I have two lemon trees, improved myer and eureka variagated pink, both
purchased from Park Seed last fall. I bought them intending to grow
them indoors since I live in Minnesota, zone 4a.
They both have problems.
The meyer improved has lost a lot of leaves
The eureka pink has lost some but it seems to have some pest problems.
--a greyish tiny insect or mite that is kind of football shaped (I
found one at least)
--sticky substance on the leaves
--white growths on the bud scars. Right now I can't tell if they are
flower buds or fungal growths.
I am actually an experienced gardener but this is my first time growing
citrus. I repotted them soon after they arrived in new potting soil
mixed with worm castings and I included the correct amount of osmocote
for the size of the plants. I've been watering them about once a week,
which is when they are dry about one inch down. They sit in tall,
narrow, Southern exposure windows although we have had numerous cloudy
winter days lately.
If anyone has any advice to give about getting these plants healthy,
I.d be much obliged
Insect problems as you describe are showing you the stress the plant
is living with. Unless you have a hot house, citrus will never get
enough sun to maintain photosynthesis and foliage will die back.
Mites are not visible with the naked eye. You'd need a 10x loop to
see those. It sounds like you have mealy bugs which can be controlled
using insecticidal soap, two or three times, two weeks apart and as
often as necessary.
I have the same plants you have and unless I put them in the
greenhouse, they lose all their foliage and go dormant till I
re-expose them to very full sun, slowly to acclimatize them back to
sun. Also, these plants need 30 gallon containers and I'd stop using
Osmocote as liquid seaweed is superior and you won't be eating
synthetic nitrogen in your fruit.
My dwarf citrus are in large pots (~26 gal). They seem to do okay.
I'm not sure how large a container you would need for non-dwarf
varieties, but I am sure you would not be able to move them without a
motorized forklift. The weight might even damage your floors,
subfloors, and possibly even foundation.
I think you are overly optimistic if you think you can grow citrus in
your climate without a greenhouse or conservatory. Even at Longwood
Gardens near the Maryland-Pennsylvania border -- with a climate less
severe than yours -- the citrus are in an orangery (a special
conservatory designed specifically for citrus).
Citrus in containers needs frequent but light feedings with a
high-nitrogen, acidic fertilizer. The fertilizer should contain both
iron and zinc. Since commercial citrus fertilizer seems to lack zinc
these days (but does have iron), I supplement each feeding with about a
tablespoon of zinc sulfate (which you might have to special-order). I
would not recommend seaweed, which might contain salt; citrus is very
sensitive to salt.
** Begin Rant **
Nitrogen is nitrogen; it's an element that cannot be synthesized. Some
nitrogen compounds (e.g., urea [which is far too strong to use as a
fertilizer on a potted plant], ammonia) can be synthesized; but don't
confuse the element with its compounds.
Whatever fertilizer is applied, the nitrogen compounds must first be
converted by soil bacteria into nitrates, negative ions of 1 part
nitrogen and 3 parts oxygen (NO3). Plant roots take up nitrogen only in
the form of nitrates. The problem with some synthetic fertilizers is
that they dissolve too readily. Excessive feedings not only burn plant
roots but also disinfect the soil, thus eliminating the bacteria needed
to convert the nitrogen compounds into nitrates. Very light
applications of such fertilizers will not have these problems.
Once the nitrates are taken up by the roots, it is no longer possible to
distinguish the source of the nitrogen compounds. I challenge anyone to
do a double-blind analysis on lemons or oranges -- the ripe fruit -- and
tell me which trees were fertilized with synthetic compounds of nitrogen
and which were fertilized with natural compounds of nitrogen.
** End Rant **
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
I am sorry, I should have clarified. These are two small trees, I don't
know if they are dwarf or what but Park claims that the Meyer Lemon
would grow 6-8 feet and was suitable for containers. At the moment
it's about 18 inches tall. Same with the Pink Variagated Eureka. Maybe
to 12 feet tall. That sounds like dwarf stature to me.
I have the room indoors and the southern exposure to winter them over,
or so I thought. Right now, neither of them is looking too good so the
height /weight problem may be moot.
They both came in trade gallon containers and I moved them to pots that
were about twice as big and tried not to disturb the roots too much.
Neither were pot bound. In fact, I suspected that the Eureka had been
replanted in the trade gallon just before shipping.
I have decided to take the advice that the meyer isn't getting enough
sun and moved it downstairs to the basement where I have grow lights
for most of my wintering over plants. I also got some mineral tablets
which contain zinc, iron and other trace elements, crushed them and
mixed them into the soil, watering them in. Hopefully this will revive
this suffering plant.
I will also follow the advice on the Eureka and apply insecticidal soap
and probably a soil drench for houseplants to see if I can kill
whatever's giving this plant problems. If that doesn't work then I'll
try the light and mineral therapy, assuming the other plant doesn't
show signs of being harmed by it.
I know that it's chancy to try citrus indoors, but I read up on the
meyer improved variety and people seem to say that if you are going to
try a citrus indoors, this is the one. The Eureka was a freebee thrown
in by Park. If I can just get them through the next four months,
they'll be able to go outside and get full sun during the summer to
gear up for winter.
On Tue, 02 Jan 2007 16:25:02 -0800, "David E. Ross"
I recommended 30 gal and you have pots just four gal short so what
seems to be the problem with what I said? By the way, when you grow a
tree in a container, even 30 gal, by default you are raising a dwarf
I move my trees around all the time, no forklift just a husband. If
two 30 gal containers can damage floors, subfloors or foundations,
there is a lot wrong with the floors, foundation or subfloor.
You aren't serious, are you? Seaweed contains salt? I've been using
it for decades and I'm doing pretty well. Your comment it contains
salt is really something you should do some research about.
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