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Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

Posted by und_student z3 (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 16, 05 at 19:23

Within the year, I have purchased 2 Meyer Lemon container trees. They are doing great outside, but I live in zone 3 (North Dakota) and will need to bring my trees inside as the cool season approaches. When should I bring them indoors?

In addition, I am in an apartment building with the windows facing southwest and this doesn't allow much light to enter. What should I do about light for my trees during these indoor months? Also, I have read that a humidifier is helpful for indoor citrus, is this true? Any other tips to help my citrus thrive indoors?

In addition, they both need to be repotted. What type of container would be best? How big? And what type of soil is recommended?

I appreciate any and all advice as I am new to this! Thank-you in advance.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

Student, congrats on your Meyers..It's best bringing trees indoors when temps drop 40 and colder. The longer you keep them out in the cold, I believe, and this is only my view, there's a better chance your tree will suffer leaf drop.

SW exposure is fine, unless of course it's obstructed w/blinds/curtains. Artificial lighting will also help.
Humidifers are important to plants, pets and people. I use a standard size, and two indoor fountains..Daily misting also helps by keeping leaves dust free and works w/humidity..Also when spraying, you can check plants for unwanted pests. I cannot breath w/o a humidifer once the heat is turned on, so it's mandatory I use one. "Also, dry air is hard on skin..

You say they need repotting..Can you wait until spring? Now that winter is approaching, plant growth will slow down. What type and size pots are plants growing in now?
If in long, narrow pots, go to www.treequest.com There are 4 different sized containers, perfect for citrus.
Whatever soil you decide to go with, make sure it's well-draining. I use 1/3 all purpose, 1/3 peat, and 1/3 sand..plus a couple handfuls of Perlite. Some ppl are now using CHC, (coconut husk chips) instead of soil..I prefer soil to the chips, but that's only my opinion. Since I don't use it, I don't have the information pertinent to using it, feediing and watering.

Feeding is best done during growing season. There are various citrus foods on the market..Azalia food also works if you can't locate citrus food. You want something high in nitrogen, (first number of 3) w/trace elements. I use an iron suppliment and Superthrive, (a vit/hormone) beside feeding. The last 2 are optional.

Meyers and Ponderosa's are my favorite lemons. With proper care, your plant should thrive througout winter..

Good luck w/your trees..Toni


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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

One of the most common problems citrus trees experience when brought inside for the winter is leaf drop. Leaf drop usually occurs relatively soon after the tree is placed indoors. It is better to bring container grown trees indoors a little sooner, then later. Problems result from letting the root zone become to cold and then bring the tree indoors and setting the tree's foliage in the direct rays of the sun through a south window. The sun's rays greatly heats up the leaf surface, which signals the leaf to transpire water through the pours of the leaf in order to cool the foliage. However, if the soil is cold (below 55 degrees) the roots cannot send water from the growing medium up to the tree's foliage, therefore cooling cannot take place. The leaves over heat and begin to drop from the tree. This is a one of the main cause of what is commonly known as citrus winter leaf drop. - Millet


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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

Another potting medium possibility is OrchidMix. Its usually a mix of charcoal, porous rock, and bark chips. or bark and peat. Ive started seeds in Metromix/perlite, and ive got seedlings in Orchid mix with a handful of bark chips and a bit of manure.

I really like the look of those GrowQuest pots, but with 4 clumsy cats I think Im going to wait till I have a greenhouse!

That is neat to know about the leaf drop Millet- does the Christmas Lights trick work when you bring trees in for the winter? (If they accidentally get a bit cold before they come in?)


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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

garnetmoth Myself I prefer CHC & Peat, If I had a choice between soil an OrchidMix. Myself I would go with the soil Before OrchidMix...Dale


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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

Thanks for the heads up Dale- Mine were in cheapo potting soil, and stayed very sopping wet- I know I could bring them in out of the rain (but they get better sun outside). My largest did look wilty for about 2 weeks when transferred to the Orchid Mix.

Im interested in trying the CHCs some day, but im a recent graduate looking for a job!


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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

Orchid mixes or Cactus mixes with peat moss work very well to allow water drainage and aeration in container plants.

They help prevent the compaction of the typical finely-ground potting mixes. The "chunkier" the mix, the better, at least in my experiences.

If you cannot find either in your area, pine chips or fir chips, mixed in, will also improve potting soil.

The "Cadillac" of potting mixes is Coconut husk chips, but they are not easily available everywhere yet. They last for many years and are the perfect PH for citrus.

The most common problem with indoor citrus is overwatering. By using a well draining soil mixture you can reduce that chance.

I use decorative plastic or foam pots. Clay pots are too fragile and heavy for me to use. You will want lots of drain holes in the pots. Do not let them sit in a saucer of water, that will cause root problems.

Most local garden centers/big box store carry "grow lights." I use them for indoor plants at work and they seem to work well. I've never tried them on citrus.

Lisa


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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

Move to Floirda and plant them in the ground. Most of the groves that were here when I was a kid, just 25 years ago are now housing projects and Yankee Internment Camps. That's what I call them, large solid fence and all the houses are very close together and look the same, they even have a guard on the entrance to some of them. The good thing is if you can avoid the CC (Canker Cops, very much like the SS) most of the soil is good for citrus.


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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

Fish Man - Canker Cops.. That's funny. Sad, but funny. I always referred to the Florida Dept. of Agriculture as the Citrus Nazis. It figures that the terminal thinkers would arbitrarily hack trees in order to rid themselves of a growing problem. Notice how effective their methods are... Good luck to you and welcome.


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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

Fish Man, I don't think everyone who grows citrus can just pack up and move to Fl or any other tropical location. We who reside in cold climates work hard keeping out tropical/sub tropical plants alive.
I'm sure my plants, all 400+, and birds, and I, would love living in an area w/o snow, 0F degree temps, but there's just no way on earth we can relocate..
Also, I enjoy a challenge. It's exciting when my Vanilla Bean Orchid sends out foliage, hibiscus bloom in mid-winter, gardenia'flower in fall, palms shoot out new spikes, etc, etc. And yes, it is a challnege. But it's also fun, just plain enjoyable keeping plants througout the year.
BTW, even though I'm in zone 5, I've planted Poncirus that made it through the winter, and Bajsoo Musa bananas..I'm also experimenting w/Needle and Windmill Palms..Toni


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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

I really respect those of you who grow in cold areas. I live in north centeral florida and we have serious cold here ever so often, I have seen 9 degrees in the early eighties with three days never above freezing, it killed many very old groves in our area. The work needed to keep potted trees alive must be very great. At least with my in ground trees a few days neglect does not matter. Keep up the good work.


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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

Fish Man, the way I see it, if someone loves plants then that extra bit of work isn't called work..it's fun..LOL..
Seriously, those of us who enjoy growing tropicals/citrus are delighted when fruit matures in mid-winter. Flowers scent our homes, moreso than any commercial air freshioner on the market. I'm not only talking citrus, but jasmine, gardenia, and hoyas.
Don't get me wrong, I DETEST winter. Thinking about it depresses me. But what can a person do? My family lives here and like I stated before, most of us just can't pick up and go..
Also, let's say I planned on moving to Fl..Would I be allowed to bring my citrus in or have to leave them behind? Toni


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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

So many people asked me why we are moving to VA and if we'll continue with tropicals/citrus. In Florida I'm surrounded by citrus groves. They just burned hundreds of acres maybe 8 miles from my farm. Any day you wonder if DPI is going to pull in with paperwork. It's just not worth it. I'd gladly pay for the extra heating cost and grow in greenhouses. Most of these trees will live in pots anyhow.

So back on topic... when you're repotting to CHC, lets say from a 7 gal tree to 15, are you soaking ALL the dirt off? If yes, are you expereincing and shock and to what degree?


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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

I've repotted trees with only a little dirt shaken off, and some with most of the dirt removed. I haven't tried soaking any yet since my trees are too big to dunk easily.

Not one of the many plants (including delicate tropical fruit trees other than citrus) repotted to CHCs have shown *any* shock. All have flourished.


Lisa


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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

The largest size tree that I have "soaked" all (completely) the dirt off the roots is a 5-gallon tree. I have never had any citrus that I have ever soaked the soil from and then transplanted into CHC's show any sign of shock. I am glad I read Lisa's thread above, as she made comment to an idea that I am VERY INTERESTED in pursuing. That is taking (soaking) off perhaps only 3 to 5 inches of the outer soil, thus exposing 3-5 inches of roots and then transplanting into CHC. Certainly worth looking into. - Millet


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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

What's the potential advantage of removing only some of the dirt from the rootball?


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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

Removing all the soil and soaking the roots till the soil all fall out is new science to me and I have never tried that out specially by transplanting it to a coconut husk mixture. I may do that to a one to 7- gallon pot tree but but when you are transplanting a 50- gallon wine barrel tree or even a 15 gallon plant tree I don't know what will be the outcome. I am nervous removing the soil from the pots so I always cut the pots and discard them afterwards rather than disturb the roots. Having done that I have a 100% recovery so far. I will try the new method when I have a chance.
I don't even try to remove some of the dirt from the rootball thinking that I may damage the roots- That's my 2-cents input.


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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

Oops, sorry. I should have phrased my question as "is there any specific advantage to removing only part of the soil from the rootball, as opposed to removing none or removing all of it?" Maybe it's a moot point, though, since people seem to have success regardless of how much soil they remove?

Rinsing in water turned out to be too complicated a process to support in my apartment, so I just worked off as much dirt as possible with my fingers. It was tedious but not too difficult, and I don't think I caused much root damage.


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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

The reason to remove the soil was so that the drainage and moisture retention would be consistant throughout the medium. The concern was that a mass of dense potting soil would not get wet enough (or would possibly stay too wet), as the water rushed through the faster draining CHCs or bark mix surrounding the old root ball/soil mass.

But, with all the repotting I've done, I've seen that the roots naturally reach out, grow through and surround all the CHCs/bark with astounding speed. So the possible watering problem (by not removing old soil) has *not* manifested itself. The plant fills the new pot rapidly with healthy roots and gets nourishment and moisture easily.

Repotting a plant already growing in CHCs will mean just moving up in size and adding more CHCs/mix around the edges-since there is no way the roots will give up their grip on the old CHCs!


Lisa


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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

"The reason to remove the soil was so that the drainage and moisture retention would be consistant throughout the medium. The concern was that a mass of dense potting soil would not get wet enough (or would possibly stay too wet), as the water rushed through the faster draining CHCs or bark mix surrounding the old root ball/soil mass.
But, with all the repotting I've done, I've seen that the roots naturally reach out, grow through and surround all the CHCs/bark with astounding speed. So the possible watering problem (by not removing old soil) has *not* manifested itself. The plant fills the new pot rapidly with healthy roots and gets nourishment and moisture easily. "
Lisa: we are in sync of the reasoning why I have not done so removing the soil of the old pot.
I believe that the citrus roots will seek out the moisture/water for survival so if the water is in the new sorrounding CHC mixture the plant will send out new roots to seek where the water is in a hurry. So in no time you have a tremendous new roots going everywhere for water search. I believe the plant can sense where the water is. A case in point- roots imbedded in the sewer joints inside the pipe. Also I've seen roots that travel 5 to 8 times its height.


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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

Garn, the soil you used was too heavy from the get go..That's why I mix my soils with other mediums..If I were to buy a bag of rich, black soil and transplant, not only citrus but other tropicals, the soil would be way too heavy, for any plant..and yes, dirt would remain wet for days, possibly wks. Toni


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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

I've always removed all the soil (in water) for a couple reasons....1. because of water run-off of the soil ball issue....2) so that the CHC filled container will be as light as possible.....3.) total drainage and aeration of the entire root system. However with a wiskey barrel or a 15 - 20 gallon pot it would of course be quite a job. - Millet


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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

Just how sensitive are the roots? I am ready to transplant 6 three foot tall trees into CHC mix. I can easily lift the trees and clean most of the soil off the roots and then soak. Is 10% root damage too much? What is the most damage that is safe. Thanks to all. Rocco


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RE: Improved Meyer Lemon - Indoors/Repotting

I think the smaller the plant, the more careful you should be w/ roots. I have 2 large palm trees that I dump out & cut the roots back to keep in same pots (30-40 gal) once or twice a yr & they love it. The roots I cut looks like a pile of spaghetti! I cut roots off all the time on large plants to keep them in same container. I do understand that some plants may be very sensitive to this..esp. small ones.


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