orange tree dying?

confused_newbieMay 18, 2010

Hi all,

I have a mature orange tree that isn't looking too good lately. Some of the leaves are curling in with the back facing out. I tried to do a search here and most suggests overwatering which is not possible since we don't water... :) What makes me worry is that we have another orange tree right beside it and that one has just died couple months ago (you can see it in the pics). Is it something in the soil? How do I go about diagnosing it? Pictures here -

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This is a HUGE shame...It looked such a nice tree...Ouch, I would hate this to happen to any of mine..And I thought growing in the ground had it's advantages...

Since it did so well for long, do you think the weather or fertilizer is affecting it this time..I tend to think if you haven't had rain for a long time, and you do not water, they may be just drying up to death...The leaves look dehydrated and the roots are so impaired, that they will not even take up moisture or fertilizer one the roots have gone past the point of to dry..

Who am I too know, since I do not grow them in the ground here..But it is just a guess...A well experienced member will be here shortly to help you for sure...


    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 10:35AM
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Me too I am very sad! I've lost one already and I am determined to help this remaining one survive!
It just rained for two days so I don't know if it helps. If it needs water we will do that. I don't think we have fertilized... maybe once a year max.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 7:47PM
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How much rain did you get? We definitely know that it is not from over watering since it barely rains there, or hasn't in quite some time till now.

I would soak the heck out of it, and see if there is a fast improvement..You have nothing to loose...Get a hose, dig a trench around it, and water, water, water, deeply...At least 50 gallons or more..


    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 9:29PM
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I would take a few leaves to your Good Local nursery or if there is a extension agent near by and get some information from them.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 11:15PM
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if there's a dead tree right next to this one, then there may be a lack of nitrogen. the decomposing roots of the dead tree could be sucking up the nitrogen around the ground near that orange tree.

i have chopped down 2 trees over the past year and have dumped some cow manure on top of the stumps to aid in quicker decomposition.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 4:58AM
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It is either getting too much water or not enough. It also looks like it wants to be fed some micro-nutrients too. If things have been really dry, water like Mike said. It also wouldn't hurt to take a soil sample with you if you take any of the leaves to your local nursery or county extension office.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 9:26PM
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Mike, we got a tiny bit of rain not much. This past winter we did get more rain than normal, but we are in the drier part of the country so I guess hosing it down won't hurt?

    Bookmark   May 20, 2010 at 4:34PM
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Yes there is a great nursery close by I'll take some soil and leaves to ask! We actually asked an arborist to come out couple months ago when the other orange tree just died. Back then this one was ok. So if I feed it with the good old citrus fertilizer, it won't hurt right? We'll also chop up the dead tree asap then. We thought there's no hurry; didn't know that it could actually take up nitrogen. Thanksss!!!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2010 at 4:38PM
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Interesting info I got after a trip to the local nursery - The lady suggested that leaves curling like this always mean overwatering, and she said we had a very rainy winter. So I guess it is possible that the tree got too much water just from the winter rain. She suggested this: trimming the curled outer layer, spray with citrus growers blend, feed with citrus food, and add soil sulfur.

I am unsure of the soil sulfur - she said that rain water is alkaline and our soil in the area is alkaline. But does it harm the environment? Thanks all!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 9:26PM
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Hi confused...Not to confuse you further, but ALWAYS is not a proper term for the nursery to use for curling leaves...I have seen many trees leaves curl from sucking insects, and a lack of water..

I still don't think your tree is dying from a wetter than normal winter, unless it is sitting on top of a puddle of water or something.

Why can't you just dig into the ground to the roots, and see if the soil is dry..You will probably loose it before you really ever know the answer..:-(

Something is stopping it from taking up moisture..To be sure, dig and see if the soil is too moist, or to dry..I think many in your state would be loosing their trees if the rain was to blame..


    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 8:54AM
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Hi Mike, yeah I am confused, haha as always. The tree has been in this location for a long time as far as we can tell. Not sure why all of a sudden it can't stand the winter rain.

I am glad that it's sunday so that we can do some gardening, and yup we'll dig and see if it's dry or wet!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 5:17PM
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"she said that rain water is alkaline and our soil in the area is alkaline"

While I agree that the soil out west does tend to be on the alkaline side of things, natural rainwater throughout most of the world should be acidic, due to the natural presence of Carbon Dioxide, Sulfur Dioxide, and Nitrous Oxide...I would be suspect of the advice of any nursery man or woman who would claim that rainwater is alkaline...the ground water, now that's a different story.

Mike is right about checking to see if the soil is dry or moist. Also, if you haven't already done so, take a soil sample to your county extension office and have them test the soil. They should be able to provide the PH of the soil, organic content and any nutrient deficiencies that are present. This may give you more insight into the problems plaguing your tree.

Good Luck....

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 7:17PM
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I think the person at the nursery is full of it. I live in Northern California and have citrus outside all winter in the rain. They all look great right now. Citrus can handle the wet soils in the winter.

I would guess that lack of water is much more likely than too much water. I am surprised that you almost never water it. Do you get any rain during the summer? I deeply water my in-ground citrus about once per week in the summer. Despite having a lot of rain the spring (for California) I recently dug into the soil and found that was very dry. Most of the rain has been a half inch or less each week. I agree with Mike and that you should do a deep watering and then continue to do waterings at regular intervals, perhaps once per week. I also agree that a high nitrogen fertilizer with minors looks in order.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 2:06AM
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