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Citrus in a 50L pot?

Hi all,
New to gardening. Live in Sydney, Australia. Zone 10 equivalent of USA i think based on the info on the side.
I just planted a Imperial Mandarin tree in a 50L pot. Just wanted to know how tall will it grow at maximum. Also any tips on planting citrus in this pot would be appreciated.
The plant itself is a graft and is fairly small (30-50cm), don't know if i should have potted so big so quick, but i had received conflicting information on it.
Thanks Hoping i will enjoy this community.

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Posts: 801
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2015 9:20 pm
Location: Canada zone 8b

Re: Citrus in a 50L pot?

Hi there atif,
I'm not an expert on citrus trees, nor am I a novice, but I will tell you what has worked for me and my citrus trees;

I repot my trees about every 2 years (give or take a year). I wait until the roots are root bound within the pot, and then repot into a pot that is a couple inches deeper and a couple inches longer in diameter.

My citrus trees tend to grow very well with this method.

Also, I heard that the gardener can't make the tree grow a specific size by choosing specific pots. The graft is what controls the size. (If I'm not correct about this, please let me know, haha)

Good luck with your tree, and I'm looking forward to reading some advice from other people!
Zone 8b, Canada

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Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2014 1:52 pm
Location: Woodbury NJ Zone 6B

Re: Citrus in a 50L pot?

Welcome to the forum!

You might need a much larger pot eventually. I have also seen different things about planting small plants in very large pots, but I think of it this way - the roots wouldn't be restricted if planted in the ground, would they? Some things are supposed to dry out between waterings, so a very large pot would stay wet for too long for those plants, but I don't think citrus is that type.

I think I remember those getting to 4-6 ft ( about 2 M), though I have never grown one. I have a 13 or 14 year old kaffir lime tree in a 14 gal pot, and it grows over 6 feet tall every year when I put it outside in spring (too cold here to leave out!), and would probably grow much larger. I cut it way down every year in fall, to bring it in, but it takes off again, and I have to cut it back again inside. However, it gets rootbound every two years, and I have to do a major root trimming on it, and re-pot it. So, you can see why I say you will need a much larger pot, as you will be leaving it out, I'm sure, and want it to keep growing. When the plants get somewhat rootbound, it can trigger the fruiting, which would be a good thing, for you (I only want the leaves!).

I think this citrus of mine likes more water (monsoon region), so somebody more familiar with your type can chime in. I plant mine in Pro Mix, with some coco fiber added, to keep it wet longer, and some worm castings.

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Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:32 am
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Citrus in a 50L pot?

I grow most of my citrus in pots. 50 L = 12 gallons. It is possible for a small tree for a few years. For more permanent trees I grow them in 65- 90 L pots. About 15-20 gallon pots. 25 gallon tree pots are possible but it is a little harder to find 25 gallon pots.
I prefer to plant in pots with 50.8 cm diameter = 20 inch pots about 30 inches high. They will hold 56-60 liters of soil.

Since I do not like to repot, I plant my citrus trees in pure black cinder. Soil contracts and compacts after a while and requires repotting or what happens is the water runs around the root ball and out of the pot instead of through the root ball, and the plant dies of thirst. This is especially the case if watering has been a bit haphazard and the media dried out too much. Soaking a pot that size is unwieldly. In pure cinder, there is no reserve for water so the trees do have to be watered every day or every other day. By the fourth day without water, the leaves will curl.

I use a citrus fertilizer and a slow release fertilizer. Slow release is every six months and citrus food is based on the diameter of the trunk. I fertilize when the leaves flush, at flowering, and again when the fruit set. Some of my citrus are bear only one crop and others will bear almost continually so it is easier for me to fertilize when I see the growth stages. It does not make sense to fertilize when the citrus is dormant. Cinder contains a few minerals but has no capacity to retain nutrients. It does however have a lot of air space and in the long run that is what citrus needs good drainage and room for the roots to grow into. Cinder media does not deteriorate or shrink. It does collect dirt and dust that gets blown into the pot so there will be some dirt over time.

My oldest tree is a kaffir lime about 20 years old in a 20 inch pot. It has attempted to escape a couple of times so I do have to tip the pot once in a while and cut off any roots that try to go to ground. Normally a kaffir lime would become a 30 ft tree in the ground but it stays about 5 ft tall. It has been in the same pot for 18 years and has never been repotted. The canopy is also small and huggable. This pot is one of the old ones when they made thick pots. I have a Meyer lemon and a calmondin in 7 gallon, and 10 gallon newer blowmold pots and they have both broken through. I will eventually have to kill them since they are too well rooted to pull them free and they cannot stay where they are.

Most of my citrus trees are much younger. But in general, a true dwarf will get about 5ft tall in a 20 inch pot. If you have a larger pot like a 100 gallon tree pot, you can even grow a mango about 10-12 ft tall (but it is probably in the ground). My trees get stressed so they could possibly get taller about 8-10 ft in a pot that is big enough an if they are fed more regularly than I feed mine.

Citrus trees don't like harsh pruning especially if you want to see any fruit. I only prune to keep the canopy small and to keep it short. I only keep lateral branches. Most of my citrus are not fast growers. The exceptions are the calamondin and Meyer lemon which produce multiple crops a year. Those can be pruned more often to keep them compact. Kaffir limes don't grow that much and since I use the leaves not the fruit, my tree ends up with a very compact canopy. Tahitian limes are not fast growers and produce only one or two crops of limes a year at most so they don't need much pruning.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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Re: Citrus in a 50L pot?

Thanks all for the great and detailed replies. I think i will monitor how they go in the 50L pots for now. I think they should be sufficient for the next year or 2 atleast. I used regular potting mix with some sugar cane mulch to help keep the soil moist. Also will add some slow release fertilizer designed for citrus around the base to help suppourt nutrition.

Anna, I'm not sure that it matters on the graft. Its on regular root stock, but with limited root growth, i have heard that this will limit the overall size of the tree. As opposed to it being planted int he ground where it would grow fully. That's where if you want to truly control size a dwarf root stock is more important.

Like i said most of my other fruit trees are in the ground. So this may just be a good experiment for me to see the difference. I've realised gardening is a lot about patience and learning what works, and making small changes.

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