Need help with Dwarf Citrus Tree/Basil


Old 07-31-05, 07:44 PM
ccarpenter1120's Avatar
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 27
Need help with Dwarf Citrus Tree/Basil

I'm having a couple issues...
1) We have a dwarf citrus tree that has never produced fruit. We planted it 8 years ago in our atrium in the middle of our house and we have never seen a flower. We live accross the street from lettuce fields in the Salinas Valley of California. Every year the tree has white flies, little green bugs and a sticky black mold on the leaves. We treat them with a fungicide and soapy water, but they last for months. Last year, I even wiped down the leaves once a week to see if that would generate blossums... it didn't. Any suggestions? I see big lemons and oranges in our neighborhood, but our dwarf is bare.

2) Also in our atrium, we have tried to grow basil. Parsley, tyme and organo grow without issue. I'm on my second dead basil plant this year. It gets 5 hours of direct sun and has alot of light since it's an atrium. My neighbor has no problems with his plant. I water either once a day or once every two days.

Love the site and I look forward to the many helpful answers.
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Old 08-01-05, 07:24 PM
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: USA
Posts: 15,834
Citrus need full sun. In winter they prefer a southernly exposure with some protection from mid-day sun. Indoor citrus plants require soil to dry to touch between watering and should not be allowed to stand in water after the pot has drained into saucer. Temperature should be slightly cooler than the home--about 50-55 degrees at night and 68 degrees in summer. High humidity is a requirement, especially when blooming. Low humidity often causes blooms and fruit to drop. They like to be misted daily. You can use a humidifier or stand them on a pebble tray full of water. The only way to know the humidity is to measure it with a hygrometer (sold where they sell thermometers). Fertilize citrus in early spring, early summer and late summer. Acid fertilizer is preferred at no stronger than recommended rate. African violet potting soil is recommended. Repot annually into only slightly larger pots. If they fail to bloom, skip repotting for a year or two. It seems they like to be slightly crowded and do not like a pot that is too large for them. Avoid leaf shine products as they damage leaves. Tip pruning can keep plant compact and bushy.

Fruit appears after blooms fall off as they fade. Indoors, youl will have to pollinate the flowers by hand if your plant requires cross-pollination. A water color brush can be used to stroke the pollen-bearing stamens and then the pistil in the center of the bloom of each flower.

Overwatering can cause leaves to yellow and fall off. Tap water can also cause this problem because they are intolerant of the salts in tap water. Water with distilled water or rainwater.

Citrus leaves that appear mottled may be due to sucking insects like spider mites, white fly, or scale. Insecticidal soap or horticultural oil can control these pests if caught early. Take care that pests do not infest other plants indoors.

If plants do not receive enough light, are too warm, or in too large of a pot, they will not bloom. If pot is too large, do not repot until after plant has bloomed. Repotting in smaller pot will not resolve the problem.

Not all plants thrive in the same conditions. While citrus like cooler temperatures and lots of sun and high humidity, basil requires the sunniest position and more dry air. Preventing it from flowering provides longer life. Soil should be well-drained but contain enough compost to retain moisture. Water with water that has been left to set to gain room temperature. Thin seedlings to 6-10" apart and pinch to encourage bushy growth. Basil can fall prey to numerous fungi in cool soil. Whether you sow seeds or set in transplants, make sure the ground has warmed thoroughly. Always disinfect pots before planting by washing in bleach/water solution and allow to dry.

Parsley prefers cooler temperature of about 60 degrees. Thyme likes full sun and prefers to be watered sparingly. Most herbs prefer a warm temperature about 60-70 degrees. Herbs need feeding with a weak fertilizer every two weeks in spring and summer, and once a month in winter. Use 1/2 the recommended dosage of fertilizer at all times .

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