Meyer lemon

Discussion in 'Citrus' started by bende, Jan 11, 2009.

  1. bende

    bende Member

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    Victoria, B.C.
    We have had a meyer lemon tree (Monrovia) for several years in a huge pot on our deck. It has always done quite well in winter due to the normally temperate climate on the Southern tip of Vancouver Island. Of course, this past December brought us arctic air and about 2.5 feet of snow which lingered for several weeks. We did tent the tree (which is located right against the house) but it seems to be dying. It had about 25 lemons and some additional blooms just before the weather hit. Of course, the fruit is now dead but the leaves have turned mostly a sickly yellow tone. We are quite worried that this winter may have killed our tree.

    Any suggestions?
  2. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

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    North Vancouver, B.C., Canada
    Keep the plant protected from further frost damage. You may have to wait until the growing season, (months away?) before the results are known. Bring the plant to the garage if necessary, but I would wait it out. The temperatures were equally brutal in Port Moody, however, the sub zero arctic winds were likely the reason for your Lemon tree's demise. I dug mine up on Dec. 16th. and now it sits potted in the garage, with no ill effects.
  3. bende

    bende Member

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    Victoria, B.C.
    Thanks so much. My husband and I decided just to keep it as protected as possible if we get another round of rough weather but it is currently around 10C here so... I think you are correct and that we will just have to wait and see.
  4. ose

    ose Member

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    Victoria, BC

    I'm living in the greater Victoria area as well. I also have a Meyer lemon tree but it is in the ground under the eaves by a south facing house wall. The plant has only been in the ground since last April ('08).

    During that blast of cold we had in December I had the tree covered with some 7Watt Christmas lights wrapped around it -- so it fared just fine. It sounds like you've had your citrus tree much longer than I have. I am curious to know when you've seen damage to the fruit or leaves or branches during past cold snaps. Has it remained basically intact at -1C? -2C? I think I am babying my tree ....

    Keep us posted on your tree, I am very curious to know how extensive (or not) the cold-damage is come warmer weather.

  5. bende

    bende Member

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    Victoria, B.C.

    I think our poor tree is dead but will wait for Spring, hard prune and see if we get any new life. It has always been outside in winter so I think it can handle the temps as long as they are our normals of -1 or -2 but that 2 weeks of "arctic cold" just did it in even with the cover. I think that it would probably have done a bit better if it had been in the ground but we live on a mountain of mostly rock so that is rarely possible.

    Enjoy your tree and the Christmas lights are a great idea that I'll try if this poor thing survives.

  6. aesir22

    aesir22 Active Member

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    durham - england
    Never ever ever ever prune citrus. Read around this forum and you will see how it does more harm than good. Fingers crossed for your tree.
  7. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

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    North Vancouver, B.C., Canada
    That's the first I have heard of this.... I always prune my citrus, with no ill effect... I prune before the signs of new growth occurs.
  8. aesir22

    aesir22 Active Member

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    durham - england
    Almost every thread on this forum has the advice somewhere of 'don't prune citrus' lol. It sets back the fruiting progress, can be a problem on seedlings, cuttings and grafted trees.
  9. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

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    North Vancouver, B.C., Canada
    I will stop pruning! Really!

    In fact, I should do otherwise, if the citrus looks deformed in shape and size, pruning will be the appropriate course of action, depending on the season....
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2009
  10. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Not every thread in this forum advises
    people not to prune their Citrus. There
    are instances in a plants development
    through a weakening that may require
    a hard pruning and overall freeze damage
    to the wood is one of those times when
    we may be forced to hard prune a tree.

    We wait to see what damage there is
    and how extensive the wood has been
    hurt before we prune the tree hard or
    not. I've seen Black scale damage
    so extensive in the center of the
    tree that a hard prune and shaping
    of the tree later was mandatory just
    to keep the tree alive. If left alone
    this tree would have died out the
    following year. We can prune all
    kinds and forms of Citrus but we
    do better for the tree if these trees
    are grown outdoors, not solely
    grown indoors in a home using
    artificial light as our means to
    provide enough light to carry
    out some photosynthesis.
    Well lighted greenhouses with
    ambient light is another story
    altogether, so is whether the
    trees are grown in ground in
    a greenhouse as opposed
    to trees grown in containers
    in a greenhouse. The latter
    in comparison might make
    a tree stunt when pruned,
    whereas the tree grown in
    ground in a greenhouse may
    and usually does withstand
    some pruning a whole lot

    I am not one whom believes
    that a Citrus tree has to have
    a set number of growth laterals
    to bloom and set fruit to begin
    with. It is true that some seedling
    forms of Citrus do require nodal
    count to be proficient at setting
    flowers and yield resultant fruit
    but it is not a requirement, nor
    it is across the board true for
    several standard forms of
    seedling Citrus. The pruning
    factor, what we may endure for
    a loss in time and in development
    is more relevant for several but
    not all dwarf form Citrus than it
    is for many of the semi-dwarf
    forms as well. We simply have
    more vigor in the plant in our
    semi-dwarf and standard trees
    than we have in our dwarf forms.

    We can pinch back growth more
    frequently and see results sooner
    on semi-dwarf form Citrus than
    we can for several but not all
    dwarf form Citrus. A lot depends
    on which dwarf Citrus and which
    is the dwarfing rootstock. I can
    pinch and prune a five year old
    dwarf Mexican Lime any time
    I want in the Spring and Summer
    but I'd not do the same for a
    Meyer Lemon on the same
    rootstock as the Mexican Lime.
    I can pinch and prune a Cara
    Cara Orange on the same
    rootstock as the two Citrus
    above but I would be rather
    hesitant to pinch and prune
    a Cocktail Grapefruit the same.
    I can prune a dwarf Rio Red
    Grapefruit budded onto the
    same rootstock as all the
    above the same way and
    same time as the Mexican
    Lime but no way will I do the
    same for a Page or Owari
    Satsuma Mandarin but can
    pinch and prune a Seedless
    Kishu Mandarin the same
    timing and method as the
    Mexican Lime and not be
    hurt by it (all trees are grown
    outdoors in containers I might

    Once we learn when we can
    prune the dwarf forms and
    which ones can be pruned
    it is not a big deal to prune
    them to achieve a more
    compact, fuller, shape to
    these trees and not get
    hurt by it but for some
    of the dwarf forms we can
    get hurt which is why it is
    advised not to prune these
    trees until we are better
    acquainted with the tree,
    the form and the variety
    of it to know what our
    limitations are or will
    be once we do prune

    Last edited: Jan 26, 2009
  11. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Vancouver BC Canada
    Thanks for sharing your expertise in pruning, Jim. I wouldn't mind getting your thoughts on pruning for size control but not here as I don't want to hijack the thread.
  12. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

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    North Vancouver, B.C., Canada
    If only we had the growing conditions of the San Joaquin Valley up here in British Columbia!
  13. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    San Joaquin Valley, California
    I try to avoid having my container Citrus
    go pot bound or worse yet go root bound
    while in a container. This is precisely what
    I am guarding against when I take standard
    and semi-dwarf form five gallon sized plants
    and place them in fifteen gallon containers
    soon after we get them. For some dwarf five
    gallon forms I will place them in seven gallon
    or ten gallon sized containers to hold them
    over until we get adequate root system to
    go to the fifteens. Eventually the container
    trees we have on hand in two locations are
    to go into the ground someday, probably
    in the next five years at my location in the
    Northern end of the Central Valley.

    I never have said in this forum that we
    should prune indoor container grown
    Citrus to others as advice. We have
    to be very cautious as to which form
    of Citrus and how much do we want
    to prune off. If indoor, in the home,
    container growers want to prune their
    trees, it has to be known to them that
    there is a price to pay and that price
    is less blooms that they will see for up
    to two to three years, which usually
    does correspond to less fruit that
    they will have on the tree - unless
    they compensate for the loss of
    wood that was taken off. We can
    trigger these trees to grow rather
    fine soon after a pruning indoors
    but in most instances it will require
    additional nutrients in a well aerated
    soil medium to help things along.

    What Millet has recommended in
    this forum over an over (the way I
    see it and know it to be sacrosanct
    for Citrus), what he has called for
    many times over without reservation,
    we can apply this knowledge to
    pruning these trees indoors. If we
    prune the trees hard we want to
    get some new growth rather soon
    to replace the growth we took off.
    We need to give these trees a
    boost in order to trigger the trees
    to at first get over the shock of
    being hurt, give the tree time to
    send a distress signal to the roots
    forcing them to grow and expand
    and then we will get to see a flush
    of new growth. As we are seeing
    this flush of new top growth or right
    before we see some expansion of
    the new emerging new growth, it is
    a good idea to fertilize our trees.
    You see with a timed release
    fertilizer we should have ample
    nutrients in our soil ready to help
    out right after a pruning. What
    Millet has said about his use of
    maintaining nutrient levels in his
    plants will help us when we want
    to prune or lightly trim our trees.
    We have the components already
    in place to help us with the aerated
    soil and the nutrients ready to go
    to work but most people that want
    to prune their indoor container trees
    do not have a good, well aerated soil,
    do not have residual nutrients already
    in place to help compensate for their
    pruning of the tree. They have little
    to go on other than they want to
    prune their tree and let it go "cold
    turkey" on its own without aid of
    nutrients to help push out new
    growth. Millet can prune his
    greenhouse grown container
    trees anytime he wants but
    he cannot recommend to others
    that they can also follow suit
    and do like him. He knows that
    several trees have succumbed
    to others overpruning, taking
    too much wood off all at once
    and had no backup plan in place
    to help them help the tree out.
    They choose not to give the
    tree a boost with a liquid form,
    not a granular crystalline form,
    of a balanced fertilizer soon
    after they pruned the tree.
    You do not have to apply
    a liquid fertilizer if and when
    you already have adequate
    residual and available nutrients
    already in your soil at pruning

    I know of one grower that is
    shearing landscape Citrus
    trees for wholesale. Shear
    the trees, give them ample
    fertilizer and in two years
    these Fukushu Kumquats
    are ready for resale and
    ready to go into the ground.
    I bought two large fifteen
    gallon trees to go into a
    cousins yard as focal point
    trees for her entryway.
    They sure do look good
    there and have not skipped
    a beat with their growth,
    flowering and fruit production.

  14. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Likes Received:
    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Back to topic.

    Once a tree has been subjected to being
    placed in a root restrictive pot for a number
    of years, it is prudent to lightly trim back
    the top of the tree at planting time. This
    is done to encourage root growth prior to
    seeing new top growth. Much of the time
    in cooler areas that can and sometimes do
    get a sudden freeze it is how well the root
    system has developed that will help stave
    off the effects of the cold - I learned this
    the hard way back in 1990-1991. It was
    not that the sustained freeze killed some
    of the dwarf Mandarins outright, of which
    the cold did not immediately kill the trees,
    it was more of a matter that I had no real
    root growth and development once the
    trees were planted in ground. It did not
    matter that I saw adequate to good top
    growth, I just was not getting good root
    growth from trees I bought as five gallons
    and held them over in fifteen gallons for
    three years and then planted them.
    Then again none of these trees were
    ever subjected to 6 degree weather
    for a low and a high of 28 for seven
    days either. Funny thing that the
    Citrus collection that was on my
    blacktop driveway did not have
    nearly the same outcome as the
    dwarf Mandarins did, of which some
    of the Mandarins in containers were
    the same as the ones that perished.
    I attribute the blacktop as providing
    some bottom heat for these trees
    at a time when they surely could
    have used some help. Even some
    especially cold sensitive trees in
    containers made it through the
    cold but for some of them it took
    another four to five years to see
    them snap out of their cold damaged
    and weakened states and start
    initiating flowering again.

    Should you see any splits in the
    wood, such as main branches
    showing a peeling of the outer
    bark, then these areas should
    come off the tree at the lowest
    point where the split is visible.
    When you to attempt to remove
    the damaged wood it is advised
    by me that you also give this
    tree a granular commercial
    Citrus food fertilizer and force
    a quick dissolving of the crystals
    with a heavy watering to allow
    the dissolute to move down into
    the root zone. It is for reasons
    such as for sudden freezes why
    I use a Bloom fertilizer, sans any
    Nitrogen, such as a 0-10-10, two
    ounces for fifteen gallons, one
    ounce for five gallon plants per
    application, during the Winter
    months for container grown
    trees. I've seen firsthand how
    these applications can help
    aid a tree ward off the effects
    of cold in a variety of plants
    at a time when I was rather
    skeptical a Bloom fertilizer
    could do anything to help.
    I had to yield to what an old
    foothill nurseryman swore by,
    by the looks of the root systems
    when lifted out of the cans just
    prior to the onset of cold and
    soon afterwards and later had
    to admit he knew what he was
    doing for Winter protection of
    cold sensitive container grown
    woody plants grown in a Western
    Garden Book
    zone 7 designation,
    right at an elevation of 3000 feet.


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