Kaffir Lime tree questions....

Discussion in 'Citrus' started by 82Stang, Mar 12, 2006.

  1. 82Stang

    82Stang Member

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    Key Lime tree questions....

    I just got myself a key lime tree about a month ago. A couple of weeks after I got it it started to lose almost half its leaves. I have been watering it more often (but less amount that I had been) and misting it whenever I can. It is started to grow new little white flowers on it so I don't think there was too much damage to the plant.

    Now my question is... Since I had yet to re-pot it when should I so so? How often should I be watering my tree? It is getting plenty of sunlight beside a south facing window.

    This tree already has fruit growing on it and I had left the fruit alone since it was losing leaves. I know it will lose some leaves from time to time but this first loss was almost half of all the leaves. How can I tell that the limes are ready to be picked? I have a few fairly large limes that looked like they are ready to be picked.

    If you need photos posted I can do that quite quickly with my digital camera.

    Thanks in advance for any tips and advice for a new citrus tree grower.
     
  2. 82Stang

    82Stang Member

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    Re: Key Lime tree questions....

    Here are some pictures of my tree...
     

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  3. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Contributor 10 Years

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    Your citrus tree is not a Kaffir Lime. I'm guessing it's a limequat; it looks very much like the one I bought recently. Did it come with a label or tag? If it's from the same grower as mine your tree will benefit from a transplant to a pot one size up.

    The leaf loss could be due to low relative humidity in your house. New flowers are not necessarily a good sign as citrus will bloom when under stress. Keep it away from drafts. Water the tree only after the soil has had a chance to dry as citrus are particularly susceptible to root rot. You'll find these and other tips on growing citrus in other threads in this forum.
     
  4. 82Stang

    82Stang Member

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    Re: Key Lime tree questions....

    The tag on the plant, when I purchased it, said it was a Key Lime tree.
     
  5. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Contributor 10 Years

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    If your label reads 'KEY LIME (limequat)' and has a shield with a buck's head on it, your tree is a Eustis Limequat.

    Regarding repotting...you may want to delay doing so, as your tree is already stressed, to give it a chance to recover.
     
  6. 82Stang

    82Stang Member

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    Re: Key Lime tree questions....

    No it just had Key Lime tree on it with a bar code. I figured I had to let it recover before repotting. Right now it is in a 3 gallon pot, the blackpot inside the white pot in the pictures. Would the white pot be too big for its re-potting?

    Thank you for all the advice I am getting on my Lime tree.
     
  7. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Contributor 10 Years

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    The white pot appears to be the next size up so it's okay. Just make sure you use a medium that is quick to drain when you do it.
     
  8. 82Stang

    82Stang Member

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    Re: Key Lime tree questions....

    Thank you Junglekeeper. I am assuming once the tree starts growing new leaves again that willbe a good time to re-pot the tree?
     
  9. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    If the tree's tag said Key Lime, than it is a Key Lime and not a Kaffir Lime. Why would you think it would be a Kaffir Lime? The leaf of a Kaffir lime is a compound leaf. It looks like two leaves that are attached end to end in a line. Sort of like a stretched number 8. Junglekeeper is correct, that the production of a lot of flower buds by the tree at this time very probably is a bad sign and not a good sign. The reason that the Key Lime is producing a lot of blooms is because the tree is under stress. Your practice of....." watering it more often (but less amount that I had been)"... is also distructive to the tree in more ways than one. When you water a citrus tree, water it well, until approximately 20 percent of the irrigation water that was poured over the top of the growing medium drains out the bottom holes of the container. Then do not water the tree again until at least the top two inches of the growing medium becomes dry. Over watering citrus, is the number one killer of containerized citrus trees, the number two killer of containerized citrus is a poorly constructed growing mix. Actually the size of your Key Lime tree and the size of the container looks about right. If you think it needs re-potting (and I doubt it) moisten the "soil" and then slip the tree from the container to check the root density. Only re-pot if the roots have filled the container. The fruit are more than likely ready to pick at this time. When a little yellowing starts to show on the peel they are ready to pick. As you live in Canada, and the tree's foliage is setting directly in the sun's rays through a southern window, the surface temperature of the leaves can rise to be over 100F (38C). You need to check the container's "soil" temperature to be sure that the tree's root zone is kept at least at a temperature of 64F (18C). 70F would be even better. When the foliage and the tree's root zone become out of ballance, citrus quickly drop their leaves in an attempt to correct the situation. If you don't have a soil thermometer, get one if you want to successfully grow citrus. Citrus like humidity of the room to be elevated, but misting the leaves does little to comfort the tree. The tiny amount of mist that is applied by this method is so short lived that little benefit is drived by the tree. A room humidifer is much better. Take care. - Millet
     
  10. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Contributor 10 Years

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    Millet, does this tree look like a Key Lime to you? The elongated fruit appears to be more in line with that of a limequat. I'm thinking the tree was retagged at retail which they often do. They could have been too lazy to tag all the information.
     
  11. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Junglekeeper, yes I think it is a key lime. Key limes, although recognized as species, were in the past commonly propagated by seed, and thus can't be considered as a horticultural variety in the true sense. Key limes have no single origin, however, and have been propagated from many different selected seedling in various parts of the world. Key Limes (Mexican limes) show a wide range of variation in size of mature fruits, from small mostly round to elongated when mature. The fruit in the picture does have the coloration, along with a collar on the petiole end and nipple on the styler end. Limequat very closely resembles that of the Key Lime in size, color, rind and pulp, however the rind of the limequat is sweet and edible, while the rind of the Key Lime is not. That is one way to tell the difference.- Millet
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2006
  12. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Contributor 10 Years

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    Thanks for the explanation, Millet. 82Stang, there you have it - taste the rind to be sure of which tree you have. Good luck.
     
  13. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    A few quick thoughts, just my opinion.

    I would change the soil composition right now.
    I don't like the fact that this tree is planted too
    low in the pot and I would put this tree in the
    white pot. I would want to lift the tree up
    some and give the tree new soil. Another thing
    do not let the collected water stay in the tray
    for any real length of time. Let the water collect
    when grown indoors and then empty it soon, do
    not let the water stand for long periods of time
    in an indoor environment. If can do it, water this
    tree and let it drain outdoors, weather permitting.
    If the tree were mine I'd start to thin some of the
    fruit if this tree is in bloom again now. Stressed
    trees will flower often but the tree does not have
    the stamina yet to be able to withhold and withstand
    the onslaught of several crops of fruit all at one
    time without showing us with some leaf loss that
    the tree is not happy with us. Give the tree a break
    to adapt to your home first, then after it perks up
    let it have lots of fruit later.

    Jim
     
  14. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Jim, 82Stang's Key Lime tree is in the same container that it was when he purchased the tree, from the nursery. In fact the tree has probbly been growing in that pot for a year. So therefore, I do not think the trees problem is the growing medium, especially as the problem started just two week after Stang purchased the tree. The tree's problem is more than likely: 1.) Over watering 2.) Change of environment 3.) The tree setting in the direct sun so that the surface temperature of the leaves becomes quite elevated, while the growing medium is at 55F or less, (which is absolute zero for citrus roots), and therefore they cannot function, thus cannot supply the foliage with the water to cool the tree, which results in leaf drop, usually called WLD. or 4.) A mix of the three. I'm not really disagreeing all that much with your advice on repotting, I'm just saying I do not believe that is the tree's current problem. As for the current blooms (which are probably stress blooms) they will be leafless inflorenscence blooms which rarely, if ever, in containerized citrus, result in any fruit production. Your correct concerning the removal of the fruit. While the fruit is still on the tree, the photosynthates produced by the remaining leaves will be sent to the developing fruit. Remove the fruit, the photosynthates from the remaining mature leaves will then be allocated to new leaves, and after the new leave are fully expanted they will then began to manufacture their own photosynthates, and the trees older leaves will then start to allocate their energy to the next bloom. Lucky for 82 Stang, the time of year is near when good leaf production can take place. - Millet
     
  15. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    When we mention root rot on Citrus I get nervous.
    I don't like the looks of the soil and if this tree has
    been exposed to over watering and being in a home
    we just exposed this tree to the right elements to
    produce a rot. Even more so pronounced if the roots
    are at the bottom of the can, which they probably are,
    as then the captured water let to stand in the tray just
    adds as a vector for a root rot to come about. We do
    not know if this tree was losing some leaves when it
    was purchased but in a way I suspect that it might
    have been. The problem that we can tell so far here
    is over watering but if there is a chance of a rot
    beginning then we need to change the soil medium
    rather soon. I just do not trust that we may not
    have a rotting effect soon. Just my being overly
    cautious is why I mentioned changing of the soil.

    Jim
     
  16. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Contributor 10 Years

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    FWIW, my limequat dropped leaves too when I brought it home though not as quickly or as severely as 82Stang's. It slowed but continued to drop leaves until I moved it to my regular plantroom which has high humidity. It seems happy now judging from the many new shoots coming out. My tree came from Florida so its leaves must be adapted to a high humidity environment. Going from that to a dry house is likely too drastic a move for the leaves to be able to adapt to its new environment. 82Stang's tree may be facing the same problem. That's my theory anyway.

    Jim, the look of the soil may be deceiving. The recent batch of citrus I bought all came with what appear to be heavy, compacted soil but is actually composed of fine bark (I think) and coarse sand and the root systems were healthy. You could say the medium is compacted but because of the high sand content the drainage is actually quite good. Having said that it always pays to be extra careful with the watering when it comes to citrus.
     
  17. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Junglekeeper, I am not saying the soil here is
    compacted. I'd like to see more airiness in a
    soil when grown inside a home. The potential
    for a rotting increases, not so much from a
    compaction but from what the soil and wetness
    is like right at the base of the roots. I may be
    a little too concerned about the water in the
    tray but I do know from growing Orchids
    inside a home this is a quick way to get a
    rotting fungus even when we have quick
    drainage and no soil compaction problems
    at all.

    Growing Citrus in a home is not my thing,
    I grow these in the ground and outdoors in
    containers but standing water right at the
    roots, no matter what our soil medium is
    like is just asking for trouble. In the event
    this has gone on for a while with the idea
    that this tree may have been over watered
    even for a short while leads me to think
    that we may want to consider changing the
    soil medium, that's all. I am not disagreeing
    with anyone, just telling what I know has
    happened with other indoor plants of ours
    and offering a suggestion.

    Look at it this way, what if I am right and
    we get a rotting, this tree will have a tough
    time recovering from it while it resides
    inside a home. High humidity in the home
    when the rot sets in and we will wish we
    had changed the soil medium but then it
    may be too late for the tree. Am I just
    being silly or is my caution justified?

    Jim
     
  18. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Contributor 10 Years

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    You're right about this possibility. I'm glad you mentioned it. The Meyer Lemon that I bought had some root rot when I took it out of its pot. Not surprising since most retailers here are not aware of the needs of citrus. It's not uncommon to see these trees sitting in trays of water at the store. So better safe than sorry.

    So the question becomes, if the tree shows no sign of root rot when taken out, should 82Stang still repot considering the tree is already under stress or should he wait until it shows improvement?
     
  19. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Junglekeeper, we do not know for sure yet what
    stress this tree is under, so the stress issue is
    still a mystery and to know that better we need
    to know what this tree went through prior to its
    purchase. A month is a little too short of time to
    have this much leaf loss. Yes, we can have some
    early leaf loss when we buy these trees from a
    nursery and bring them home but I sense something
    else is at work here other than the proposed over
    watering as we do not know how much water was
    applied and how often. A quick drink often with
    good drainage is not nearly as worrisome to me
    as a heavy watering is much less often.

    Yes, I'd lift the tree out of the pot and take a look
    at the roots and get a sense of the odor coming
    from the roots. I am a proponent of changing the
    soil when I sense something may not be right with
    the tree. I don't think a new soil medium with less
    sand and a higher percentage of a more coarse grind
    to a forest humus with a little drying out will hurt
    this tree at all. I would have changed the soil medium
    as soon as I brought this tree home with that much
    sand in the mix. Millet can write again in this forum
    about the merits of the ground coconut hulls as a
    replacement for the coarse ground humus as I think
    they can really help for this Lime grown indoors

    If the problem is emanating from the roots we can
    help with a new soil. If the problem is due to the
    start of lack of nutrient flow coming from the old
    soil we can help there also with a new soil without
    harming the plant. When we start losing leaves I
    am hesitant to fertilize with a liquid or a granular
    fertilizer for a while with any to much Nitrogen in
    the formulation as we can make things worse and
    can get even more leaf loss and worse yet see some
    twig dieback. Let's get the tree stabilized, adapted
    to it new home and then move on from there.

    Jim
     
  20. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Jim, I agree with your thinking, I am not a big proponate of using sand in a growing mix for citrus. Sand as an ingredient might be OK for house plants, but I don't like to use it for citrus that are being grown in containers. Citrus roots require a lot of moisture, BUT they also demand a lot of aeriation. Citrus roots are only slightly less sensitive to DEFICIENT aeration than avocado roots. Although the use of sand might "help" in the drainage of some growing mediums, it also greatly reduces the coarseness of the medium, thereby notably reducing the precentage of aeration at the root zone. As to if I would repot the tree or not, it would depend on what was found after giving the roots and the growing medium a thorough examination. - Millet
     
  21. 82Stang

    82Stang Member

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    I am learning quite A LOT for you folks and I appriecate it. I have a quick question. Would under watering make the tree lose leaves as well? When I first got it the soil was moist as it was purchased in a greenhouse which was humid. I had been reading posts about citrus trees on this site and everyone was saying that you should let the soil dry out before watering again and I think I let it dry out too much. After that I started watering the tree about 4 cups every other day making sure to drain any excess water in the tray at the bottom of the pot. I also noticed that there are root right near the surface of the soil and some of them were exposed so I put a thin layer of soil to cover up teh exposed portions, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil.

    For re-potting what kind of soil should I use? I'm new to growing plants and not sure what I should be getting. Is there soil out there already containing crushed coconut shells?

    I will go remove the biggest limes right away. Millet was saying I needed a soil moisture tester, would any tester out there do fine?

    I was also taking a closer look at the branches today while looking at the flowers that were blooming and I happened to notice new thorns were growing. Do the leaves stem out of those thorns?

    Thanks for all the help with my tree.
     
  22. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    82Stang, neither over watering and under watering is good for the tree. Over watering being much worse than not watering enough. I don't think under watering caused your leaf drop. As far at the type of growing medium to use, you can use most anything, as long as it has EXCELENT drainage, holds water and at the same time allows for a high level of aeriation. I use Coconut husk chips. Coconut husk chips are ground up 1/4 to 1/2 inch chunks of coconut husks, blended with either peat moss or coir in a 4:1 ratio (4 parts CHC to 1 part peat moss or coir). Coconut husks hold up to 7 times its weight in water, has a natural pH of 6.5, which is ideal for citrus, and has a useful life up to 5 years without degrading. My growing mix has almost a 1-1 organic content to air ratio. You can also use regular bark chips, however they will tend to degrade in 6 months to a year. I did not mention the use of a water tester, as I do not like them. I much prefer to use my finger, or just lift the container to feel its weight to determine the moisture content of the soil, or when to water the tree. Take care, and good luck. - Millet
     
  23. 82Stang

    82Stang Member

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    Thank you Millet. I will go searching tomorrow for soil like that. Hopefully I can find something like that here in Lloydminster.
     
  24. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I buy my Coconut Husks from the Chrystal Company, of Saint Louis, MO. Let us know from time to time how the tree is doing. - Millet
     
  25. 82Stang

    82Stang Member

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    Here's a little update on my tree. It is starting to grow new leaves at the top of some branches and it seems to be recovering.

    I finally found some coconut bricks but it's not chunks like you have Millet. After adding water to the bricks it turns into a soil-like substance. I am planning to add peat to this coconut brick stuff but I am wondering if I should add some regular bark chips to this mixture?

    I will use this until I can find and better source for coconut husk chips.
     

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