Help, lemon tree dying

KWPolska198March 16, 2014

I have a Meyer lemon tree and a stem started to grow from the tip. A few days later, the "bud" turned black/brown and died. I didn't really care, because there was new growth happening else where too. Then, a few days later I saw to tip of the stem turning brown. As the days go on, the brown on the stem goes lower and lower. The stem where it is brown is hard, so I am assuming that it is dead, but why is it spreading down the stem? What do I do? Do I cut off that stem, and if I don't, will it kill the whole tree? And how did this even happen, and how do I prevent it from happening again?

I have many questions, since I am not an experienced citrus grower, and I would love it if someone helped me.

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Cut it back to the first green node; and it should be okay. Most common cause of new growth turning black is too much heat and too little water, or just too much heat on the tender new growth.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 3:15PM
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Thank you for your comment. I cut back to the first node today, and hopefully everything will be ok. I was just wondering why it was spreading. Could it be that the plant is diseased?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 7:00PM
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Could be some sort of infection, but more likely not.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 7:55PM
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HELP!! that is happening again to another branch!! what do I do? And how do I stop it?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 7:03PM
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Kw..What you need to do is the process of illimination...

For instance..

Do you leave the roots wet too long?
Do you have the roots in a very nice porous mix that dries out rapidly?
Does it get the center stage on that window sill? The most sun?
It seems if that orchid is doing very well by the way, it might not be enough sun since a Phal can burn in a full sunny window.
Have you checked the roots? Are they white?

I can tell you that any citrus tree held indoors without sufficient light will by nature drop it's leaves, including twigs until it can get enough sunlight to support a new canopy of growth. Leaves and even branches without enough light by winters end will die off. NOt to be concerned about.:-)

Too be concerned about is root rot, which can also do this. That is why you illiminate the cause before the whole tree dies.

Tell us what you find and a more accurate detail of how you have been caring for it and what kind of environment it's subject to and we can better guide you to stop that if it is this cause..

It is always good to take a whole picture of the plant, roots even, pot, mix, area it resides, and profile shots to get to the bottom of this.


This post was edited by meyermike_1micha on Tue, Mar 25, 14 at 19:33

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 7:22PM
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This is the twig after I cut it. The twig had little bubbles on the brown part. I am really worried about the plant, hoping it stops doing this. Is this some sort of disease?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 7:24PM
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Mike, Thank you so much for your input. I didn't check the roots, but I have a feeling it might be root rot, since someone in my house keeps watering the plant even thought the soil is moist. The potting mix I use is Miracle Gro cactus, palm, and citrus soil. Is the soil good enough, or should it be mixed with something else?

Also, I did fertilize the plant not too long ago, could this be a factor? I will put up more pictures tomorrow, when it is light outside. I live in Connecticut so it is still cold outside, and since the plant is next to the window, could changes in temperature be a factor?

I will get back with you tomorrow, when I check the roots and take some picture.
Thanks again!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 9:21PM
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When they fine roots die off from rot, the feeder ones, it is senseless in fertilizing and it fact harmful. The salts from the fertilizer further burn them because they are not utilizing them at all. So you have a two fold problem, especially this time of the year which most people have in our area. Don't feel bad.
All you have to do is find a way to get the mix to dry out faster for now, before you do a repot.
I would tell everyone to stop watering it and you be in full control.
Use wicks at the bottom and elevate the pot so the water is tricked to dry out past the root zone even faster.
Or, you could stick that pot in a bigger one filled with mulch on the bottom of the empty pot and rest that pot on top of it. The bottom mulch will pull out the extra moisture killing your plant.

These are just quick fixer upper. Ideally, I would transplant that tree into a better mix once it gains strength from longer or sunnier warm days.
Then I would do half and half your potting mix with perlite.
Even better, learn to make your own. There are many ways to do this shown on the 'containers' forum and even here. Just type in 5.1.1 or gritty mix and it will show you.
Too, you could find a Fafard distributor and get the Nursery mix which I know you will find.

Temps. can be a huge factor.. If you are providing very warm temps and little light, you will get a weak spindly plant with leaf and pest issues.
If provide cool temps and little light, it will be good.

They can handle various temps though without doing what yours is doing.

Hope this helps


    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 8:53AM
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These are the roots when I took out the plant from the soil. The soil was soaking wet, and there were rotting roots scattered in the soil, disconnected from the actual plant.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 3:40PM
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Do you have Pysan20 or any other sort of disinfectant?
They sell them at nurseries and or hardware stores...
They also use this stuff for lawns to kill off bacteria..
Do you have bleach?

It would be good to soak those roots for about ten minutes and then repot now that you have already exposed the roots..I would use a lot mnore perlite in your next porring than last...

Looks like there is hope if there are some live roots!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 4:06PM
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This is the bottom of the soil, and you can see scattered pieces of rotting roots. I re potted my plant in new soil, but the same pot. I put mixed small rock with the soil, to keep it draining fast. The leaves are now drooping though, I don't know if this will go away. My lemon tree gets a lot of sunlight by the way.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 5:20PM
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Mike, I did soak the roots with bleach water solution, to kill off the bacteria. How long should I wait until I water the plant again, since the soil is dry.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 5:26PM
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Well. I don't think I would of barerooted it that way since knowing it was weak to start..That is why I had you use two methods to get that soil to dry out at the bottom even faster..

But since you did, did you plant it into the new mix and then water thoroughly? That prevents shock.

Also, small pebbles will only make things worst in time...The mix you used was fresh, right?
It will still have structure if you used fresh and will help, but it will have to be done again before the fall..Add perlite next time..

Good thinking with soaking the roots...I hope only about 1 part bleach to ten parts of water....

I would keep it in light but not direct sun and warm for a week or so until the leaves perk up again.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 6:57PM
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Thanks for your support Mike, I really appreciate it. I did use fresh soil, but why would adding pebbles be a bad thing? After I planted my lemon tree, I did not water it, as I thought drying out the roots would prevent rot again, but after I read your comment "then water thoroughly, That prevents shock." I watered it immediately.

About repotting the soil in the fall, is this really necessary? If it is, how much perlite would I mix with the soil, and what soil should I use?

I am pretty much very inexperienced citrus grower, as other plants are MUCH easier to grow. I hope you are here to save the day again when something goes wrong, because I know it will.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 7:31PM
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