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theniceguy

Hibernating citrus?

theniceguy
4 years ago
last modified: 4 years ago

Hello all

Having serious cold damage to all my inground citrus this year. I bought a bunch of new trees I’m going to put in to pots in a much warmer location in front of my house. Trees will still suffer bit of damage there though, especially more sensitive varieties. I have a range of trees, from tough mandarins too sensitive lemons.

I’m wondering the best way to overwinter these without getting into artificial heat and lighting just yet. I could make a sort of cold frame, but it gets more complicated on sunny days. I’m wondering if I could just put them all in the dark garage that keeps a wind-free pretty much constant temp just above freezing? Would lighting be required? Will the trees be able to handle this for several months? Thanks so much

By the way, if light is required, and I made a outdoor cold frame of sorts, could I just use poly carbonate panels that will cover the top to stop frost and the sides just enough to stop wind, and keep it open enough that I do not need to vent on warmer sunny days?

meyer lemon damage:


Comments (13)

  • Alanna Migliacci
    4 years ago

    In zone 6a, I have a neighbor who keeps his ponderosa lemons and mandarins in the garage from November to April. There are two small windows and it’s unheated. He’s been doing this for 20 years and his trees thrive all winter. They are older and therefore more hardy, but it is an option. Personally, I’d vote for outside in some type of shelter, if possible.

  • Denise Becker
    4 years ago

    I am in 8b and have been putting my citrus in the unheated garage as well. Only there is very little light because the blinds stay closed and get sun whenever the door opens up. I do take them outside when the temps are warm enough and to water. Been doing it for 18 years. My Meyer lemon drops leaves horribly, but comes back in the springtime.

  • jurasico
    4 years ago

    I keep all my citrus (lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, kumquats, mandarins, and pomelos in a detached NJ garage (Zone 7a), that is kept just frost free with the addition of two space heaters..., and an unobstructed southern exposure. But it mostly quite chilly over the course of the winter.

    Never any problems. No leaf drop either.

    Have never ever lost a citrus tree from cold.


  • poncirusguy6b452xx
    4 years ago

    Denise The sunlight on your meyer may be the cause of leaf loss That tree might be best if it is brought out and watered on cloudy days only.

    Steve

  • theniceguy
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    This is encouraging. My garage may be perfect. It’s actually in the house, and the concrete acts as buffer, so it stays cool without freezing. There is a north window with a bit of indirect light. Indoors dec - feb seems average.

    so best plan is to keep them stable in there - no extra light or outdoor trips in the sun? Keep almost dry?

    most of my citrus is set to harvest by Nov because of frost. However, if potted in the garage would extend that, id like to expand into different varieties with later harvest times. I’m still confused about the effects of different wintering techniques and fruit harvesting. I assume there’s no active growth in the garage, but what of fruit harvesting?

    Will late fruit mature in there? Some of my citrus sits full size on the dormant tree but doesn’t color up until spring. I assume this will be ok? Others, like lemons, may need to develop over winter, so I assume you lose such fruit without additional heat/light?

    What say ye?

  • Denise Becker
    4 years ago

    theniceguy I live in the South and put my trees normally into the garage in the past around the beginning of December. In previous years my trees were immature and had little fruit which were harvested prior to storing in the garage. This year I had much more fruit, but I put all my trees into an enclosed porch/sunroom for the first time. When I put my trees into the garage, I only had about 6 or 7 trees. I have doubled the amount of trees this past year so I needed more winter storage space and decided to use my sunroom as an experiment. My sunroom is not heated very well and it faces north. I didn't add extra light, but did occasionally take them outside for watering and sun if the weather was nice. I only watered if the soil was really dry in the top 2-3". I don't think the fruit was affected because my Washington navels were outstanding. My Tango and Owari fruits were good as well. My Meyer's fruit was excellent. I have a Eureka lemon tree with one fruit left on it. It has been ripe for a while and is still hanging on quite well. This is the first year it has fruited for me, so I am watching it to see what happens as time goes by. I am just now experiencing winter leaf drop on a few trees. My Meyer lemon dropped a lot of leaves, but is now growing flower buds and new leaves. I noticed many of my other trees are showing signs of new growth as well.

  • theniceguy
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Denise I have a covered deck area on the north side of the house that gets very little (or no if I choose) Direct sun. There’s normal airflow out there with good wind blocking and it gets A bit colder than the garage, but much more natural light.

    But I should emphasize it’s quite cold here in the winter and there’s no growing. It’s been an unusually cold winter, but it got down to -10 in my garden.

    I’m still unclear about citrus ripening in the cold. For example, I have a Natsu Mikan that completely stops growing by October, yet the Full sized unripe green fruit slowly ripen over the winter, and I was able to harvest one just now in good condition. Yet other fruit, like my kumquat, almost ripe in November, will not completely turn color and ends up rotting on the tree. Others like my Eureka lemon are too small to mature to full-size and wither up in the winter.

    So it appears some fruit may be able to handle hibernating and ripening fruit at the same time, while others will not. I’m not really sure which is which. I don’t want to waste space and time on trees that will require artificial heat and light to bare fruit.

    Another issue is when trees bear fruit. Many of my citrus only produce once a year, while some are supposed to bear continually. However, on these “continual“ fruits like my Eureka, I noticed only a couple of blossoms in the spring, and a huge rush right at the end of the summer (which never make it to maturity].

  • poncirusguy6b452xx
    4 years ago

    Let the end-o-sumer blooms set fruit and break them off when they are 1 centimeter diameter. It will probably flower next spring

  • theniceguy
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Neat trick. So which citrus require growing temps from Nov - April? That would be an easy way to not waste your time on fruitless trees. I have small list that is ok, but unsure of most. Eureka, Meyers, navel, lemon lemonade, shiranui?

  • poncirusguy6b452xx
    4 years ago

    Any citrus tree that does not ripen its fruit before your extreme cold is not suitable for your area. All citrus trees like to be warm with growing temperature during the winter months. If you have 15 trees and 12 of them don't need protection in the cold you get and the other 3 do, then 3 trees is not all that much to build permanent structures that can be wrapped and capped with a candle heat source to get you through. You can do potted citrus but you will only get enough fruit from one to tease you and they are a lot more work. Potted citrus are a wuole new set of problems you will need to learn. I have in ground and potted and the potted take far more time to care for.

    Stevew

  • theniceguy
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Yeah, that’s not an option in my situation though as I explained elsewhere. The inground area available to me has no power. It’s also much colder than the area I can use pots ( which also has power etc. if I choose in the future) . The difference is dramatic enough to warrant the switch to pots on most, regardless of the drawbacks.

    And as I mentioned, there are many citrus that do ripen in low or near freeze temperatures. A Large part of the commercial Mandarin and other citrus market locally depends on this feature. I have one tree I’ve just experience this with myself a couple weeks ago, a Natsu Mikan. It flowered late spring and developed at the same pace as my other Mikan tree, but fruit on one is ready to eat in October, while the other doesn’t color up until sometime between February and April.

    Obviously, many citrus varieties do not. As I mentioned above, I don’t understand which do and which don’t exactly and hoping somebody did.

  • poncirusguy6b452xx
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    If you can leave the pots outside all year you might want to use Versailles planters. They are easy to make and come apart 1 side at a time for root pruning and soil refeshining. 2 meters by 2 meters by 2/3 meeters deep would give a good size container that would stand up to typhoons. Moving it get a used manual skid mover.

    Keep on truckin

    Steve

  • theniceguy
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    I had to look that up, versaille planter. To be honest, I think the traditional plastic planters would end up being cheaper and a lot less work. My climate destroys any outdoor wood very quickly, regardless of treatment.