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Author Topic: Indoor Citrus planter  (Read 851 times)

Cimmaron

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Indoor Citrus planter
« on: May 22, 2018, 03:33:24 PM »
I'm in the middle of a project, and thought I would post on here before I get too far. I have pretty limited experience with citrus, so want to run my plan by you "experts"! I live in Montana, so most of the year can't keep tropical plants outdoors. Soooo.... I have a nice planter on wheels that is 5 1/2' long, 20" wide, and 22" deep. This planter is sitting in my living room  :) My mother-in-law asked what in the world I was doing with a monstrous planter in my living room ;D I have two grow lights I am mounting above the planter so they are adjustable. My plan is to line it with a double layer of thick plastic and plant some of my tropical  trees in it. I'd like advice for what to fill it with; I was planning on mixing my own sandy potting soil mix, and putting a couple inches of larger chunks of bark on the bottom for drainage that isn't as heavy as rocks. Anyone have a good recipe for citrus mix that's easy on the budget? I'm also not sure which plants will do better together in the planter and how many it can support for the next couple years (if the trees eventually get too big, I can remove some). My most expensive plant that I want to prioritize is a banana tree that is about 24" tall; it is probably a dwarf variety, but I don't know what kind. I have a dwarf lemon, dwarf lime, dwarf orange, dwarf pomegranate and dwarf tangerine that are all less than a foot tall at this point. I also have a full size Meyer lemon that is only 6" tall so far. So, suggestions on which trees to put in the planter? Like I said, if they eventually get too big, I can remove some of them, but keeping in mind that the trees are still small and would otherwise be in small pots with less light, how many can I fit in for the next two to three years? Thanks in advance!

Daintree

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Re: Indoor Citrus planter
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2018, 04:50:47 PM »
Dude, you need a greenhouse  ;D
Seriously, though, I had my citrus inside for a while, and even in a window with grow lights, they grew really slow and didn't flower. So you can probably put a bunch (like, 4) of them in there, and they will grow slowly, then move them into your greenhouse  ;) when you get it built!

I use Kellogg Organic Raised Bed and Potting Mix that I get from Home Depot.  It is about $10 for 3 cubic feet, so you would need several.  But it saves your back from mixing potting soil. The pH of the Kellogg stuff is around 6 - 6.5. Fairly lightweight and nutritious, too.

I doubt either rocks OR bark would work for drainage, since the soil will just fill in between it anyway.  While you are building it, make a little peephole on the side, right down near the bottom, so you can stick your finger in and make sure it isn't too wet at the bottom.

Also, I would put the banana in a separate pot, since it will get taller faster than the trees. Put the citrus together, since they will have similar nutritional needs, and put the pomegranate in its own pot also.

I'm sure other folks will have good ideas also - if you have 5 people, you will get 10 opinions!

Have fun!
Carolyn

baccarat0809

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Re: Indoor Citrus planter
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2018, 05:23:22 PM »
My mom successfully fruited an improved meyer lemon in Buffalo, New York for 5 of the last 6 years.  She was getting around 12-15 fruits a year from the tree and kept it inside from October when the nights started chilling off until May when it warmed up and was put outside for all of June / July / August / September.  The tree is about 3.5 / 4 feet tall.  It was around 2 feet when she got it so it doubled in size over these last 6 years.  The only winter sun / light the tree had was natural sunlight that filtered in through the east facing window and she used no fertilizer or any special dirt - actually just kept it in the pot it came in.

I inherited the tree a few months ago as the person she had taking care of it this last winter (mom is a snow-bird) way over-watered the plant and it dropped 95% of its leaves.  I've been able to nurse it back to health but there will be no lemons this year due to the over-watering and poor winter conditions.  That said, after spending the last month in the Florida sun it looks beautiful now - here's the pic.



So yeah, you can 100% flower one of those lemon trees with enough TLC - if my mom did it in Buffalo you can do it in Montana.

I agree with Daintree on the banana being the fastest grower - and probably one of the more difficult to get to flower / produce for you.  A few months ago on the main part of the forum a few people put up pictures of their banana's producing in pots but most people think its a bit of stretch to get those to produce in pots.  From what I've read, you'll need to hit it with 0-0-50 NPK fertilizer if you want to have half-a-chance as they are potassium hogs - and you'll need space.  Even the dwarf namwah's can get pretty damn big.  If they do fruit for you, they will also get very top-heavy.  A full bunch of bananas can weight 70-80 POUNDS and unless the pot you have them in is very stable you don't want gravity doing its thing and ruining your project.

Millet

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Re: Indoor Citrus planter
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2018, 11:08:11 PM »
It was common thought that it was beneficial to line rocks  or other chunky ingredients along the bottom of a container to promote drainage.  However, it is now known that doing so is not a good idea, as it simply raises the perched water higher into the container, leaving less room for root growth.  A growth medium for a citrus tree, MUST provide good drainage, and good air porosity. Most mediums made from straight bagged potting soils meet these requirements ONLY for a short period of time, then problems will quickly begin. Dr. Carl E. Whitcomb, Ph.D  in his book "Plant Production In Containers-11" recommends a 3-1-1 mix made from 3 parts 1/4"pine bark (or other conifer barks), plus 1 part good Canadian peat, plus 1 part concrete sand.  I've used this mix with citrus and it works well.  Other growers I know use what is called a 5-1-1 medium, which consists of 5 parts small bark, 1 part peat moss, and 1 part perlite.  This medium also is reported to work well, but requires very frequent watering, and has a very fast water pass through (which might not work well in your Mother-In-Laws living room rug.   

Cimmaron

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Re: Indoor Citrus planter
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2018, 12:13:35 PM »
Thank you everyone for the great advice! I really appreciate all the input and wil be using your suggestions! A greenhouse is on the "someday" list, but it looks like it's a long way off at this point :(

Cimmaron

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Re: Indoor Citrus planter
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2018, 01:14:05 PM »
In case anyone wants to see - I finally finished this project a couple months ago. The planter has 4 dwarf citrus trees with adjustable full-spectrum lighting. This photo was taken right after it was finished. The trees have already gotten taller and the lemon has blooms! Thanks again for all the helpful advice!


Walt

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Re: Indoor Citrus planter
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2018, 04:11:13 PM »
Good for you.
I was in Low's a couple of days ago, and I saw that LED grow lights were selling for $27 for a foot long strip, that when I got home, I found it was extremely bright.  And the red and blue is suposed to be used much better than the full spectrum lights.
This is not an ad for Low's.  I'm sure that if I had shopped online, I could have found it cheaper.  Just saying prices have come down since I had last shopped for LED grow lights.  You might think about adding some.

Ilya11

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Re: Indoor Citrus planter
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2018, 05:20:23 PM »
Citrus seedlings do not require a  lot of light.
Six thousands luxes are sufficient. You can measure them with Android or iOS application Lux Meter Level
Best regards,
                       Ilya

SoCal2warm

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Re: Indoor Citrus planter
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2018, 10:29:23 PM »
And the red and blue is suposed to be used much better than the full spectrum lights.
red and blue is supposed to be theoretically more efficient, but I've found that plants grow a bit better under white than red and blue.
I suspect though a combination of white and red would be the most optimal combination.

In any case, the efficiency of cheaper red+blue lights often tend to be a bit lower than white LED, simply because there's been so much mass large scale production of white LED lamps, so that probably brings down the efficiency from what the spectral efficiency conversion to photosynthesis would otherwise be.

My general take is that if you have lower than optimal lighting levels and really want to reduce energy consumption, red+blue may be the way to go, but if you have higher lighting levels red+blue reach saturation sooner.
Anyway I don't think we're talking about any gigantic efficiency losses from going from a typical lower cost red+blue grow lamp to a white LED lamp, maybe 25 to 40 percent. Considering that grow areas often need a little bit of extra supplemental heating, this isn't really a loss at all.

In fact if you're using fluorescent lighting together with an electric heater and thinking about upgrading to more expensive LED to increase efficiency, I wouldn't even bother. You're not going to be saving energy. All forms of lighting are virtually 100 percent efficient, it's just they are dissipating a portion of their energy as heat, and if you need that heat they're not really any less efficient than an electric space heater at producing heat. Heating is likely going to take several times as much energy as lighting anyway.
Another reason why I suspect it may be more efficient (in terms of energy usage) to grow inside under artificial lights, if it helps hold the heat in, than inside a greenhouse that has to be constantly heated throughout the entire Winter.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2018, 10:34:50 PM by SoCal2warm »

Walt

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Re: Indoor Citrus planter
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2018, 03:23:19 PM »
True.  The Agricultural Research Station at Woodward, Oklaholma, USA has their "greenhouse" in their basement, as lighting is cheaper than heating.

Walt

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Re: Indoor Citrus planter
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2018, 03:29:08 PM »
Ilya.  Thanks for info on Android lux meter level,  I'll have to get that.

daytripper

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Re: Indoor Citrus planter
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2018, 01:32:11 PM »
Red lights are a lower spectrum (around 3000k) and that spectrum is used by the plant for blooming.  Blue lights are higher spectrum (6500k) and the higher spectrum is what the plant prefers for vegetative growth.

Walt

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Re: Indoor Citrus planter
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2018, 03:09:41 PM »
I've read that online, in discussions on tomatoes, etc.  I'm wondering if it works on trees.  Mostly I'm wondering about citrus trees, of course.

Cimmaron

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Re: Indoor Citrus planter
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2018, 08:53:50 PM »
I tried moving a banana tree from the fluorescent lights to one of the new red/blue LEDs and in a few days it wilted. It didn't perk back up till I moved it back under the fluorescents. Maybe the LED just didn't put out enough light for it. I know they're supposed to be more efficient, but so far haven't been real impressed. The colors are weird too - makes a creepy red glow in that whole part of the house.

Millet

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Re: Indoor Citrus planter
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2018, 09:35:43 PM »
LED is indeed more efficient as far as cost of operation, but they still have a long way to go as far as an excellent light source.  I prefer Metal Halide as a grow light,

daytripper

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Re: Indoor Citrus planter
« Reply #15 on: December 10, 2018, 11:22:47 AM »
LED's have come a long way in the last 10 years.  I agree that only 5 years ago I would take a MH or HPS bulb over an LED, but now there are very high quality LED grow lights out there that can out perform an HID bulb using less electricity.  Unfortunately, as the popularity of LED lights has grown recently, the cheap knock offs have saturated the market with low quality bulbs that do not perform well that you see for sale on amazon or ebay.  A good place to get good info on lights that work well are on the marijuana growing message boards.  With the money  being made on weed now they have highly advanced the indoor growing technology to keep up with the demand for high quality results.

 

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