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Tropical Fruits: Good books on growing citrus

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Forum: Tropical FruitsReplies: 3, Views: 47
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Tigerlily09
West Des Moines, IA
(Zone 5a)

October 7, 2008
3:35 AM

Post #5641882

Hello fellow tropical fruit lovers! I've been lurking in this forum for a few weeks now. I live in apartment in Iowa so I know my limitations. :) In any case, I'd like to try growing some new plants and a Meyer lemon from Logee's looks beautiful. I'm a little unsure how to raise the little fella to be happy. For one thing, I have only western exposure and I'm not sure a lemon tree would get enough natural light. If I get a flourescent setup, could I hang it over an aquarium for humidity or would it get too hot? For another thing, Logee's is selling a three for one: Meyer lemon, Key lime, and myrtle leaf orange. I don't know if any or all of those would be happy in my environment.

Does anyone have a favorite book to recommend? Any tips from personal experience are more than welcome too!

TL
Jungleman
Pasadena, CA
(Zone 9b)

October 28, 2008
4:43 AM

Post #5724763

Hi Tigerlily09,

As nobody else is answering your post - I'll take a stab at it.

Starting with a plant will be a bonus. Yes, the grow lights will help, especially if you can supplement it with some good southern light near a window. During the winter months, really keep it on the drier side. Know that Citrus drop leaves and it is not usually a problem.

Scale and mites can be a hassle in the home environment. Using insecticidal soap on a monthly basis will help to keep it in check and is a prime opportunity to water the plants.

If you have an outdoor space (lanai, terrace), then make sure you put it outside (start with just an hour or two once weather gets warm enough - working up to full time over the course of a couple of three weeks or so). Outdoor time in a humid summer environment will make your lemon thrive, especially if you can get direct sun for 6 hours a day. When you do, water it to keep it moist all summer.

There are commercial citrus fertilizers, but I just scratch in blood meal (organic), and a bit of bone meal about three times a year. Many people use Miracle Grow - so it doesn't have to be anything fancy. Once in a while you might throw some chellated iron on it to prevent chlorosis (a yellowing of the leaves).

My citrus trees are in the ground in an historically distinct citrus growing region. They are mature, and have their problems, too - and I am hell bent on them thriving using an ecologically sound way of doing it. For me, the hardest part is pruning - because there always seems to be fruit on the tree that you will sacrifice!


bettydee
La Grange, TX
(Zone 8b)

October 29, 2008
4:56 PM

Post #5730040

TL,
You asked for book recommendations. This link is for reference only as you can get these paperbacks at other bookstores.
Of these I have numbers 1, 3, and 7. All have basic information and also describe different citrus an cultivars
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Citrus&x=0&y=0
t Additionally, these university websites from the major citrus growing states are great sources of information.
http://homeorchard.ucdavis.edu/links.html
http://www.gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/giam/plants_and_grasses/fruits_vegetables/containerized_citrus.html
http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/extension/homefruit/citrus/citrus.html
http://extension.oregonstate.edu/news/story.php?S_No=4&storyType=garde
http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/patiocitrus/containerstext.html
If you use the keywords "citrus in containers" in a google search, you'll find a wealth of information. Just be aware of your source. I prefer to go to .edu, .gov or .org sources.

When choosing a citrus for containerize growing, spend a bit more and buy dwarf trees. They are easier to maintain in pots and grown in large 24" and 30" pots, they need repotting every 3 to 5 years. Standard citrus ttrees are naturally large trees, growing up to 35' in height. Even a Meyer lemon, a naturally small tree, will reach up to 18'. In pots, standard trees would need more maintence, pruning both top and roots. Annual repotting is not out of the question with a well grown standard citrus tree. When I was living in Calfornia, I ran out of ground room for fruit trees and started a containerized citrus orchard. By the time my DH decided to move to Texas I had well over 15 citrus trees growing around the patio. I had to give them away as I couldn't take them with me. They were all dwarf. Most were from Four Winds Growers or from local nurseries who purchased from Monrovia.
http://www.fourwindsgrowers.com/

If Logee's citrus are anything like their other plant offers, you will get very , very small plants. I don't know if they offer dwarf citrus.

Jungleman has given you some good advice. The only disagreement I have is over the use of fertilizers. I would suggest the use of citrus fertilizers only. Citrus are sensitive to certain sources of nitrogen and can develop Biuret's Toxicity Syndrome. It took several years, but I lost several citrus to it when, having run out of citrus fertilizer, I grabbed some other type of fertilizer at the local box store. I used it only once so I don't remember what I used.


Jungleman
Pasadena, CA
(Zone 9b)

October 30, 2008
12:30 AM

Post #5731423

I checked on the blood meal situation, and it is not subject to any kind of toxicity in citrus. I recommend it as an organic source of nitrogen, which will help with leaf growth, while the bone meal is great for flowering and fruiting. In looking at the research on Biuret's Toxicity Syndrome, it seems (and I am neither botanist nor chemist) that this applies specifically to Urea - based fertilizers. Most chemical fertilizers can also really burn plants if overapplied, and do nothing to build the soil for long-term plant health. Blood meal is a much more slow release type of soil ammendment, and will not harm your plants even if you go a little heavy once in a while.

Personally, if I am growing and eating it - I want it to be grown organic - otherwise, I'll just buy it at the grocery store.

If you have any reservations about my advice - you can buy premixed organic citrus fertilizers as well - those should do the trick!

Best of luck,
Jeff

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