Sunday, January 19, 2014

Winter citrus tree update

Sad news: Meyer Lemon kicked the bucket this fall. I tried everything in my power to save him, but it didn't work. I'm not sure how exactly this happened - the tree that looked so much better over the summer very quickly met its demise, seemingly due to root rot even though it got the same waterings as Mr. Orange. Hopefully I'll be able to find a new one locally in the spring (the ones I've ordered online are so tiny that it takes a lot of coaxing to get them to grow). 

The good news is that Mr. Orange looks amazing and currently has four tiny tiny green oranges right now. Additionally, the Bearss Lime tree that I bought near the end of the summer is also doing well. 

Since moving them inside, I've only been watering them about once every two weeks even though my house is incredibly dry. This has prevented root rot so far (the soil stays damp for this whole time), but the leaves and fruit don't like the dryness of the air. I keep them in my bedroom window, which is the warmest place in the whole house and also the sunniest. I run a humidifier at night (for myself as well as the plants), but I've also started spritzing the leaves with a spray bottle and using a big clear plastic bag as a humidity chamber on occasion.

Here's a photo update, with details about what I'm doing to keep them thriving!

First, Meyer Lemon. He died just before Thanksgiving. All his leaves fell off. I tried rinsing the roots (which looked pretty dead) in a really dilute bleach solution and replanting in a small pot of fresh seed/cutting starting mix, but it just didn't work. After another month, I got rid of the remains.

Dying tree just before Thanksgiving
All the leaves fell off within just a few days
My attempts to save the tree failed.
Next, Calamondin Orange. The first pictures were taken the same day as the lemon pictures. This tree is doing great. It had a few blossoms around Thanksgiving, and one turned into a tiny green fruit. That fruit shriveled up and fell off, though, because it was too dry. Some other buds did the same before even making flowers. Now that I've had some more blossoms, I'm being more careful with the humidity and haven't lost any more fruit so far.

Back in the summer when I was caring for this tree, I accidentally broke off a little branch. I tried rooting it, and after about two months, it finally grew roots! Now the root system is continuing to grow, and I might be able to convince myself I see evidence of new growth. Time will tell. That's the itty bitty tree in the purple pot.
Orange tree just before Thanksgiving

Flower buds just before Thanksgiving. These didn't bear any fruit because the air was too dry.
Orange tree today. It lives with rosemary (grown from a cutting),  some ginger (rooted from kitchen ginger), and the little orange tree (grown from a cutting) hanging on its pot. The spray bottle is to keep its leaves and buds moist enough.
Two itty bitty green oranges.
You can see two more oranges in this picture. They are really small. One is up by the window, and the other is toward the center right of the photo.
New growth? New flower buds forming? Not sure, but it's a good sign!
Humidifier runs at night to keep both my plants and myself from drying out.
My makeshift humidity chamber. I make sure there is plenty of air and occasionally leave this on for up to two days when I feel like the air is really dry.
Little orange tree, grown from a cutting (i.e. broken branch of the original).
Finally, Miss Lime. This was a new purchase back in the early fall. It was much bigger than the original citrus I bought in 2011 to start, and throughout the end of summer/early fall it grew some new leaves. Once she came indoors, she didn't really grow anymore (as expected) but still looks healthy. In the past few days, I've noticed new leaf buds forming, though! Yay for longer days. Lime doesn't get the special plastic bag treatment like Mr. Orange because she doesn't have any fruit, but I do mist the leaves (and this tree is also in the warm, sunny bedroom window with a humidifier at night). 
Bearss Lime as of today!
New growth is forming - a good sign! A question for anyone with citrus expertise: does this tree have an iron deficiency or other mineral deficiency? Or is this just how young lime tree leaves look?
In the past few days, I watered all my citrus plants with some fish emulsion and Epsom salt. Now that the days are getting longer, I can see signs of new growth, and I want them to be ready! I know fish emulsion also has lots of trace minerals that will benefit the fruit, too.

Keep your fingers crossed that these trees continue to thrive!

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