Mold on lemon tree container soil

simonmhApril 18, 2008

Hi everyone,

I bought a two to three-year-old dwarf Meyer lemon tree a couple weeks back and fertilized it last weekend for the first time with some E.B. Stone citrus fertilizer. I probably should have waited to learn how much water the tree takes before messing around with fertilizers, because I ended up overwatering it, I think, and now there are some fuzzy patches of mold on the top of the soil and the tree is still pretty wet after nearly a week (this is what I get for not using Al's mix). Could someone help a novice at this with how to treat the mold? Thanks so much!

Simon

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The mold in itself is prolly not much of an issue. Plants live, forever associated with thousands of species of molds and fungi. Troubling though, is the fact that the soil has remained wet for a week. Even in consideration of the fact that this is a newly potted plant, a week is too long & the soil/plant/pot combination needs some fine-tuning. Of course, I'm going to tell you to look at the soil especially. ;o)

You could depot the plant & set it on newspaper over night if the old root mass is intact enough to allow. This will pull the water from the roots & hopefully put you back on track while you decide on what to do about the soil. Adding a wick might be helpful as well.

Al

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 6:43PM
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justaguy2(5)

Fertilizers, particularly organic ones, often promote the growth of mold and 99.9% of the time it is harmless and nothing to worry about.

As Al noted, more worrisome is the mix staying wet enough, even at the surface, to allow this growth.

I would definitely advise a repot. You want to grow a strong tree, not mold.

BTW, I am growing an improved Meyer Lemon this year myself. I have a couple kids who like to suck on lemons so it should be fun to watch them interact with it.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 7:10PM
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simonmh

I probably should have mentioned in my original message that I've been keeping my tree in the living room....could that be aiding the soil's prolonged dampness by not getting enough circulation? It's warm enough here to keep the tree outside, I just like having it inside and smelling the blossoms and lemons. For now, I've put it on my patio to help it dry out, and I think tomorrow I'm going to move it to CHC.

Thanks for your help, guys!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 9:27PM
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justaguy2(5)

I probably should have mentioned in my original message that I've been keeping my tree in the living room....could that be aiding the soil's prolonged dampness by not getting enough circulation?

Absolutely. It's warm enough here to keep the tree outside, I just like having it inside and smelling the blossoms and lemons.

Nothing wrong with that. I look forward to winter (did I actually say that????) when I can see and smell the tree indoors as well. For now, I've put it on my patio to help it dry out, and I think tomorrow I'm going to move it to CHC.

Is CHC Coconut husk chips? If so please consider a faster draining mix. CHC is like peat in terms of water retention. It's great for that, but it breaks down quickly and ends up not holding enough air for optimal performance.

What is your tree in now? If it is a peat based mix moving it to a CHC based mix isn't likely to help it much in terms of how long it stays wet over the course of a year.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 9:48PM
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simonmh

The stuff I'm using now is the Master Pride Professional Potting Soil (recommended at my local nursery, but they seem to recommend it for everything...).

What would you recommend for potting medium? I live in an apartment, so something that doesn't involve me making a mess mixing things is ideal. Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 10:03PM
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justaguy2(5)

Well the mix you are using is primarily peat from the description. This is more or less fine for 6-12 months, but after that it collapses to the point that it retains too much water and not enough air.

If you will repot annually this isn't a huge problem, but if what you are using now is supporting the growth of mold on the surface, it is staying too wet.

I cannot tell you from experience what to use for a mix, I can only tell you what I plan to use for mine, once it arrives. I will use this for outdoor and indoor. I am planning on using 50% Turface MVP and 50% pine bark fines. Feel free to replace the Turface with Perlite.

If my intent was 100% indoor growing I would reduce the bark to 10%. Maybe it is just me. Regardless of what you choose, don't use a mix that supports the growth of mold with any plant. The mold is harmless, but the water retention at the expense of aeration is not harmless, it will hold your tree back.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 10:38PM
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