help with my grapefruit tree needed (newbie)

Discussion in 'Citrus' started by yourshere, Oct 6, 2005.

  1. yourshere

    yourshere Member

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    Hi, I live in Douglasville, Georgia ( USA ). I have a 1 year old grapefruit tree which is of the common store variety. I started the tree off from a seed and it has survived 1 winter and is heading into it's second year! Yea! I started this tree to see if I could grow it directly from fruit to dirt only allowing 2 days to dry out the seed. Anyway here's the odd happening I need help with. The tree started off growing normal. It's leaves were of normal size for a sappling. but just in the last few weeks the tree has went into growth overdrive. It has grown about 1 foot taller but thats not the only strange thing, the new leaves are about 20 times bigger than the leaves below the growth overdrive line. The tree is now a little over 4 foot now. Should I lop off the new "overdrive" growth" or should I leave it be. I don't want the tree to be sickly or die on me as this is my first attempt at a grapefruit tree. ( Grapefruit trees don't grow in Georgia but mine is in a huge pot with wheels so I can move it in bad or cold weather.
    Thanks for any advice or help!! Rolan.
     
  2. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Hi, Rolan. Sounds like plate-sized leaves! You don't live near a nuclear power plant, do you?

    What is the size of the large leaves? Apart from their size, do they look normal? Was the tree repotted and/or fertilized shortly before the growth spurt? Is the new growth spindly?

    From what I've read grapefruit leaves should be 2-7" long. Maybe you found the cultivation sweet spot. Citrus trees store much of their energy reserves in their leaves and stems. Any unnecessary pruning should be avoided.
     
  3. yourshere

    yourshere Member

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    : ) , No nuclear plant around here.. 85% of the leaves that appear to be normal size are at the bottom and are from 2 to 3 inches long. The leaves at the top where the growth spurt has occured are 7 to 8 inches long but seem to be thinner and lighter in color than the heavier and Dark Green Colored ones at the bottom. The tree was repotted 2 months ago from a 15" pot to what I believe to be it's last pot of 34", ( it's getting a bit too heavy for anything bigger..) The only fertilizer it has seen is some Hawaiian MaGic Plant food ( 9-18-9 ) just before I repotted it for the last time. I should mention it has some very long sharp and stout thorns all over it that are apr. 1.25" long I will get a photograph of the tree and see if I can get it posted some where and link it here. If the way I have done this tree is a "sweet spot" for grapefruit trees I will let everybody know what I did.. It may be my soil I purchased from Lowe's but it was only black top soil.... Oh also the seed was from a grapefruit I was eating last year and the only thing I did to it was dry it out for two days and throw it into a pot with some dirt keeping it over the pilot lights of my stove ( it was winter, so too cold for it to be outside). Maybe I will go to the grocery store and buy another grapefruit and start me another tree and see if the same thing happens again :}. not too sure what spiny means...
    Thanks, Rolan
     
  4. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    I'm not sure if there is anything wrong. Maybe other people can jump in here with their opinions. The appearance of the new growth as described seems normal. Given time the young leaves will attain the look of mature ones and the stem will thicken up and become rounder. I can imagine the significant increase in leaf size is possible under ideal conditions. Plants grown from seed are known to be thorny - again normal.

    I do have one concern though. The pot seems to be quite large for a one-year seedling. I believe it is normal practice to pot up only when the roots have reached the edge of the pot at which point you would transplant to a pot one size up. The plant has a greater risk of getting root rot when overpotted. Take care not to over water.

    BTW, you can upload images to the forum and then have them attached to your posts. Spindly == thin, weak growth.
     
  5. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    There is nothing wrong with your grapefruit tree. New foliage growth in citrus always follows after root growth. As you transplanted the tree into a larger container, the tree's roots were able to put on new growth. It is common and normal for new foliage flushes of grapefruit, (and other citrus) to produce extra large leaves. All new growth is always light green in color and of a less firm texture. Over the next six weeks the new growth will darken in color and firm up. Lastly, the fertilizer you mentioned using (9-18-9) is not close to the ratio used by citrus roots. Citrus (encluding grapefruit) absorb nutrients from the soil in the ration of 5-1-3. In other words, for every 5-parts nitrogen, the tree will requires 1 part phosphorus and 3 parts potassium. The fertilizer used should respect this ratio when the nimeral content in the leaves is satisfactory, and should be chosen as closely as possible according to the replacement of the minerals as they are used. Take care - Millet
     
  6. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Hi, Millet. I'm not sure there is such a thing as an all-encompassing 'ideal' ratio. The suggested mix varies depending on the quoted source material. What is common is a higher ratio of N to P and K in keeping with that fact that citrus are heavy feeders. For outdoor applications the ratio would depend much on the soil composition. An optimal ratio is more likely to be possible for indoor applications. That is the ratio I would like to know. I've been applying at 3-1-1 with success but wonder how that compares with the theoretical ideal.
     
  7. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Re: O.T. Fertilizer ideals

    I am not so sure there is an ideal ratio any
    more. There once was an accepted ideal
    for plants grown in the ground and the
    5-1-3 is close enough. With more and
    more people growing Citrus indoors in
    containers, even more people growing
    Citrus in greenhouses in containers and
    in the ground along with the majority of
    people still growing Citrus outdoors in
    the ground and in containers, there can
    be a wide range of ideals nowadays.

    Each suggested ideal can be different
    based on soil types, soil mixes for
    container grown plants, soil and soil
    mix pH, soil and solar temperatures,
    humidity, coolness versus warmth
    and filtered light, artificial light versus
    direct sunlight. The easy way out of this
    is to say that each variable may have its
    own ideal for nutrient uptake and that
    does not take into consideration which
    form of Citrus we are desiring an ideal
    for, such as comparing a Sweet Orange
    or a Blood Orange with a Citron or a
    Limequat.

    In established theory a 5-1-3 or a 3-1-1
    has worked well for most Citrus but a
    lot of that depends on where the trees
    are grown as Florida may want more of
    one nutrient than we might want to have
    out here and a greenhouse grower in
    Utah may want a formulation totally
    different than a greenhouse grower
    in Texas or Arizona may want. So
    much depends on what works for us
    so in that respect if our formulation
    works well for someone then that can
    be their ideal but for me with trees in
    the ground with a soil pH of 8.2 that
    ideal may not be right for my trees at
    all.

    Ideals are fine for some people but in
    practice proposed ideals cannot be
    accurately designated right across the
    board for all Citrus. An all encompasing,
    nutrient ideal for Citrus is, in my opinion,
    a mistake to try to set as environmental
    conditions alone may preclude some of
    the nutrients from being freely absorbed
    and utilized by the plant.

    Jim
     
  8. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Oops...didn't mean to hijack the thread, Rolan. I apologize. The perfectionist in me had to ask about the formulation.
     
  9. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I don't think I made myself all that clear. 5-1-3 is not the ratio of the actual fertilizer product that must purchased and used, although it certainly could be. 5-1-3 is the ratio in which citrus always REMOVES minerals from the soil or growing medium. A growing citrus tree that is absorbing fertilizer nutrients from the soil, will for every 1 part nitrogen that the roots absorb, will also take up 0.2 parts P2O5 and 0.6 parts K2O, which is a 5-1-3 ratio of uptake. This then is the ratio of the main fertilizer elements lost from a citrus orchard from uptake by the trees. Obviously, in cases of natural overages or of deficiencies within the soil of one or more fertilizer elements, this ratio must be changed to a more approprate one. The replacing element ratio depends on the soil and climate. This is why fertiliztion formulas cannot be generlized, which is especially true with trees growing in the ground. However, I would say for CONTAINERIZED TREES trees growing in soilless, fast draining growing mediums, the fertilizer used to replace the minerals taken up by the tree's roots, and those that are lost by leaching from the container would be a fertilizer formula very close to a 5-1-3 ratio. It should be understood that trace elements are also required. - Millet
     
  10. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    I currently use a 30-10-10 product on my containerized plants. It always seemed to make sense on an intuitive level to supplement with a higher-K product when the plants are in fruit but didn't know by how much.

    Millet, what actual formulation do you use with your greenhouse citrus? Is it close to the 5-1-3 uptake ratio?
     
  11. drichard12

    drichard12 Active Member 10 Years

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    Junglekeeper I would suggesst 1/4 tsp per Gal. at a once a week . I use CHC an Peat (Coconut Husk Chips) an peat 3-4 -1 peat as a media for growing, The mix holds water very well an offers airations to the citrus roots

    If over Ferts are applied or over build up of salts , It is very easy to flush the containers

    I use a good P.h meter an a Ec meter for Citrus CHC can last up to 5 years without having to repot
     
  12. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Hi, drichard12. You suggest 1/4 tsp. of what?

    The CHC/peat receipe does have its advantages as you and others have noted. I decided not to use a special growing medium in order to keep things simple as I also grow other types of plants. Instead I chose to supplement a commercial mix with additional sand, perlite, and cactus mix. Depending on how this works out I may add some cedar shavings which I can get cheaply as bedding at the pet store.

    I'm letting my plants tell me when they're happy or not rather than relying on measurements - I'm cheap -OR- I'd rather spend the money on more plants! In the end it comes down to the allocation of a finite resource (i.e. $). What's an Ec meter though?
     
  13. yourshere

    yourshere Member

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    Re: help with my grapefruit tree needed

    Thanks to everyone whom have been offering their advice on my tree!! After we got some rain the tree seems to be getting better.. The bottom leaves are now getting bigger and the upper leaves are starting to get thicker and have much better color in them, no new branches have began to spring out yet and it is just getting taller. It kind of favors an upside down cross with its length and two branches on it :) I have two more seeds that I am going to pot soon and will try two different ways of soil mixtures, 1 just like the way I have now and the other as per advise from everyone here.. Im curious to see If I stumbled upon a sweet spot for growing these trees quicker or if my existing tree is some kind of freak of nature. This may turn out to be a very long thread ( 10 to 15 years long), but I will keep everyone posted that is intersted in this experiment. I wonder if my existing tree will bear fruit by then or if it will be a dud tree.
     
  14. yourshere

    yourshere Member

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    Hello again, I forgot to add this to my previous post on my soil mixture that have been used over the trees year of life.. heres how it began (in a nut shell) :):
    I got the seed from a grocery store grape fruit (standard yellow and very sour), I had some houseplant soil in my storage building that was about 2 maybe 2 years old since I last used it. The soil was dried out and powdery but I thought soil is soil and put the soil into a 10" pot poured some water on it and place over the pilot light on my gas stove. It remained their all night and was moved to which ever window was in the house that the cat could not reach (the cat got a hold of it one day and bit a few leaves in half which by the way those leaves are still intact oddly enough). any who I did this all winter and during some of spring only taking it outside when it was over 70deg out. After a few months the tree got to about 1 ft tall and a root was coming out of a tiny crack in the pot about a third down its side (I know, I know go ahead and laugh about my being a crack pot) :) So I repotted to a larger pot using just regular potting soil from Lowe's (local hardware store) the plant started it's growth and everything is going smoothly. (I never really belived the tree would grow or live this long). It remained in its new pot (with out any cracks in it) till it seemed the tree just stopped growing. So I thought I would end this repotting bit by getting the biggest pot that Lowe's had. I bought 2 bags of Compost Manure and 1 bag of Miracle Grow Vegetable Garden Soil (The one with tomatoes on the package). Mixed the soil with a stick I found or I guess you could say I just stired it around abit, No gloves :). I used a 9-18-9 liquid fertilizer that gets mixed in water at about 16 drops per gallon of water. The liquid fertilizer came with a tropical flower that I bought way back when. I water it with this fertilizer about every 2 weeks. and also mix some up in a spayer and sprayed the leaves with it. It seems the plant loves the fertilzer mixture so thats what it got regularly. If you want the brand name of the liquid it is Hawaiian Flower Magic made by Robertas Inc. I have a 800 number on it if anyone wants to see if it's still available. Anyway thats the water and fertizer mixture I used. back to the potting.. After stirring the soil up a bit i shove a empty pot into the huge pot to make its hole took the tree out of it's old pot poked at the root ball base to see how much dirt was still loose and very little fell, the root ball was very healthy looking and strong so I popped it into the hole covered it up with loose dirt spread a very thin layer of Cypress mulch (the layer is so thin you can still see the soil in patches) the main reason for the mulch is because water would just run off the soil and not get absorbed into it. thus the mulch slowed down the water long enough to absorb better. I offer this info for anyone intersted in seeing if my soil or watering combination is useful to them. Maybe some one on your side of the world would like to try this on their tree and see if maybe this fertilizer mixture is good for other regions. I am near Atlanta, Georgia USA.
    Who knows maybe if we experiment with this enough and work out the "bugs" we can sell out knowledge to citrus growers and make a buck or two :} If your still awake after reading this uba thread sorry for being so long.. Rolan
     
  15. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Rolan, grapefruit trees grown from seed typically go through a junvenility period of 5-15 years before bearing fruit. I hope you're a patient person. While raising something from seed carries a certain fascination, if fruit is important to you, consider buying a grafted variety even if it is a small specimen. Such trees, if they don't already, will bear fruit much sooner.
     
  16. Nightbird

    Nightbird Member

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    Hello, Millet. I find your information regarding citrus nutrient uptake interesting. I would love to read more on the subject. If you don't mind my asking, where did you read about that? I have been searching and can not find anything on 5-1-3 ratio. Also, you say this is not the ratio grapefruit uses. Could you tell me the ratio for grapefruit?
    Thanks
     
  17. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Nightbird, 5-1-3 is the ratio of nutrient root absorption from the soil by all trees in the genus citrus, including grapefruit. For further information on citrus root uptake, taxonomy, morphology, soil and cultural practices, along with citrus juice technology, citrus essential oil production and much more, read the book "CITRUS The Genus Citrus" by Dugo and Di Giacomo. It is a very scholarly work, and a little difficult to read in some areas, but a very informative book on the genus. - Millet
     
  18. Nightbird

    Nightbird Member

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    Thank you Millet. Sorry for the grapefurit misunderstanding.
     
  19. Laaz

    Laaz Active Member 10 Years

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    Rolan it is very true that Grapefruit from seed will take many years to produce fruit, as well as the tree producing many large thorns. I have a friend here in Charleston who planted from seed 12 years ago. This year it fruited for the first time at about 15 Ft. What a chore it is harvesting fruit that high up through the heavy thorns.
     

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