UBC Botanical Garden Forums  

» UBC Botanical Garden


Go Back   UBC Botanical Garden Forums > Archives (no new threads) > Citrus

Post New ThreadReply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old December 30th, 2006, 04:37 PM
Rick Rick is offline
Registered Plus (3-99 posts)
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Miami, FL USA
Posts: 13
Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

Hi, everybody!

We live in Miami, FL. We have a very young Meyer lemon tree planted in a very large terra cotta pot on our patio. The tree -- basically a sapling, I suppose -- has been holding its own, but not really growing. I've been told I shouldn't have planted it in such a large pot; that I should have put it into a pot more for its size, but . . .

Anyway, the tree, as I've said, has been holding its own. It now finally is producing lots of blossoms and it even has three tiny lemons hanging in a cluster on the end of one branch. That's made us very excited!

But we're noticing now that many leaves are curling and the tips of many leaves are turning a yellowish color. Can somebody PLEASE tell us what's going on and what we should do about it? We'd really appreciate any help you can offer.

Because of our hectic schedules, it's not always easy for us to visit sites on the Web. Besides posting a reply on this site, if you'd like, please e-mail any info you have for us at .

Thanks so much!
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old December 30th, 2006, 08:45 PM
Newt Newt is offline
Generous Contributor (100+ posts)
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Maryland USA zone 7
Posts: 1,277
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

Hi Rick,

Sounds like the pot is too big.
http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/gl_trees_sh...367487,00.html

Newt
__________________
When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old December 30th, 2006, 09:12 PM
Rick Rick is offline
Registered Plus (3-99 posts)
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Miami, FL USA
Posts: 13
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

Hi, Newt.
Thanks very much for taking the time to reply to my plea for help. I really appreciate it!
Our dwarf Meyer lemon tree is not indoors. We live in Miami, so it's out on the back patio in a large terra cotta pot.
If I stick my index finger all the way into the soil and it feels rather dry, we then thoroughly water the plant until we see water starting to come out of the drain holes at the bottom. There's no need for a saucer under the pot, so drainage is probably okay since water can't collect under the pot.
We've been using Miracle Gro. We can't find fertilizer specifically made for citrus down here in South Florida now because of the recent problems with citrus canker. But that's a long story.
Anyway, again let me thank you for your reply. If you happen to know what I might to do stop the curling leaves that have some yellowing at the tips, please let me know.
And happy new year!
Rick
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old December 30th, 2006, 11:56 PM
Newt Newt is offline
Generous Contributor (100+ posts)
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Maryland USA zone 7
Posts: 1,277
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

Rick, you are so very welcome, but I MUST apologize as I didn't read your post thoroughly. I was distracted by my pets at the time. I didn't read the curling leaves part.

You may have citrus miner or aphids, especially since it's outside. Take a look here.
http://monroe.ifas.ufl.edu/faq_citrus.htm

If it's leaf miner you can use horticultural oil.

If it's aphids you can use insecticidal soap. You can even make your own.
http://www.care2.com/channels/solutions/outdoors/194

Please let me know what you find after reading that and clicking on the links. Another thought - if you see any webbing it could be spider mites.

Newt
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old December 31st, 2006, 09:11 AM
Rick Rick is offline
Registered Plus (3-99 posts)
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Miami, FL USA
Posts: 13
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

Yep, I've seen "webbing" under one leaf, so I think your suggestion may very well be right about the problem being spider mites. Yipes!

Somebody has mentioned to me that a mixture of 1 tsp. liquid soap + 1 tsp. Listerine mouthwash + enough water to fill a 200 ml spray bottle will get rid of this pest if sprayed well on top and underneath the leaves.

What do you think about that, Newt? Or, do you have any other suggestions if, in fact, the problem is spider mites?

Thanks again for being so helpful!
Rick
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old December 31st, 2006, 10:00 AM
Newt Newt is offline
Generous Contributor (100+ posts)
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Maryland USA zone 7
Posts: 1,277
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

If you want to see them, put a piece of white paper under the webbed area and tap the branch. You'll probably see little flecks that are the mites. They can be difficult to get rid of, but being consistant will help. Here you go.
http://www.dirtdoctor.com/view_question.php?id=604
http://www.ext.vt.edu/departments/en...idermites.html
http://woodypest.ifas.ufl.edu/mites.htm

Newt
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old December 31st, 2006, 11:10 AM
Millet Millet is offline
Generous Contributor (100+ posts)
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Denver,Colorado USA
Posts: 1,699
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

Rick, your tree might have a few spider mites, scale or mealy bug. These are very commonly found on citrus trees, but fortunately are quite easy to control. However, I think your tree's main problem is that the tree is way over potted. The biggest mistake many people make, usually is not in the type of pot, but by using too large of a pot. People think that they are doing the tree a favor by giving it a lot of room. But when the tree, and more specifically the tree's root system, doesn't grow fast enough to use all of the space, troubles always begin to occur. Oversized containers become waterlogged easily, and then the roots suffer from lack of oxygen. Another serious problem using a container that is too large, is the build up of soluble salts. The salts accumulate with each water and fertilizer application. When a tree is watered and fertilized, the root system absorbs the nutrients supplied by both the fertilizer and water, and these nutrients are then removed from the soil by the root system and utilized by the tree. However, when a small tree with a limited root system is transplanted into an overly large container, the majority of the container's space is empty, so the nutrients (salts) applied over time never get absorbed, but remain and continue to build up with each watering and each fertilization. In time they reach toxic levels. Further, the water level also remains excessively high, due to the fact of no root absorption. High soluble salts are a VERY common problem when a citrus tree, or any plant, is planted in a container too large for the root system. The symptoms of high soluble salts are, leaf tip and margin burn, a general dull foliage coloration, Loss of leaf chlorophyl, and growth stunting or no growth at all. If the level of soluble salts become to high, the tree can be killed. Over watering is the number one cause of containerized citrus tree death, the second cause is high soluble salts.. - Millet
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old December 31st, 2006, 11:12 AM
Rick Rick is offline
Registered Plus (3-99 posts)
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Miami, FL USA
Posts: 13
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

Thank you so much, Newt. You've done your good deed for the end of the year!
Rick
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old December 31st, 2006, 05:42 PM
Gregn Gregn is offline
Contributor (30-99 posts + 20 days registered)
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: North Vancouver
Posts: 212
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

Millet, you mention "soluble salts" does that have alot to the type of water you have?
In vancouver for example, we have very soft water with little if any mineral content.
In one of your previous posts I believe you mention that you flush the plant (pot) until about 1/3 of the water you put in comes out the drain holes. Is this correct?

Happy New Year! May your 2007 be very 'fruitful'!!!

Greg
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old January 2nd, 2007, 10:15 AM
Millet Millet is offline
Generous Contributor (100+ posts)
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Denver,Colorado USA
Posts: 1,699
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

Hi Greg, the two main contributors to high soluble salts are the water the tree is irrigated with, and the amount of fertilizer applied to the soil. If you are using a water soluble fertilizer, it is important to always water until approximately 10 percent of the water drains from the bottom of the container. This is much less important if you use a slow release fertilizer like Osmocote. - Millet
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old January 4th, 2007, 10:02 AM
Rick Rick is offline
Registered Plus (3-99 posts)
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Miami, FL USA
Posts: 13
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

Hi, folks!
Thank you all very much for contributing to this thread. Now, the saga goes on, and the plot thickens -- or sickens, as the case may be.
The weirdest thing is going on with my poor, little Meyer lemon tree in its big terracotta pot. The tree is full of blossoms -- I mean chock full of them! They smell wonderful and some have already turned into baby lemons. But all the leaves on the tree are falling off. Ee-gads!! What's going on now?
I've never seen anything like it. First, the leaves started curling and getting yellowish at the tips. Then the blossoms started coming out, followed by some baby lemons. Now all the leaves are falling off. Is this weird or what??
Do any of you know what's going on? Have you ever seen something like this happen before?
All I do is look at my poor little tree, shake my head in disbelief, shrug my shoulders, and walk away. I mean, how can a tree that's obviously so sick be producing so many blossoms and even baby fruit? It seems like a complete contradiction.
Any ideas will be most appreciated. Thanks again.
Rick
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old January 4th, 2007, 10:41 AM
Millet Millet is offline
Generous Contributor (100+ posts)
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Denver,Colorado USA
Posts: 1,699
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

Rick, it is not a contradiction, it is actually a very common reaction that is caused by stress. Stress is nature's method to cause citrus trees to come into bloom. Usually the stress is a natural one like cool winter temperatures below 68-F, in the tropics nature provides the stress by the dry season. In your trees case the stress causing the tree to bloom is surely a problem connected with the tree's roots. The root problem can be caused by many things. Over potting, root damage caused from high soil temperatures caused by the container setting all day directly in the sun, high soluble salts, over watering, compaction of the growth medium thus low oxygen/high carbon dioxide, a root temperature at or near 55.4-F, root rot, disease. Many of the reasons listed above are actually caused from over potting. Have you slipped the tree from the container to see what the problem is? If not, you need to do so. - Millet
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old January 4th, 2007, 11:22 AM
Rick Rick is offline
Registered Plus (3-99 posts)
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Miami, FL USA
Posts: 13
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

Thanks for the quick reply, Millet. Yipes! After reading that litany of what the problem(s) might be, I feel like holding a wake for my poor Meyer lemon. When you say "slipping it" from the pot, do you mean lifting it out by the root ball? If so, what should I be looking for? (I'm a novice, you know.)

I was thinking about getting a smaller pot, starting with fresh potting soil, and putting the little tree in there. It seems to me that you're saying this would be the best way to try to save the tree. If so, what should I mix into the potting soil to make it as correct for a dwarf Meyer lemon tree as possible?

Anxiously awaiting your reply.
Rick
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old January 4th, 2007, 12:11 PM
Newt Newt is offline
Generous Contributor (100+ posts)
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Maryland USA zone 7
Posts: 1,277
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

Rick, another reason trees will bloom and produce fruit/seed is because of the stress they think they are dying and try and produce as much offspring as they can.

I'm sure Millet means to gently take the tree out of the pot and look at the roots. Here's how to tell what a rootbound rootball looks like and how to repot. The new pot should be 2" larger then the old one if the progression continued properly, or measure the rootball top to bottom for pot size. Another general rule of thumb would be the pot should be about 1/3 the height of the tree.
http://www.dirtdoctor.com/view_question.php?id=70
http://www.ourgardengang.com/containerpotting.htm

Any all purpose potting mix should be fine. See the very first link I gave you. I don't like the ones that come with fertilizer in them as they contain synthetic fertilizers. These are the fertilizers that leave behind the residual salts. If you can find an organic potting mix that would be best. When you open the bag this is what it should look like. If you don't see much perlite (the white bits) you can purchase a bag of that and mix it into the potting soil. Just don't breathe in the powder when you handle it.
http://www.fertilizeronline.com/images/wc-lettuce1.jpg

Here's what the perlite looks like.
http://www.plantstogrow.com/botany/f...es/perlite.htm

If you can't find citrus fertilizer you could use an organic fertilizer such as fish emulsion or fish emulsion mixed with seaweed. The fish emulsion has an unpleasant odor that dissipates after watering.

Newt
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old January 4th, 2007, 12:55 PM
Rick Rick is offline
Registered Plus (3-99 posts)
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Miami, FL USA
Posts: 13
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

Thanks so much, Newt. I'm going to do my best with all the advice you've given me. The Web sites showing how to repot a plant are great! I just hope it's not too late to save the poor thing.

Well, at least I'm getting a real education from you and Millet. You've both been wonderful. If this tree doesn't make it, I'll certainly do better with the next one I get. I'd just hate to see this one die. I'm a tree freak -- all kinds of trees.

If I have any results, one way or the other, I'll post them here. Thanks again!
Rick
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old January 4th, 2007, 01:06 PM
Millet Millet is offline
Generous Contributor (100+ posts)
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Denver,Colorado USA
Posts: 1,699
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

My guess is that when you remove the tree from the container to examine the root structure, you will find that the roots have not occupied all of the available "soil," and there will be a lot of empty space. What you want to look for is darker brown roots that have become mushy and water logged. These, of course, are the roots that have rotted. A healthy root will be light tan in color, and if the root is in the process of growing the root will have a white root tip. A good growth medium for citrus is one that is made using ingredients of different sizes, a mixture that does not contain a lot of peat moss. I would recommend CHC (coconut husks chips) but you will have a difficult time locating them. A good medium with ingredients that should be easy to find, is 3-parts pine bark (conifer bark), 1 part peat moss, and one part coarse sand. Do not use a fine particle sand like play sand, rather use a coarser builder's sand. A good medium for citrus is one wich is fast draining, and that has a lot of pore space for good oxygen content. An excellent medium for citrus always contains three important ingredients - OXYGEN, OXYGEN AND OXYGEN. - Millet
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old January 4th, 2007, 01:26 PM
Rick Rick is offline
Registered Plus (3-99 posts)
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Miami, FL USA
Posts: 13
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

Thank you very much, Millet. I will heed everthing you've said!
Rick
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old January 4th, 2007, 01:50 PM
Millet Millet is offline
Generous Contributor (100+ posts)
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Denver,Colorado USA
Posts: 1,699
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

One last comment concerning fertilizing citrus. When a citrus tree absorbs fertilizer nutrients from the soil, the tree will always absorb nutrients in the ratio of 5:1:3. This means, for every five parts nitrogen that the citrus roots take up, they will also take up one, and only one, part phosphorous, three, and only three, parts potassium. You can use organic fertilizers or inorganic fertilizers. The tree itself cannot tell the difference between the two types of fertilizer. To the tree, nitrogen is nitrogen is nitrogen, no matter where it comes from. The same goes for phosphorous and potassium. Roots can only absorb nutrients when they are present in the soluble form. The main problem with using organic fertilizers is supplying enough potassium that is in a soluble form. Do what as you wish in fertilizing your tree, I would use a slow release fertilizer like Osmocote. Anyway, good luck to your tree. - Millet
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old January 4th, 2007, 02:00 PM
Rick Rick is offline
Registered Plus (3-99 posts)
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Miami, FL USA
Posts: 13
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

That's certainly important information to know, Millet.

By the way, I've copied and pasted all of your advice and Newt's advice so that I'll have it all on hand.

Ciao for now.
Rick
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old January 18th, 2007, 03:27 PM
Rick Rick is offline
Registered Plus (3-99 posts)
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Miami, FL USA
Posts: 13
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

NEWS FLASH!

The most bizarre things are happening with my poor li'l Meyer lemon tree. I was too saddened to post earlier what's been going on, guys, but all the leaves fell off the tree. Every single one! It had three baby lemons on the end of one branch, a couple of new blossoms, but not one leaf!

Well, I just shrugged my shoulders and figured that was it. Case closed. But in the back of my mind, I figured, as long as those three baby lemons were holding on, who knows what could happen next?

Next has just happened! The tree is sprouting new leaves -- and fast! I can't get over this. So the three baby lemons are still there at the end of that one branch, some of the blossoms have produced "fetuses" for lack of the technical word, and new leaves are coming out. This is a real hoot!

So that's the latest for any of you very kind people who took an interest in helping me and my little tree. I don't know if this means the tree will definitely survive and end up flourishing by the end of this saga, but we'll just have to wait and see. Meanwhile, I'm contemplating the joy of watching those green, baby lemons grow bigger and bigger and other lemons start growing, too. This is just amazing!

By the way, do any of you think the rose fertilizer can actually help a Meyer lemon tree? I'm still using Miracle Gro mixed in water and applied every two weeks or so. What's the consensus of opinion?

Thanks for taking the time to read my latest posting, folks.
Best,
Rick
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old January 18th, 2007, 05:17 PM
Newt Newt is offline
Generous Contributor (100+ posts)
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Maryland USA zone 7
Posts: 1,277
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

Rick, that's wonderful news! I don't know if I said this before, but when trees or shrubs are stressed they will often shed their leaves as the leaves are expendable to them. Often fruit/seed production will increase as the plant wants to reproduce before it dies.

Just thought you'd like to know.

Newt
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old January 18th, 2007, 05:44 PM
Rick Rick is offline
Registered Plus (3-99 posts)
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Miami, FL USA
Posts: 13
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

Hey, Newt!

So, from what you're saying, I guess you don't think my little tree is going to croak after all, right? If that's so, it's a great relief, I can tell you.

Thanks for responding and for showing your enthusiasm. I'll keep you posted.

Rick
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old January 18th, 2007, 05:59 PM
Millet Millet is offline
Generous Contributor (100+ posts)
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Denver,Colorado USA
Posts: 1,699
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

>>>>>Often fruit/seed production will increase as the plant wants to reproduce before it dies.<<<<<<

I have many times observed fruit trees, especially citrus cultivars, set forth blooms under stressful conditions, including the stress of leaf drop. However, never have I seen any additional fruit or seed production. In citrus, the photosynthesis produced from the second year leaves, (two year old leaves) provide the energy for bloom and fruit. On a necked tree, of course, there are no two year old leaves. As Newt states, a tree will produce lots of "stress" blooms, but they always fail to produce any production. Congratulations to Rick's tree. Because the tree has little in the way of foliage, the tree will not require, nor use, much water. Therefore, be very careful that you do not over water the tree. There are two forces that draw moisture from the potting mix into all parts of the tree. A push from the roots, and a pull from the leaves caused by transpiration. Without sufficient leaves the transpiration draw will be minimal, therefore the "soil" will easily over water. - Millet
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old January 18th, 2007, 06:10 PM
Rick Rick is offline
Registered Plus (3-99 posts)
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Miami, FL USA
Posts: 13
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

Hi, Millet!

Wow! That's great information for me to know. Right now the tree has quite a number of baby leaves coming out of various branches, but just a few relatively large leaves.

As for watering, I usually stick my index finger all the way into the soil not too far from the trunk to see how dry or moist it is. I stuck it in late this afternoon and thought it was just a tad moist, so I was thinking about watering it tomorrow afternoon and adding some Miracle Gro (since it's been at least two weeks since I last fed it any fertilizer).

Do you think I should hold off on the fertilizer? And when should I judge that the tree really can use some water? I'd appreciate your expertise and that of other nice people who come to this great Web site.

Thanks!
Rick
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old January 18th, 2007, 08:02 PM
Millet Millet is offline
Generous Contributor (100+ posts)
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Denver,Colorado USA
Posts: 1,699
Re: Really Need Help with My Meyer Lemon Tree

There is really no way of knowing if you are over fertilizing your tree or not, as I do not know the quantity of fertilizer you apply with each feeding. However, under normal application rates, fertilizing a container tree every two weeks is much to often, especially during the winter months. When using water soluble fertilizers, I would fertilize the tree one time a month. You could also feed the tree every two weeks, but only at 1/2 the normal rate. Over feeding a tree can be worse than under feeding a tree. Lastly, if the tree was mine I would fertilize with a 3-4 month slow release Osmocote type fertilizer. At any rate, with the condition that your tree is presently in, I would not recomend fertilizing your tree for one month. New citrus leaves do not provide any energy to the tree, until they expand to their full width and length. Only then does the leaves export energy to the tree in general. Remember, the NUMBER ONE KILLER of containerized citrus trees is over watering. Take care. - Millet
Reply With Quote
Post New ThreadReply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Meyer Lemon tree in NJ mnb Citrus 1 November 1st, 2006 11:45 AM
Old Meyer Lemon tree problems Nadine Citrus 1 September 10th, 2006 08:38 PM
Meyer Lemon Tree Problems sandp Citrus 2 September 9th, 2006 08:53 AM
Lemon Meyer Tree - Need Help heavenlyhell11 Citrus 1 August 18th, 2006 01:15 PM
Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree Lynette Watson Citrus 4 December 15th, 2005 08:59 PM


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 03:53 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright 2001-2011, University of British Columbia Botanical Garden & Centre for Plant Research