Soil in potted avocado all white and 'rotted', mold?

AvocadosNumberApril 4, 2012

I have a potted avocado tree, about 7 years old. Here in San Diego, it usually dies off a bit during the winter, drops some leaves, and then comes back in the spring.

I noticed that this year it was still looking pretty bad. I dug around in the soil and was shocked to see all kinds of white material in there. It had been normal potting mixture before, now it looks like a mixture of chalk and thinly shredded cardboard. Looks really bad, no wonder the avocado isn't doing too well.

Obviously I need to repot it in better soil, but does anyone have any idea what is going on here? Last place we live there was a lot of verticillium or some kind of wilt in the soil, got all the in-ground tomatoes eventually. But it didn't do that to the soil!

Pics: http://imgur.com/a/opRpi

Thanks for any insights.

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dirtslinger2(6)

Is either your irrigation incredibly hard, or do you fertilize it without allowing a good soil flush now and then? Possible build up of salts, though I've never seen it so bad before if the case.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 10:35PM
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AvocadosNumber

I did fertilize it a couple times several years ago, using a small bag of citrus and avocado fertilized. I suppose it could be buildup from that. I generally water it about once every three weeks, thoroughly soaking the soil until it runs freely out the bottom. But what I notice now is that this hard soil isn't absorbing anything so it's probably not penetrating and retaining much. I don't think our San Diego municipal water is particularly hard. Thanks for the response.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 10:41PM
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larry_gene

Your original description sounded to me more like mycorrhizal or other type of fungus rather than salt that would normally appear as a veneer on the pot interior.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 11:14PM
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AvocadosNumber

Thanks Larry, I'll read up on fungus and try to take steps to kill it when I re-pot.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 11:30PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Looks like all the soil particles are coated with a fungus but not necessarily rotten.

The fungal coating is preventing water absorption by the mix. Thus, the roots are also dry.

Doubt that you'll be able to "kill" the fungus. Suggest you pot into fresh potting mix, then add a wetting agent to your water before you water the tree.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 12:53AM
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AvocadosNumber

Thanks Jean, I'll add a wetting agent.

I'm hopeful it'll bounce back... it's seen worse. It was attacked by a cat and left next to an open window in sub-zero temps when it was just a few feet high. Died back completely, but then sent out a new stalk from the pit!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 12:56AM
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