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The Rare Pit & Plant Council

17 Circuit Ave. Scituate, MA 02066

Volume 22 #2
Winter 2004

What's in The Market

Arrowroot, Carambola, Carob, Cherimoya, Chestnut, Date, Feijoa, Kumquat, Lemon grass, Malanga, Mango, Papaya, Passion fruit, Pomegranate, Persimmon, Prickly pear, Tamarillo, Tomatillo, and Water Chestnut.


This month Bob is offering Rice and Datura seeds. If you are interested, send $1.00 per packet and a sturdy, SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) to Bob Jurgens,116-32 227th Street, Cambria Heights, NY , 11411. Checks should be made payable to the Rare Pit & Plant Council.

Something to Crow About

Our two year old ginger plant that we grew from a grocery store rhizome bloomed this fall. We had three intensely fragrant 2 x 2 inch pure white flowers. What a surprise!! We have grown ginger from our earliest Pit growing days and have never really bloomed a plant. Once we had small warty buds that the plant aborted.

The plant that bloomed is 3 Ĺ feet tall with 6 canes. The cane that bloomed had a caliper (width) of 2 inches. The thinner canes have shown no sign of fattening up and blooming. The flowers emerge from thickened (somewhat braided looking) tip arising from the center of the foliage. Our flowers unfolded one at a time and each lasted two to three days. See growing instructions inside.


For those of you who have outdoor plants, now is the time to apply anti-transpirant on all broad-leafed evergreens. These plants suffer from winter sun scorch that browns their leaves and makes them unsightly. Anti-transpirant is an organic product made from Pine Oil that forms a thin flexible layer on the leaves. Apply every three months when winter day-time temperatures are above 400. We also spray all our houseplants with this before we put them out doors for the summer. In our area the product is sold under the name of WiltProof. Itís great stuff and safe!


Meyer Lemon

Citrus limon x Citrus sinensis

syn. Citrus x meyerii


Growing Citrus in the home

This year our Meyer Lemon produced 21 3 inch lemons and a dozen smaller ones. All have been just as tasty as the commercial Meyer that costs a fortune in the grocery store. In a couple of years it may amortize the original cost of the plant.

The Meyer Lemon is native to China where it has been grown for 400 years. It was brought to this country by a USDA agent, Frank Meyer about 100 years ago and is thought to be a natural cross between Citrus limon and Citrus sinensis. The fruits are not as tart or acid as the traditional lemons sold in grocery stores throughout the year. The flavor is similar to a tart orange with a perfumed essence. It will grow true from seed, but house grown seed may take 7-12 years to fruit. It is worth buying a plant .Our tree was bought for a Pit exhibit a New England Spring Flower Show and has been in our about care for 18 months. At that time (March) it had two large lemons and was just starting to bloom. The flowers were intensely fragrant, pure white and had a waxy texture. It continued to bloom throughout the summer months.

Italians consider the Lemon Tree to be a symbol of the Virgin Mary because it bears flowers and fruits at the same time.

Citrus plants are amongst the most rewarding plants you can grow for both fruit and flowers in the home. However, they do have some problems. This time of year they can become an infested entomologists paradise. The most common problem is Winter Leaf Drop.


Common causes of Citrus and Fruit Tree Leaf Drop Among Indoor Gardens... 

Joe A. Frankie

Many of us marvel at the idea that we grow productive citrus trees in our homes during the winter months, and can be quite successful at it. Growing them is relatively easy if we keep a few points in the forefront of our minds. 

One of the more common problems experienced among in-door fruit growers, is leaf drop. Leaf drop is not necessarily a death for citrus trees, and does not mean you are a bad gardener, limited exclusively to out of doors growing. This is, however, reflective of a disruption of the normal growing conditions needed to keep fruit trees happy and healthy. 

We have attributed 3 major factors to the defoliation of indoor tropicals, based on several years of gathering customer information and studies we have conducted. Drastic fluctuations in temperatures are the most common cause of leaf droop. How many times have we forgotten our container grown fruits out of doors during a chilly night, only to remember them the next morning? We scramble out of bed to drag them indoors to make them warm again; thinking this will solve the problem of our neglect. Bringing a cold tree into a warm house, however, can cause leaves to drop because the plant will experience shock. 

Even a 15 to 200 difference between inside and outside temperatures can be problematic. If you forget to bring you plants in during cold nights, move them into a garage or warmer than out of doors area for several hours before bringing them indoors. Slowly introduce them to the warmth of your home. Often times, temperatures will differ as much as 40 to 500 between an outside deck or patio and your living room. 

Another potential problem is soil quality and soil moisture. Soil is the medium for which a plants nutrition, water and root strength are absorbed and gained. If it is of poor quality, your plants health will reflect this. Soils too wet or too dry will most certainly cause problems with citrus trees and defoliation is common. Always use a container with adequate drainage holes and never allow fruit trees to stand in water in a drip pan. Citrus and other fruit trees are easily susceptible to root rot, associated with soils that are too moist. 

Citrus and fruit tree soil, for patio and indoor growing, should consist of 1/4 sand, 1/4 peat, 1/4 small pine bark chips, and 1/4 Perlite. To water adequately, soak the entire container with water until it flows freely out of the bottom. To achieve this with ease, place fruit trees in a shower and allow warm, not hot, water to thoroughly soak the leaves and container for 5- 10 minutes, twice weekly. Let stand until completely drained. This washes dust and dirt from the leaves and also flushes excess fertilizers from the soil reducing the potential for salt toxicity; (a problem associated with the buildup of excess soil nutrients).

Finally, be careful not to place your citrus trees to close to a drafty door, heat register or air conditioners. Drafts created from opening and closing doors, leading to the outside, can cause the same effect as the shock experienced by fruit trees brought into a warm home, from cold temperatures outside. Both hot and cold air blowing on fruit trees may cause leaves to drop. Heat registers often generate air temperatures greater than 900 , and air conditioners produce drafts 350 or lower.

Joe Frankie is the Manager of Jeneís Tropicals, Inc., (www.tropicalfruit.com) in St. Petersburg Florida and Curator and Educational Director, The Mana Project, Inc. (The Secret Garden), Key West, Florida


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