Did I just kill my grapefruit tree?

Discussion in 'Citrus' started by CarolineRC, Apr 10, 2006.

  1. CarolineRC

    CarolineRC Member

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    I just recently posted a response about my 22 year old grapefruit tree that I started from a seed and now I've got a question. I live in Minnesota and so the tree has been in a container indoors all of it;s life for most of the year, outdoors from June - September. I've occasionally had ants and little spiders on the tree but have gotten rid of them with different sprays. Well, last February there was one too many tiny spiders (lots and lots!) and since it was the dead of winter and I couldn't take it outside to hose it off and spray it, I just put it in the garage. We have a garage that's attached to the house and so it never gets colder than around 20 degrees or so. The leaves are all dry but still attached and I didn't water it during it's two month stay in the garage. Now the weather is nice and not suppose to get below 40 degrees at night and so I put it outside and watered it quite heavily. My thought was that the old dead leaves would fall off and new ones would come in their place. Will they? I hope I haven't just killed the tree since it's been with me for so long. Also, if it survives, how long can I expect a tree like this to live?
     
  2. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    I cannot offer you much advice but I do have some comments. Since all the leaves are dried up and no longer transpiring moisture you'll want to limit watering to a minimum as citrus trees are quite susceptible to root rot. There's a chance for the tree to make a comeback if the bark is still green. I would also not fertilize at this time. More experienced growers who frequent this forum would have more detailed advice towards recovery of the tree. Good luck.
     
  3. BabyBlue11371

    BabyBlue11371 Active Member

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    Caroline,
    If the wood is still green there is still life in it.. Time will tell..

    As far as it never fruiting.. Citrus Trees need to be stressed in one way or another to produce flower set.. If the tree has been to overly happy for all these years it has never had reason to set flowers.. things that stress citrus are lack of water *drought in nature* or chilling temps.. citrus in tropical regions that do not get chilling temps (below 68*F for 850hrs from November till about Jan1 *info thanks to Millet*) to educe bloom set are induced by drought.. (this does apply to grapefruit too right Millet?? Guess I need notes to say what citrus Don't require stress to set blooms?)
    If your tree has matured to the proper amount of nodes this chill/dry period it is going through might stress it enough to produce blooms!!! And down the road fruit!!
    Good luck...
    Gina *BabyBlue*
     
  4. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Putting a grapefruit tree in a **20F** environment for two months. Not watering a containerized citrus tree for two months. These are two very effective methods of killing a tree. My guess is MAYBE the tree MIGHT come back, if given proper care. It all depends on how much damage the neglect has caused the tree. It the tree does survive the growth will probably begain from the bottom, because it is a seedling tree. - Millet
     
  5. CarolineRC

    CarolineRC Member

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    Thanks BabyBlue11371 and Millet.
    How many nodes is enough nodes? It has (had) a ton of leaves. Once in a wind storm on our deck all of it's leaves blew off, and the leaves that grew back were beautiful: bigger and more intense green. So either BabyBlue is right and it may be better than ever or Millet is right and it will struggle...I guess time will tell. Thanks all.
     
  6. Laaz

    Laaz Active Member 10 Years

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    I can tell you that I have never seen a seedling grapefruit tree fruit in a container. From what I have seen & experienced grapefruit will not fruit until they are of a substantial size. We have a old woman here in town that planted a grapefruit from seed in 1970. She kept this plant in a container until 1984 (9 ft) & it never flowered... In 1984 she planted it in the ground. In 2000 at almost 20 ft it finally started fruiting & has ever since. That would be 30 years before it fruited for the first time. I could be wrong, but from what I have seen grapefruit from seed will not get the size & nodes they need to fruit in a container.

    For anyone interested the photos of this tree taken this past Nov. can be found here http://citrus.forumup.org/viewtopic.php?t=87&mforum=citrus
     
  7. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Laaz, There certainly is a lot of truth in what you say. It depends on the size of the tree, which is another way of saying, the number of nodes. The size that a tree reaches, of course, has a direct relation to the size of the container it is growing in. - Millet
     
  8. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Laaz and Millet, you do know that you just extinguished the hopes of the many growing their seedling trees in the manner described? The truth hurts sometimes.

    You're both aware of the various types of citrus having different heat requirements to develop fruit. If you were to use a similar chart to speculate on the chances of success in growing a seedling to maturity in a container, what would it be? Pummelo and grapefruit would likely be at one end of the list and key lime at the other.
     
  9. Laaz

    Laaz Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi Junglekeeper. Procimequat will fruit the first year, but is only a ornamental. Poncirus can fruit from 1 year, but usually 3-5. I have three Key limes trees that are all fruiting at two years old. Some lemons will fruit at 3-5 years. Mandarins and oranges at 5-7 and grapefruit can take 10+ years. Remember this is with the best conditions. Growing in a cold climate or small container can delay or prevent the tree from fruiting at all. Like Millet said if the tree never meets the required nodes, it will never fruit.
     
  10. CarolineRC

    CarolineRC Member

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    I thought you guys might want to see the dried out version of my tree - I just took the picture this morning...
     

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  11. Laaz

    Laaz Active Member 10 Years

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    The heat requirement has nothing to do with developing fruit. Heat requirement has to do with the sweetness of the fruit. A grapefruit will still produce fruit in a cool climate, but the fruit will be sour, not sweet...
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2006
  12. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Hey, Laaz. Sorry for the poor choice of words. Thanks for the clarification.

    Anyway my question to you and Millet was less about juvenility periods and more about the overall ability for citrus types to reach maturity given limiting factors of both growing in a container AND in an indoor or indoor/outdoor environment. As noted above, grapefruit may never mature under these conditions.

    I thought about this some more and if indeed tree maturity is tied to node count then it would make sense that smaller-leafed citrus like Key lime and 'quats would have the best chance of maturing in an indoor container environment as they will have a higher number of leaves (and nodes) in a given volume of space. Is this a reasonable hypothesis?

    P.S. Caroline, please forgive the hijack.
     
  13. Laaz

    Laaz Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi Junglekeeper. Yes two of my Key limes are in the small barrel 5 gal type pots and are fruiting after only two years. Note that they are outside all but a few nights a year. We have a very mild winters here. This past winter they did not get any protection & were outside all winter. The two in containers are a about 3 ft high & 2 ft wide. We have many days in Jan / Feb that reach into the 70's so they pretty much continue to grow throughout the year. In a colder climate they will probably take a bit longer to fruit.
     
  14. BabyBlue11371

    BabyBlue11371 Active Member

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    Caroline,
    Can't see real super well from the photo.. but looks to me like there is still some green to the wood..
    I'm hoping for you!!! Looks like it was a lovely tree..

    If it does survive.. maybe you could consider grafting mature grapefruit to it?? or another type of citrus..
    Just an idea if the tree survives..
    Good Luck!!
    Gina *BabyBlue*
     
  15. CarolineRC

    CarolineRC Member

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    BabyBlue,
    Thanks! I tried bending the smaller branches a little and they are still flexible, so maybe there's hope yet!
    Caroline
     
  16. Laaz

    Laaz Active Member 10 Years

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    From the looks of that photo that tree went through some major dehydration. You are not going to save the leaves that are on it now. You may have to prune it back quite a bit & let it flush out...
     
  17. BabyBlue11371

    BabyBlue11371 Active Member

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    CarolineRC,
    Just wondering how your tree is doing any worse or better?
    Gina *BabyBlue*
     
  18. CarolineRC

    CarolineRC Member

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    BabyBlue,
    Well, I have it outside and it's getting a good deal of rain with temperatures in the 60s during the day and the 50s at night. I pulled all the dry leaves off and I'm watching closely to see if there will be any new growth. I hesitate to do any pruning since, like I said before, the small branches are still flexible and just might send out new growth. I'll post a picture when, and if, something happens. Thanks for the concern!!! I'd hate to think that I outright killed my tree-friend of 22 years!
    Caroline
     
  19. CarolineRC

    CarolineRC Member

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    Well, it's official. My 22 year old grapefruit is dead. Let this be a word of warning to other amateur (aka. "stupid") citrus growers like me: citrus trees can't hibernate over the winter, even for a short amount of time, in a garage or other temperature-unfriendly location! I wish I had been a little more patient with tackling the bug problem. If I knew then what I know now, I would have individually wiped off each and every leave by hand rather than try and freeze the bugs away! I have now bought a Bearss lime tree and I am going to treat it like a king!
     
  20. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Sorry about the grapefruit tree, and congratulations on your new Bearss Lime tree. If it is a grafted tree you possibly already have some fruit on the tree, or you surely will get fruit sometime this year or early next. - Millet
     
  21. BabyBlue11371

    BabyBlue11371 Active Member

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    So sorry to hear about your loss. Congrats on the lime!
    and.. I've done more than my fair share of "stupid" things.. Some times we learn things the hard way.. I killed all but one of my citrus collection this last January.. and it was a VERY stupid thing I did. But I have learned from it and have a new batch of trees that won't have to suffer *THAT* stupid mistake.. and hopefully that will be the worse mistake I ever make with citrus.
    Gina *BabyBlue*
     

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