Help with indoor orange plant yellowing around leaf edges

SiliconRainMay 10, 2011

Hi everyone,

I was just wondering if anyone might have any idea as to what is making my orange plant unhappy? As you can see from these photos, some (but not all) of the leaves are going a bit yellow, particularly towards the edges. This seems to be happening mostly on the younger leaves. There hasn't been much of a leaf drop. I'm used to the leaves being a nice, dark, glossy green and so something must be up.

The pot it's in has drainage holes and I only water when the soil is completely dry at least 2 inches down into the soil. When I do water, I normally mix in some Baby Bio Citrus.

Any idea what I should do? More water? Less water? More food? Less food? Different food?

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Have you had the pH of your water checked?

I wish I could see the pics, but I will suggest that you have your pH checked or call your municiple company to see how high it is.

If you are providing good nutrition, then something is locking the nutrients up in the container, or it could be related to root or soil issues.

I wish you luck!


    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 3:34PM
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Thanks very much for the reply, Mike! No, I hadn't thought of checking my pH (newbie alert!), but I will definitely do that. What should it be and how can I correct/compensate for it if it is outside the suitable range?

Also, is there a problem with the pics? Does my link not work for you?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 4:15AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, there!

In a container, pH is less important than in the ground, where sub-optimal pH
can impair the plants ability to access various nutrients. In a container,
most plants do well in a range from 5.0 - 6.0 or so.


    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 12:22AM
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To me it looks like a magnesium deficiency. I suggest you water the tree with Epsom salts, or even better - a trace element mix. Don't expect the current leaves to turn normal, only the new leaves will be healthy, the ones that the tree grows after applying the trace elements. If the new leaves still will look like they have some deficiency, I would suggest applying trace element mix spray on the leaves, but this works only with the leaves that are 2/3 mature and be careful not to burn the leaves.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 9:53AM
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Thank you Josh!

Been a little under the weather lately.

Hi Evaldes:-)

It could be a magnesium deficiency, yes, but I have read the information about the fertilizer and it seems and I am going to assume it probably has it. Let's just say this fertilizer is just what a citrus wants.
If so, then I would still be concerned about the pH in the water I am fertigating with since without the proper pH, f the key to the green color of my trees, any fertilizer applied will be locked up in the soil and cause many issues, especially yellowing leaves, including Silicas.

Any fertilizer specifically made for citrus should be fine on it's own, unless of course the roots were damaged due to cultural errors to be blamed on the grower, or other enviromental factors.

Before I would ever spray my leaves or add different elements that may overload them, I would first examine the possible issues at the root of the problem, as I mentioned.

Silicon: Are you using the fertilizer according to the manufactures label? Have you checked the label to see if it contains trace nutrients, including magnesium?
Can you post a picture of the label for all of us to see?
No, my computer here at work will not allow your picture link to come up, unless you use photobucket, but someone else will chime in if they seem to think it is deficient in a particular nutrient.

Here is an excert from the providers of the fertilizer that Silicon menetioned>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

"Our citrus plant food comes in a special formulation which is suitable for both Summer (March to September) and Winter use (October to February) - as a general rule feed more often when the clocks go forward in the spring and less often when the clocks go back in the Autumn.

Baby Bio Citrus Food contains a high nitrogen formula to boost growth. It also helps prevent fruit drop, premature ripening of immature fruits and also leaf fall and discolouration.

This feed is specially formulated to reflect the plants growth pattern through the year, and contain the right amount of nitrogen while maintaining the high magnesium and trace element content.

Each bottle contains enough food for one tree for up to two years.

Dissolve at the ratio of 5-10 drops to 0.5 Litres of water and feed every 7-10 days in summer and 14-21 days in winter."


    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 11:00AM
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Why is everyone jumping to pH right away?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 11:12AM
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I forgot to mention for you to take a close look at the description:

I assume this company is not lying and it directly says the product provides HIGH Magnesium and trace elements.
Also they say that it is used to promote good color in the leaves. Didn't want you to overlook that.
I'll bet many would love this fertilizer!


    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 11:18AM
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Hi evaglades:0)

It's just me jumping on the pH issue at this time.
I am not syaing I am sure, but that it is a most common cause and along with other cultural issues, but not the fertilizers fault which stresses has those nutrients.

It rather seems to me that some will blame the actual shortage of a certain element/ nutrient and suggest using it as applications when it is already provided, instead of understanding and or getting to know the actual root of the problem. It is called bandaiding and overloading.

To illustrate: My Lilacs were producing no blooms for years.
I was told by many, even nusery professionals that all I needed to do was add Super Phosphate and that would solve my problems. I did and that did not work.
I then asked a certain friend of mine who is a horticultural expert/teacher and he asked me if I had checked the pH and I never did.
Liliacs are known to love high pH soils, above 7.0 and the pH in my soil was only 5.6.
I added lime as suggested and the next flowering season my lilacs blloms more than you could know for the first time and ever since. HUGE blossom all over my trees.
But also, because of such a boost in the phosphate once it became available, the lilac leaves turned very light green and stunted while focusing on bud formation.
Being a landscaper, I should of known this, but needed a reminder. Now all is ok.

Same can be had for Fragrans Osmanthis and Hoya: They love sweet soil, and I was feeding them water and vinegar thinking it was good for them too. No blooms for years. I talked to the same friend and he said to add lime to my soil and I stopped the vinegar treatment, and boy did they take off and with blooms.

It is true. In order for our plants to perform to their best potential, many keys have to come into play. I am not going to mention a great soilless mix at this time, but I will say that pH plays a major role before your fertilizer does in many instances and we should all know what our plants require in this respect as a very important factor.

I got to the root of the problem with my citrus trees, many of which are described here and did not bandaid it with adding more of a certain nutrient that most likey would of been overkill. I first have to know what the pH of the water I am providing them is. I can show you green plants because of this, but I think many have already seen them, and the lack of issues many have by just adding a nutrient here and there.
I no longer have to add any one particluar nutrient as long as the fertilizer is well balanced, required pH is met, and watering practices are under control.

Yes, pH does play a crucial, important, and vital role to our citrus, and that is something all should check before any type of one particular nutrient is recommended/added, especially when the fertilizers being used by many here already have more than enough of the major and minor nutrients that these beautiful trees require for optimal health that many are saying their trees are deficient in.
Checking pH can save a lot of time and possible undue stress on our plants with over loading with certain nutrients already available in the soil if we make teh conditions right for teh roots to have access to them.

Did you kow that when our container plants sit in temps of below 50 on a continual basis, NO nutrients are taking up by our trees, especially Nitrogen and Iron/ Is someone going to suggest one spray their leaves with Iron or feed their plants with more when COLD is the limiting factor?

It is very beneficial to know this, and since have a good relationship with a grower who specializes in growing Four Winds Growers trees which come to everyone very healthy and deep green, and it took a lot for me to understand this and the importance of using vinegar, lime, gypsum, acidifying products which is something I easily find enjoyable to share with many here and yet can be very detremental to our plants or make all the difference in the world. these products are not ones to be taken lightly along with our fertilizer use.

It took years for me to get it right, to keep my trees from having the issues many here describe, and I feel it unfair to not address what has helped mine, or what I have learned from many knowledgable members here who took the time to help me understand this:-)

Hope your trees are doing ok too.

Please excuse any spelling errors, since I have no time to go back and proof read them.

Have a fantastic Friday;-)

Thank you


    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 12:41PM
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Mike, you're a real gent for spending so much time to share your encyclopaedic knowledge with us and I thank you sincerely for it.

I've ordered a pH testing kit off the internet so I can test my water pH. Once that comes, I will let you know the results and I'll also get a close-up of the back of the plant-feed bottle and post it here.

Until then, thanks again.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 6:26AM
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pH is certainly an important factor with all plants. However, there are also many other important factors that can benefit or damage plants. Very frequently, for containerized citrus, the problems are deficiencies of one or more elements. Nitrogen, magnesium and iron are three of the common deficiencies that can occur. Citrus trees are heavy feeders, requiring frequent nutrition. For young inground citrus trees 6 fertilizer applications a year is recommended. Containerized citrus should be fed a least a minimum of once a month, twice a month during active growth is better, and even during the winter months for trees growing in warm greenhouses. I notice that Baby Bio fertilizer comes in a 175-ml. bottle. That is not even 1/2 pint of liquid, and incredibly the manufacturer claims it will last for 2 years. No way. Even if it was 100 percent active ingredient 175-ml of fertilizer is no where enough fertilizer to last a citrus tree for two years. Looking at the picture of SiliconRain's tree, I agree with evaldas that the tree is showing a symptom of a magnesium deficiency. The deficiency is not sever, and SiciconRain's tree looks to be generally in a healthy range, but I believe it is magnesium deficient. I would also say Baby Bio's given rate of application is not enough nutrition for a growing citrus tree.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 6:42PM
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You are so welcome SiliconRain.

It is always a pleasant feeling to see others be appreciative.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 8:41PM
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SiliconRain unfortunately the pH test "kits" sold on the Internet are notoriously inaccurate, and hardly worth the price paid for them. It is generally considered that any actual pH meter sold for under $100.00 is also not considered accurate, but at least superior to a pH kit. The symptom for a magnesium deficiency in citrus shows up as a green delta shaped figure starting at the base of the leaf and pointing up, with the leaf margins and tips yellowish in color. The exact symptom of your tree. You can dissolve 1 teaspoon of Epsom salts (Magnesium Sulfate) in a gallon of hot water, and after the solution has cooled, pour it over the surface of the container. Continue once a week until the deficiency is corrected. The best of luck to you and to your tree.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 5:05PM
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Thanks very much for the well-considered advice, Silica. While I prefer Mike's more cautious approach, I think two votes for magnesium deficiency is enough to get me to buy some epsom salts. They seem quite inexpensive and I'll be cautious with my dosage to start off with.

I'm perfectly willing to accept that cheap pH testing kits are inaccurate! I've already ordered it, though, so I might as well give it a go but I'll know now to take the results with a pinch of metaphorical salt.

Thanks very much again.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 12:20PM
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Just pick one up at the pet store for fish water and you will know the pH or your irrigation water.

I hope it all works out for you and good luck!


    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 1:00PM
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