Fertilizing Lime Trees – Learn How To Fertilize A Lime Tree
Lime trees are one of the most popular ornamental plants in California. They have a long history in cultivation and they were first introduced into the United States from Mexico during the early 1900’s. Today there are several varieties of lime trees available commercially, but only two types (Citrus grandis L.
and Citrus sinensis L.) produce fruit at any given time. Both types require similar care.
The lime tree is native to tropical climates around the world, including India, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia. These tropical areas are characterized by hot temperatures year round with mild winters. The climate here in Southern California is quite different than those found in these other locations; however it does share some characteristics with them: cool summers followed by warm winters that last well into January or February.
Because of their cold winter climate, lime trees need a special type of soil to survive. Because of its high water content, lime soils tend to dry out quickly. Thus, the best way to grow lime trees successfully is in a potting mixture that contains moisture-retaining ingredients such as peat moss or perlite.
These elements allow the plant roots to remain moist while still allowing enough surface area for air circulation and drainage.
How Much Water Should I Provide?
Lime trees should be watered regularly to ensure maximum growth and to promote blooming. You may water the tree as much as necessary, but do not allow the pot to remain in standing water or the roots will begin to rot. While some people recommend watering every day, once or twice a week is usually enough for maintaining adequate moisture in the potting soil as long as it is a quality blend that retains water well.
Use lukewarm water rather than cold water to prevent root shock. If it is necessary to use cold water, then add a bit of warming agent to the water before pouring it over the soil surface. You can also move the pot close enough to a heating vent so that the warmth generated by the heating system will help keep the soil temperature at an optimum level for root growth.
How Much Light Does It Need?
Lime trees can thrive in a wide range of lighting conditions, from full sun to partial shade. The best location for your tree would be the southeastern exposure of your home. South-facing windows also work well because they allow your tree to soak up plenty of sunlight to encourage leaf and flower growth.
If there isn’t enough light available, then you can add an artificial lighting system to help improve the situation. Set the tree on a table or bench and place a flood light within six inches of the top leaves. The light should be set on a timer so that it will come on for four to eight hours each day.
During the winter months when there is less sunlight available, you should increase the lighting time to 10 to 12 hours each day. This will help promote leaf and flower growth so that your tree looks healthy all year long.
How Often Should I Repot The Tree?
Most lime trees require repotting every two to three years. However, this may not be necessary if you use a high quality soil that retains plenty of moisture. The pot itself also makes a difference. Choose a heavy pot rather than a lightweight one. The added weight keeps the tree from toppling over as the top-heavy branches continue to grow longer.
If you feel the tree needs to be repotted, then do so during the springtime. Use a soil specifically formulated for citrus trees because it contains all the necessary nutrients for continued growth and flowering. Follow the package directions carefully when mixing the soil, as improper ratios can cause nutrient deficiencies that lead to weak plants or even death.
How Often Should It Flower?
It is not necessary to prompt your tree into blooming. Most trees will flower naturally as long as they are receiving enough sunlight and have enough room to grow. However, some hybrid varieties such as the Washington Navel will not flower unless you provide a stress stimulus by reducing the watering and fertilizing schedule for a few weeks.
After you’ve reduced the watering and fertilizing, wait until the next spring. If the tree does not flower, then resume the regular care and try again the following year.
How Long Does It Live?
Most citrus trees live for 20 to 30 years. This can vary, however, depending on the type of care it receives and the climate it is planted in. In general, citrus trees that receive plenty of sunlight, water and fertilizer will live longer than those planted in shadier locations or those that are underpotted (rootbound).
What Do I Do if the Tree Dies?
The most common cause of death is the soil. For this reason, it’s a good idea to take a few cuttings of the branches, roots and soil as backup. Store them in a moist, cool location until you’re ready to repot the tree. Take care not to expose the cut surfaces to direct sunlight or they may dry out and die.
If you don’t have any viable cuttings, try transplanting the tree into a larger pot and add fresh soil. Keep the tree indoors for at least a year while you monitor the moisture and temperature levels.
It’s also possible to take a cutting from a friend’s tree and root it until yours starts to grow again. It takes time to grow a tree from a cutting and this is something best attempted only if you have the patience for it.
How Can I Help It Grow Faster?
You can’t make your tree grow any faster, no matter how much you may want to. Most trees grow at a rate that’s perfectly normal for their species, so don’t worry about it. Check the pot to see if it needs to be repotted. This should be done every two to three years in a new pot that is only slightly larger than the old one. Never repot a tree in the same pot or make the pot larger. This will cause the roots to have less room to grow and this could kill it. Also, make sure the soil you’re using contains all the nutrients your tree needs for continued growth and flowering. It’s best to buy a special soil formulated for citrus trees rather than mixing your own from scratch.
What Do I Cover The Pot With?
The best cover for your pot is a plastic bag. This will protect the tree from extreme sunlight as well as possible frost and all types of precipitation. On very cold nights, you can also place the pot in a protected area such as an unheated garage or shed to keep it from freezing. Just remember to bring it back outside for at least six hours the next day.
What Do I Do if My Tree Has Died?
If your tree has died, check the pot. If there are no visible signs of roots coming out of the drainage holes, this means the tree didn’t take (accept) the soil you put it in. It’s possible that the soil just isn’t right for that particular type of tree so you’ll have to try again with a different soil mix. Otherwise, it could be that the soil dried out too much or wasn’t watered frequently enough. No matter what the reason, you’ll have to start over by taking a few cuttings and putting them in a new pot with fresh soil.
How Often Does It Need Watering?
The type of tree and location where it’s planted will determine how much water it needs. That’s because some areas will dry out quicker than others due to evaporation or faster growth. As a general rule, most trees need about one inch of water per week. This can be done by sprinkling water around the base of the tree (root zone) or by using a hosepot with a fine rose to gently wet the soil. Don’t pour water into the trunk of the tree as this will cause rotting and infection.
When Is The Best Time To Prune?
Most trees should be pruned in early spring before new growth appears. This type of pruning helps to direct the flow of nutrients to branch tips and causes them to bush out. This makes the tree aesthetically more pleasing and also promotes heavier blooming and fruiting in the long term. Be sure to use pruning shears or a pruning saw for these types of cuts as hedge clippers can cause torn bark which invites disease. You should also remove any broken, dead, crossed or overlapping branches whenever you find them.
Why Is My Tree Dropping Its Leaves?
There are several different reasons why this may be happening. The first thing you should do is check the soil to see if it needs water. Dry soil will cause the leaves to wilt and fall off. If the tree has plenty of water and the soil is still dry, then it could be due to the wind. If there’s a lot of wind in the area where you live, it can cause the leaves to dry out and fall off before they’re shed naturally. It could also be due to salt in the soil. Certain types of salt used to de-ice roads in the winter can seep into the soil and burn roots as well as cause leaf drop. You should try to avoid planting trees in these types of areas if possible.
Realizing The Dream
Once you’ve successfully grown a tree from a cutting, you’ll be able to enjoy its beauty every day of the year. Just remember, always be sure to plant it in a large enough pot and transplant it into the ground in its permanent location when it gets bigger. This will ensure that it develops enough strong roots to grow strong and tall.
After you’ve done this, you should have a tree of your very own to take care of for years to come. If you want to share your success with others, consider becoming a surrogate tree parent to help others realize their own dreams.
by David Cleden
Other Tree Types We Feature
There are many types of trees in the world that are suited for Bonsai. Depending upon where you are in the world, there are different trees that will grow well.
You can also get instant gratification by starting with a small tree and training it as a Bonsai right away. These trees are often available at your local home and garden center:
Junipers (Juniperus spp.)
Cedars (Thuja spp.)
Firs (Abies spp.)
Pines (Pinus spp.
)These trees are well known for their ability to produce good bonsai.
You can also grow and train oak seedlings (Quercus spp.) as bonsai. They are a little more challenging to grow but make wonderful bonsai, especially red oaks (Quercus rubra).
Conifers such as yews (Taxus spp.), pines (Pinus spp.), and firs (Abies spp.) are great for growing bonsai because they retain their foliage all year.
The Arborvitae or ‘cvate’ (Thuja spp.) is a good tree for bonsaiculture because it is easily shaped and accepts its culture easily.
After growing your own bonsai from a seed, cutting, or layering a tree of your choice, you will have a living work of art that you can enjoy for many years.
BONSAI TREE CARE
Contrary to popular belief, bonsai are not extremely difficult to grow. Most of the time they are just like any other plant and will thrive in the same conditions that you would provide for any houseplant. In fact, many of the trees that are sold in malls and other “brick and mortar” type stores have literally been grown in small crock pots from seed.
If you can grow a potted plant, you can certainly grow a bonsaite.
Bonsai trees can be grown outdoors or indoors. Many people in more temperate zones grow their bonsais outdoors all year round. Others in less hospitable climates such as deserts or extreme cold areas, such as Alaska, grow them indoors near a sunny window all year.
And others still, grow their bonsai trees seasonally; they grow them outdoors during the spring and summer, bring them indoors near a sunny window during the fall and winter, and finally back outside during the spring and summer again.
Whichever choice is right for you, there are some things to keep in mind. First of all, your basic plant needs such as sunlight, water, etc, are the same as any other plant. Second of all, if your tree is grown outside, it will require some extra protection from extreme cold in the winter.
Third, for those who grow their trees indoors or seasonally, they need a period of “rest” from being transplanted and root-pruned. This varies from species to species but it is usually between 1 and 4 weeks, sometimes longer. If you are starting with a seedling or cutting, this will be less time required.
Most importantly, the thing you need to keep in mind is that your tree is a living, breathing organism. It needs care and attention just like you do. Trees (just like people) do not always act rationally and are prone to bouts of irrationality.
They can be sick or healthy one day and perfectly fine the next. The key to good care is being observant and keeping records. This will help you identify issues before they become major problems.