Grapefruit Tree Help :(

Discussion in 'Citrus' started by OREGATO, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. OREGATO

    OREGATO Member

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    Hi guys, i'm new to the forum and thought i should introduce my self first,

    my name is William from Dublin, Ireland in Europe. i found this website while doing a search and it seems to hold alot of useful information.


    basically i've got 4 grapefruit trees and 1 clementine tree that belonged to my grandmother before she passed away :(

    i've lived with her all my life and she planted the trees a good 10 - 15 years ago.
    because of their sentimental value, i'm trying really really hard to keep them going so i decided to repot them last weekend, however i ran into problems with one tree.

    basically, one of them was so full of roots, i couldnt get it out of its plastic pot, so i had to resort to cutting the pot which in turn, i think i may have damaged some of the roots at the sides where i cut the pot (when cutting, i may have cut through some roots) the other trees seem to be doing fine, however, the leaves on this one seem to be withering a bit and i can also smell that aloe vera type smell from the leaves, which i dont get with the rest of the plants. is this something i should worry about?

    i've also used miracle grow slow release beads and some tomato fertiliser on all 5 plants (this is from recommendation from a very highly regarded garden centre over here in ireland) would this be the way in which you's would grow these plants?

    as i said, i'm new to a lot of this so any help/hints/tips/tricks or any information would be great, thanks in advance.

    William
     
  2. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

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    What type of potting media did you use?

    What is the NPK ratio of the slow release fertilizer?

    Does it contain trace minerals?
     
  3. OREGATO

    OREGATO Member

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    erm.. i dont actually know, as i said, i'm new to a lot of this..
    could someone potting media is? what npk is? and what trace minerals is?

    if it helps, the plant in question is in a plastic pot around 25 cm's diameter, i've only started giving it tomato fertiliser last saturday and i water it when it needs..

    someone help!! :(
     
  4. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

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    NPK is the ratio of major fertilizer elements nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Citrus trees use NPK in the ratio of 5-1-3. It is unlikely you will find that exact ratio, but try to get as close as possible. I use a slow release fertilizer with a NPK of something like 19-6-12, that way I only need to fertilize twice a yr.

    Trace minerals are minor elements such as zinc, iron, magnesium and copper that the tree needs but only in small amounts. If your fertilizer does not have them you need to add them separately.

    If you grapefruit was grown from seed, you will probably never get fruit unless you graft it with mature wood from another grapefruit tree.

    Potting media is the soil in the container, it should be fast draining and composed of something like 4 parts pine bark to 1 part peat moss.

    Skeet
     
  5. OREGATO

    OREGATO Member

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    i dont know what NPK it has, but i did use peat moss that had phosphorus and potassium.
    as for the trace minerals, i'm using a tomato fertiliser its pretty strong stuff i think (one teaspoon - 9 litres of water)

    to be honest, i dont know if the tree was grown from seed, how would i tell or is there a way to tell? and how to graft?

    any help or tips or hints or anything would be greatly appreciated, thanks
     
  6. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

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    Your fertilizer container should list all the ingredients. The NPK is often listed as a series of 3 numbers--like 8-8-8 or 12-4-8. If it has trace minerals it will have them listed. If it does not, you should try to find one that does or you need to find a trace mineral mix to add separately.

    If the tree was grafted, you may be able to see a distinct change in the trunk of the tree a few inches above ground. If you have a source of grafting wood, I can give you a link to a good tutorial.
     
  7. OREGATO

    OREGATO Member

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    what kind of change are you talking about? what does grafted mean?

    any other tips/pointers or tricks? please post and let me know!
     
  8. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    A grafted tree has two parts: a scion and a rootstock. The scion will be of a desirable cultivar. Have a look at the images and information on this page. It is also possible that some or all of your trees were grown from rooted cuttings.
     
  9. OREGATO

    OREGATO Member

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    Right guys, heres some more information for you.

    i have found the npk rating of the two new items i have purchased for my plants.

    the first one is Miracle Grow slow release rose and shrub feed
    heres a link to the item: http://www.lovethegarden.com/products/plantfeed/mgsrrose.html
    The NPK rating is 15 11 15 with Magnesisum.

    the second item i have bought is phostrogen tomato food.
    heres a link to the item: http://www.gardendirect.co.uk/produ...eHistory=cat&strKeywords=&SearchFor=&PT_ID=54
    The NPK rating on this is 12.5 5.0 24.5

    are these good items to use for my plants? as for the containers, i have just put ordinary peat moss in, is this sufficent?

    i will post some pics up of my plants now.. any tips or pointers please let me know.

    i know the pictures are very bad quality as they have been taken off my camera phone *sorry*

    also, i live in ireland so the weather here is very different to what you guys get in america, our temperatures barely hit 15 degrees normally and in summer, we're lucky to get 20 - 25, what do you's think? is there potential for these plants, i cherish them very deeply and want to do the best for them.
     

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    Last edited: Feb 2, 2008
  10. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

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    If you supplement the phostrogen tomato food with a little ammonium sulfate (21 %N) you will have a pretty good citrus formula (mixed 1:1 you would have 16-2-12). You can use epsom salt once or twice a yr (1 tbs dissolved in a gallon of warm water) to supply the magnesium. The other trace minerals you may need if the tree begins to show any deficiencies are Fe, Cu, Zn, B, Mn, Mo, but they only need these in small quantities.

    Your cold climate will definitly offer some chllanges for growing citrus, but there are many others on this forum that are much more experienced than I in that area.

    Skeet
     
  11. OREGATO

    OREGATO Member

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    i think for the moment, would it be best to keep using what i have as i am only starting to learn about these plants? also, just thought i'd say that the two biggest containers dont have drainage holes at the bottom, should i make a few or would it be ok if i used what i have but be careful with watering? i currently have small stones at the bottom of both (this was recommended by the garden centre)

    i know this will sound silly, but i'm also very afraid of watering the plants (in case i over do it) so if any of you guys have any good tips, please share them on this thread. after repotting, i have only watered once (today, one week later), today i used the tomato fertiliser.

    is there any tools i can get that can measure moisture? or is there any give away signs i should water them?
     
  12. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    I think you would be better off to get a fertilizer that is more suited for citrus, one which also includes micronutrients. Otherwise you may not be happy with the result which could cause you to lose interest in growing these plants. Besides it would save you the trouble of having to custom blend mixtures.

    Containers should have drainage holes otherwise you'd be taking a chance. Overwater even once and you risk ending up with root rot. Stones placed at the bottom of a container, rather than improve drainage, actually impede it. (Reference: Myth: Adding Coarse Material Improves Container Drainage (.pdf).) You'll want to remove them given the opportunity.

    Many suggest to water when the top two inches of soil is dry. I prefer to guage the amount of moisture in the pot by its weight and only water when it feels light compared to when it's freshly watered. There is a general consensus that moisture meters are not very accurate.
     
  13. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

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    Junglekeeper is right about the holes in the container-- I don't think it would be possible to keep the tree alive very long in a container without drain holes.

    As for blending Ammonium sulfate with your existing fertilizer, I also agree it would be better to get a fertilizer that is more appropriate for citrus-- I only offer the suggestion if something better is not available. The blending isn't that difficult however-- for example, if your container needs a Tablespoon of fertilizer, simply use 1/2 Tbs of each.

    Skeet
     
  14. OREGATO

    OREGATO Member

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    it would be a huge task to take the pebbles out of the bottom of the big containers, would it be smart to drill a few holes at the bottom? would that be ok yous think? i doubt i'd be able to replant them again too much stress on the plants and i dont like doing it. is it ok to leave the stones at the bottom and drill drainage holes?
     
  15. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    At this point leave the "drainage" stones alone, and drill a enough 1/2 - 3/4 inch holes that will provide excellent drainage from the container. Don't be afraid to water a containerized citrus tree. The proper method to water a containerized citrus tree is: when you water the tree, water it well, so that approximately 10 percent of the water applied to the surface of the container drains out the bottom . Then DON'T water again until the top 2-3 inches feel quite dry. I agree with Junglekeeper's method of using the weight of the container as a method to judge when it is time to water. Picking up small containers, or tipping large containers is the method most all nurserymen use. I like this method much better than digging in the root zone. You will be surprised how quickly you can learn the feel of this method. All of this talk about when and how to water a citrus tree, applies ONLY if you have planted your trees into a growth medium that has the proper drainage and soil aeration. - Millet
     

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