Help! Massive leaf shedding on Calamondin! Well my orange plant make it?

Discussion in 'Citrus' started by EDNY, Jan 4, 2008.

  1. EDNY

    EDNY Member

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    Help! Massive leaf shedding on Calamondin! Will my orange plant make it?

    Help! My Calamondin’s leaves are dying off en masse!

    When I bought this Calamondin orange tree from the florist 14 days ago, the plant was full of deep green leaves and ripe oranges. I placed it in an office with indirect natural light (about 60 feet from a large window facing the south) and direct fluorescent office light. The air is dry and the temperature remains moderate and there’s no breeze.

    The plant came with a few leaves that had irregular shapes and small sores. (see Picture 2). I treated the plant with Schultz houseplant spray as a precaution against spider mites. So far, I have only seen one small fruitfly-like creature and a centepede in the soil. I know plants take time to adjust to new environments and watered it modestly at first (only once, on Day 7). I have not fertilized the plant.

    Two days ago, I noticed that the leaves were curling and some were dry, so I watered it. Yesterday, this trend worsened and some healthy green leaves were falling off the plant. (Pictures 1-6 were all taken yesterday). I saw that the top two inches of the soil felt dry and watered it again. It’s in a 8-in. deep clay pot with one hole at the bottom. It appears to drain well. But today, the healthy leaves are falling off on masse. (Pictures 7-11 were taken today). Whole entire branches are denuded of leaves. There does not appear to be any new growth or young saplings. The remaining leaves that you see on the plant will probably fall if I shook the plant.

    I’ve read several past posts on the droopings and the curling of leaves, but those plants at least showed new growth and young shoots. It appears that the plant’s roots can’t sustain so many leaves and that’s why it is shedding the healthy ones. Perhaps I’ve overwatered and the roots are rotting. The florist told me medium light would be sufficient. But just today, I moved it to a large window facing south. But is there any chance left to save the plant? It is not shedding the oranges. Should I strip away the oranges to save more nutrients for the plant?

    Thank you,
    EDNY
     

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    Last edited: Jan 4, 2008
  2. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years of Activity

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    Did you transplant the tree into a new container? If so what growth medium did you use. The tree looks like it has suffered root damage. GET RID OF THE DRIP TRAY, they are real killers. I am definitely NOT anti-chemical, but if you do not actually confirm a problem such as spider mites, aphids, mealy bugs etc. than it is best not to spray or use other chemicals. Also it is not wise to choose additional watering in an attempt to correct a unknown problem. The number one killer of containerized citrus is over watering, the co problem is poor drainage. I do not know what "moderate watering" means, but in the future when you water the tree, always water thoroughly, then not again until the top 2-3 inches feel dry. Another good method, one that I actually like better, is the lift the container and fell the weight. With a little practice you will get good at estimating the proper time to water. - Millet
     
  3. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

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    Millet knows container citrus much better than I do, and your problem could very well be from overwatering, but one of the things I have learned from Millet is to keep citrus out of direct sun light if the roots are not heated to more than 60 F. It causes winter leaf drop (WLD). Whenever I hear of leaf drop and south facing windows, I suspect WLD. I know you said it is not close to the window, but 60 ft won't add much distance to the 93 million miles we are from the sun. In offices the heat is often reduced at night to save energy. If the roots are cooled they cannot supply water to cool the leaves. Indoor plants do not have a cool breeze to help reduce the heat buildup when the direct sunlight begins to shine on it in an office. The low morning sun is falling on the leaves at an almost direct angle and there is nothing to prevent the leaf from being cooked. Get a soil thermometer and check the temperature in the pot and either keep the soil above 64 when it is exposed to the sun or move it to a place where it cannot get any direct sun (north side of a partition for example).

    Skeet
     
  4. isaac

    isaac Active Member

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    EDNY
    Bring it back to the florist and tell them you need help. They my take it in for a small fee or maybe free. isaac
     
  5. EDNY

    EDNY Member

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    Today, the 15th day after I got the plant and the 3rd day after I noticed leaves curling, the plant has lost 95% of its leaves and the remaining leaves appear to be on the verge of falling off. All that remains is woody stem with green branches. Some of the petiole of leaves remain on the stems. Other petiole were shed with the leaves. It appears that the culprit is root damage. When I bought the plant, I had the florist transplant the Calamondin tree from the black plastic container to a clay pot that I bought. My question is as this point, is there anything that I can do to save the roots and hope for new growth or is the whole plant pretty much dead?
     
  6. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years of Activity

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    If the tree was damaged by the nursery, they should replace the tree free of charge. Otherwise, the tree has about a 45 percent chance of recovery, but if it does recover you will lose a year of production. Place the tree in an area where it will receive bright light, buy not direct sunshine. GREATLY reduce watering. Because the tree no longer has leaves it will require very little water. (but do not let the soil become completely dry). Try to keep the root zone above 65F. NOTE: the growth medium (potting soil) will be 5-10 degrees less than the room air temperature due to evaporation. The tree will either begin to produce new growth in 2-4 weeks or will begin to die from the top down. If the tree starts to die back, all is not 100 percent lost, as a slim chance still remains for some new growth, so do not toss the tree until it appears 100 percent dead. Good luck for this tree. I wonder if there is a Patron Saint of damaged trees?- Millet
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2008
  7. isaac

    isaac Active Member

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    it depends on the soil mix. that it was re-potted in. Your tree need's a fast flowing mix, When you water, the water should flow through as fast as, let's say like a container that has crushed rock. but not that fast.

    isaac
     
  8. isaac

    isaac Active Member

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    The tree is from a florist and was re-potted into a container. Can you let me PLEASE try to help. isaac
     
  9. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years of Activity

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    My favorite growth medium for containerized citrus is 4 parts 1/2 inch Coconut Husks Chips (CHC) and 1 part coarse peat moss. I have 131 different citrus varieties planted in this growth medium. Coconut husks hold up to 7 times their weight in water, while at the same time providing optimum aeration for the roots. The life span of CHC is approximately 5 years. Another advantage of CHC is that they have a natural pH of 6.5which is the optimum pH for citrus. If your florists re-potted the tree with common potting soil that is sold at most retail nurseries it will need to be changed. Commercial potting soils contain much to much peat moss, therefore, compacts with every irrigation. When the medium becomes compacted it greatly restricts oxygen vital to the root system, and further traps the carbon dioxide released from the roots which soon reaches toxic levels. However, since the tree has only been 15 days in your care, I believe the tree's problem is that the root system was damaged during transplanting. Lastly chose a container that has more drainage holes then just one center hole. My favorite container is the Root Maker container, developed through research at the University of Oklahoma by Dr. Whitcomb. Good luck to this tree. - Millet
     
  10. EDNY

    EDNY Member

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    Thank you Millet and Issac for all your advice. The flower shop that I got this from has a no-return policy, so I'm not sure if they'll take it back. Now, 99% of all leaves are gone. I've removed the fruits. Only a skeleton remains. I'm wondering if it's worth the effort to attempt to revive. I don't mind losing a year's worth of growth, but want to know if a bare tree like this ever grows new sprouts. I probed around the soil a bit with a long stick and found the hairy root network to be pretty dense, and the soil packed. The roots were brown/yellow colored. Is it worth the trouble to replace the soil? Or should I loosen the soil a bit, and just sit and wait? The room temperature is about 72-75 so the root zone temperature should be around 65. How will I know if the tree is dying from "top down"?
     
  11. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years of Activity

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    It is worth it to try to save the tree, especially to the tree. If the tree begins to die from the top down, you will see the bare green branches beginning to turn brown from the top and moving down the branch. New growth could begin in a little as 2 weeks. As long as moisture remains in the growth medium, DON'T WATER. - Millet
     
  12. EDNY

    EDNY Member

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    Aftermath:
    After nearly all the leaves were gone, I waited to see what would happen. A friend came by and said the soil was too dry, and watered it for me. Then, about two weeks later, the plant began to sprout new leaves. The few old leaves remained green. The friend told me that the soil needed to be kept more moist. I did so and the plant continued to revive with more leaf growth. In March, after the tree had reached about 20% of its original foliage, the growth slowed down a bit. The rate of new leaves appearing slowed but the emerging leaves kept growing. Then, in late March, I forgot to water the plant for about 10 days. Suddenly, the plant started to shed leaves en masse again, which belated watering could not stop. Ultimately, I decided that the plant needed too much care for me to be able to nurse it and discarded the tree.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2009
  13. aesir22

    aesir22 Active Member

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    Discarded as in threw it away, or did you give it to someone else?
     
  14. EDNY

    EDNY Member

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    Actually, after the second leaf-shedding, all of the leaves fell, including the new growth and the few larger leaves that had survived the first die-off. All was left was the bare branches. I watered it and waited for about two more weeks. Nothing happened, the branches remained bare. I figured with more time, the tree may sprout new leaves again, but if I missed watering one week, the new leaves would be shed. At that point, I figured I'll use the pot for something else and there was no one I knew who'd want a bare branch tree that was, in my experience, pretty picky, so I tossed it into the garbage without really thinking about it. If you'd wanted it, and had I known, I would have willingly sent it to you with the full caveat about the finicky nature of the tree.
     
  15. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

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    If one of your co-workers is emptying their Lattes or Americanos in your potting medium, that is not so good...
    Time to take it home where you can keep the plant terrorists at bay! It is the latest in nasty themes for most corp. offices these days... as heads role etc...
     
  16. aesir22

    aesir22 Active Member

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    I have read a few posts about how these plants fail in offices. I think the air may be too dry and the light not strong enough.
     
  17. EDNY

    EDNY Member

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    Aesir22, you may be right about the dry air in offices. I neglected to mention that the brief recovery took place after I took the plant home, where the air is more moist (not much more, but definitely more moist) than the office. That may have helped.
     

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