Every time I listen to gardening talkback on the radio (about weekly) someone rings in with a question about looking after citrus. I think this is partially because they do need some maintenance and partially because people really value the plants and don’t want to lose them. Personally I am a huge fan and have quite a number of young citrus plants in the garden. Mostly they are dwarf citrus in pots. These plants are something of a mixed bag at the moment. The Washington Navel is flowering nicely (and the smell is lovely):
The Tahitian Lime has set a good number of fruit:
As has the Kaffir Lime:
On the other hand, the Mandarin set absolutely none, despite having had a heap of flowers in early Spring:
Worse though is the Meyer Lemon which is really struggling with Citrus Gall Wasp. When I lasted posted on Citrus Gall Wasp I described a method I was using that I was hoping would control them. I sliced part of the gall off and when the air contacted the wasp larvae it killed them. Well that was the plan anyway. The trouble is it hasn’t really worked. Many wasp larvae died but some wasps have still emerged through the other side of the gall:
The pinprick holes in the photo above are signs that they have emerged. Also the process of cutting off some of the bark seems to have weakened the Meyer Lemon plant in particular (it had the more galls than the other infected plants) thus making it more susceptible to further attack.
From my understanding I have a couple of options remaining. Leave the new galls and hope the tree continues to grow, or hard prune to remove all galls and hope the tree recovers. The wasps shouldn’t emerge again until the start of Spring (according to any number of Google searches) so I have a fair while to contemplate it. My feeling is that the best way to go is to leave the branches on until late winter and hard prune then, unless growth has been so good that I don’t think pruning is necessary. Perhaps putting some sticky strips in the trees to try and prevent future attack will also help.
Doing much better than the Meyer Lemon though is my Finger Lime. Finger Limes are native to Australia and would, prior to the introduction of other citrus, have been the citrus gall wasp’s normal habitat – naturally it has no galls at all. The finger lime is doing so well that it has set fruit for the first time. About 6 of them so far! I am very excited. I’ve never eaten a finger lime and I am exceptionally keen to try one.
A little more time to wait but they are looking promising so far.
Not sure what your climate is where you are over there. Here in York UK we can put our mandarin orange outside June to October. It then come inside to our warm conservatory. It makes a hundred or more small oranges which we prefer to keep for their beauty than to eat. Actually after looking lovely for nearly six months we picked half of them this year and made some marmalade. It was absolutely delicious. As a relatively new blogger (and taker of photos) I am waiting for ours to fruit again before I do a post!
Perhaps its not warm enough, we did have a relatively cool Spring this year. Having said that summer has made up for it – its been over 30 for a week now and the forecast from next week is similarly warm.
Finger limes, what a discovery! Similar to Buddha’s hand citron…?
Possibly – hopefully it wont be too long until I can let you know.
I’d love to be able to grow citrus trees (especially limes, which I adore) but I don’t think they would do well in my garden. It is not warm enough, and doesn’t get enough sun. I’d probably have to grow them in pots, and then where would I put them in Winter?? I’ll just admire yours instead! Those Finger Limes are amazing. I bet the trendy Baristas can’t get enough of them. Very fetching in a G&T, I would think.
I’d love to be able to grow citrus fruits
I saw finger limes in the supermarket a couple of weeks ago.
Really? Which one?
I can’t wait to see what you make with the finger limes. I’ve never eaten them either, I wonder what they will be like?
My grandfather is a great gardener, and when he saw that my lemon tree had gall wasp he advocated the hard pruning method, then picked up the secateurs and just did it! I was sure that it would die, it seemed so severe, but it did recover and the wasps were thwarted for a number of years. The thing he emphasised was the importance of wrapping the infected cuttings and putting them in the bin, not the compost.
I hard prune my tree in the ground and like yours it did recover quite well. Alright – sold (grandfatherly advice should always be heeded in my experience) – I will prune out all the galls on the Meyer Lemon and see what happens.
Thanks for this post. I am planning on buying some dwarf citrus trees, but never realized that they could have such pest attack. Now I will be thinking twice before buying them as they are really costly to buy; I don’t want such a costly plant to die.
As citrus gall wasp is native to Australia it may well not be found elsewhere in the world so I wouldn’t let them put you off.
We harvested our first 3 (and only three) finger limes for the season last week. They were pretty awesome (in a gin and fingerlime tonic).
It is has been in a pot for just under a year. The advice for the first season was to remove all the flowers to let it establish. We left a few to see what they fruit was like. You cut the end off, and squeeze and hundreds of tiny balls (like caviar) pop out. Slightly sweeter than usual limes. Pretty unique.
Oh that does sound fabulous. I never manage to apply the advice to cut flowers off in plants first year – I’m always too impatient to ty the fruit. Besides this one is putting on more than enough foliage – I don’t want it getting too too big.
Just catching up on blog reading after having been away on a course and found your citrus post. As you know I am in mourning for my citrus having left my espaliered limes and fab lemon behind in Sydney. But my finger lime has come with me in a big pot, and like yours, mine are producing fruit. I share your excitement and may post on the finger lime soon.
Oh yay – I was wondering about Collette. Would love to see how big your fruit are. Do you know how big they get?