New grower with a Dwarf Washington

Discussion in 'Citrus' started by Futura, Jan 21, 2009.

  1. Futura

    Futura Member

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    Great forum. The knowledge and goodwill expressed here is most appreciated. Hats off to UBC for facilitating this.

    I bought a two foot tall Dwarf Washington a couple of weeks ago on a whim. The store let me leave with a bag of general potting soil and a $30 pot to put it in.

    After I repotted it I started to surf to find out what I had ahead of me and finally found this place.

    Current Status:
    -in a medium of 4 parts orchid mix, one part coconut fibers, one part compost.
    -sits in a South facing window.
    -Terra Cota pot, sitting up over on a tray of pebbles
    -heating pad keeping a soil temperture of 22c
    -submersion watering only after top layer drying to a depth of 3 to 4 inches
    -slow release organic fertilizer I think at as close to the 5-1-3 as I could find.
    -a low budget 150 watt incandescent grow light that bores me and I may just take it down because what I've read it does not provide that much effect and my plant should be getting enough natura being in a south facing window.
    -added a table spoon of epsom salt to a watering


    Questions
    -I mixed the slow release fertilizer (with trace minerals) (medium feeder level) into the medium as I did not read until after that this was not wise. Will this cause me problems?
    -I also purchased some water soluable fertilizer as close to the 5-3-1 as I could find (with trace minerals) but have not used it yet. I thought I would wait until the plant recovered from the two repottings (original greenhouse container to potting soil, then potting soil to the orchid mix...) and the days got a little longer.
    -I have noticed some brown patches mostly on the underside of a small proportion of leaves. It looks a great deal like the two eyed spider mites photo damage I found on this site. Also there are a few leaves with gummy matter on them and I have had about 5 little leaves dry up a little and drop off. I assume I should track down some Ultra Fine Horticultural Spray and give it a soaking.

    I bet photos would help so I will attach those this evening but I wanted to get this post out to force me to at lease ask these questions and engage the community.

    cheers
    Futura
     
  2. Futura

    Futura Member

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    I'll try and add the photos.

    The slow release fertilizer I will be using is something called 'Perfectly Natural, Tree and Shrub Fertilizer 5-2-2'.
    total nitrogen 5%
    available phosphoric acid 2%
    soluble potash 2%
    calcium 5%
    magnesium 1%
    sulpher 2%

    The liquid fertilizer I will be using is called 'Organic Raingrow Fertilizer 4-2-3'

    So does anyone have any idea what the deal is with my plant?
     

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    Last edited: Jan 22, 2009
  3. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    The slow release fertilizer does not pose a problem. I've used osmocote with no ill effects.

    I'm guessing the brown areas on the leaves are the result of physical damage. The leaves do not have a speckled look that is indicative of spider mite damage; also there's no sign of webbing. Sticky leaves may indicate the presence of scale. There may be one of two in the first picture but it's not at all conclusive. Look for one at the tip of the stem and another between the two nodes at the bottom of the picture. I would not treat the tree until such time that a pest has been positively identified. Are you sure there's a problem?
     
  4. Futura

    Futura Member

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    Thanks for the response. I'm not sure if there is a problem but I thought I had enough weirdness going on that I would pose he question to the group.

    I ended up cutting that branch off as there was a 4 inch long divot carved out of it and one of the stems had those sketchy leaves and the other was just a stick where the leaves feel off.

    Thanks again for the response.
     
  5. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    You should not have cut the branch from such a small tree. Research has shown that any cut to a young tree reduces root growth. This is due to the equilibrium between the foliage and the root system. A plant is a biological unit. Cuts to such a small tree will also delay the tree from coming into bearing. The necrotic spots on the leaves are not due to physical damage. They are caused by a process called mesophyll collapse. Mesophyll collapse is brought about by drought, in your case by letting the growth medium become overly dry. Mesophyll collapse generally occurs when there is a sudden change in the soil moisture status combined with low atmospheric humidity,such as if commonly found indoors during the winter months. Infestations of spider mites can increase the risks of mesophyll collapse by causing more transpiration through the leaf cuticle. The symptoms appear as chlorotic areas on the leaf blade between the midrib and leaf margins, which later turn to light brown necrotic lesions. Cell death begins in the spongy mesophyll portion of the leaf. Under watering is most likely also the cause of the leaves drying and falling from the tree. Lastly, the fertilizer you have chosen, is certainly not a good formulation for citrus. Citrus are HEAVY feeders, especially requiring larger amount of the elements nitrogen and potassium. Using the formulation that you have listed above, you will also need to feed the tree with a proper water soluble fertilizer formulation in the amount of 250 to 300 PPM at least once a month, if you wish the tree to be able to put forth healthy growth. Good luck to this tree. - Millet
     
  6. Futura

    Futura Member

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    Thanks for the response.

    Well, live and learn on my unwarranted branch surgery then. Maybe I'm still in foliage/root equilibrium though due to the root damage I surely caused by my succession of medium transfers. ;)

    Thank you for providing such factual information and wishing my tree good luck.

    My tree is now set up for the long haul and I hope to report back with some great progress.

    Cheers

    Futura
     
  7. Futura

    Futura Member

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    This is what I cut off my tree. If you care, and how could you not as it is such a beautiful tree. I understand I should not have cut it off but I did it and I'm glad. ;)
     

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  8. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Don't let it go to waste; make cuttings out of it.
     
  9. Futura

    Futura Member

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    Good idea but I have limited skills in that area and the twig has already had a respectful burial. :)

    Can you offer some advice on the the use of slow release fertilizer along with water soluble fertilizers. From what I have read it is advantageous to have both slow release and water soluble fertilizers both feeding the tree to avoid feast/famine cycles.

    In my situation I have already incorporated about a 1/4 cup of 5-2-2 slow release fertilizer into the growing medium. The packaging instructs deciduous trees and shrubs should receive 2 cups/sq. yd.)

    I am trying to determine how much of of the liquid fertilizer to now add. How is this done? I feel pretty comfortable with being able to supply a specific ppm from my water soluble fertilizer but I don't know what is already being supplied.

    How much is currently being fed by the 1/4 cup I've already added to enough medium to fill a 14 inch diameter 16 inch deep pot? 50ppm? 100ppm?

    Does this make sense? Any wise counsel would be most appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2009
  10. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    I'm afraid I won't be of much help to you as I take a less than scientific approach to fertilizing. I mix in slow release fertilizer when I repot and use a water soluble after that as directed on the label. PPM? No idea. I don't worry as long as the trees look healthy.
     
  11. Futura

    Futura Member

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    Well, not wanting to over-fertilize because of the slow release fertilizer already in the medium I decided to proceed with a .5 teaspoon per gallon watering with a 24-8-16 water soluble fertilizer. I think this adds more Nitrogen at 150 ppm.

    I'll see how the plant responds to that for a couple of months then I'll increase to 200ppm then 250ppm.

    If anyone knows if this makes sense or not feel free to chime in.

    Cheers
     
  12. Futura

    Futura Member

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    Progress update.

    I have new growth. Seven flushes of new growth. :)

    The growth I am most pleased with are the three on the side of the three that is sparse. See photo. I hope those two little buds burst out and send out some sturdy branches. As I said before this tree looks like it got a little abused somewhere down the line, and the damage was pruned off leaving one half of this substantially free of growth.

    Anyways, this new growth must mean the tree is getting what it needs.

    That being said I obsess over watering. I last watered 5 days ago. The top four inches are dry but at 6 inches I detect slight dampness with my finger. I read somewhere, when you think you need to water, wait a day. So I will wait a day or two.

    I saw a low profile digital scale at a lab I was in the other day. I may get one and leave my plant on it and use total water weight to take the guessing out of watering. Has anyone else done this?
     

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  13. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Actually, the amount of water you apply is not a big deal, *IF* you have a good draining soil. Over watering is not what kills a Citrus tree, it is the lack of oxygen in the soil that kills the tree. The reason that over watering seems to be the culprit, is because the water fills all the pore space in the medium, driving out all the air. It is actually the lack of root zone oxygen that kills the tree, not the soil's water. Therefore, over watering a medium that has degraded, and compacted, to a point where the water does not drain, or retains to much water, the air can not renter the root zone. If your tree is planted in a highly drainable soil, such as 4 parts CHC and 1 part peat moss, you can water the tree as often as you wish. I have 50+ trees in 100 percent CHC, and I could water the tree 4 or 5 times a day without any problems whatever. Keeping the root zone well aerated is importance number one. - Millet (1451)
     
  14. rudell

    rudell Active Member 10 Years

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    we have no CHC here...can a person use 4 parts orchid mix with one part peat moss as medium?
     
  15. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I am not sure what all the ingredients are in an orchid mix. However, orchids require a rapid draining medium, and a medium that provides a very high oxygen content. Therefore, I would say a 4 to 1 orchid/peat, or a 4 to 1 orchid/coir medium would work very well. Note: if a medium drains so rapidly that the water pass through is to quick, that the medium does not absorb enough, then the medium will need to be watered by soaking in a larger container for 2-4 minutes. - Millet (1,445-)
     
  16. rudell

    rudell Active Member 10 Years

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    curious to know your thoughts on the kitty litter of small rocks?
     
  17. aesir22

    aesir22 Active Member

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    Personally, the kitty litter is my idol. In it I find salvation :D lol

    As long as it is the right one its great. I use the tesco premium lightweight one over here (there are equivalents around the world). It is free draining, but retains good moisture. And watering is easier as it dries to a lighter colour :)

    I mix it with compost, about 70/30 kitty litter to citrus compost. I have my bonsai trees in a similar mix. And my royal poinciana seedlings. Plants seem to love it :D
     
  18. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    The use of Kitty liter I cannot say, as I have never used it. Time will tell how good of a medium kitty liter is, or isn't. However, my understanding is, that there are different types of kitty liter, and you must use the correct type. In aesir22's previous post where he writes "citrus compost", I believe the word compost in the UK has a different meaning than it does in the USA or Canada. - Millet (1,445-)
     
  19. aesir22

    aesir22 Active Member

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    Does it? I never realised that lol. The compost is a blend of peat, course sand and perlite. Is compost over there just the stuff you make in compost bins, rather than commercially bought?

    The majority of kitty litter products are paper-based, and melt into mush after one or two waterings....not good! The right one over here is fired red clay, which I think is pretty much the same as turface??
     
  20. Futura

    Futura Member

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    When I first bought my plants I did not have any CHC so I ended up settling on an Orchid Mix. The label says fine grade fir bark, medium grade fir bark, charcoal, course perlite I mixed it at 4 parts orchid media and 1 part coir and 1 part compost. My plant currently appears to by thriving with a nice production of new growth. In a year's time I plan on re potting into the CHC and whatnot (peat/compost/organic matter).

    I to found it difficult to find CHC in Canada and ended up buying CHC by the brick from Lee Valley. It came in the mail yesterday. You could do the same and get it shipped to your door. The brand sent Lee Valley sells is

    http://www.vgrove.com/products/husk.html


    Good luck.
     
  21. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    In the link provided by Futura, I see that Lee Valley sells a Small Grade CHC which is a blend of 1/4 and 1/2 inch size. If the two sizes are close to a 50/50 mix, the blend would make an outstanding Citrus growth medium, with out adding any other ingredients. Aesir22, in the USA the word compost means the degraded organic material made in a compost pile of bin. - Millet (1,445-)
     
  22. Futura

    Futura Member

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    A word of warning on soil temp. I thought I had it all under control with my new set up, pot within a pot, warmed by a couple of seed tray warmers with a sun screen on the pot. I checked the temp during set up and test and soon came to the conclusion that only one tray was needed to maintain a soil temp and I unplugged one unit. Soil temp maintained at 27C 80F.

    So anyways, after a deep watering soil temp was down a bit so I plugged in the second warming tray for a bit of a boost...then I promptly forgot about it. The next day bright sun hit my terra cotta pot all day long, coupled with the dual trays plugged in the soil temp was up to 40C 104F. I forgot to return the sun screen after the watering.

    Yikes

    Damage? The new growth stopped growing and some new leaves dropped off. Probably lost 8 leaves in total. It now appears stable. New growth has stopped but maybe it's just the roots turn to give it a go.

    Is this long term damage or is a high temp shock a survivable experience and with the plant recover?
     
  23. Futura

    Futura Member

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    I guess the plant did not suffer too much from the soil temp spike. Here are two photos of the Washington Navel. One taken soon after purchase and one taken today. Look at all that healthy green growth. Yippeee

    I am interested in hearing what happens then citrus plants switch from growing branches and leaves to roots.

    At what point does this occur?
    Does it happen when the latest growth is at a certain size or is it just a like a timing switch.

    I ask because I had above the soil line growth going like gangbusters, with the latest growth being little tiny leaves. Then those little tiny leaves stopped growing and dropped off and I assume it's now the root's turn to grow. But, I have the confounding issue of that soil temp spike that could have shut down leaf growth and caused the tiny leaves (and others) to drop off.

    Anyways, if anyone knows what specifically happens when the switch between leaf/branch and root growth occurs that would be great.
     

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    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  24. aesir22

    aesir22 Active Member

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    The tree goes through one cycle then another. I don't think that temperature would cause a shift from above-soil development to beneath-soil development.

    You get a flush of growth, and leaves grow from it. When that has reached its end, the tiny growth at the tip of the flush turns brown/black and drops off, sort of 'sealing' the growth where it is. Whether or not it starts growing elsewhere is subjective to the plant. My calamondin is going berserk - I can barely see the old leaves for the new growth!

    Thats about as much as my novice experience knows anyway. An expert will chime in with the details no doubt, so I will be watching this space!!
     
  25. Futura

    Futura Member

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    Excuse my poor phrasing but I didn't think my temporary 104F soil temp spike caused the shift. I am trying to understand two separate things; how a citrus plant would respond to a soil temp spike and how a plant moves through the growing cycle.

    I was concerned that my soil temp spike caused those little leaves to dry up and drop off but from your comment I now know this occurs naturally at the end of a citrus flush cycle.

    Thanks for the info. Very helpful.
     

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