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Orange Trees

Q.I Have Started An Orange Seedling Over A Year Ago And It Is Alive But Is Only About 3 Inches Tall, Not Sure Why It’s Not Growing

Zone Chicago, IL | Santana20 added on April 16, 2020 | Answered

. I started this plant in October of 2018 it is now April of 2019 which makes this plant a little over a year and half. It’s well and alive but seems to not be growing much. I have been growing it indoors and plan to keep it as an indoor plant. In the past 2 months I have made some adjustments that seem to be helping a bit. I have repotted in a bigger pot. I have bought a grow lamp. And changed the soil to a cactus, palm, and citrus potting mix. I have never fertilized the plant as I do not know where to begin. But the new potting mix says it is enriched with miracle grow plant food. Also says to begin a feeding schedule 30 days after planting. The plant seems to be sprouting a few more leaves as of now but I wanted a few pointers from anyone that has knowledge on citrus. This is my first plant and I really want it to be successful! I will try to include some pictures for a better perspective. Thanks in advance!

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on April 20, 2020

That change to a larger pot will probably end up being the death of the tree.

It is best to keep the roots confined at all times. Smaller pots will allow them to grow faster. A large container like that has a lot of soil with no roots through it. This leaves it open to be overwatered, or rot, which will kill the tree. I have seen this happen time, and time again.

The first thing to consider is that this seedling will not resemble the fruit that it came from. Likely it will not fruit, or be inedible, unless this is a tangerine. They are pretty stable from seed.

Next, citrus need an incredible amount of light to be happy. Full sun- all day. Each tree will need about 200 watts of light at full maturity in container to be happy. If you choose LED, make sure that it is full spectrum (12 band with UV and IR) since citrus need much of the spectrum not included with cheap LED panels.

Citrus are VERY heavy feeders. Not feeding them often will halt their growth to a near stop. They should be fed with a citrus fertilizer until you get used to mixing your own to their exact requirements and pH. Follow all packaging instructions. I can't stress that enough.

Watering is straightforward. Citrus like to dry out between waterings. Make sure that the soil is completely bone dry down to about 3 or 4 inches between waterings. This is going to be especially important in that container.

DOLOMITIC LIME and IRON SULFATE will be two things you NEED to keep around for citrus. This will keep soil stable, and prevent infections.

There is simply too much information to include here, but this collection of articles will offer more information:


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