Gurney's resident horticulture expert Felix details the tips and tricks of growing and caring for citrus plants in containers. Learn of the flower's anatomy, fertilization process and glean information on achieving successful fruition.Transcript
Hi everyone, Felix here with Gurney's here and today I want to talk to you about citrus, growing them in containers, how to care for them and how you can have success with your fruit set. The first point about citrus is that you need a healthy plant. The component that tells, has to with whether this fruit, here's one that's set in, will stay on this plant. If it's struggling, it's going to take that fruit and drop it. You need this plant to be thriving, One of symptoms of nutrient deficiency is really just a yellowing along the veins here, the contrast green and yellow here, and what's happening is the plant isn't able to process or find the nutrients that it wants and needs to grow healthy and so you the symptom of it in the color. There is an example here, there's another one where you see a different color is showing up there and you can have this complete yellowing of the leaf manifests in a number of ways. But look for those symptoms. You can control that with some liquid feeding. If you see the symptom, you can spray it with a half strength weight of the regular water soluble fertilizer that's generally is the blue fertilizer you see at your stores and you can mix that in a half weight water bottle and you want a nice, fine mist, and the key is that you spray the foliage in its entirety, undersides of the leaves, overside, just spray, just like that. Make sure you do that in the early morning and don't do that in heat of the day when the sun is out and you get that prism effect with the water droplets, you'll get some foliage burn, so make sure you that in the early morning. When you're planting, you want to use a water soluble type fertilizer and they generally look like these blue crystals here and you'll find those at any garden center. You want to mix this at a half strength rate, so on the box, there'll be a rate recommendation, X teaspoon or whaterver it is to the gallon of water and you mix that up to half that rate and put it in your spray bottle and the you can spray down your plant with your morning cup of coffee, you know, once a week, about the same frequency as you would water your plant. The second part to getting a nice fruit set on your citrus plant is to make sure that the pollen produced on the plant gets onto the stigma and you get fertilization. I want to talk a little bit about the anatomy of the flower here, this is citrus example where we have anthers, the fluffy components here, that's your pollen, that's where your pollen comes from and then on the interior you have some stigma which is the female reproductive part of the plant. They're a little hard to see in this example, we'll look at another one where you can tell the stigma, a little more obvious, but this pollen, you can see it on my finger there, is what you want to make sure gets into contact with that female reproductive portion of the plant. And what's happening when you apply that, here's some that have lost their anthers and so already has pollen on it, you can see, so those are the stigmas there. If you have good success, the base, when these huddles falls off is actually where your fruit sets develop, that's actually the ovary, and that is actually what becomes your fruit. It's a ripened ovary and inside the seed is the actual babies that will make you next citrus plant. So here's an example of a lime, this is a lime you buy at Gurney's and if you notice the anthers here, there's just not as much pollen as the example we showed you previously. They're nice and orange, it just doesn't have that fluffy pollen on it. And you can also see the stigma a little better on this flower...it's right in the center, it's sticky, so that pollen will stick to it and if you're growing this citrus inside, there's really not going to be any pollinators, no bees inside and there's also not a lot of air movement which would also allow those pollen grains to fly and hit that stigma. So you just need to help it along a bit. You can just touch those anthers, get some pollen on your fingertips, and dab it on there, you're not going to hurt the stigma if you're gentle. So that's all there is to it. With your morning cup of coffee, if you get some tea out, see your citrus plants and just dab some pollen, make sure that there's a good contact between the stigmas and the pollen grains. And after that happens, goes through that process, what's happening is that the pollen grain will germinate and go down that style which is the stem that this stigma is attached to, and then that pollen will go down and fertilize its ovary, and this will then develop and get bigger and bigger if you have success, this is an early set here and this will get larger and turn into your lime on ripening.