When to start feeding citrus seedings?

I have a satsuma seedling that hasn’t really grown much in the last couple weeks since it emerged, and looks a little pale. For most plants, I wait until they get a little bigger than this to start feeding (usually not until potting up), but I don’t really have experience with citrus:

I have a dry citrus fertilizer, should I sprinkle a little on the soil and water it in, or is it too soon? The soil is Fox Farm’s Ocean Forest, which is already more “hot” than a seedling mix would be, so that’s part of my hesitation.

Add more light



It’s ~6 inches from a powerful LED grow light that has produced this level of growth in a loquat next to it, so I’d be surprised if it’s a light issue:

This is the light I have over my seedlings:


And here’s where it lives:


looks a little on the wet side. F.F.O.F doesnt drain very well and holds water for a long time. i always add lots of perlite to it when i use it. seeing its citrus id lay off the watering and when you do only lightly . see if that helps. i definitly wouldnt fertilize. that soil should be good enough to provide that plant what it needs for nearly a year.

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I’m also new to citrus and have some seedling kumquats that are in a similar situation as your satsuma.

It has been about 3 weeks since they germinated and they haven’t yet pushed out their first set of true leaves, though the cotyledons are dark green. They have sufficient light and I’ve given them some dilute fertilizer. Still nothing, but I’m very patient with this kind of thing. Most of my seedling experience is with annuals which practically jump out of the soil.


I needed to provide 16 hours of light at 85F to have any chance of my Meiwa kumquats to grow. I kept the Meiwas 4 inches from a 23 Watt CFL bulb. Citrus seem to need more heat when they first start out. The Meiwa and Nagami kumquats start growing ok when they reach 1 to 1.5 feet tall.

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Will do! The photo was immediately after watering, but I’ve been doing my usual watering technique of waiting for it to dry all the way out and then watering deeply, which does usually mean it’s pretty wet for a couple days. I’ll see if it does better with less deep watering.

This could be part of the problem, too. Our house is around 65° and the LED does not produce much heat. I had it on the heating pad for germination, but moved it off to make room for new seeds.


Thanks for the info @poncirusguy.

Wow, that is tough to do in the winter for me. Increasing the photoperiod is easy enough, but getting that 85F will take some effort. I wondered if the cooler temperature in my house might be why they’re so slow to grow.

I was hoping that my Fukushu seedlings would hold on until it warms up a bit when I could transfer them into the greenhouse. I’ve also been eating the fruit very slowly while keeping those remaining on the tree in reserve for another try when the weather finally warms up. I may have to build one of those bucket light boxes you use.

What was the outcome when the seedlings didn’t get the warm temps and long photoperiod? Slow death…?
Do you know if the seeds can be stored in the refrigerator? If so, how long?

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I’d also be curious to know, because I’m pretty sure I can’t give that kind of heat until my greenhouse is built in a couple months. Mine are already on an 18 hour light schedule, so I’ve got that part covered at least.

It should have some significant size before it needs any nutrients. I have had more trouble with Fox Farms causing symptoms of mild overfertilization.
I grew some mandarin seeds out a couple Winters ago, and they did fine at mid-low 60s. When growing seedlings in large containers, it is important to not over water. It is easy to develop soil/root problems because the soil stays wet too long. I like to cover the soil with plastic film. It slows evaporation and keeps the moisture even. This allows you to run it at a lower moisture level, which promotes root health.


Fukushu seedling grow much better than Meiwa and Nagami. If you can keep them at 75F that will be fine.

A 23 Watt enclosed CFL provides a 15F temperature rise.

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if you can find a heat mat with settings. put your pot on it on low. just heating the roots a little will help them get established. i know my hot peppers really like heat mats also. im lucky because i have mine in the warmest room in the house and its also has a south facing window. on sunny days its about 80-85f in there . over cast its 75-80 as long as i keep the door closed. wish i had a bigger window in there. :wink:

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@swincher how is your satsuma seedling doing now? It has been almost 4 months since your original post.

My kumquat seedlings have done well with several about 6 inches tall. Ample heat, sunshine and fertilizer seem to be required for strong growth.

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It is doing a bit better since moving into the greenhouse a couple months ago, but still not quite as vigorous as the other (younger) citrus seedlings it has as roommates. It’s the lower-left one here:

I haven’t fed them yet other than from occasionally watering using pond water from my goldfish pond. I’ll probably give a first proper feeding soon.

Looking good! One of my kumquat seedlings is a bit of a runt and perhaps that’s the case with your satsuma. Your other seedlings look great, so the growing conditions must be good.

My seedlings are growing in a very well draining mixture of pine bark fines, perlite and a standard potting mix. It drains fast enough that I can water every day without worry. For fertilizer I have some Osmocote Plus on the surface and frequently water with a dilute solution of Miracid.

What are the other citrus seedlings you have growing? Are they satsumas as well?

They are unknown seedlings from a jar of seeds I kept after we did a citrus sampler platter, so they could be any number of things. It’ll be a great mystery to find out what they are! Possibilities include two kumquat crosses (mandarinquat & key limequat), a lemon, a mandarin, yuzu, and a (bland but pretty) orange.

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Well, that sounds like a fun project! Please revisit this thread with updates. :slightly_smiling_face: