Spring Note: if you wish to move your tree outdoors for summer keep these details in mind: Give your tree a place out of the wind, and acclimatize it slowly to sunlight to prevent leaf drop, by setting it out only a couple hours at first and increase the hrs each day. Also do not set it out during the hottest part of the day at first; morning or evening sun is not as harsh. Moving your tree back indoors in the fall is done the same way. Watch low temperatures; moving it inside if temps dip below 10 degrees Celsius. Keeping trees outside in summer takes care of the humidity needs of citrus with the dew and rain. Pests management is the same as indoor care, except you may need to apply the insecticidal soap spray more often on leaves and soil.
When your tree arrives in the mail:
The tree comes in it's own black fabric grow pot and DOES NOT need to be re-potted into a larger fabric pot until next spring.
Purchase a larger decorative pot (no need for holes in the bottom of this pot) to set the fabric pot inside of, with a few inches of air space between the decorative pot and the fabric grow pot. Also, elevate the black fabric grow pot from the bottom of larger decorative pot, so it will drain water away from roots and breathe.
They grow quite fast in these fabric pots and are developing large root zones because oxygen can access the roots from all sides.
PLEASE read through your CITRUS TREE CARE sheet which will be enclosed (both sides).
The day your tree leaves our greenhouse will be the last day it was treated for the following:
1). last treated with Insecticidal Soap spray. You can calculate the next date you will need to spray it. Insecticidal Soap spray can be purchased from most garden centers (IT IS NOT INCLUDED IN YOUR ORDER).
2). last treated with slow release pellet fertilizer. You may calculate 3 months away when your next application is needed (these pellets are included in your order).
When you open your box, place your tree in a sink and water well with warm water - rinsing the leaves as well.
After watering, add 1/2 teaspoon Seaboost (included) to 250 ml of warm water and pour over the soil. This will help tree settle into new environment.
Seaboost can be added this way to one watering a month all year round. This May we have been able to add Seaboost to many of our fertilizer packs.
Now place tree near a window area with indirect sunlight for the first few days, and transition to direct sunlight a few hour per day. If you wish to move it outdoors in summer, please do this gradually as well. Remember sunlight has UV rays that the leaves of plants are protected from when inside, therefore treat as you would your own skin - an hour a day for first few days, then slowly add more time. Bring indoors for any temperatures below 15 degrees. Keep out of direct wind to protect from wind damage.
Sun: Indoors, in winter months require placing your potted citrus tree near a south facing window to give it as much sunlight as possible - even 3 hrs is adequate.
In Canada, forced air heating can often be installed near large south facing windows; DO NOT place your tree near this type of blowing hot air.
Our Northern Style greenhouse: is only south facing, with North side completely insulated from light and cold. This allows our trees to grow with a sun exposure which most home owners can mimic with their own south facing windows in our local climate zone. Most of our heat is also passive solar, which means there is no forced air heating, only moist warm air stored from the sun in gravel floors, earthen beds, and water vessels. Coldest night time temperatures are maintained at no lower than 10 degrees Celsius, which means a customers home environment need not be kept at typical commercial greenhouse temperatures of 20 degrees or higher.
Humidity: Indoors is also a dry environment because of forced heating (electric, wood, oil, air, etc), therefore your tree should be given some extra humidity. A simple way to accomplish this is to place a bowl filled with pebbles immersed in water, next to (not under - as extra moisture is not wanted near root system) your tree. As water evaporates it provides humidity to your tree. Misting it's leaves with distilled or rain water can also helpful, but only once every week. Another simple solution is to purchase a small humidifier which produces cool mist. Some of these are quite small requiring very little electricity (ultrasonic humidifier).
Fertilizer: Our trees are sold when 2 years old; at the stage of pushing forth first flowers and setting first fruit. This makes them heavy feeders, as their root system is much larger than the plants appear. There are a few choices you can make to meet this need. We offer our own slow release pellet fertilizer and foliar spray fertilizer, as your first choice as these are the products already being used on our trees, with success.
If you do not have access to our fertilizers then you may choose a liquid plant fertilizer with every second watering ONLY during warmer, faster growing weather.
We have been using Seaboost (check out their website) on a trial run this past year (2019) and have found that it works very well. It is a Nova Scotia product, sourced across Canada in garden centers. In May 2020 we are adding it to our Fertilizer Packs. We recommend it over all other liquid fertilizers to supplement the fruit bearing season. Even through winter we have added it to one watering a month with wonderful success.
Slow release pellet fertilizer are always needed. With each watering of warm water, these pellets dissolve and release nutrients which keep the soil slightly acidic which enables the roots of citrus to uptake nutrition. If the soil is alkaline it will not be able to take up nutrients.
When using our slow release pellet fertilizer, place one Tablespoon of pellets around the perimeter of small 6" tree pots every 3 months or 2 Tablespoons for larger trees; keeping it away from root zone or trunk of the tree. If you do not have access to our slow release pellets, purchase slow release for Rhododendrons & Azaleas from your local garden center.
Foliar fertilizer sprays with Calcium, Magnesium and micro-nutrients are extremely helpful to citrus in orchards and in pots, as the leaves rapidly respond to this form of fertilizer. These foliar sprays are very difficult to source in Canada, however, as previously stated, we are able to provide both slow-release pellets and micro-nutrient foliar spray fertilizers in small quantities with the sale of our trees. If you overuse foliar spray you can "burn" the leaves. You will notice a regular green leaf with a dark yellow beginning to appear around the edges of some leaves, if this happens. This leaf will eventually need to be cut off, but wait until new leaf growth appears on your tree before pruning.
This is our Foliar Spray instructions on chelated micro-nutrient mix included in our fertilizer packs that are mailed out. Our Farm Shop provides pre-mixed foliar spray in a spritzer bottle, with a calcium component.
Step 1: Dissolve ½ teaspoon epsom salts in ¼ cup hot water
Step 2: In 500 ml warm water, dissolve ¼ teaspoon chelated micronutrients (any brand).
Step 3: Blend both mixtures together to form ‘Foliar Spray”. Spray onto leaves every 2 or 3 weeks at night.
Watering: ALWAYS USE WARM WATER. Citrus do not thrive with wet roots. Do not over water. With the desire to see more growth, sometimes it is easy for new owners to over-water citrus. Every home environment has a different heat source, humidity level and air movement factors. During the first 2 weeks the tree soil should be monitored to see how long it takes to dry out - not completely dry - but to the point that watering is optimal. To test the soil, place a finger into the top inch of the soil, if it is damp, do NOT water. Keep testing each day until soil begins to dry and show signs of slightly pulling away from side of pot (this is the small pot size our trees are sold in. If the tree has been transplanted into a larger pot - watering times will be longer in between). Another sign is the color of the perlite within the soil mixture begins to turn darker brown (when wet, these particles are white). It is imperative to soil check for the first few waterings until the new owner is confident the plant is able to have adequate time to dry out between them. Fabric pots work the best for consistent drainage and root development.
How much water: Our plants are sold in 6 inch diameter pots and require up to 2 cups of warm water spaced at intervals of 3 - 5 days depending on daytime temperatures. Larger trees which are transplanted into our larger fabric pots (14"- 18" diameter) will need at least 2 cups and up to 1 liter of warm water spaced at intervals of 7 to 14 days depending on daytime temperatures.
The simplest way to enable your tree to absorb the water it needs is to NOT water from the top, but to fill a sink or bucket with warm water and set the fabric pot within the bucket until the water rises to 2" below the top soil line. Hold the pot in this position for 30 - 45 seconds while the water is absorbed through the sides and bottom of the pot. Often the top of the soil remains dryer with this method and keeps fungus gnats from setting up home in top of your soil.
As water is heavy, you will feel the weight of your fabric pot increase, pull it out of the water and allow to drip freely in a sink for 30+ minutes.
If using liquid fertilizers a few times per years during heavy growth seasons (summer), simply mix rainwater or distilled water with recommended amount of liquid fertilizer (this info will be on fertilizer pkg) for 1 cup of water - allow few moments for mixture to dissolve then slowly pour onto the soil, NOT onto the plant leaves. Setting your pot in a sink or large bowl is helpful, as you want excess water to drain out the bottom holes .
If you are growing your tree in a solid pot (NOT a fabric grow pot) your watering amounts will be less and intervals between waterings will be longer, as these type of pots take much longer to dry out.
Water Source: Some city water or water sources may contain chemicals that can hinder proper growth of your tree - it may be wise to simply use distilled or rainwater.
Re-potting: Never add soil to the top of the 6 inch pot your tree comes in from our farm. The soil mix is perfect for this time in your trees' life and also the top part of the root ball must stay exposed to air, as burying it with soil is choking your plant. Depending on the time of year you have purchased a tree from our farm will depend on when we recommend re-potting. Trees we sell in spring and early summer we recommend keeping in the fabric pot it was purchased in until the Fall or even until following spring, depending on how much growth it is producing.
We recommend using a 1 or 2 gallon fabric pot for repotting. We sell this size fabric pot or you can purchase a fabric pot from another source. Although we have experienced fabric pots to be the best, if you do not have one, you can also use an inexpensive black plastic pot with drainage holes in the bottom, just above the bottom sides of pot. In each case, set the plant and its pot within an even larger, heavier decorative pot, providing a few inches between the inner pot with the tree and the heavier pot.
Soil Mix: We now sell our own Scotia Citrus Soil Blend to re-pot our trees. This blend includes 40% coir (re-hydrated coconut husks), 25% aged / composted, bark mulch, 10% perlite, 20% black earth or potting soil, 5% sand and mycorrhiza. Do not use premixes with 'wetting agents' as these can harm the roots. The goal of the soil blend is to have a mix which allows water to pass easily through the roots and not become soggy. If soil appears compact, and leaves drop, consider re-potting.
Canadian Garden centers often have African Violet Mix and Orchid Mix which have some of these ingredients. Also coconut coir bricks are now readily available for the indoor hydroponic growing of plants, as well as small bags of perlite.
Remember to never add ingredients that will cause soil mix to be too alkaline, such as lime. Citrus soil needs to be kept slightly acidic for the roots to utilize the nutrients in the soil.
Fill new pot with a new soil mix, and water it. Make an imprint into this soil with the pot you are taking your tree from, as you will need this exact size hole to place tree in. Cut sides of old citrus tree pot to gently remove the tree and soil. Check for any type of root rot; trim off any slimy feeling roots, as these have rotted from soil that was kept too wet. Set tree root-ball into center of pot and gently firm more soil mix around perimeter.
Again, make sure to place soil only as far up the trunk of the tree as the previous soil layer - leaving at least 1/4 inch of the root-ball exposed to air. After tree settles for 2 weeks, then sprinkle pellet fertilizer 1 tsp, around perimeter of pot - away from root zone and water. Place this new pot within a yet larger fashionable pot of plastic, clay, etc. This is helpful because it allows a few inches of air insulation for your tree - keeping it cooler in summer (less evaporation) and warmer in cooler months.
Pest Management: It is VITAL to use the same proactive schedule we do in our citrus greenhouse to keep harmful bugs off citrus trees.
Use 'Insecticidal Soap Spray" every 2 or 3 weeks, on leaves, stems and even soil. Apply this at night when sun is not shining on leaves. Rinse residue off with clear warm water. Do not use homemade forms of this spray, unless it is Neem oil. Insecticidal soap is a product available at Home Hardware or Home Depot to deal with spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, thrips, whiteflies which may irritate your tree at some point in it's life.
The fatty acids in insecticidal soaps break down the protective cuticles of soft-bodies pests so they quickly dehydrate and die.
Green Earth Horticultural Oil, is also an ideal product to kill scale insects, mealy bugs, mites...etc
Pruning: Do not allow any new growth below the lowest branch or the lowest leaves that are now growing on your tree. Do not be afraid to prune long branches as this will cause new growth to develop lower down on the stem, with the purpose of creating a more full canopy of branches and leaves.
Anytime leaves look damaged, sickly or dying: cut the leaf off from the branch, leaving a 1/4 inch of leaf stem remaining on the branch.
New growth usually develops at the junction of these leaf stems and the trunk.
Diseases & Disorders of Leaves & Twigs in Citrus: check out this link from University of California to help learn to identify potential issues with trees.
Remember potted citrus trees (in Canada) are not going to have as many diseases and insect infestation as orchard trees grown in much warmer climates.