Potted citrus help

I have been struggling with establishing the proper conditions so my citrus collection can take off. I have accumulated 10 small trees and am doing the current things:

  • Indoors 5 months a year near W facing window and supplemental LED grow lights. Room is at 68F.
  • 1 or 2 gallon pots of 1:1 “Bonsai Jack Cactus Gritty Mix” and 1/4 inch Pine Bark Fines and 10% potting mix.
  • I water ~6 times a week, using half a tea spoon of Jacks Classic Citrus Feed 20-10-20 per gallon
  • The water drains very quickly, so I often recycle the water from the pot saucer with a large 100cc syringe. Since the water drains quickly, I figure that the roots don’t have enough time to absorb most of the nutrients.

My old problem was that the soil was too heavy, so I followed the advice and got really gritty soil. Half the plants showed a quick turnaround and are starting to put on grown, but others are still showing sings of stress. The worst performers are the Calamansi, Finger lime, and Rangpur lime. The new growth on these still shows signs of stress as when the soil drainage was poor. Can that be? or a nutrient / PH imbalance? what am I doing wrong?

@Vlad, @ross @MuddyMess_8a @poncirusguy - I’ve read your comments in related threads, any ideas here? Thanks!

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LEDs helps you see your plants but rarely do anything to help citrus.

I believe some of your bulbs are equivalent to those on line 12 of this worksheet. For your purposes, you’ll need 12 per plant, 8 hrs/day.


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I would water them almost never inside, 6 times a week is 6 times too many. The water may drain but it will not dry out. I’d water them just once a month or as needed but less water is your friend with citrus especially inside. Good luck :+1:t3:


This is what I’m using.

It’s 36W each, so twice as bright as what you suggested and I run 'em for 12h a day, plus the afternoon sunlight. May not be ideal, but I don’t think that’s the primary issue. Look at the leaves with the dark veins and light areas in between. It looks like a nutritional / pH / water issue to me.

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That’s what I keep hearing and I don’t know how that can be. It makes sense with my old soil, but with the gritty type mix, I’ve been told to water almost daily. When I stick my finger in the soil a few hours after watering, it is bone dry. Not sure the plants can go a week without watering, let alone a month. Some of the threads on other sites discussing the gritty mix say you can’t overwater them and literally suggest watering twice a day.

Is it not gritty enough? what do you think that leaf pattern is telling us?

To me it looks like too much water, or too little sunlight. Citrus just tends to look like this from time to time inside. I wouldn’t expect growth inside as they still tend to have a dormant period where growth stagnates. You could try a foliar spray but I think they will just struggle some indoors under lights. I don’t have experience using that type of soil mix but I am sure they definitely can go a week in the winter inside without water, no matter how dry they feel. The roots aren’t going to be actively growing a lot anyhow due to the lack of sunlight and naturally dormant cycle they are in this time of year.
Last winter the couple of citrus I had inside I watered twice all winter. Now they are outside or in the greenhouse and not struggling at all. I would personally think it has to be the water


I potted these seedlings in Oct and placed in the window sill. Haven’t been watered yet, all look fine.

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It consumes 36W, which is measured with this device:

Output is measured in darkness at 1 meter from the source with this device:

Likewise for PAR with this device:

Here’s some recommendations I made in 2020:

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The symptom is interveinal chlorosis. This is often due to iron deficiency, which in turn may be due to overwatering and/or wrong soil pH.
Your soil mix may not allow 6 waterings per week. I do not know the ingredients and their proportions.
If I were you, I would water only when it needs to be watered. Push a wooden dowel or chopstick as far into the soil as possible. Wait a few seconds and pull it out. Delay watering if you see soil particles adhering to the wood. Or, try this: Amazon.com
I successfully use these lights without additional sun light:Amazon.com