I have a 2 yr old Meyer lemon tree that I have received 2 days ago from a nursery in California. I live in Chicago and it is very cold here right now 5 degrees, so I opted for cold weather shipping. The tree appeared to be in good condition when it arrived so I immediately planted it into a 14" clay pot with a drainage hole. I used Miracle Gro brand potting soil for cactus and citrus containing fertilizer and mixed it with the wood chips that the tree was shipped with. I then watered it until water started to come out of the bottom. Yesterday the leaves started to dry, curl in and fall off. I have set up a full spectrum lamp this morning and used it throughout the day. The tree receives about 3 hours of sunlight in the morning, 6 hours of combined natural indirect and full spectrum lighting and 2 hours of full spectrum lighting alone.
The leaves continue to curl and drop but it appears that it is growing more thorns.
What am I doing wrong?
ambient temp during the day: 69-72 deg.
ambient temp at night:66-68 deg.
soil is moist
lighting: 11 hours total. (3 hours direct sun)
water misting twice a day , once in morning, once in the evening.
Please help me.
Get a thermometer you can put in the soil and check soil temp-- if it is less than 60F do not expose it to direct sun (soil temp is not the same as room temp). A potted plant sitting next to a window is getting cooled by evaproation, contact with the floor, and a flow of cold air falling down from the window-- I will bet your soil temp is below 60 F and at that temp your trees roots cannot supply moisture to the leaves. When the leaves are exposed to sun they get overheated and dried out if the roots cannot supply water.
Thanks for replying skeeterbug.
Soil temp is indeed below 60 F, it is at 55 F.
Is the tree dying or just going dormant? If just dormant, then should I leave it alone but keep it away from sun? Or should I try to keep the soil warm, I'm thinking a utility drop light with a low wattage bulb against the clay pot.
When the soil temp is 55 the roots are completely dormant and exposure to sunlight will kill the leaves. There are 2 choices-- keep it out of the sun or heat the roots. You can heat the roots with a string of Christmas lights wrapped around the pot-- even the small lights will work. If you heat the roots you can expose it to sunlight as long as the roots are above 60-- preferably around 65-70 F.
I should add-- your tree is not dead-- it will continue to drop the leaves that have already been damaged, but will come back when the temperature warms up. Just make sure that you don't overwater. The tree will use less water without leaves.
The information given by Skeet is correct, and is valuable information for future growing of containerized citrus. However, the low soil temperature is not the current problem of your tree. The damage to your tree is from the tree being frozen in shipment. The reason your citrus tree looked to be in good condition when you opened the carton, was because a citrus tree that has been damaged by being frozen takes 2 or 3 days before the foliage shows symptoms. Do not discard the tree, if the wood remains green the tree might still reflush new leaves in two to six weeks. In the mean time the roots will require very little or on watering. Just be sure the soil does not completely dry.
Last edited by Millet; February 5th, 2007 at 08:34 PM.
to skeeterbug, It seems u know lots of citrus. I bought a citrus tree last year and bloomed and carried fruits. It has been inside for almost 3 months in a direct sunshine, about 3 month ago it starts to loss its leaves (falling green leaves) and getting dry from the top. My home is dry and i water it once a week. what i can do ? will my tree gonaa die thanks
Thanks for the compliment, but most of what I know came from this forum and the citrusforum and the real experts like Millet.
You may have 2 problems--cold roots and possibly overwatering. If your tree is exposed to direct sunlight while the roots are below 55 F they will get overheated, dehydrated and die. Get a thermometer and stick it in your soil and do not expose it to direct sun when the soil is below 60 (better yet-- below 65).
Secondly, a fixed watering schedule is a plan for disaster-- citrus should only be watered when the soil is dry at least 2 to 3 inches deep. That takes longer in winter than in summer.
If the stems of your tree are still green and you correct these problems, it may survive.
My Meyer Lemon tree has recovered nicely. Large green leaves all over, although a few of the limbs were damaged by the extreme cold during shipment. I pruned those away. I hope to get fruit by the end of this summer.
The roots were below temperature due to placement in the house (55 deg.) but I decided not to heat the roots. The main stem of the tree was green under the "skin" so it was still alive but dormant. I kept the watering and light down to a minimum until tiny leaves started to appear, then resumed normal water and lighting.
Dkimbo, what you decided to do with your tree was completely fine. The issue is not one of "to heat or to heat the root zone." The obligation to the tree is BALANCE. When a tree's foliage is all day in the sun, then in balance, the root system needs to be at an elevated temperature. If the foliage is setting in front of a north facing window, or in the shade, then the root system can be at a lower temperature. Everything is balance. The leaves of citrus utilize sunlight to manufacture food (carbohydrates) in a process called photosynthesis. In the case of citrus, the more sunlight the more photosynthates the tree produces, TO A POINT, and the point for citrus is 1/3 of full sunlight. In other words the process of photosynthesis for citrus maximizes at 1/3 of full sunlight. Sunlight above 1/3 does not produce additional photosynthates (food). However, by keeping the tree at or below 55.4F (13C) one loses a lot of growth that would otherwise have been achieved. - Millet