Whats wrong with our orange tree? Wierd leaves and not growing..

sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)January 29, 2013

Hello,
I am new to this forum. I post alot on other forums but have an orange and lime tree at home and am having some problems with the orange so thought i would come over here and ask about it. I will tell you the whole story...sorry if you think im rambling but i think you should know the whole story to perhaps provide an accurate diagnosis for it. Anyway we have had these trees for about one and a half years ...maybe abit more. We sort of neglected them for about 6 months after we got them. Iffing and arring about where to put them because we are only renting. Then we thought we would go buy a house so didnt plant them anywhere. Then decided to save abit more before we did that and we couldnt find any houses we liked anyway. In this time my lime tree was going fine but my partners orange tree had been majorly eaten by grasshoppers. All the leaves and branches at the top died and dropped off and it instead started sprouting new branches from the stem. I then chopped the top off with all the dead branches on it and the little branches from the stem seemed to thrive for awhile. I went out and bought huge pots for them and repotted them. Both my lime and his orange seemed to love that. My lime then seemed to do the same as the orange did and die off at the top. I chopped the top off like the orange and now it is absolutely thriving!! all lush green and really tall branches coming from the sides of the stem!! Much bigger then the orange... all the oranges little branches from the stem have turned all wierd coloured and have spots all over them and dont seem to be growing any more. I have given the lime and orange both the same attention and water and fertiliser so i dont understand why the lime is going great! and the orange is like this? What is wrong with it? what would you say i do with it? i would hate to see it die! :(

Regards,
Sarah

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sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)

close up pic of leaves

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 7:24PM
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sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)

in this pic you can see the lime in the background ...those stems go up about a meter high!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 7:26PM
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eahamel(9a)

This looks like scale to me.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 8:16PM
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sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)

Excuse my ignorance but whats scale and how do you get rid of it? Would that be causing the plant not to grow?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 8:18PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi Sarah,
It's not ignorance on your part at all! Your here to learn and we all have been in your position where something is new.

Scale is an insect/pest.
Below I have linked an article for you to read. I am fairly new at all of this myself, so I cannot suggest a way to rid them.

Some of the more knowledgeable growers here will be along to help.

While we are waiting,
Can you give a little more info on how your caring for your trees.
Scale can affect the growth , but may not be the only problem.

What kind of soil is it in?

What are your temps/weather like now. I see you are in Australia.

How often do you feed your trees?

What do you feed them?

That's a good start if you can answer these questions, it will help the others to help you.

JoJo

Here is a link that might be useful: Scale

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 10:31PM
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jane__ny(9-10)

Scale! Until you treat it, move it away from your other plants. It spreads.

Jane

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 11:08PM
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sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)

Well that article was quite informative and now that i look closely it does look like scale :S As I only really started gardening and keeping quite a collection of different potted plants when we moved into our new house 1 and a half years ago I dont have alot of experience with bugs and diseases on plants. I have only ever had some sort of fungus on a plant which i got rid of by cutting the effected leaves off and some little bugs on my ficus which i cant remember the name of but I got rid of them by spraying some stuff on it every 3 days for a few weeks. I seem to be I suppose you'd call a lazy gardener (although that doesnt mean i dont care about my plants. I am always out there when i come home from work inspecting them, making sure they are healthy, have enough water and are not disliking the sun or the rain) but what i mean by lazy is that I water, prune and repot when needed and thats it. I dont really fertilize. They only get what comes in the soil I buy from bunnings that i pot them in and then alittle more when i top up the pots when the soil levels drop. I buy just average general soil for normal plants and cactus soil for all succulents and plants that need well drained soil. I know alot of people get well into it and buy different unique soils for each plant and fertilize every 3 weeks or whatever but i have never needed to. The plants seem to live and thrive on their own. Until this little orange got scale that is. Come to think of it the lime may have had it too before i pruned the top off it. I shall have to keep an eye on it. But yes, would love any further info, growing tips, or ways to get rid of them from other knowledgeable forum people :)

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 11:09PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Sarah!!

I just wanted to pop in and say HI!!! ;-)

You will receive great info here on this forum with your citrus.. I only have a few, so i lurk alot here, but when i saw your name .. i had to say a "BIG HELLO!!"

Great info from Jojo link!! She is a kind lady and will give you great info along with others here. Mike is another that will help you with your citrus needs..

Hey Mike and all others..... Take care of Sarah!! ;-)

See you sweetie!!

Laura

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 11:33PM
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sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)

Laura!!! Haha yes I lurk abit over at the succulent forum as I have A few of them too :P Horrey for garden web with all it's wide range of people with helpful information!! :D

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 11:59PM
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eahamel(9a)

Check your succulents for scale, too, then. Scale insects love them.

Yes, this is a great place to hang out, isn't it?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 8:25AM
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citrange2

Yes, certainly you have scale insects, but that's not the real problem! All the leaves in your pictures are 'trifoliate', which means that they are growing from the rootstock. It sounds to me as if you have cut off the orange and lime varieties that were grafted on top of the rootstock. This means you will never get any limes or oranges. Eventually you may get fruits from the rootstock but these will be almost inedible.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 9:09AM
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krismast(6 S.E. PA)

Yup. Citrange beat me to it! You have rootstock growth.

Kristopher

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 9:10AM
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krismast(6 S.E. PA)

Yup. Citrange beat me to it! You have rootstock growth.

Kristopher

Sorry about double post. Been having problems with the forums all morning!

This post was edited by krismast on Wed, Jan 30, 13 at 9:12

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 9:11AM
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sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)

Oh? So the trees were grafted? I didnt know they did that? Why wont the rootstock grow any fruit or fruit thats edible? why do the plants have to be grafted?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 10:00PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Most fruit trees that are grafted, are grafted because there may be issues (a variety of) with growing them on their own roots. For citrus, using different rootstocks than the scion (the actual citrus variety) can help with hardiness, resistance to soil-borne diseases, increased tolerance to salt, and can also provide smaller trees (semi-dwarfing rootstocks) to name a few enhancements. Nearly all citrus trees you purchase from a grower will be grafted. Citrus rootstocks are used for those above qualities and not for their fruit, and in fact, those rootstocks from the Poncirus group will have inedible fruit, but you will never see fruit from the rootstock, as it is only used for their better root qualities. The grafted scion (your citrus cultivar) is what is producing your fruit. So, when you buy a nice Washington Navel orange, or a lovely Bearss Lime tree, just the top part is the orange or lime. The roots will be something else. You can see the graft line in the trunk, usually about 3 to 8 inches up from the soil line. Citrus trees don't have to be grafted, but you'll be hard pressed to find non-grafted trees sold at your local garden center or nursery. Nearly all trees grown for us retail customers to purchase are grafted. You might find a few types of citrus grown on their own roots (some types of lemons sometimes are grown from cuttings), but they will be very few and far between.

Patty S.

Here is a link that might be useful: Gardening Australia: Small-Growing Citrus

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 11:28PM
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sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)

Hmmm well both trees, the lime and orange still have the stem all the way up to where the branches died off and we pruned the off. Is there a chance it could branch again from the grafted part? I will look abit closer when I get home to see if I can find where the graft is...

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 11:56PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

I would watch the leaf formation. And, look for your graft line. Any branching emanating from below the graft line and having trifoliate leaves (leaves of three, as you're showing in your photos) need to be trimmed away at the trunk. You do not want any rootstock growing, just the cultivar. What is rather odd is the tree in the foreground appears to have trifoliate branching pretty far up the tree. If you can try to find the graft line on both trees, and then determine if any of the branching coming off the trunk above that graft line have single leaves. If so, leave those - those are your cultivar. Trim off all branches with trioliate leaves. If you can post more photos of your trees, both close ups of the trunk, where you think you're seeing the graft line, as well as full tree photos, that would help. And of course, treat the scale.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 12:29AM
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eahamel(9a)

Citrange, good catch !(hitting self on head for overlooking that!)

Sbrowl, most citrus and many other fruits are grafted. They grow and produce much faster than if they aren't. They stay smaller, so will fit into many peoples' smaller gardens. The rootstock for this one is trifoliate orange, which has fruit about 1" diameter, and they are very sour and full of seeds. I wouldn't even make lemonade out of it.

I don't see the graft on the one you have the picture of. However, in the last pic, it's about 2" up the trunk. You can see that it becomes different at that point. Anything growing below that point needs to be removed, you can see that the leaves are different, and why it has the name "trifoliate".

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 11:34AM
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sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)

eahamel are you referring to the last pic with the lime in the background at 2". If so then does that mean that the limes branches should be the proper lime plant? because the leaves are all above the 2" mark but they do have trifoliate looking leaves which is confusing me. As for the orange I had a good look and cant find a grafting line. The whole stalk is covered with scale though. I have been spraying it but it still doesnt seem to be growing. I will take a picture of the whole plant and then perhaps someone here might be able to tell where the graft is...

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 9:10PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

If you have trifoliate leaves, you have rootstock growing. Not the lime cultivar. 2" is just an arbitrary measurement. The graft line can be as low as the soil, or up the trunk even as far up as 12". What you want to look for and very clearly identify, is the graft line. Where the cultivar scion was grafted to the rootstock. Any shoots emanating from below that graft line will be rootstock. Any shoots emanating from above the graft will be the scion (your cultivar). If your rootstock was a trifoliate hybrid, you're going to see "leaves of three", hence the name "trifoliate". If you can provide some close up photos of the trunk at varying heights, we can try to see if we see a graft line. If I have time today, I can snap a few photos of my trees, and show you where the graft line is, and what to look for. For me, I think it is very obvious, but for someone new, it may not be.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 11:59AM
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houstontexas123(z9a)

if you're uncertain about the top part of your citrus trees, post a pic of the whole tree.

if ALL of the leaves on your trees look like the ones at the bottom (TRIPLETS) then its all rootstock.

if you have some SINGLE leaves then you still have the grafted part. and you need to prune off all the trifoliate branches.

This post was edited by houstontexas123 on Tue, Feb 5, 13 at 13:15

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 1:14PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I can honestly say that I have never in my life seen such a dreadful scale infestation. I'm not talking about the leaves, but the stems and the trunk. Ouch!

Have you cut back all of your trees to let the rootstock grow?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 2:39PM
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sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)

I know! i didnt realise for ages and just thought it was something on the leaves...i didnt even notice the stem until i got told what it was and realised it was so bad. The stems are COVERED and i cannot tell where the graft line is. Usually it is easy i agree...i can tell on plumeria and adenium quite easily but not on these citrus. I have a feeling it is all the way up the top of the stems and although there is still some branches up there (i havnt pruned the whole top off) i dont think it will ever grow again.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 6:01PM
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eahamel(9a)

Sorry I haven't been back to respond to you, but others have.
The rootstock leaves are a lot smaller than lime leaves, or any other citrus that we eat.

You can get rid of a lot of the scale with a cloth wetted with rubbing alcohol. Just rub them off, and the alcohol will kill them.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 7:10PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I don't think ANYONE has that much time to waste....trying to rub off a thick coating of scale on every surface. I honestly think that this tree should be trashed.

To give the next tree a better chance, I would start out with fresh potting medium...simply because that is what's better for the roots. Scale insects don't live nor lay eggs in potting soil. A simple scrubbing with soapy water is all that needs to be done with the pot.

You might want to take some pictures that show us how much of the "real " tree remains. I think that you understand now that the rootstock species should never be allowed to grow. We need to see the condition of the fruiting species. Who knows? There may be hope...

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 12:49PM
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