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Care Sheets

Here you will find the care instructions for the plants we grow.

Our aim is to impart the knowledge that we have gained over the years growing plants here at the nursery.

The instructions are meant as a general guide as to how we succeed with the plants that we grow.

 

We have care instructions for Citrus Plants,  Curry Leaf Plants, and  Miracle Berry Plants.

Just click on the titles to download each one in PDF format.

 

Citrus Care Instructions

Citrus plants are easy to grow. They will give you great pleasure with their deep green glossy foliage, exquisitely scented blossom followed by edible fruits.

SUMMER CONDITIONS

Citrus plants are happy to stand outside after the spring frosts have ended (usually about the end of May). Plants should be placed in a shady spot and gradually crept into full sun over the course of a week or so to prevent leaf scorch. They should remain in the sun for the rest of the summer. The more sun the better!

Citrus can stand 38 °C (100°F) or more, but above 35°C (96°F) will cease to grow, therefore they usually fare much better outside for the duration of the summer. If they are kept in a conservatory or greenhouse in the summer, they must have ample ventilation.

Extreme care must be exercised in late spring, before plants have been moved outside, when the temperatures in conservatories and greenhouses can soar on sunny days, vents must be opened to prevent over-heating.

The exception to the rule is the Kumquat. Although it is relatively hardy, it takes a lot of heat to bring it into flower therefore it is the only citrus we recommend leaving in the conservatory or greenhouse for the Summer or until it flowers which is late July early August.

WINTER CONDITIONS

Before the first frosts appear plants must be moved into warmer conditions for the Winter months. Citrus need as much light as possible. Small plants can be kept within the house on a south facing windowsill or by patio doors, away from radiators and larger plants kept in conservatories or greenhouses. Whilst most Citrus can withstand temperatures just above freezing, they will fare far better if kept warmer. At the nursery we over-winter plants at 4°C (40°f) minimum.

Try to avoid sudden extremes of temperature as this can stress plants and cause leaf and blossom drop. Temperatures in conservatories can vary considerably between day and night, ventilate well during sunny days.

Whilst the plant is indoors we suggest standing Citrus on “pot feet” in a tray.

Never allow the plant to stand in water.

WATERING

This is the key to successful Citrus growing.

The plants should be watered, from the top, thoroughly. This means flushing plenty of water through the pot so the compost is completely soaked. Then the plant must be left to almost completely dry out between each watering.

Gauging when plants need watering can be tricky, however we find that the leaves may lack lustre, become dull and even start to droop. At this point we feel several inches into the pots to check that it is dry. If you have fruit that is about golf ball size, check to see if it is soft, if it is then the this is a good indication that it might need watering, as the plant will take the water from the fruit when it is dry. Finally we check the weight of the pot, which is very light when dry. If in doubt wait another day and check again.

It is better to under water than over water. “For every Citrus plant killed by under watering, 200 are killed by over watering”.

Tap water is fine to use, however do not use softened water as this can contain sodium salts. Rainwater can be used providing it is from a clean source, although tap water is necessary once every few waterings to supply the calcium needed.

Always flush the pot thoroughly with plenty of water and allow to drain away. Do not water a little at a time.
Do not stand plants in water. This will quickly cause root rot.

FEEDING

We produce our own liquid fertiliser especially for Citrus, which contains the correct nutrient balance and trace elements for healthy growth and fruiting.

Citrus are greedy plants and to get a good crop of fruit they need constant year round feeding. One 25ml measure, of our feed, should be mixed with 10 litres (2 gallons) of water. This should be used whenever the plant is dry.

Folia feeding once a month with the same solution, in winter and spring, can greatly increase fruit set and health of plant as waterings are few and far between in the winter months.

It is a good idea always to keep a watering can full of mixed feed in the same room as the plant so that the roots don’t get a shock from cold water, which can stress the plant.

RE-POTTING

We have our compost mixed specially for us, which is a very free draining peat media. It is not Ericaceous and does contain lime to adjust the pH to about 6. This is available at the nursery.

A reasonable alternative can be made by mixing 25% chipped bark to a coarse commercial peat compost. Use a commercial compost and not straight peat. Peat on it’s own is too acidic as it does not contain lime.

Re-pot before the plant becomes root bound. Late Spring is the best time to re-pot but it can be done at any time of the year whilst there is active growth but preferably before the end of August, not through the cold Winter months.

PRUNING

Citrus usually require very little pruning, naturally becoming well-shaped plants. Pinching the ends off long new growth will encourage more sprouting further back along the branches and lead to a bushier plant. Occasionally some new sprouts will turn into rapid growing vertical shoots, enlarging at the expense of others and unbalancing the look of the tree. These are called water sprouts and should be pruned back to the line of the tree, where they should settle down and produce fruit like the other branches.

Lemons can become straggly after a few years and benefit from the occasional hard pruning in early spring. This usually will not mean losing the current year’s flowers, as they will soon be produced on the abundance of new growth that should occur.

Citrus will sprout from new, old, and very old wood so if a tree needs tidying up the cuts can be made at any point.

Most Citrus are grafted, so any sprouts from below the graft union should be removed by rubbing off with the thumb whilst still young.

PESTS

The two main pests that affect Citrus in this country are Red Spider Mite and Scale Insect.

A soapy water wash off every now and then does wonders in keeping their numbers down, as well as cleaning the leaves.

An alternative is SB Plant Invigorator that is a folia feed spray that contains a special wetting agent that suffocates the main Citrus pests below.

Check out the sundries section on our website for more details.

Red Spider Mite is resistant to most pesticides and can be a problem in conservatories and greenhouses. We find biological control, when introduced early in the year, very effective. There are number of companies that specialise in biological control by mail order and it is a very cost effective answer, usually lasting all season. For those plants placed outdoors for the summer a few washes off with the hose will usually keep the mite at bay.

Scale Insects can cause sticky residues on the leaves, followed by black sooty mould. This mould, in itself, is not damaging to the plants (unlike the insects) but is unsightly and needs thorough washing to remove.

Aphids can cause minor problems by feeding on new growth and causing the leaves to become distorted as they expand (strong winds can have the same effect). Washing will again, usually solve the problem, but there are a number of very effective Aphidicides commonly available. An alternative is to pinch off the tips of the new growth affected with the pest before it spreads to the rest of the plant.

 

Curry Leaf Care Instructions

Muraya koenigii

(Indian Curry Plant or Sweet Neem)

This is the true curry leaf plant used in Southern and West Coast Indian and also Sri Lankan cooking often referred locally in India as Sweet Neem Leaves.

The leaves are often used in the start of cooking and added whilst frying the onions but can also be fried in oil until crispy and added as decoration to or crumbled onto the finished dish.

The flowers are small but highly scented and not dissimilar to a carrot flower head in appearance.

The fruit it produces is a pea sized red berry that turns black when ripe, also edible although the seeds are said to be toxic.

We just eat the fruit, spit out and plant the seeds!

The leaves do not keep well when off the plant and even in the fridge they have a very short shelf life, so why not grow your own and pick your own leaves fresh?

GROWING CONDITIONS

The Indian Curry Leaf Plant, thrives on warmth. They should ideally be kept at temperatures above 15 centigrade. Lower than this can cause leaf drop and or yellowing of leaves. They have lower light requirements than citrus however, so make idea house plants. Unlike citrus they seem to thrive with under-floor heating and adapt very well to the low humidity found in modern homes. They do much better if kept indoors throughout the year, but care must be taken to ventilate glasshouses and conservatories in the spring and summer to avoid extreme high temperatures.

FEEDING AND RE-POTTING

As a close cousin of citrus the curry plant does very well with the same feed. Use our citrus feed and allow the plant to almost dry out between each watering, feeding each time. Water plenty of water through the pot allowing it to drain away and NEVER let it stand in water.

At the nursery we use an extremely free draining, peat free compost for all our plants, including citrus and Indian curry plants. It is soilless and available at the nursery. Alternatively you can use a good quality, peat base tree and shrub container compost. You should not re-pot during the winter, (between September and April).

 

Miracle Berry Care Sheet

Synsepalum dulcificum

Where to Grow Miracle Berries

Miracle Berry plants are from tropical West Africa and as such, are well adapted to warm humid climates.

An ideal place to grow the is a warm, tropical, humid glasshouse but heating would be quite expensive in the winter.

Whilst they love these conditions and grow well in them, they do adapt well to dryer environments.

In the UK, full sun in south facing window or conservatory, away from radiators, works very well for these plants.

Many articles that recommend partial shade are talking about strong, tropical sunshine, not our good old UK sun and certainly not behind window glass, so full sun is best, although in the summer shading would be required if kept in a glasshouse or conservatory to stop overheating.

By all means though, if you have a lovely tropically heated, humid glasshouse they will certainly grow well in these conditions too.

Watering and Feeding

You should water very well flushing plenty through the pot and then let the plant almost dry out between waterings.

Never let the plant completely dry out as severe root damage will occur and possible rapid plant death!

The amount is important as too little will not flush the compost well enough and will lead to a build of salts from the fertiliser and lime from the water and possible dry spots.

Plenty of water is needed letting any excess run away so the pot never stands in water.

Soggy compost will kill a plant very quickly so be sure to let it drain.

A dilute Citrus Fertiliser used each watering works extremely well and ensures healthy growth and plenty of nutrients for fruit production.

Compost 

A good quality "container" plant compost works well providing it is free-draining.

Steer well clear of multi-purpose composts as they can be very variable and of substandard quality.

Peat based or peat free can be used as long as it is fairly open as Miracle Berries hate being waterlogged.

Don't worry too much about the PH, as although they are acid lovers, most quality commercial composts will be at a PH suitable for growing them.

With modern fertilisers containing chelated micronutrients and lots of water to flush the compost each watering, the PH shouldn't be an issue.

Potting on should be performed in late spring when the plant is becoming pot-bound but great care should be taken not to disturb the roots as they really hate this!

Flower Set 

This seems to be one that people have the most problem with. 

The flowers are tiny and hand pollination is just not practical.

Which ever method we tried, small paint brushes, rabbits foot, makeup brushes etc, whilst resulting in some fruit set, never resulted in good set.

The answer is water...

Spraying open flowers with water helps set fruit rather well. We use a small trigger spray on young plants but use a lance on a hose on larger plants in our glasshouse and nearly every flower sets.

Sprayed once or twice a day whilst the flowers are open seems to work best.

It has been suggested that high humidity is therefore the answer, but we how found this alone does not help set fruit.

Grown in high, 80-90%, relative humidity conditions, with specialised fog nozzles, the fruit set was poor, even with hand pollination and only improved with blasts of water on open flowers.

It is possible that there is a specialist insect that pollinates these flowers in Africa but without it, a jet of water does the job just as well.