most similar to yours. Also, I am seeing that different people clearly have different objectives and have to do things differently accordingly i.e are you just trying to keep your plant alive through winter or are you trying to produce fruit and flowers all winter?

@Al: What does the cold-pressed neem oil do? where do you buy that?

Unfortunately I don't have a basement, all I have is a small windowless wooden shed that is on skids set on concrete so no warmth from the ground. I figured I could put shop lights with cool daylight bulbs in there and I can retrofit the doors with clear vinyl panels to help with some morning sunlight but I am not comfortable rigging a gas or electric space heater in there (seems like a fire hazard with the wood) - so that's where I am stuck (that and RH...how does one regulate that?). I am still thinking about heat emitting light bulbs or C-9 Christmas lights, or???

My plan is evolving the more I read, right now I think I would like to get a pop up greenhouse with a space heater like Meyermike's setup to be my transition and reduce the amount of time the plants have to be in the shed but maybe that's overkill for zone 7. I also gather that watering needs will be diminished so I'll use the dowel test but what about fertilizer? do you withhold that all winter?

I plan to re-pot them all into gritty mix at some point, either in the fall or next spring.


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 8, 10 at 16:21

Should I assume you have too many trees or they're too large to be your indoor companions over winter?

Something I wrote about neem oil:

Neem Extract as an Insecticide

In India mainly, but also Asia and Africa, grows a tree all plant enthusiasts should be aware of, Azadirachta indica, commonly known as the "neem" tree, and a relative of mahogany. Extracts from the trees seeds contain azadirachtin, a relatively safe and effective naturally occurring organic insecticide. Let me preface the comments following, by reminding you that the terms "naturally occurring and/or organic" do not universally mean safe. Pyrethrums, rotenone, and even the very dangerous nicotine are all organic insecticides that should be handled with great caution. Neem extracts, on the other hand are very safely used in a wide variety of cosmetics, as a topical treatment for minor wounds, as an insecticide in grain storage containers, bins, and bags, and a whole host of other applications. Neem is very safe for use around birds & mammals. I'll limit this discussion to its use as an insecticide.

Neem works in many ways. It is effective both in topical and a systemic applications. It is an anti-feedant, an oviposition deterrent (anti-egg laying), a growth inhibitor, a mating disrupter, and a chemosterilizer. Azadirachtin, a tetranortriterpenoid compound, closely mimics the hormone ecdysone, which is necessary for reproduction in insects. When present, it takes the place of the real hormone and thus disrupts not only the feeding process, but the metamorphic transition as well, disrupting molting. It interferes with the formation of chitin (insect "skin") and stops pupation in larvae, thus short-circuiting the insect life cycle. It also inhibits flight ability, helping stop insect spread geographically.

Tests have shown that azadirachtin is effective in some cases at concentrations as low as 1 ppm, but some producers use alcohol in the extraction of neem oil from plant parts which causes the azadirachtin to be removed from the oil. Some products touting neem oil as an ingredient actually have no measurable amounts of azadiractin. I use what is referred to either as cold pressed or virgin neem oil. You may also occasionally find it referred to as "raw" neem or "crude" neem oil.

Neem oil is most often used in an aqueous (water) suspension as a foliar spray or soil drench. Commonly, it is diluted to about a .5 to 2% solution, but the suggested ratio for use in container plant culture is 1 tsp. per quart of warm water. A drop or two of dish soap (castile or olive oil soap is best) helps keep the oil emulsified. The mixture is then applied as a mist to all leaf and bark surfaces and as a soil drench to the tree's root system. It should not be applied as a foliar spray on hot days or in bright sun as leaf burn may occur. Remember to agitate the container frequently as you apply and do not mix anymore than you will use in one day. Neem breaks down rapidly in water and/ or sunlight.

Some users of insecticides feel the need to observe the instant results of their efforts in order to be convinced of the effectiveness of what they are using. The application of neem derivatives does not provide this immediate gratification. There is virtually no knockdown (instant death) factor associated with its use. Insects ingesting or contacting neem usually take about 3 - 14 days to die. Its greatest benefit; however, is in preventing the occurrence of future generations. It is also interesting to note that in studies it was found that when doses were given, purposefully insufficient to cause death or complete disruption of the metamorphic cycle, up to 30 surviving generations showed virtually no resistance/ immunity to normal lethal doses, so it appears that insects build no resistance to azadiractin.

I have been using neem oil for five years as both a preventative and fixative and have had no insect problems on my container plants. Applications of cold-pressed neem oil are most effective for use on mites, whitefly, aphids, thrips, fungus gnats, caterpillars, beetles, mealy bugs, leaf miners, g-moth, and others. It seems to be fairly specific in attacking insects with piercing or rasping mouth parts. Since these are the pests that feed on plant tissues, they are our main target species. Unless beneficial like spiders, lady beetles, certain wasps, etc., come in direct contact with spray, it does little to diminish their numbers.

Neem oil does have an odor that might be described as similar to that of an old onion, so you may wish to test it first, if you intend to use it indoors. I've found the odor dissipates in a day or two. As always, read and follow label instructions carefully.
Neem oil can be purchased from many net or local sources. My favorite brand is Dyna-Gro, pure, cold-pressed neem oil. If you have trouble locating a source, you can contact me via the forum or directly.

Al


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Thanks for the detailed neem info Al!

Cool, sort of a birth control for spider mites then ;-) I like that it wont hurt the beneficials. I guess I should be using this on my in-ground plants like my cherry trees and gardenias too and maybe even my veggie garden?.

Yes, I have way too many plants now due to a spontaneous fit of irrational impulsiveness: I walked into my local Lowes one day this spring and either an employee had screwed up royally, or they had the greatest sale ever on citrus plants ($4.00 satsumas and $6.00 everything else). I bought 14 trees before I really even knew what I was doing. I have only one window at my house that is appropriate for plants in winter and is already spoken for with my avocados, aloe vera, bougainvilla and mandevillas and one lucky citrus.

Most of my plants are at my mom's 15 miles away and although I have entertained fantasies about turning her back bedroom into a conservatory, she is not the plant enthusiast that I am and her french antique furniture is wall to wall in there - so I get the yard and the shed to play with and that's it.

I found a local retail source for foliage pro, I will see if they carry the virgin neem oil too

Thanks!


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 8, 10 at 18:07

Glad you found the FP - the neem oil I use happens to be packaged by Dyna-Gro, too. I hope you find it locally. It works outdoors, too. Just remember there's no immediate knockdown - unless you mix it with rubbing alcohol. It's a pretty good prophylactic fungicide as well.

I hope you get that 'spontaneous irrational impulsiveness' under control, or it might be YOU in the shed. ;o)

Al


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Al-
Thanks for the neem info, very helpful.
How would you compare/contrast neem vs a horticultural oil approved for summer use (ultrafine or parafinic).
Last fall I prepped my plants (that were going to the basement with lights) with 2 rounds of Ced-a-Flora brand cedar oil. I still battled pests in the winter, especially mealy bugs.

Kyle


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 9, 10 at 9:26

I think I'd reach for the neem before the perfect oils, or I might even experiment with combining them, though I would feel comfortable applying neem at 2 week intervals, but not the PO. You'll get some of the suffocating properties of the PO with neem, along with the other benefits mentioned above .... as long as the azadirachtin levels haven't been compromised by the extraction process.

Al


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Granbury:

While flowering/fruiting would be nice, just keeping them alive would be fine. This will be their first winter.

Options:

1) Sunporch- they would get sunlight for about 6 hours. Night temps are cool but not freezing. I was thinking a heat pad for the soil and a supplemental grow light. Drawback: they would near a heat vent, but the heat is not very powerful in that room. Space is also at a premium by the window.

2) Basement- No heat in the basement. Cooler than sunporch, but again, not freezing.

a) Set them up under growlights and pads.

b) Just put them in a dark corner and leave them alone until spring.

I know not what to do.

:(


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Sunporch sounds heavenly. Just deflect the air from the heat vent, with a piece of cardboard, for example, so that the hot dry air doesn't blow directly on the plants. Even if there is not enough direct sun for all the plants, you probably have a lot of bright light which should be adequate at those low temperatures. I wouldn't think that you would need a heat pad for the soil.
I grow mine at the windows of a walkout basement which runs about 60 to 65 degrees (they are happier at the lower temperature). The last few winters I have been watering every 1 1/2 to 2 weeks instead of every week and have found they are "happier" - less leaf drop. The most difficult time for me, and them, is just before they go out in the Spring. This causes me to set them out on the early side in direct sunlight and sets them back for a month or two. They are in extra heavy 22" clay pots and, all things considered, this is the best I can do for them. They have adapted.
Cath


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

I am with Cath on this....Took the words right out of my mouth..

If you use a heat pad, then you should consider providing at least 14 hours of sunlight to compliment the roots in action..

Mike..:-)


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

LOL Al: I am doing my best to stay away from plant sales at least until I figure everyone's winter quarters out.

Jacklord: this will be my first winter too, so any advice I might give is the blind leading the blind or to be more PC, the newbie leading the newbie. That said, I would be all over the sun porch as long as you can deflect the heat. See above for preparing them with virgin neem oil so you wont have pest problems and forget about the heating pad and grow lights, maybe just a shop light with a "cool daylight" bulb for any that don't get enough light from the window.

I read that in California where they have citrus orchards, the nights get down to 32 regularly in winter and the trees are fine, so if your porch doesn't freeze you may not have to do anything else besides water when the soil gets dry using the wooden dowel test (correct me if I am wrong guys). I think if you can just monitor things very closely the first year you will be able to tell if the plants are happy or not and go from there.

I am in the same zone as you and last year with the really cold winter and several nights in the teens, my in ground Improved Meyer Lemon and Mexican Lime died to the ground (despite my covering them with Christmas lights and blankets), but they came back, so I know they can handle some cold - although it will be a year before these two are back to the size that they were before.


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Thanks folks.

If I wanted a hands-off approach, could I just set them somewhere in the basement and leave them alone?


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Nikki

Where did you find the Foliage Pro and the Neem oil? I was unable to find FP in Fort Worth and shipping is pretty high. I go through Granbury now and then so if there is a place that has it there I will stop on my next trip to pick some up.

Thanks
Kim


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Jacklord, I have read where some people say they have done that successfully but I wouldn't go that hands off on your first year especially if you are worried about the chance of losing a plant. My parents went "hands off" many years ago with my pet hamster when I was at boarding school, put him in the basement with a few water bottles, a salt lick and a food dispenser...didn't end well.

Hi Kim, I found this retail store on the Dyna gro site:

Hydro-Expo
2929 Altamere Blvd, Unit A
Fort Worth, TX 76116

Phone: 817-377-4600

but they have yet to return a call and I haven't had time to drive out there. There are several stores listed in Dallas too. Go to: http://www.dyna-gro.com/ and click on dyna-gro dealers then click on Texas for a list.

I got impatient and ordered from Dyna gro directly. 10% discount for mentioning garden web offsets the shipping cost a bit.


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Nikki

I think their storefront burned down. I believe they are rebuilding. They will order for customers. I was hoping for a place to just go in and purchase. Thanks!

Kim


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

I procured Foliage Pro off of Ebay.


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Jacklord,
The citrus overwinter without much work; no fertilizing until the end of January at least and they can easily go another month or so here. I use one of those indoor coil hoses. Mine is 50' and I stretch it like mad. If I had it to do over again, I'd get the 75' which also has a bigger diameter. They have adapters so can be used with both indoor and outdoor faucets. This has been a useful purchase for other things too, for example, we used it to wash the dog a few days ago.
I do flush the citrus with distilled water once in January (when they are starting to look weary), a gallon for 16" pots and up, a half gallon for smaller. I have a lot of limestone dissolved in my water and this gets rid of a lot of salts. Someday I may even do this twice a winter but that hasn't happened yet. The last few years I have been watering every 1 1/2 to 2 weeks and that's at about 60 degrees. If your sunporch is colder, you'll be doing less watering. I have the pots set on bricks which sit in galvanized feed pans so the water can run out of the pots but not on the floor and the plants don't sit in water.
Just curious - What is a guy who is trying to avoid work doing raising plants - indoors yet?
Cath


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

The info from the Florida citrus belt is that citrus will show significant damage when the temperature drops below 28* for more than 2 or 3 hours. With frost, even above 28*, you will probably see significant leaf damage and leaf drop. The lights I mentioned above will provide light and a significant amount of heat. Halogen lights generate a lot of heat. If you can build a plastic curtain on top and on three sides of your citrus tree inside the shed with the door replaced with a clear finish, the halogen lights might provide all of the heat you will normally need except for the coldest nights.


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

tsmith, thanks for the temperature specifics, I have been looking for that!

I have read this thread twice and I can't find where you mentioned lights. Which lights are you referring to? Are these lights in addition to or instead of the fluorescent shop cool day lights?

What does the plastic curtain do? Is is for heat/insulation or humidity control? Would you place the lights inside the curtain with the plants or between the curtain and the shed roof/walls?

Thanks
Nikki


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Tsmith,

I was hoping you could give specifis on heat too.

At what temp will a tree start to suffer nutritional and growth problems while in a container if above ground?
For those in containers such as clay? And for those in plastic, black. Those in clay. I suppose the hot sun would over heat the roots to a harmful point if in black plastic?
If in clay, can they handle temps in clay if the temps outside are in the 90's if in full sun?
You get what I mean right?

It seems that when I get a stretch of very hot weather, my plants which are in clay, start to loose their dark green color no matter what I do.
But when the temps come back down into the 80's or lower and the nights cool, they return to a dark green once again after a few days..

I think many don't attribute heat and cold temps to nutritional defficiencies..

Thank very much..

Mike


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Too hot, too cold, too moist, or too dry will impair Calcium (and Nitrogen) uptake, I believe.
In general, I'd say the optimum potted Citrus range is between 50 - 90 degrees F.


Josh


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Just to mix things up a bit, I remember a thread (I believe it might of been on the citrus.forumup forum) which depicted how potted citrus were kept in a dark, cool European basement over the winter, and then brought outside for the summer. Supposedly, the trees did fine in the basement and suffered little leaf drop. Citrus leaf drop in the winter (when they are kept outside) predominantly occurs when the leaves are exposed to the sun, but the roots are too cool to transport water. I will try to find the thread when I have some time, but I really enjoy these concepts which question those things we take for granted.

-Brett


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Brett-
Yes, those things were posted on forumup.
The European story mimics the experience I had in my garage stairwell last year.

Kyle


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Just curious - What is a guy who is trying to avoid work doing raising plants - indoors yet?
Cath
------------------------------------------------------

LOL! Not trying to avoid anything. Simpy trying to ascertain the best way to get my plants through winter. Were benign negligence "the best", then so be it.


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

  • Posted by bcskye 5 Brn.Co., IN (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 16, 10 at 19:23

Newbie to this forum. A couple of weeks ago I purchased a Meyer Lemon seedling (?) from one of our local Lowes for $9 plus. Brought it home and set it on the picnic table where it gets full light and it is flourishing. Today I went with my husband to the same Lowes. While he checked out something else, I wandered back to the garden shop. Lo and behold, these same plants, along with Mexican Lime and some type of orange, were reduced to $1 each. Oh, I would have loved to have grabbed them all, but restrained myself. I bought one more Meyer Lemon and two of the Mexican Limes. May have to go back tomorrow and get a couple of the oranges. In fact, since we are considering buying a place in Florida after Christmas, maybe I should by the whole lot and give them a good start before starting my own mini orchard down there.

Now, what I'd like to know is how long does it usually take for the Meyer Lemon to produce fruit? They are only 7" - 12" tall right now so I assume it will be quite a long time. I've enjoyed reading all the information on this thread.


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

You can get them to flower within the first few weeks if a cutting from a mature plant.

Usually, any bought grafted, such as the one you speak of at Lowes, will blossom as soon as you bring it home, already have blossomed, or on the next bloom cycle..Then comes the fruit at these ages..:-)

Mike


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

  • Posted by mksmth ok 7 a ish (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 17, 10 at 10:16

bcskye

I have the same trees, the orange is a washington navel. got mine back in april and all three have flushed growth twice since. You might double check Florida's laws regarding bringing in citrus and other plants.


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

  • Posted by bcskye 5 Brn.Co., IN (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 17, 10 at 21:03

Thank you, mksmth. I forgot about the fact that Florida probably has laws against bringing them. Guess if we do move down there, I'll just have to gift them to my sister who could care less, or friends. I didn't get back to pick up a couple of the oranges today, but will try tomorrow. Your reports on the flushed growth you've experienced since April is very encouraging. I've learned a lot from this thread alone.


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

(smile) If I found citrus for $4, I would get impulsive, too. And $1? Who cares if there is any place to put them; I'd take them all.

If you have to add heat to an enclosed wooden shed, I suggest an electric oil filled radiator. They give a very steady even slow heat. When it is on, the heater feels hot, but you can put your hand on it, so there is a lot less fire danger.


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

I've JUST discovered this forum after attempting, often unsuccessfully, to overwinter Meyer lemons in Connecticut. My success rate (which was pretty poor) improved considerably after I read an article correlating winter leaf drop to light levels and soil temperatures. Apparently citrus root systems totally shut down when soil temps. drop to 55 deg. or below. In my sunroom, the cool floor area would drop the temp. down fairly low, especially in Jan. & Feb. Then, the very cold night would be followed by a very bright day, with lots of sun and high temps. in the sunroom. The roots would not be able to keep up with the evaporation rate, and to compensate, the plants dropped leaves. The study I read noted that leaf drop was minimal when plants were kept in cooler, shaded rooms since the transpiration rate from the leaves was significantly lower. By putting my citrus pots in a "hot box" where the pot only was kept warm with a thermostatically controlled light bulb, the leaf drop diminished considerably. Unfortunately I had been unaware (until now) of Al's "gritty mix", and I'm hoping that makes an improvement as well. Anyone know if chopped pine needles would substitute for the fines?


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Hi Tanksalot...

I am thrilled you are learning how to avoid leaf drop...I have been saying this for a very long time although it took me years to get what you learned..Last year I didn't have any leaf drop one any...It felt good to see the leaves stay green all winter and pest free..

For me, pine needles I would not use.
Pine needles are high in a couple of substances known to inhibit growth of many plants, specifically known as methanol and terpenes...Over time these compounds will diminish, usually as the needles get older, that is usually when the smell of the pine is gone, but then too when this diminishes, the needles can break down very quickly, something you are trying to avoid in your mixes that you want to use, especially in containers.. Maybe someone can correct me if I am wrong..Al in particular would be the best judge on this one..

Mike


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Mike:
Thanks for the response! I thought I had sent you an email through this forum, but maybe I messed up.

I saw that you're in Massachusetts. Are you saying in your response that, using Al's gritty mix, you've succeeded in overwintering Meyer lemons in New England without ANY leaf drop and without bottom heat? If so, that's TERRIFIC!! We're heading to San Jose, CA in two days to see the kids, and if the gritty mix will solve the leaf drop problem, I'll bring back a citrus forest! Probably look for pine fines as well. I'd much prefer not to use the bottom heat approach, but it's been all that I've found (until now) that works.
Even with bottom heat, I still lost quite a few leaves, but it wasn't as devastating as without the heat. They survived. I had been using Miracle Grow soil. Found the cactus/citrus mix and used that just recently. Still looking for fines.
Years ago, my father had given me a 5 foot citrus that grew from seed in our back yard. He kept it in the sunny front room at our home every winter and took it outside in the summer. Despite my best efforts it died. Now I'm thinking that my father used a good-draining sandy soil for the tree, and when I transplanted it and "treated" it to Miracle Grow potting soil, I was sealing its' fate.
I had gotten that tree 20 years ago, so there have been lots of citrus leaves on our floors over the years.
Other than the gritty mix, do you do anything else to overwinter your citrus successfully?


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Mike:
I just started to email someone on this site and noted that somehow there's an ancient email address of mine as the return address. If you've responded (probably to that address) I didn't get the response. I just changed the setup.

Stan


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Tanksalot: Good day...

It is TERRIFIC...It was the first time in years of growing citrus, since intorduced to the 5.1.1 and gritty mixes that I could keep one going longer than one winter...Make sure you invest in wooden dowels until you get use to watering in the mixes..

It is so easy to get ALL the supplies you need to make this gritty mix around here....

I too use to use the bottom heat approach..Then I had to leave the supplemental lights on for at least 16 hours in order to avoid leaf drop.. I was also fighting pests all winter, especially on the new soft growth...HORRIBLLE..The C&S soil was killer of many of my plants..

I will look through my e-mails to make sure I didn't miss yours..

Enjoy this wonderful sunny day...


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

tanksalot, I hate to comment at the end of a long post since you probably have most, if not all, the info you need. But just in case, the citrus.forumup Forums discusses WLD and prevention quite a bit. It sounds like you already understand the relationship between soil temps, light and WLD. If you are applying some heat to your soil such that soil temps are above 60 degrees and still seeing leaf drop, can you adjust your light with blinds, a sheet, (or anything to filter the direct sunlight)?

Mike hasn't yet answered your question, but I doubt the gritty mix will help solve any WLD issues. I have no doubt the 511 helped his plants greatly to survive the winter. And there are lots of great benefits of the mix, but IME the gritty mix has been significantly more prone to lower soil temps. It's likely the increased aeration and less water holding capacity (in the macropores) is the reason. There is no perfect soil for all situations, but now that i understand this "weakness" (which is actually a benefit during hot summers), I know how to adapt.


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Hi Cebury...Hope you are well...It has been slow around here lately..It was good to see you back..:-)

Stan: I sent you an e-mail for test.

Mike


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Update

Well with the scare of a cold front coming, I am finally getting my act together, yesterday I cut two 18" by 36" windows in the East facing doors of my 8' by 10'shed and installed Plexiglas.

I have treated all of my citrus with 2 rounds of Neem Oil, 10 days apart, they have been on the north side of the house for a few weeks and are looking pretty good. I will do one more round of Neem if I can before they go into the shed.

I just ordered an oil filled radiator on Amazon that has a GFI plug, thermostat and anti freeze mechanism. I plan to set it to kick on at 55 degrees, it takes an hour to heat up and should the power go out, it will still give off heat for a couple hours so I think that will be covered as far as preventing my babies from freezing to death. I have aired up my dolly's wheels and it's ready for a quick transport mission.

Questions:
With my 3 large bougainvillea hanging baskets taking up most of the headroom, I am not sure where I can put shop lights in, so I am considering making some more Plexiglas windows along the north wall...not sure if the extra light will be worth the loss of insulation there - any thoughts?

I have a small oscillating fan too, should I plan to just leave that running all the time or try to have it only kick on when the heat kicks on?

I am also thinking about draping the Christmas lights around the pots to keep the roots warm. Would that be overkill? I don't want to dry them out too quickly.

I suspect my biggest problem may be humidity (lack of it), given the short periods where the heat may actually be on for more than a couple consecutive hours, should I be concerned about that?

Thanks!

Now all I have to worry about is what to do with all the junk I have been hoarding in the shed!!!


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Hi Grandbury!

Summer certainly flew by, didn't it?..:-((

You will probably get varying opinions on this but this is my .02$

I wouldn't worry about humidity since you will not be using the kind of heat most households have..I would think that living in your zone, you may be able even able to open doors to that shed on days over 40..
I have many trees in rooms that recieve no humidity at all. In these rooms and those at my job do just as well as those in my humid plant room at home.

The fans is a great idea. You can keep stagnet air moving, in the helping of preventing molds and fungus, and in the aid of fresh air..I know that pest's do not like moving cold air either..

You trees should be fine even if temps are maintained under the 50's since mine seem to do much better with the lack of sunlight at these temps, meaning less than 8 hours of it this time of year..Don't forget all the cloudy days ahead of us too..

I would not use anything at all to warm roots up..I LOVE the idea of a heater tghat will warm up if electricity should fail..That has always been my biggest concern..That is why all mine get pulled in from the pop up house when temps start to bottom out into the 20's on a consistant basis..

Unless I am on providing more than 8 hours of sunlight, I do not because this would be detrimental to my trees health..Lot's of falling leaves to start with, along with weak growth and infestaton of bugs..

I am sure there will be others who can expound on what I am saying or give many more ideas..

Good luck and pray form a short winter..

Mike..


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Thanks Mike,
I am still trying to figure the optimal temp - given i have citrus, guava, bougainvillea and desert rose all sharing the shed. Maybe if I set it to kick on at and maintain 44 degrees? it takes a while to heat up and the bougies die at 40 so I cant risk it going below that. I'll let you know how the oil filled heater works out, i.e. how long it gives out heat after power is shut down. so far we haven't gotten below 40 which is a good thing because the heater just got here yesterday! Good idea about opening the shed doors during nice weather, its working beautifully so far!


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

bcskye
Lowes in Indiana had citrus? I need to look over their offerings closer.
What is this dowel test people have been mentioning?
Dan


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

This has been a very informative thread. If you are looking for citrus at Lowe's check in the most unusual places. The folks in Virginia (at Lowe's) have absolutely NO idea where to put citrus. I found lemon, lime and kumquat at 2 of our local Lowe's placed under shelving with marigolds in mid-July. The citrus had just arrived and the folks did not put them in any light. Of course within 2-3 weeks the plants looked dead and the garden center manager put them on the clearance rack.

If you live in an area where citrus do not usually grow - check under, over and around your Lowe's garden center because the citrus may just be in a closet in the dark somewhere……..or not…………

Cheers,
DL


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Grandburyflowergirl..YW..:-)

Please let me know how those heaters go..You know? I wonder if they make some sort of device that alerts you when your heat goes off from an outage or something while inside or asleep?

Hi DL...I hop-e you find something! Good to see you.

Dan....I will post a picture of wooden dowels if you do not find out what they are...Just go to HD or Lowe's and ask someone in the lumber dept. and they will direct you..I usually buy the ones that have about the same thickness of a pencil..Then I use a utility knife after I break them in half and sharpen both ends to points...

Mike


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Mike
I should have asked how do you use them and read the results.
Dan


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Hi Dan,
I have been doing this "dowel" test for many MANY years ans it really works well! In fact, my citrus have never looked better for this time of year, though I suspect it is a combo of things. I recently bought a HPS 600watt light for all my citrus, tropical fruits and tropicals. I have never had the kind of growth that I am seeing now! In fact my ORo Blanco grapefruits are flushing and the other is just LOADED with buds, not flower buds but new stem growth.
I do not use the dowels. I use whatever support"stick" I have. Most times, citrus trees will come with a support. Sometimes bamboo, sometimes just a thin green stick. What I do is push it down, all the way to the bottom of the pot. I do that as soon as I get it and then when I want to find out if they need water, I pull out the stick, and press it up against my cheek. Some peeople may grimace at the thought of soil on there face, but cmon, were gardeners! Anyhow, if you feel ANY MOISTURE, DO NOT WATER!! IF it is dry to the touch, then soak it, and your set till it needs watering again.
Like I said earlier, I have been doing this for many years now. I learned this technique from an orchid grower. Most people grow the epyphytes and root rot is lethal for orchids. In the past 6 or 7 years I have been doing this, I have learned that some plants like there soil to go bone dry and some like it to be slightly moist before they are watered. I really think it depends on the quality of your soil. If you use something like the gritty mix, then you can't make a mistake if you use the 'dowel method'. If your using a soil that is heavier, you must use caution as the roots can rot faster in winter because the soil is not drying out like it would if it were in the sun outdoors. this is how I lost my Dwarf Moro blood orange last winter.
What kind of soil are you using? I had a heck of a time making the gritty mix and I had to make sustitutions. What matters most is that you end up with a soil that is at least 90% dry within 2 days. I got very lucky this year. Since I had never used a 600 watt HPS before, I didn't know how hot the light was going to get. I actually am required to run a fan on the ballast! I noticed that when I have my heater set at 65 degrees, the room temp end up around 75. So I have a situation where not only do I have good light, but I also have good light.
I did find a huge drawback though. Because I am growing in these conditions, the bugs are also happy! I have had to all ready spray 4 times for scale, and now hopefully they will be all gone. Good luck and let us know how things go.
Andrew


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Thanks Andrew
I am using a mix that's approx 1 part peat, 1 part perlite and 1 part compost (with a lot of sand in it). I assume the dowel test is a variation of what you are using with the support stick. With my beard, holding it to my cheek won't work, maybe if I hold it to my arm or forehead?
Dan


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Peat, perlite, compost, and sand....you can almost guarrantee that the mix will be wet.
Unless the pot is small, I'd assume the lower portion of the mix to be wet for weeks.


Josh


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

I had hoped the perlite would work until I can gather the ingredients for Al's Gritty mix. I'll have to search harder. Thanks for the advice.
Dan


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

No, it won't work.
Even if you screened the Perlite well, it would still be like adding Perlite to pudding.
The drainage characteristics won't improve until the vast majority of the mix is Perlite.

In the meantime, try inserting a wick into the bottom drainage hole of your container.
The wick dangles from the bottom - not touching anything else - and "tricks" the water in
the container into "thinking" the pot is deeper than it is. Thus, the water seeks the new
bottom of the pot, and draws the excess from the lowest layers of soil.

Josh


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Greenman:

You are so right on..It never worked for me in the past..I never knew why until I read some fascinating articles from a very knowledgeable man..

This is an excert from a wonderful thread.


RE: Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention XII clip this post email this post what is this?
see most clipped and recent clippings

Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on Fri, Nov 19, 10 at 15:10

Todd - most of the people that participate on this thread are interested in improving on the results and minimizing the problems so often encountered when using peat-based commercially prepared soils; others are satisfied with the results they get from these soils and have no interest in changing anything, which is absolutely fine. I've been offered a good opportunity to explain something about the (lack of) efficacy in trying to amend heavy bagged soils by adding some perlite, so I'll expound a little, basing what I offer on science and my own practical experience.
Perlite doesn't change the drainage characteristics of a soil or the height of the PWT. To visualize this, think of how well a pot full of BBs would drain (perlite), then think of how poorly a pot full of pudding would drain (bagged soil). Even mixing the pudding and BBs together 1:1 in a third pot yields a mix that retains the drainage characteristics and PWT height of the pudding. It's only after the BBs become the largest fraction of the mix (60-75%) that drainage & PWT height begins to improve.

You cannot add coarse material to fine material and improve drainage & the ht of the PWT. Use the same example as above & replace the pudding with play sand or peat moss - same results. The benefit in adding perlite to heavy soils doesn't come from the fact that they drain better. The fine peat or pudding particles simply 'fill in' around the perlite, so drainage & the ht of the PWT remains the same. All perlite does in heavy soils is occupy space that would otherwise be full of water. Perlite simply reduces the amount of water a soil is capable of holding because it is not internally porous. IOW - all it does is take up space.

If you want to profit from a soil that offers superior drainage and aeration, you need to build it into the soil from the start, by ensuring that the soil is primarily comprised of particles much larger than those in peat/compost/coir, which is why the recipes I suggest as starting points all direct readers to START with the foremost fraction of the soil being large particles, to ensure excellent aeration. From there, if you choose, you can add an appropriate volume of finer particles to increase water retention. You do not have that option with a soil that is already extremely water-retentive right out of the bag.

Al

Here is a link that might be useful: Container growing in great mixes


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Thanks for posting that, Mike!
Perfect explanation.

Josh


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

  • Posted by newgen 9 Central California (My Page) on
    Sat, Nov 27, 10 at 2:40

myermike: you must not have any wind where that pop-up greenhouse is kept. Otherwise, it looks nice!


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Newgen..How are you? Good to see you visit..

That pop up is exposed to some extreme wind actually..Some winds in excess of 50 miles per hour..I just make sure it is tied off very well and staked off to the ground secrurely..So far so good and thank you..

It is the snow I get concerned about which forces me to take it apart..:-(

Mike


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Great thread - so glad I found this.
I have satsuma, meyer, baer lime, and an Australian navel orange (as well as an avocado, because I'm crazy like that. . .) on a covered, south-facing deck, which I'm just enclosing with plexiglas. In the meantime, I have lights and row cover over them on cold nights.

The deck will still have some open spots where the wall stops short of the floor, but gets pretty warm on sunny days. Nights can get in the twenties here occasionally, and rarely down to 18.

My citrus have put out some long, spindly branches and look a little anemic - this has been since summer, when they should have been happier. I wonder if the problem is pruning, light, or soil.

I've thought about grinding up some of my kitchen veggie waste and pouring it into the pots, making them sort of worm bins and adding more trace nutrients. Or would this tie up nitrogen? (Just read about "gritty mix", but don't see a reference to the ingredients. ?)

The deck is south facing, so gets a lot of sun, but not from overhead.

Any thoughts? Thanks for your knowledge, all y'all.


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RE: Overwintering Citrus in containers

Hi Dimiessler: I have linked a few sites for you to help you out with all you need to know about soil mix, and how it works. There are dozens more all connected to what I agve you..

I would keep the food scraps and worm castings out of the pots..Just my 2cents worth..:-)

Happy growing:-)

Sindly growth can be from to little light, and or fertilizer and too litle light combined.
From you saying anemic, I would guess you give your plants little full sun, especially this time of year and no fertilizer?


http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/houseplt/msg1100183920892.html


http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/contain/msg0320294031096.html

http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/contain/msg0214164227031.html

Here is a link that might be useful: Container soil


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