drop on citrus tree
had a lime tree in a pot for about two years now. Each year it develops
flowers and fruit, but when the fruit reach about a centimetre in
size, they drop off. The photo shows one small fruit beside a normal-sized
lemon. Any idea what is wrong?
drop such as you describe can be caused by poor pollination, cold
wind or lack of water during the early stages of fruit development.
However, limes can be tricky at the best of times, even in the garden.
It's not unknown for them to grow well yet produce few fruit. I
know of a lime orchard where some trees bear lots of fruit while
others growing alongside are barren, yet there's no obvious reason
to explain the difference.
Of all the citrus, limes
are the least cold-hardy. While the Tahitian lime (Citrus
x latifolia) tolerates more cold than the Mexican lime (Citrus
x aurantiifolia), they both grow best in a warm, sheltered,
frost-free spot. To encourage fruit production, shelter your plant
from cold winds, particularly when flowering and during the early
stages of fruit development, and don't allow the mix to dry out
excessively. You could mix water retention granules like Saturaid
into the mix to help retain moisture.
A good supply of nutrients
during spring and summer is also essential to encourage healthy
new growth that will bear flowers and (hopefully) fruit later. You
can buy specific citrus fertilisers, but a general slow release
fertiliser or regular doses of liquid feed such as Nitrosol or Thrive
is fine for plants in containers. They need plenty of nutrients,
so err on the high side of the recommended application rates. You
may also have to repot your lime, as they eventually need a container
of around 50-60cm in diameter to grow and fruit well.
Gardener, Issue 145, 2004, Page 26
Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.