Ask a Question forum: help solve meyer lemon mystery

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NORTH CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA
docgipe
Oct 12, 2017 6:23 PM CST
I am seven years into growing two potted Meyer Lemon Trees. Both plants have been treated exactly the same. One continues to produce nicely or as expected. The other for the past three years has been going to yellow leaves with green small spots and near complete drop of those leaves each fall when we bring them in. Eight weeks ago while still outside both for a change looked really good. Both are in the same Southwest sunroom behind a floor to ceiling window for the winter. Both inside and outside are fed weekly weakly an organic tea consisting of live Mycorrhizae, kelp, earthworm casts and bat guano. I repotted both into twelve inch pots early this Spring. I have always used the same repotting medium. Both are now in twelve inch plastic pots with bottom holes and run-over trays. Both receive the same amount of water weekly and have been treated the same for many years. Today I discovered a colony of tiny ants in the pot with yellow dropping leaves. They are definitely ants. They will be cleaned up in a week using a sugar and Borax commercial ant poison that wipes out the whole colony. No ants or other critters were involved with this mystery the previous two years. No other sprays or treatments have ever knowingly been needed. The one tree's appearance indicates I am an excellent grower. The other ....well just the opposite. Any ideas out there that might lead to solving this mystery?
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Oct 12, 2017 7:53 PM CST
I suppose it is possible that, even though the two plants ought to be genetically identical, one is just more vigorous than the other. Perhaps one had a a period of neglect in its past and was permanently weakened...?
Porkpal
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Oct 13, 2017 7:09 AM CST
doc - I had two lemon trees, bought 3 years apart. The first one always did poorly no matter what I did for it. The leaves remained a much lighter green most of the time and it never bloomed well. I thought it was me being inept until I purchased a second one. I think some specimens can be "lemons".
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
NORTH CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA
docgipe
Oct 13, 2017 2:54 PM CST
Thank you both. Shadgardener just may have nailed this situation. The plant that is acting up has a few sharp spurs. I have had several Meyer Lemons over the years. The previous ones never showed me sharp spurs. While ordered from a known reliable nursery perhaps their source stock included someone else's error. The acting up plant spurs might suggest may be a mistake or a sport cutting rooted which would be hard to see if even possible when making the cuttings.
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Oct 13, 2017 3:18 PM CST
Many citrus trees are grafted onto a rootstock.The Meyer Lemon may have been taken over by its rootstock - which is often thorny. In that case, however, I would expect the usurping plant to prove more vigorous than the original.
Porkpal
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Oct 13, 2017 6:08 PM CST
We often think we are caring for plants in exactly the same way when there are minor differences in light, soil composition and watering that can add up to a significant difference in the plant's needs. Even plants that appear to be identical have to be treated individually and that often means differences in watering.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
NORTH CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA
docgipe
Oct 13, 2017 8:54 PM CST
I read and I try to apply all written comments and then relate to commercial growing of the same. Because I am a near professional grower in principle and practice I tread lightly on serious individual differences because there are few. 100% of my indoor plants including those grown outdoors in the warm months are growing in a soilless medium, watered with well water that is tested for human use based on group needs and fed organically supported with mycorrhizae. Occasionally errors are made at all levels of plant growing and distribution. I over the years have had few problems with growing of any plant. I never considered the grafted top being changed or overpowered by the rootstock. I know that root stock consistency of known variety is required to obtain advertised success of any plant that is grafted. At this moment Cindy's root stock comment is very interesting. I appreciate the time any of you all have contributed to my post. Will... Hurray! I can certainly understand your purpose and need in NYC. I have read and would absolutely enjoy seeing the roof top gardens throughout the city as well as endless numbers of small space growers. I'm to old and my wife does not like cities period so I have to settle for reading about city gardening. I may just toss this Meyer Lemon but who knows it may recover by next Spring.
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Oct 14, 2017 7:18 AM CST
porkpal - hmmm - my inferior lemon tree did grow thorns that I would snip off. Is a Meyer lemon not supposed to have thorns? And it had a really wonky branch structure as well. I just considered it an inferior specimen overall.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Region: Pacific Northwest Sedums Orchids Tropicals Region: Mexico
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lauriebasler
Oct 14, 2017 9:50 AM CST
Cindy does makes a very good point, Doc.

I have divided plants a thousand times over the years. And more often than not, one half fares better than the other, although their care was inside an 8 inch pot, with no difference in root care or light at all.

I also think it's a good assumption to make, in that sick plants make us feel guilty. Who needs that heart ache. lol.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Oct 14, 2017 10:18 AM CST
Although I have worked professionally for many years, occasionally I do run into inexplicable problems that seem to defy explanation. It doesn't mean there is none, but sometimes it is just best for me to write off the plant and move on. I try to learn something from each bad experience, but it is also important not to draw the wrong conclusion.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Oct 14, 2017 10:46 AM CST
Cindy, my Meyer Lemon has no thorns, but a lemon that was the rootstock of a Mandarin Orange and took over does have thorns - some of them quite huge.The whole tree was tremendous before a freezing winter killed it back. No worries, it is recovering!
Porkpal
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Oct 14, 2017 2:57 PM CST
Thanks, porkpal. I didn't know about the thorns. It did produce a few lemons over the years.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
NORTH CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA
docgipe
Oct 14, 2017 3:10 PM CST
I neglected to report that within this mystery my Meyer Lemon is pushing a few buds. It does not have an over abundance anywhere close to the bloom this lemon typically produces. I can see only four buds scattered over the whole tree. Just in case one wonders why I have noticed other plants will sometimes present a final bud before giving up. On a positive note this tree may survive. If so and with only one or two pollinated flowers one might expect better growth and larger fruit. It has only been a single day since I fed the small ant colony in the pot their last supper. The ant traffic is noticeably reduced. The colony should be totally wiped out in a few days. I dug into the potting medium in both of my pots to check the condition of the Mycorrhizae. There was no noticeable difference. The systemic relationship appeared normal.
[Last edited by docgipe - Oct 14, 2017 3:14 PM (+)]
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Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Oct 15, 2017 7:47 AM CST
I feel like I've highjacked OP's thread. But I did notice that, for the past year, any flowers on the inferior lemon tree were small and few had any anthers. Got two lemons from the last flowering and they weren't very good ones - small and off-color.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb

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