Leaf curls on citrus tree

carney(23)September 14, 2006

My orange tree has leaf curls. What can I do to eliminate the condition and not have it return?

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There could be many reasons.

But the newest one to hit L.A. County is the introduction of Leaf Miners! Take a closer look at the tight curl, do you see a wiggly trail in the leaf? This is my first year to get this pest. And you will also notice that the old leaves are not affected, only the new growth. This is a new thing for us and there is no real solution yet, besides oil sprays and such. If your citrus is small and new, it might affect it a bit more than an old tree. This bug has been in San Bernardino county since around 2000, and now its hit us.

If its not that, then its possibly too dry and you need more water.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2006 at 9:53AM
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The most common cause of curly leaves on citrus is aphids.

The problem in controlling them is that they are inside the curling of the leaf, making them difficult to spray. Unfortunately, systemic sprays are not recommended for edibles.

It usually helps to manage the ants as well. They are the shepherds of the aphids and you can keep them off your citrus by using Tanglefoot in bands arond the trunk (on papper collars).

Once the ants are under control, introduce some beneficial insects such as lacewings. Don't buy ladybugs from a retail store.


    Bookmark   September 15, 2006 at 11:07AM
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Where can you buy Tanglefoot?

I forgot to mention aphids, but this is so common I just missed it. I usually hose them off when I see a large cluster of them.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2006 at 1:34PM
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I also have the same problem with curly leafs on my lemon tree. It just happened in the past month, i notice these swirly white lines on them. It might be those leaf miners you must be talking about unless you think otherwise. But only oil could fix the problem?


    Bookmark   September 15, 2006 at 8:23PM
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If you determine it is citrus leaf miner (sounds likely), you can try a product called Spinosad, which I think is listed as an organic pesticide.

I had grapefruit, lemon, lime, and multiple orange trees infected this year for the first time ever and was surprised at how quickly this insect can create damage. It loves new, tender growth.

I don't like to spray anything on my plants, but this was an emergency. Spinosad seems to have an immediate positive effect. I also pruned out the infected foliage on the young trees. Large, mature trees should be able to substain considerable leaf damage without any serious problems.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2006 at 11:59AM
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I wonder if pruning out the leaf miner leaves on a new citrus would be a problem? The mature trees I have, I've left alone. I have a newly planted (early spring) improved meyer lemon, and pretty much the whole thing has leaf miners except the older leaves. I guess I will take off all the damaged ones, I just hope these leaf miners are gone in the winter/spring to let new growth become old growth for the summer.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 11:50AM
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Well I did more research and I do definetly have leaf miner damage on my new lisbon tree. I better find some of that spinosad STAT because it got all my new growth which is half my tree!!!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2006 at 2:05AM
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sanda(Uz10/Sz23 SoCal)

I'm afraid i have the same problem. Where do I find this Spinosad in SoCAl?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 7:37PM
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I bought Spinosad at an agricultural supply store (L&M Fertilizer in Temecula or Fallbrook CA). I have had to respray weekly to keep the insects under control, but it does seem to be working.

You might check with your local nursery supply...there must other insecticides that would work.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2006 at 11:18AM
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At least for the present and near future I've decided to leave the citrus leaf miners alone. This is the third season that I've had the critters. I was alarmed when they first hit, cause they hit all my citrus at the same time and even got to the pomegranite. They made the new lush growth look horrible and I thought it was the end, but the fruit has not suffered. I've yet to see the adult moth and have only caught the larvae a few times. The life cycle seems to be very fast, and multiple generations in a given season. This year I let the ants go on a lime tree to see if they would offer some control. They did! Fewer larvae got to the leaf margin to pupate, but I was hit big time by wooly aphids. So three weeks ago I stopped the ants. Aphids gone but ALL the new growth leaves have already had a egg to pupae cycle and it looks awful. Have plenty of limes though

    Bookmark   September 29, 2006 at 7:32PM
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hi, i have a fairly young mandarin plant and the leaves have started to curl inwards on it too- and dropping very rapidly. there is no sign of any pest damage, the leaves look ok though some of the smallest are yellowing slightly. ive also just noticed brown patches around one of the stems and here all the shoots have died. Please help, i love my little tree.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 7:06AM
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I was told you could get special traps to catch the leaf miners. You hang the sticky traps in the tree and it catches the adults before the population can build up. I also heard there can be many generations of them in one season, making them hard to control.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 12:48AM
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kittymoonbeam, yes yes, sticky traps! I used them on both my trees this year and I didnt get any leafminer damage, or very little if any. I wish I was at home to tell you the names of the trap product. I bought them online very cheap a couple of years ago. They trap specific pests. One is blue and one is yellow. I think one is for thrips(?) and the other is for leafminers. I also sprayed twice an organic fruit spray from Lowes, that also kills or prevents leafminers on the label, as well as 100s of other pests.

My trees look great this year! All the new growth has come out smoothly. And the sticky traps are filled with tiny bugs and winged little gnats.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 12:21PM
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to try and stay organic, alternate use of spinosad and neem oil for six weeks. the leaf miner's life cycle is about 3 weeks and there are several generations on the tree at any given time. Once the larvae are inside the leaf, there's not much you can do, but the sprays will kill emerging miners and prevent new eggs from being laid.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 10:12AM
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After reading this carefully I have discovered my orchard has leafminer. I have read in other places on the www and is it possible I have Citris Greening Disease?

Can anyone tell me who I can call to spray my trees?

Also last June I bought a Meyers lemon tree. Since then I have had trouble with curling leaves and didnt know to look for the Leafminer... the white trails on leaves. The Meyers Lemon tree is covered in it on every leaf.

Any help would be appreciated. I have 12 citrus trees in the orchard among others of various fruits. Some trees my dad planted in 1961 and they are doing well except now they have leaf curling. ;(

I noted the big lemon tree leaves were turning yellow and not producing.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 4:38AM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

The leafminer has been here for over two years now. It really only affects the fall flush, so I just trim those leaves off if they look too ugly. Spinosad (Monterey Garden Insect Spray) is helpful, but you have to keep on it and spray continuously.
Sabukitty, you might try a certified arborist in your Yellow Pages. You can spray Spinosad yourself with a hose-end sprayer. It's non-toxic for people (as long as you don't eat it, I suppose).

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 11:07PM
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Thank you I contacted a Horticutural Service and they are coming to look at my trees and spray. I appreciate your reply. Thank you.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 2:04PM
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The Horticulural Service came this morning and sprayed Dimethoate. I bought some of the yellow and blue stickies online to put up tomorrow and see if anything else shows up in the next weeks.

Should I follow up myself now with Spinosad in 3 weeks then neem oil in 3 weeks? After that how often should I spray?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2008 at 12:43PM
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if an infestation survives the dimethoate you can follow it up with spinosad, neem or whatetver, just be advised that most organics require a max of about 6-8 days between sprays for effectiveness. Just keep an eye on any new growth right now. Older leaves are generally too tough for CLM pallets.
Also (this is just me being paranoid), I'd get some soil activator &/or compost tea and water the area around the trees with it at least once if I could just to get the soil chem back to normal faster after the dimethoate.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 10:34AM
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Hi All, I am new to gardening and really only got in to it because I love Red Graprfruit and experimented by planting about 35 seeds from fruit that I bought at the supermarket.
Now I have about 30 little plants. A few of them are starting to suffer from "leaf curlage" (inward curling of the leaves) but I do not see any evidence of leafminers.
Is this something different? What can I do about it?
I should add that I live in Curacao....it is an island in the Southern Caribbean where the weather is very dry.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 11:23AM
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I have a Meyer lemon with leaf curling but it is mostly on the older leaves. They tend to go yellow and drop as well. Can someone post a picture of the leafminer trails? I'm not sure what I am looking for.

I've also noticed some stems are going brown and dying on the ends. Should I prune these off? I don't see any ants or aphids to speak of but something has nibbled on the leaves. Overall, the plant doesn't look very healthy but it is making fruit. Last year all the fruit dropped.

Thanks for any advice you can offer.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 1:38PM
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Has anyone had experience with LeafMiners in Arizona? I have looked for a white trails, but I'm not sure what I am looking for either. I have two citrus trees and the younger one is having a bad problem with leaf curl and yellow leaves.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 1:04PM
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I got some good hits from google search on key words "citrus leaf miners"

Here is a link that might be useful: Pictures

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 6:19PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Spinosad works, and is approved for organic gardening. My lime had all the new growth affected, and after 3 sprayings, no more problems for a couple months! Good.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 7:25PM
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I was told that a spray made up of water and dish washing detergent would fix the leaf curl. I'm new to gardening but gave it a try, and by golly it worked fine. I trimmed some and sprayed the rest. I put it into a hand spray bottle and proceeded to wash the tree (Lemon),mostly the new curled leaves. Its a small tree so was not a big deal. That was last season, so I started early this year and its under control!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 2:59PM
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I have a red grapefruit with leaf curl and I tried the soap and water and it does work. I try spraying all my citris(lemons, limes) with the soap and water and also spray the ground where the fallen leafs are. I spray once a month. Just FYI .

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 4:38PM
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I have new dwarf lemon trees. My older leaves are curling and turning brittle. They are in a greenhouse so they are not freezing. I have check the leaves and I do not suspect leaf miners. I water regularly and feed weekly. I am getting some new growth and it seems unaffected. any suggestions??

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 9:57PM
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Hello all,

I live in the Bay Area. I have posted a picture of the sadness that is my potted dwarf clementine. I got this tree from Home Depot 4 years ago. That was the last time it was healthy. It is still only 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. I feel like it hasn't grown at all since I bought it. After I bought it, ants got to it and there were scale insects everywhere. I used rubbing alcohol to get them off and the ants have been gone for a while but I think are coming back. But since then this tree has been very sickly and never has produced again.

I have attached a picture of some of the leaves with a curling leaf.

You can also see that the rest of the leaves around that curling leaf are yellowish and very small/narrow. You can see how small they are in comparison to my fingernail. I have small hands.

There is a tiny little clementine fruit in the photo that will fall off in a few days. All the other ones have fallen off while that size.

There are spikes growing off the branches, and some of them have black specks on it that look like scale insects, but I can't rub them off.

Other leaves have brownish gunk on the undersides of them that looks like gunky sap.

Please give some advice about how to save this tree. It has a host of problems and I don't know where to start. I currently water it with a drip system of 10 minutes 2x a day, once in the morning, again in the afternoon. Every three months I feed it with Vigoro brand citrus/avocado tree fertilizer granules, about 2/3 tsp at a time. What else should I do? Thanks for your help!!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 2:21AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Your tree looks very anemic. You do not say but I will guess it is still in the container it came in with the same soil. Your watering and feeding are far the desirable. You should be feeding citrus food at one tablespoon a month. Find a food that lists all the minors citrus requires on the label, I use Lilly Miller. You should be watering about once a week with enough water to run about 20% out the drain. Spray with horticultural oil once a week for three weeks to get rid of scale/ aphids. This fall I would repot with new mix, completely bare rooting and pruning off any diseased/dead roots. Al

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 9:40AM
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Hi Calistoga,

Thanks for your input!

No it is not in the original container with the original soil, as seen in the picture I have attached. I actually have re-potted with new soil twice and trimmed off old roots, but this was about one year ago. The reason that I do only 2/3rds tsp every 3 months because that's what the Vigoro bag says to do. I didn't want to overdo it and kill the plant, but maybe I need to step it up. It's only been since December since I've started using Vigoro fertilizer. Do you think I should wait a little longer to see if it is just taking time for the fertilizer to kick in, or should my clementine already be showing a difference in growth?

It might also be that my drip system does not water deeply enough. I will remove the drip and start watering deeply once a week.

Do you have any recommendations for certain brands of horticultural oil?

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 5:27PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I doubt your Vigoro label mentioned a container when suggesting the amount or frequency of application. Containers are completely dependent on your fertilization as there is no active food web with the micro organisms producing plant nutrients. I have not seen the Vigoro label so must assume if intended for citrus it contains the micro nutrients citrus require, and you are just not using enough at a time and not often enough. Your container looks large enough for the size of the tree, and your potting mix is usually good for two years. If you will compare the color of your foliage with the citrus in the nursery, you will notice how much smaller your leaves are and how pale they are. Almost all horticultural oil sold at retail is paraffin based and is safe to use as directed. Do not use it in the heat of the day when the foliage is hot. Please post your pictures again in three months so we can see your progress. Al

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 10:15AM
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Hi Calistoga,

Yes, I heard that Vigoro is way too strong for potted citruses, so I will be switching to Osmocote plus. I will also start using Bayer soil application to get rid of bugs. Thanks for your advice and I will post pics soon!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 12:33PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Calibong2014 your last post DOES NOT reflect my veiws. Good luck. Al

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 6:58PM
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Right, I just wanted to let you know of my new plan of attack with some new products. I will also be changing my watering methods to a deep watering once a week (as per your suggestion) instead of drip 2x a day.

Thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 3:06AM
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Help! Both my blood orange & Lisbon lemon are infested. Ripe lemons are half rotton in the middle. Blood oranges are not ripe yet so I don't know if they are bad yet.

Both trees are 2-story tall with new shoots even taller but infested. How can I treat them? Ladders scare me.

Thanks. Cat in Los Angeles Pasadena area

    Bookmark   September 21, 2014 at 5:58PM
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