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I have just been given a citrus fortunella margarita plant, I have put it in the conservatory, watered it, and it has had a massive leaf fall, it is covered in fruit, and has some leaves left which seem firmly attached and healthy. Should I pull the fruit off, or let it fall of naturally, and what about the leaf fall, does that mean that the plant has been forced ?



Someone else, about a month ago asked a question about a citrus fortunella margarita plant, so I shall in part reproduce the answer I gave her.
These plants (well the ones that go by this name here) are quite often seen here (Italy) as ornamental balcony plants and grown in pots. They are basically a hybrid, ornamental kumquat/mandarin fruit tree that is evergreen and bears white flowers and sometimes can have tiny prickles (so watch it!), and it is going to need special care. It needs lots of hot sunshine in summer and will need copious watering, and in winter will stand temperatures that go below freezing for short periods (no lower than -5°c), when you will only need to keep the soil moist. It will, especially if it's in a pot (the bigger the better) need feeding, and there is a special citrus plant liquid feed available here, which I'm sure you'll be able to find in the UK, too.
A greenhouse, bright porch, or unheated conservatory is fine for overwintering. DON'T bring it into the house itself - it will die from too much warmth and lack of light.

Is your conservatory perhaps too warm, Dawesanne? It is described as a temperate/cool plant, and too high a temperature - certainly anything over 35°c, will kill it. Spring is also the time to repot this plant. Could the container be too small, do you think? Any sort of stress could have caused the leaf-fall, but don't despair. If the fruit and some of the leaves are still hanging on in there, treat it gently, keep it cool, give it a feed and keep your fingers crossed. Good luck, and let us know how you get on.
Oh, and welcome to GoY!

20 Apr, 2012

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