rubenve
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Repotting a Eureka lemon tree

Hi all,
I'm new here on the forum and also new to gardening, so please bear with me. :)

I have owned a Eureka lemon tree since about 7 months. I received it as a gift from my parents and have been using the best of my ability to take care of it.
It actually went pretty well; it kept pushing out new leaves, the leaves looked nice and green and new blossom and buds were growing.

Back in May I went back to the Netherlands (my home country) for about 6 weeks and after I got back I think it was overwatered by the person taking care of it. The leaves were yellow and curled and it looked like it was in bad shape. I purchased a soil moisture meter and didn't water it until the moisture level got at the lower end of the spectrum again. Also since it has been really hot in California the past few weeks I decided to move the tree into the shade after about 6 hours of sun for the day. Since then it started looking better again and I think it's pretty healthy again as far as I can judge.

I left the tree in the pot since I got it, because we are planning on moving to a new house soon and the new house doesn't have a backyard, so we will have to keep it on one of the balconies. It's still in the original pot and I want to allow the tree to have some more space so it can grow bigger, so I want to repot it into a bigger pot.

I already read up on it a little and read that I should get a pot with big holes in the bottom to allow excess water to escape. I also saw those plastic 'things' for the bottom of a pot to protect the roots from overwatering.
My main concern is what soil to use. I read that regular potting soil is a no go and even the special citrus tree soil they sell at the big stores are no good.
I require a sandy soil with a little bit of clay if I understand correctly. Is that right? And where would I be able to buy that? Or should I make my own mixture? And if yes what would I put into this mixture? And do I use compost too? And fertilizer? I have been using the citrus tree fertilizer they sell at Home Depot. Is that the right fertilizer to use or are there better types?
Also what is the ideal pH for the soil for a Eureka tree?

I hope you can give me some advice, because I'd hate to kill this tree when I repot it. I also added some pictures of the tree.

[img]https://img513.imageshack.us/img513/1089/tree1u.jpg[/img]
[img]https://img266.imageshack.us/img266/5201/tree2s.jpg[/img]
[img]https://img806.imageshack.us/img806/4519/tree3c.jpg[/img]
[img]https://img696.imageshack.us/img696/481/tree4s.jpg[/img]

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PunkRotten
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I have the same tree. I agree you should repot it ASAP. I use citrus tone as a fertilizer and I ad rock dust and compost as well. As for potting soil I use just typical potting soil. Some guy told me that the palm/cactus mix they sell at home depot and lowes is good cause it drains well.

Northernfox
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I have a Baerless lime and Meyer Lemon myself. They are a lot of fun! I have found the best information on caring for the trees at the two following sites.

I did a little experiment this summer with my lemon tree and the one I got for my mother in law. I cut my tropical soil mix with sand to help the drainage and hers I did not. So far hers is doing great and mine is suffering from a little bit under fertilizing.

I am really enjoying them ;) even in Canada!

https://www.fourwindsgrowers.com/index.php

https://www.gardenadvice.co.uk/advisor/gardening-tips/indoor-orange-tree-care/
Stephen

rubenve
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Thanks to both of you for the replies. I will definitely check out those sites.

Also to PunkRotten: you said you would repot ASAP, is there a specific reason why you think that? Is it the size or the way it looks or something else?

Do trees like these need to be repotted every x years or so in the first place, or is it okay to leave it in the same pot after it reached its optimal size?
And what about the soil? Do you change that with fresh soil every once in a while or is fertilizing enough?

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PunkRotten
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Bigger pot would give it more space to stretch out. If the roots are too crowded they won't take up water and nutrients correctly. Since you plan to keep this in a pot for a long time I think changing it to a larger sooner rather than later would be beneficial. If it is in a spot that gets mostly sun with a little shade watering twice a week during summer is ideal and once a week in fall and winter or when well established. Also water if the plant looks thirsty.

I keep mine in a 15 gallon pot and it is fine but I wouldn't keep it in this forever. I would probably bump it up to 25 gallon at the very least. But my plans is to put it in the ground in a few years. About the soil try to add compost to it to keep it rich and fertilize regularly on a schedule. Also add rock dust or epsom salt so it gets some trace minerals. These trees take up lots of nutrients and being in a pot they lose them pretty quickly too. Mine developed a bunch of yellowing leaves. At first I thought it was over watering and backed off. But after ruling it out that it wasn't the problem I learned it was likely deficient in magnesium, manganese, calcium, zinc or some other trace mineral. After applying rock dust and epsom salt the tree is a lot better and actually setting fruit.

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PunkRotten
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BTW the tree does not look sick or anything to me. I was just saying that repotting would have benefits and the tree would get bigger and grow healthier IMO.

rubenve
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Thanks PunkRotten, this information is really useful. I'm gonna get some rockdust and compost first and look out for a bigger pot. I saw the soil you were talking about at Lowe's the other day I think, so I'll get some of that too.
I also read somewhere that it's better to have a pot with a bigger hole in the bottom, for water drainage. Can you confirm that?

Northernfox
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yes you do need a higher number of holes in the bottom and make sure it has space to escape. while the citrus trees enjoy moist roots if they are sitting in water they will get root rot quickly.

This also allows you flush the soil if you start seeing a white condensate on the top of your soil. that is typically salt build up from over fertilization that can occur in the fall.

Enjoy my friend! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
Stephen

rubenve
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Thanks! I sure do enjoy it so far even though I have no experience or knowledge at all about it (yet!). :D
Thanks for the advice, holes in the pot it is then.

Northernfox
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neither did I in March when I got both of my trees! It is a little bit more of a dance as I am in Canada and these little guys have to transition into and out of the house!
Stephen

rubenve
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I can see how that makes things a lot harder. The weather here is perfect for the tree (lucky me).

Northernfox
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out of curiosity what do the night time temperatures dip to at night in the winter? I am trying to figure out when to start bringing them in the house ;)
Stephen

rubenve
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I'm in the LA area, so the night temperatures in winter don't really get below 10 (Celcius) here in winter. December, January and February I'd say on average between 9 and 12 degrees celcius.

Northernfox
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Thank you very much. Ill have to start that transition as the temperatures will start going below that soon ;).
Stephen

rubenve
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No problem and good luck. :)
I'll keep you posted on the repotting adventures.

rubenve
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One more question: where do you guys buy rock dust. I asked at the home depot nursery, but they don't carry it. The lady didnt even know what it was. Searching online i found a bunch of online stores but i prefer buying it at a local store. Any ideas?

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PunkRotten
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Look for Azomite. But I think they sell rock dusts are feed stores. I bought azomite online.

rubenve
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Thanks I'll check and see if they sell that at feedstores around here. Otherwise I'll just order it online. Is this the stuff you're using: [url]https://www.ebay.com/itm/AZOMITE-TRACE-MINERAL-FERTILIZER-2-LBS-SOIL-AMENDMENT-GARDEN-GARDENING-/170825659376?pt=Fertilizer_Soil_Amendments&hash=item27c600b3f0#ht_861wt_1165[/url]

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PunkRotten
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Yes that is it. Check out these 2 links too

https://www.azomite.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=55:fruit&catid=29:fertilizer-products&Itemid=78

https://www.azomite.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&layout=blog&id=9&Itemid=28

rubenve
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It says to only apply it annually, is that as little as you use it? Or is it useful to use it more often for potted trees?

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RogueRose
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I have a Meyer Lemon tree and I repot it every year - back in the same pot. I have to move it in and out of the house every winter so I can't really put it in a bigger pot than it's in. I will take it out of the pot, shake off excess soil, loosen up the root ball. Fill the pot with new soil mixed with some citrus fertilizer and pot it in the same pot. It loves it and thrives.

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PunkRotten
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rubenve wrote:It says to only apply it annually, is that as little as you use it? Or is it useful to use it more often for potted trees?
I use a little each time I fertilize. I use Citrus Tone and you fertilize 3 times a year. 1st time is JAN/FEB, then MAY/JUNE, then AUG/SEPT. I add about a teaspoon with the fertilizer and mix it all into compost. Sometimes if the tree is showing signs of nutrient deficiency I will add about a teaspoon into a gallon of water and dissolve and water the tree. I also got a Persian Lime and Goji berry tree too that I water with this as well. I don't think an overdose will hurt them either. But an overdose of fertilizer would/could. I usually use slightly less than what is instructed. They also have instructions on the bag of Azomite.

rubenve
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Thanks, that's good to know. I found a bigger pot now, got the soil, got the compost and I already had the fertilizer. Now only the rock dust and I'm all set. Really appreciate all the help here. I'll keep you guys posted.

rubenve
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So I decided to just get going and repotted the tree today. I got a new 16 inch pot and put some gravel on the bottom for drainage. Then added a layer of the soil (I got soil for cactus, palm and citrus trees) and mixed it with compost and some fertilizer. Then removed the tree from the old pot and cleaned the rootball from the old soil and added it to the new pot. Added more soil and compost mix on top of that, watered it and voila the tree has a new home. Meanwhile I ordered the rockdust online and once I receive that I'll treat him to that. :) I hope I did everything right and that he'll like the new pot and soil mix.
See the picture of the tree in his new home.

[url]https://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/525/photojnw.jpg[/url]

Northernfox
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Oh shoot I shold have told you. they don't recomend you use rocks on the bottom hard wood chips provide the same while maintaining moisture. it is as bad with a citrus tree to be sitting in water as getting dry. Not to worry. they kind of like the abust so if you choose you can remove the rocks and drop er back in.

Here is my story ;)
The tree on the left is a Valacia Orange. Unfortunetly when the humidity droped this spring she died. on the right is the meyer lemon tree I got for my mother in law. more to follow on her tree. the centre one is my meyer lemon.
[img]https://i1262.photobucket.com/albums/ii603/Northernfox14/e48cff36.jpg[/img]

Enter my Bearless Lime and their time in the garden area. prior to this a friend of mine scared the heck out of me about over wattering and the use of a moisture metre. once the lemon lost half its leafs I made the decision to fertilize on the schedule and not worry about the moisture. Well I was right to start i nearly killed it ;)
[img]https://i1262.photobucket.com/albums/ii603/Northernfox14/E0671D84-8470-4B53-9B1E-DBD2D01CFE6B-34354-00001563E7DBFF81.jpg[/img]



and they recovered. After seeing how well my mother in laws plants were doing I deided that my lemon had had enough time to settle back down and re-potted both. Wow are they ever doing well now. As one of the other members said I plan on abusing them once a year to keep the plant happy by removin them shaking the soil off and re-potting
[img]https://i1262.photobucket.com/albums/ii603/Northernfox14/57D571EE-1418-4C62-A9B7-1CB57351B15E-34354-0000156491F7FF61.jpg[/img]

And the reason I decided to do that is my mother in laws. if you look top right of the first pic it was the runt and BAM. She also did not abuse hers by witholding food ;)
[img]https://i1262.photobucket.com/albums/ii603/Northernfox14/D680DA4C-C3CE-4688-96E1-5FE590EF6E9D-34354-00001564A8AEF9DF.jpg[/img]

and here are some flagstones I picked up today while working in the foothills of Alberta ;) Random I know but fun too ;)
[img]https://i1262.photobucket.com/albums/ii603/Northernfox14/2E52AD21-F40A-475D-8F72-69743D1EF5C6-34354-00001564B2246FB4.jpg[/img]
Stephen

rubenve
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Wow nice pics and story! Pity that the orange died, it looked real nice and healthy. Pretty amazing that you're able to grow citrus trees in a climate like that.
I didn't know that lemons didn't like rocks on the bottom. I actually put it there because I read something about it, they said to either use woodchips or rocks. I used a pretty finegrain gravel. So you think I should remove it and swap it with wood chips?

Northernfox
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They can grow anywhere really! The key thing is having a south or south west facing windows:)

They recommended against it the place I went. It is truly up to you though! If you see the plant having new issues u could remove them then.

Glad you enjoyed it!
Stephen

rubenve
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Yeah I'll just wait and see how he likes it (including the rocks :)). If he starts showing signs of protest I'll go with it and remove the rocks.
The rockdust is also on its way so I'm gonna treat him to that as soon as it's in. What else could a lemon tree possibly want? :)

Also one more question. If I understood correctly you said you got rid of using the soil moisture meter? I admit I'm having trouble using it and I also doubt its accuracy. Am I supposed to wait for the soil to get in the red zone when it comes to moisture or do I water it when it's still green? Or just get rid of it completely?
Need thing is that it also measures the pH level of the soil. Not sure though what it should be for this type of tree. I read opposing things about it. Any ideas?

Northernfox
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I did do away with it. I found it was not helping me :) instead look for signed of overwatering. You will see leaf curl down. If it is curing up it might just be hot or low water. Moisture meters are highly influenced by the pH of the soil. It may read different then it should. FYI it should never go red :)

What I did was put them on a schedule. As long as it is able to drain excess water it should not be an issue with the right soil. In my heat waves this summer 30-35 Celsius it was twice a week. Now that we are between 20-30 it is once a week. Volume depends on the pot :)

Once a week for me is when I give my tree it's food. Winter it will drop to every second week likely.
Stephen

rubenve
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Okay thanks for the advice. I think I'll also try to go more by my 'fingerspitzengefuhl' by looking at the soil and the trees rather than just the meter. Yesterday when repotting before watering the new soilmix I checked and the meter said it was already extremely moist (one of the highest levels it can read), that's when I really started doubting the accuracy.
Thanks!

Northernfox
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Enjoy!! Make sure to update us on the progress :)
Stephen

Northernfox
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I had to move my trees inside today. Temperatures overnight are starting to drop. So they are nestled in their spot for the next 7 months until summer of 2013 :)

I some times envy those of you in the south!
Stephen

rubenve
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Yeah, no such troubles here. :)

The tree is doing well so far btw. I just gave him his first treat of rockdust and it seems like he likes his new pot.

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ReptileAddiction
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It looks happy! I will soon be expanding my fruit to collection to include citrus. I am putting a dwarf lemon in the ground. I am going to order an italian type 8) How much fruit do you guys get off of potted trees? I might also but some mandarins and oranges to go in eventual half wine barrels.

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PunkRotten
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My lime tree which is about 2 1/2-3 foot has about 6-7 limes on it now. My Lemon has about the same.

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