Winter Care For Your Indoor Fruit Tree

by Jim Hofman

There are a few important care instructions for indoor fruit trees as they navigate through the winter months. growth cycle slows somewhat, which is very normal and natural. The main issue with indoor fruit trees is making sure they’re prepared for the warmer months, when their normal growth cycle resumes and when they typically produce crops of fruit.

Watch For Pests

Most experienced gardeners know that winter is often the best time to eliminate pests that feast on plants spring and summer. With an indoor fruit tree, it works exactly the same way. The old adage definitely applies – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Pests can unfortunately thrive in a warm home just as they do outside in summer months. Some specific fruit tree pests to look for are spider mites and vinegar flies.

Spider mites are extremely small and can’t really be seen with the naked eye. They’re quite prolific and can cause quite a bit of damage, including yellowing leaves and other abnormalities. If you suspect spider mite damage, use a horticultural oil or a citrus oil based product, both of which are effective when sprayed on the leaves.

You’ve probably seen vinegar flies before, and most likely called them fruit flies. Vinegar flies thrive on anything that’s decaying or fermenting, particularly fruit or over moist soil. To prevent vinegar flies, be sure to eliminate any dead fallen leaves, split fruit, or dead wood. Another key factor to preventing vinegar flies is to not over water your tree, as this causes a conducive environment for breeding vinegar flies.

Winter Watering

While you’ll need to water your indoor fruit tree somewhat less frequently during winter months, watering is still a necessity. The best time to water is when the soil is almost completely dry. Due to lack of humidity, it’s best to keep a closer eye on the soil during winter. The tree itself may require less water due to a slower winter growth cycle and less evaporation. Typically you’ll need to water your tree weekly. If the soil is still moist after 10 days, you’ll want to check for drainage problems. Remember, lack of drainage is probably the #1 reason should your tree have problems or fail to produce fruit.

More Tips

There are just a few other tips to your indoor fruit tree survive and thrive during the winter. First, make sure to remove any blooms which are wilting or brown. Next, prune any dead branches or stems. Finally, do your absolute best to keep the container temperature at or above 65 degrees. Sometimes rooms get colder than you think, and soil tempertures in containers are usually 10 degrees lower than air temperatures. There’s nothing wrong with using slightly warm water to help raise the soil temperature, if necessary.

To make sure your tree is healthy in the summer and yields a bountiful crop of fruit, keep on eye on any possible problems during the winter. Watch for pests, be careful to water properly, and keep the soil temperature at 65 degrees or above. If you do, you can expect a happy, healthy tree for years to come.

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