Banana and lemon tree question

Discussion in 'Fruit and Nut Trees' started by zlwidow, Mar 11, 2005.

  1. zlwidow

    zlwidow Member

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Alberta
    I recieved both a year ago as a gift, they used to be my sister in laws, she gave them to me, they have been houseplants since she purchased them as plants, not seeds over 4 years ago, the lemon tree lost its leaves, last year this time and is now doing so again, is this normal? The banana tree sprouted last year, and then the middle trunk died, is this also normal? the buds are still doing well. I have never had them outside, and as far as I know my sister in law never did either. They have never bore fruit, what can I do to have this happen? the lemon tree is just over 5 feet, and very thin trunk, the banana tree was about 3 feet tall before dying, the sprouts are just a year old, less then a foot tall. I live in Alberta, the banana tree is in a south facing window, the lemon tree is in a north facing room, not near a window. Should I replant them into bigger pots?

    Cathy
     
  2. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,275
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Maryland USA zone 7
    Hi Cathy,

    I doubt that you will get an bananas growing your tree indoors. Maybe you could repot according to the directions here and move them outdoors for the summer. Here's a site that should be helpful.
    http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/extension/homefruit/banana/banana.html

    Your lemon shouldn't lose all it's leaves. Has it ever been repotted? You may need to look and see if it's rootbound. Here's some sites about growing lemons in pots indoors.
    http://www.fourwindsgrowers.com/growing/containers.html
    http://www.garden.org/articles/articles.php?q=show&id=1294
    http://www.thegardenhelper.com/dwarfcitrus.html
    http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/gl_trees_shrubs_fruit/article/0,1785,HGTV_3647_3367487,00.html
    http://leon.ifas.ufl.edu/citrus_in_containers.htm

    Newt
     
  3. drichard12

    drichard12 Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Michigan, U>S>A
  4. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,032
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    North Vancouver, B.C., Canada
    I have attempted indoor plantings of banana, and over two years, it was a battle between either aphids or low humidity. I gave in to exterior plantings since 1995
    and never looked back. Sorry if this doesn't help your situation, but
    perhaps low levels of humidity and or dry forced air heating sources could be the culprit for your plants dire situation. I have my lemons out of doors usually 10 months plus, only to escape the odd winters freezing winds. Alberta air is much drier than here on the coast...you do however, receive sunshine in abundance!

    Your lemons should be growing by now, as have mine since last December. So many factors to look into, potting size, medium used, drainage, moisture, relative humidity, sunlight, fertilizers,watering regime....have I missed anything here?
     
  5. Gardenfever

    Gardenfever Active Member

    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Port Moody
    I'll bet your lemon tree has little tiny webs on the crotches of main stem and branches. Lemon trees and other citruses are known for attracting mites from miles away. Grow them and they will come. The little suckers are nearly invisible to the naked eye. You'll just see the webs and little tiny black or red specks.

    If your lemon tree is still alive. Take it into the shower and spray like crazy over and under and wash off all webs. I would take a towel and try to wipe off the leaves expecially on the undersides to try to get rid of these little tiny mites as best as possible. Keep the tree well-watered and on a pebble dish to keep the humidity high. Then mist every day. That's the only way I know to get rid of those buggers without chems.

    Hope that helps, Karen.
     
  6. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,032
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    North Vancouver, B.C., Canada
    I disagree...too much humidity is going to attract other pests, I would never mist my citrus, even with forced air, your banana and citrus should both be in a southern exposed window....not necessarily beside each other. If you place out of doors in the mild summer months , acclimatize the plants both ways, especially when re-entering the house to adjust for humidty levels, mind you Alberta has lower humidity levels than Vancouver..
     
  7. drichard12

    drichard12 Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Michigan, U>S>A
    Cathy Gowing Bananas is not much different than Citrus. Their are many different types and varieties to grow. Forum talk is the best, look for members in your zone.

    Cold hardy information is hard to find. If you prefer to go above the common postings you will find what you need. You will have to spend more time looking.

    Hang in there, Keep Asking, And Keep Looking. It's out their. Dale
     
  8. Chuck White

    Chuck White Active Member

    Messages:
    333
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Florida,USA
    Cathy: Bananas are indigenous to that part of the world that typically gets 110 inches of rain per year. To suggest that you give your pot that much water would also suggest that you install some sort of flood control arragement. The type and age of your potting soil, the drainage of the pot, the amount of fertilizer and kind, and many other questions arise. Not the least concern I would have would be that of LIGHT. Almost 12 hours of sun per day, year 'round is what they would normally get.
     
  9. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,455
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Siloam Springs, AR, USA
    I grow quite a few bananas under "glass" but not indoors. There are a large number of species and without knowing what species you have it is very difficult to give advice. However, the vast majority are tropical. A few will survive cold and a very few can handle some snow. As a result of being tropical they require both sunlight and high humidity along with ample water. It is highly unlikely you will ever see fruit without all these factors. The plant is largely made up of water and you have to constantly replenish that water to make it grow.

    There is a couple in Homestead, FL that operate a company called Going Bananas. They grow almost every species of banana on the planet. I'd really suggest you take a good photo, take some measurements, and send them to Don and Katie. Their website is easily found on the net. Don is likely the most knowledgeable banana grower and identifier on the planet. If you can't easily find it go to my website which I've listed below and find the "Links Page". It can be found at the bottom of the homepage. Also, remember that many species produce fruit you would not enjoy eating! Some are very chalky, some not very sweet, a few are bitter, and others just good for cooking. Without knowing what species you'll have no idea if you can eat it!

    I'd also recommend you repot the banana in as large a pot as you can possible give the plant. They can produce enormous corms and the corms need room. Try this soil mixture which is fast draining but will hold sufficient moisture to keep the plant healthy: 40% good rich potting soil, 20% sand, 20% peat moss, 10% orchid potting media (bark and charcoal) and the balance Perliteā„¢. Water the plant as often as you can but make sure the pot drains quickly. Don't allow the corm to sit in water. Also, if you ever want to see fruit, put it out in the sunlight (direct sunlight) in the spring and leave it until the temp begins to drop to 50 degrees F. Remember to give it plenty of water! Don also has a fertilizer fixture he highly recommends. He'll sell it to you in small quantities and ship it by UPS. You need to give the banana corm some of this mixture every month, year round. And his mixture is not something you can go to the nursery and buy. Ask him about it. He knows his stuff. In the winter, give the plant all the warm, humid, bright conditions you can possibly muster. Otherwise it will likely go into a slight dormancy. Steve Lucas
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 13, 2007
  10. Schmee

    Schmee Member

    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    St. John's, NL, Canada
    Just to continue this thread...I have a lemon tree as well, it does quite well, gets plenty of southern sunlight, is kept quite warm and the soil is always healthy & moist. Its about 4-5 ft tall, has a slender barked trunk and the leaves are vibrant green and healthy, as large as 4-5" on average. The pot is also quite large and contains about 12-14" of soil. Everything sounds great.

    Two issues however:

    A. I do have those damn mites. They're everywhere...I've tried everything from chemical sprays, warm diluted vinegar-water...the works. Sometimes I'll rid the tree of them, but, sure as a cat's *** points South, the buggers come back. What can I do to make them go away...for good?

    B. I'm not sure if this one of the "Meyer" lemon trees, but, from my knowledge the tree must be at least 3.5 - 4.5 yrs old and I've yet to see it bud, flower, grow fruit or plain ol' laugh at me. Can this be a result of the mites? I also heard once that if a lemon tree has thorns, it wont bear fruit, is this true, or was this person suffering from heat stroke?

    Please help me, I love this tree, but I'm about ready to snap a branch here.

    P.
     
  11. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,032
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    North Vancouver, B.C., Canada
    Are you sure these are mites? and not Thrips? Thrips are almost impossible to irradicate, but an alcohol rinse can help. Dilute 1T. of isopropol alcohol to 1 litre of warm water and 1t. safer's soap type detergent... never use antibacterial soaps on plants. My meyer Lemon is 2 years old and has blooms.
     
  12. Schmee

    Schmee Member

    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    St. John's, NL, Canada
    I guess I just assumed they were mites...they make a web at the crotch of pretty much every main leaf/branch. They're VERY small, almost invisible to the naked eye, but, visible none the less. Most are an off-white'ish color, some more of a red tinge. There are millions of them.
     
  13. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,455
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Siloam Springs, AR, USA
    Can you possibly get a descent closeup photo of the infection? I have an associate who is an expert in this area and he may be able to help with a descent photo.
     
  14. Schmee

    Schmee Member

    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    St. John's, NL, Canada
    I literally just wiped the entire tree down to get rid of the pests. The best and most accurate description of the problem is this:

    The "webs" are predominately found on the bottom part of the leaf stem where it attaches to the main branch. The web material is almost transparent...looking more like a dusty cobweb than a spiders web. Inside these webs are many (10-20+) small insects resembling a mite...(tiny round body with multiple legs)...no bigger than the tip of a needle. The "mite-like" insects can also be found on both sides of the leaf, but, not nearly as dence as in the webbing...except for new chutes and baby leaves, the mites almost completely cover these areas. The mites look like black little specs, but, upon closer examination seem tan in color, as well as, dark brown/black and some even with a reddish tint. They seem to be pretty active and move around alot. I dont see any of them near the base of the tree or around the dirt, so I dont think they have any interest in the soil...although I just might not be able to see them against the dark dirt and tree bark.

    I know a picture is worth a thousand words, but, as I said, I've just spent the last 2 hours wiping the damn tree down leaf by leaf!! They seem like they're pretty much gone...any tips for keeping the tree "bug free"??

    BTW...I looked into the Thrips, and it is not them...they look completely different. I'm almost certain they're spider mites and that this is just an unusualy huge infestation.
     
  15. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,455
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Siloam Springs, AR, USA
    I've just requested a plant expert from Florida to read your posts. Hopefully we can get you a good answer!
     
  16. Schmee

    Schmee Member

    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    St. John's, NL, Canada
    Thanks, that would be excellent!

    One thing I did forget to mention is that I live in St. John's, Newfoundland. Obviously, I dont need to mention to a fellow Canadian where we're located, but, others might not know where Nfld is...and that we're basically a chunk of granite out in the Atlantic Ocean completely seperated from all of North America.

    Would we have any insects such as these that are only common to us here in Newfoundland...which are basically in an "enclosed" island-environment??

    Thanks again...appreciate the help.
     
  17. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,275
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Maryland USA zone 7
    Hi Schmee,

    It sure sounds like spider mites. Yes, you can get them where you are too. These can be gotten rid of with insecticidal soap. You will have to keep at it for several weeks, but you will succeed. Spider mites tend to attack stressed plants, so try and figure out what is the stressor. Maybe repotting or an organic fertilizer would be in order.

    You can make your own insecticidal soap. Be sure not to use anything that says 'detergent'.
    http://www.care2.com/channels/solutions/outdoors/194

    Newt
     
  18. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,455
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Siloam Springs, AR, USA
    Good advice! Stress can easily cause an outbreak of a variety of infestations. Since you live in a cold climate exposure can also be an element to the stress. As for the "isolation", I wouldn't think so. My "rain forest" is in Arkansas and I get the same wierd stuff that everyone else has to fight. The trick is avoiding stress to the specimens at all cost. I had eggs for a nasty little creature come in on some plants from Puerto Rico several years ago. I'll likely never get completely rid of them, but I do keep it under control. But I do understand the frustration. As soon as I hear back from my experts in Florida I'll make sure you get some sort of answer. But in the meantime, do try the soap trick. It often works very well. It will just take some time and repeated treatment.
     
  19. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,455
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Siloam Springs, AR, USA
    Well, you'll likely not like the information forwarded to me but I can assure you this guy knows his stuff. Here' what I was told: "She has spider mites, nasty little buggers to get rid of---all the advice already given may help, she may or may NOT get rid of them. Sorry to be negative, but she probably needs to re-pot the banana into the largest pot she can stand with some good, light and well draining 'Jungle" potting mix,
    give it as much humidity and sun/light as she can, but it will probably NEVER do well that far North, same w/ the lemon. It is like trying to keep a polar bear alive and well in S. Florida by keeping the poor thing in the kitchen with the fridge door open to provide cold. Wish I could offer more, the suggestion of checking the banana and lemon sites is a good one, maybe the things CAN be sucessfully grown indoors and far North, I just don`t think so."

    Here's what I would suggest to accomplish some of this advice. 1) Use as large a pot as you can give the plants. 2) Mix the potting soil by starting with something like a commercial "moisture control" soil mix. But to that add extra peat moss and a healthy helping of orchid potting mix (bark and charcoal). The goal is to make the soil drain as quickly as possible yet hold moisture. Bananas also benefit from sandy soil. If you can find a bag of descent sand mix in a good helping of that as well for the banana.

    I grow quite a few bananas in my aritifical Arkansas "rain forest" and we do it successfully. We even get fruit. The difference is my temps never go below 55 degrees and the plants get plenty of sun and lots of water in fast draining soil.

    Wish I could give you more hopeful advice, but I wouldn't toss the plants yet! Follow the treatment advice already given as well as the repotting as described. Hopefully you too will see bananas grow! But the stessor may be simply be the climate in which you are growing the plants.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2007
  20. Chuck White

    Chuck White Active Member

    Messages:
    333
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Florida,USA
    Newt is correct to infer that some detergents can be harmful. This would certainly apply to those with the extra added 'grease cutters'. It is quite common for many, many farm chemicals to be mixed with a detergent by the person doing the application of the chemicals. Many chemicals sprayed would just tend to puddle on the leaves ,not cover the entire leaf, and just run off without giving full protection. To eliminate this problem, a very thick (viscous) detergent that is a non-foaming detergent is used by farm applicators. Called a 'spreader-sticker', the detergent enables the complete wetting of the plant surface, giving full surface coverage of the plant with the insectide, fungicide,or whatever it is that you are spraying. Working as a plant sprayer/technician for 10 months(a fascinating education) with Novartis Chemical Co. here in central Florida, we typically used 1 quart of detergent to 1000 gallons of water with the particular chemical under test added to the mix. Our tests were to check efficacy of the chemical, phytotoxicity, negative effects on the plants in question, etc.
    Without a 'spreader/sticker' (or 'wetting agent',if you will,) it would be difficult to make any chemical spread well enough to give satisfactory coverage. Think about 'Safer Soap'. The 'Soap' is probably a low foaming detergent to make sure the chemical is able to saturate the critter you are after.
     
  21. Schmee

    Schmee Member

    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    St. John's, NL, Canada
    Its now the next morning...the tree is relatively mite free, a few lingering ones found their way back to the new chutes and leaves. I'll wipe these down again and hopefully that will be the end of them for the time being.

    Should I spray the leaves down daily with the soap-spray? If so, for how long of a period should I continue to do this?

    I also read something about adding cayenne to the soap-spray solution, will this actually deter spider mites or harm the tree?

    Just to be clear after reading the previous posts, I dont have a banana tree, mine is just a lemon, so I'm not sure if the information previously posted applies directly to me or not. I did find the part about "stress" interesting. The only stress the tree would have endured would be a recent repotting. The tree was removed from the pot and the pot was washed, the drainage pebbles were rinsed and new potting mulch/soil was added...the tree replaced. I'm using the most expensive stuff out there in terms of soil, so dirt quality shouldnt be an issue. The pot itself is plenty big for the tree, it just needed more dirt as the tree continues to grow quite rapidly...my tree is about 5ft right now from the top down to the dirt line.

    Although I'm no expert, I disagree that the climate here is incondusive to the proper growth cycle of any plant or tree. Outdoors, yes, I agree, but indoors, there should be no difference having a lemon tree here, than having one in So.Cal. Providing the tree gets plenty of direct sunlight...which it gets from a glass wall and southern exposure (8-10+ hrs/day), the humidity is regulated as it would be indoors and the proper maintanence of the tree is kept, there shouldnt be any issue with living here, in Miami or in the Arctic circle. The indoor temp would never drop below 68 degrees. I'm from southern Italy and I have a fig and an olive tree growing like dandilions on crack! If they produce fruit and dont notice the difference in climate, a lemon tree definetly shouldnt be effected. Again, my issue isnt the fact that I cant get the tree to grow, the tree is relatively HUGE!! I'm just not getting any blooms and I have a massive mite infestation that I'm trying to figure out how to control.

    I agree that I probably wont completely wipe them out, but, I need to know the best way to control them so I dont get another huge outbreak similar to the one I just had. Oh, ya, and I'd like to make lemonade in the near future too...not from a can.
     
  22. Schmee

    Schmee Member

    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    St. John's, NL, Canada
    I forgot to mention, I had the mite problem before the repotting, but, it was severely worse right after the re-pot.
     
  23. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,455
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Siloam Springs, AR, USA
    From what I've been able to uncover this can be a long term effort to control and totally remove. Rich soil may be a problem since you said it was "expensive". The ability to drain quickly is far more important. The goal in making any tropical species grow as it would in nature is to duplicate what it expects and needs rather than give it the richest soil possible. I'm not sure I'd recommend repotting again since it has already been stressed but that fast draining soil is very important. You'll likely have ot treat the infection for quite some time. Good luck in your effort.
     
  24. Schmee

    Schmee Member

    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    St. John's, NL, Canada
    How long should I wait to re-pot from this point if I feel the soil could be one of my problems?

    Also, how frequently should I use the soap-spray to keep the mites at bay...and is the cayenne a good idea or a bad one?

    Thanks again, I'll be sure to mail you all some lemons.

    P.
     
  25. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,455
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Siloam Springs, AR, USA
    I can only speak from experience on a variety of parasite controls. When I've had infections I treat it quite frequently until it appears the thing is absolutely under control. Don't give up too quickly on your efforts. The eggs from these parasites are often microscopic in size and difficult to see. I've been able to head off a few disasters with persistence so I'd suggest you stay after it, especially if anything is even remotely visible.

    As for the soil, if the plant is otherwise healthy, if it were my plant I'd probably do it now. That may be risky so you'll have to use your own best judgement. If you think you've got the pests under control then do some research on lemons and see exactly what type of soil they prefer. Since we lived in Florida for many years I can tell you the soil there is typically quick draining and contains quite a bit of sand. Perlite, which can be purchased commercially, will do a similar job. But a good fast draining mixture with lots of peat and orchid bark will help keep the soil loose. All of the citrus trees in our yard were planted in soil that was likely 20% sand and the rest contained a mixture of good soil and peat. But I'll be quick to add for many years I've specialized in plants from the rain forest and can give better advice on those types of species.

    I'm not truly familiar with the pepper idea but I am aware of it having been used. Perhaps someone else on this board can give you better advice on that one. I would question the effectiveness in the absence of some documented proof. These critters are tiny and reproduce rapidly. The soap treatment has proven to be somewhat effective.

    One thing that I wondered about! What is your humidity like most of the year? You mentioned Southern California (I know you are in far eastern Canada). Many people in Southern Cal. have difficulty with tropical species due to the lack of humidity. I know two gentlemen there who have built simulated rain forests and have to water quite frequently. One keeps large pans of water in his greenhouse to increase the humidity to his specimens. You should be aware that most tropical species love high humidity.

    We try to give them nothing less than 80% humidity year round. Some of the experts at the Missouri Botanical Garden have told me the high humidity level in our artificial rain forest is what has made our plants grow faster and larger than is normally expected. We create high humidity with the aid of a large indoor pond and waterfall. But I do understand that is not always practical.

    I do hope you succeed with your attempts. I know from growing quite a large collection the importance of each and every specimen. I hate to loose anything!!
     

Share This Page