1. Overwatering Citrus in a Heatwave!
You wouldn't think that on some of those crackingly hot days it would be possible to overwater your citrus in pots.
Water your potted citrus really well, make sure the pot is draining, water until the water begins to pour from the bottom of the pot.
You can then check at day's end, if the pot is light in weight, and the potting dry you can water again.
Ensure the pots are drying out between waters.
Even if the tree is flagging and looking collasped, it will pick up when the heat of the day has past. Too much water can create problems, stressing the tree. This was a concern for our Citrus Buddy Vivienne who sent us this pic of her lemon tree, taken during the 40+ heat wave days.
2. The Three T’s of Citrus Tree First Aid!
The joy of a new citrus plant arriving into the garden is very exciting, it's been a considered purchase, an investment or it's come as a loving gift and the new responsibility of looking after this Citrus tree can be overwhelming.
Like any new arrival, we often don't know what to expect and when things go wrong sometimes panic takes over.
Follow our simple guidelines in caring for the tree, try not to over complicate, over loving is as dangerous as neglect.
If you tree goes into melt down. Losing leaves and looking super poorly consider these three steps.
These are the three steps for immediate first aid to an ailing Citrus tree.
1/ TRIM - Remove growth from the tree, cut back to green fresh wood. Remove any dead, dry or bare thin twiggy stems. Clock where the bud has been grafted into the understock and never cut below that.
2/ TOPPING – What is around your citrus tree? Clear any plants, grass or large woody mulch. Citrus do not like competition. If your tree is in a pot, ensure you have used the best quality potting mix you can afford and plant the tree at least 5cms down from the top of the pot to the top of the potting mix. Creating a nice well for plenty of water to flood into and for fertiliser to sit in.
3/ TONIC – If the tree is poorly it is not going to be able to take up fertiliser very well, we suggest you supply the tree with a tonic of seaweed or fish or liquid blood and bone. You can do this every two weeks through the growing season.(the warmer months)
Cruise around on here at the Citrus2grow site and you'll find lots of information and advice.
Citrus need sun, warmth protection from strong winds, and plenty of tucker & water in the warmer months.
3. Remove low growing vigorous growth
David recently bought a Eureka Seedless Lemon and it's been growing beautifully. You can see he has it situated in a warm & sunny protected possie, perfect!
David asks - It is growing very well but I wonder if I should give it a prune in spring ? I have attached a few photos. Should I prune down the very tall branches to encourage low growth?
What David actually needs to do is remove the lower growth that is appearing on the tree.
We want to encourage a strong single straight stem, then the tree can branch up and form a lovely open vase shape.
Removing the lower growth also makes us vigilant and aware of understock growth. This is shoots that sometimes form from the rootstock the tree was grafted onto. Strong and vigorous it can drain energy from your citrus, ensure you always keep lower growth trimmed away from the trunk.
David we would also suggest that in Spring you nip down the taller branches so they are all about even to encourage some branching.
Your tree looks terrific!
4. Lop Sided Citrus Splitzer
Julie wrote into us with a worry about her newly acquired Lemon & Lime Splitzer. She was concerned one side was larger than the other.
Our advice was to trim back the Meyer lemon side a little to balance up the plant.
In spring we also suggested that Julie remove the flowers from the lime side ( the smaller side) to encourage growth, not fruit.
This is the hardest advice to accept, as we know that you are all keen to get that first citrus fruit. When the plant is establishing itself the more pressure you can take off your plant, by removing early fruit, the better. Let the plant get strong and large, the crops of fruit will come, stressing your plant slows everything down.
In winter citrus are literally chilling out. You won't see much growth , do keep the water up to them, it’s cold but it can be dry so remember to check moisture levels particularly in pots.
5. Leaf Miner are on the munch!
Please take care and inspect the new growth on your citrus, as leaf miner is active in this warm weather….watch us explain how to easily maintain and manage leaf miner here
One of our dear Citrus Men Friends sent in this pic and note explaining the reoccuring issue she's having with leaf miner, on one side of her Citrus Splitzer.
Our advice is to cut it back removing all the damaged growth and then balance up the other side of the plant by cutting it back to the same size. This would require removing the fruit, build vigour in the tree and sacrifice the fruit. This seem harsh however it's best practice for a happy citrus tree.
Keep up the spray of pest oil or neem spray every couple of weeks in the warm months and fertilise.
6. Do I fertilise Citrus Gems Citrus?
Citrus Gems are Australian Native trees and generally have much less fertiliser requirement than usual citrus ( which are greedy .
Use a low phosphourous, native fertiliser or if you wish to use a citrus fertiliser use it at 1/2 the recommended dose.
Organic tonics are also excellent as a top up.
Citrus Gems are best feed before flowering and fruit set, – late winter or early spring.
They have shallow fiberous root systems so we also advise providing them with a luscious layer of organic well rotted compost and leaf litter, not too close to the trunk and out to the drip line.
7. Living in the Cold – Citrus Survival and Selection
Citrus do survive and thrive in the most extraordinary places. Finding a special suntrap and heat sink is the best idea when it comes to positioning citrus in colder climates. A warm brick wall is ideal. Sheltered from cold winds, give them plenty of mulch to keep their toes warm and while they are settling in a light jacket of hessian or micro cloth will protect them from frosty nights. Once the Citrus is mature and established it will be much more resilient and acclimatised.
Mandarins and Oranges are the best citrus performers for vey cold areas.
We recommend Japanese seedless Mandarin and any of the oranges would be fine. Meyer Lemon is the best for cold areas, however you do have to enjoy that mild orangey lemon taste. Eureka is a better lemon however it will need extra protection in the winter.
We do know of a fabulous old Eureka that is growing near Launceston so we know anything is possible.
8. Look at my yellow leaves!
Daniel writes -
"I'm a bit new to growing anything and I am concerned that the tree is dying. I was going to give it a feed of citrus liquid fertilizer not sure if it is the right time of year for that and if it will help with this problem? There are about 3 lemon or limes developing on the tree at the moment. I was also going to transplant this tree to a location that it gets the morning sun because in winter in its current location it is shaded though winter. I don't want to move it and kill it. it has been in this location for about 3-4 months"
Daniel your tree is very hungry, the yellow leaves are symptomatic of a lack of food through the growing season – Citrus are very heavy feeders!
However don't panic all will be well. During this winter period, let's improve your soil quality so that the tree will absorb and take up food when the weather warms up!
Compost or organic growing mix applied around the base of the tree then top with some sugar cane mulch or pea straw. Spread all this out and form a lovely delicious blanket.
We know you will resist, however if you remove the fruit the tree will cope a lot better….it's just a bit too young and stressed to hold fruit at this stage.
A seaweed solution every few weeks will be a sweet comforting treat. When Spring comes start feeding – A good organic complete fertiliser- You'll find more information about feeding in our FAQ's.
The tree will need at least 8 hours of sunshine – if you feel you want to move it wait until spring cut it right back and gently move it then…..however improve the soil with compost. Good luck, be confident and keep us up to date with how your tree is improving.
9. What to do with the BUDDAHS HAND?
These extraordinary golden fruit, a citron, spledidly resembles an open hand, and have long been referred to as the Buddah' Hand.
Fruit that appears as a "closed" hand are used in religious ceremonies, as offerings, as they represent the buddah in prayer.
They also represent good fortune, happiness and longevity and are a popular gift in many cultures at New Year.
Full of volatile citrus oils the rind is fragrant and rich in citrus scent. The perfume of the Buddahs Hand is easily transferred to many culinary dishes.
Finely grate the rind and add as you would to salad dressings. Use to flavour cakes and biscuits. Salt and grated Buddahs hand is a delightful accompaniment to roasted meats and wonderful tossed in hot buttery pasta for a simple flavoursome dish.
The fingers can be candied and used as a sweet decoration or additive…..
A spectacular looking fruit, fear not it's strange appearance, it's a useful and fun citrus to use in the kitchen.
10. Calamondin are they Dwarf?
Currently calamondins are not grown as Pipsqueaks.
They are a usual sized tree reaching around five metres in height and around three metres in width.
Calamondins are very easily kept under control with pruning – they are very happy to live their entire life in a pot.
Go up slowly with your pot size, not too large too quickly and remember to keep the food and water up.
Clip them firmly in spring to keep them in shape and they'll reward you with buckets of cheerful fruit.