Why are my branches turning black?

aspiringgreeneryJune 23, 2014

Hi everyone,
I've had my kumquat tree for about 2 mo from the store and keep it indoors as we live in zone 2a. I guess I can have it out during the summer?! or not-let me know.. It had a mite of some sort attack it a week ago.. (moving white dots and I found some webbing between two branches. all if which I got rid of with soapy water spray). And now recently it has started losing leaves and I see the branches are turning a dark brown/black color so I've been cutting these branches off in hopes of isolating whatever is killing the branches off but to no avail. Please help!
Thank you

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    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 10:56AM
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    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 2:51PM
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If it's planted in a pot and still indoors, probably tired from the attack to take up moisture and then root rot from that effect..Also too reverse that..

A weak plant from poor mixes and over or under watering are prone to mite attack and dead twig to branch die back..

I would fix the mix and happy the roots asap in lot's of outdoor light and warmth...


    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 3:40PM
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Hi, were you able to resolve this issue? My dwarf lime tree's branches (it's in a container) have also been turning black. It's not sooty mold because it doesn't come off, and they're not drying out and dying--they're merely turning black. I'm trying to find out if this is symptomatic of a bigger problem, but can't seem to find any answers.

The tree itself is also suffering from overwatering and fungus, so we're dealing with that too, in case that might be causing the blackened branches.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 11:42PM
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BarbJP CA 15-16/9B

I have a small CaraCara orange that was doing this, plus the leaves were turning pale green and dropping off. I had re-potted it in better draining soil, but it was still happening. I suspected the original potting mix it came in was the problem, as I only put new better draining soil around the older soil.

I pulled it out of the pot, removed the newer soil, and examined the old potting soil. Sure enough, the old soil was very heavy and smelled bad. The tree's root had a few nice white roots, but most were brown or tan and mushy. There was a rotten smell too. So I pretty much bare-rooted it, ie, gently pulled off the old soil.
I had to cut off all the brown mushy root, which was about half or more of the root system. I rinsed it clean with plain water then re-potted it in a 5-1-1 mix, set in bright shade outside and waited.

It was scary at first as the tree promptly dropped the rest of it's leaves until it was bare branches. Some of the green branches continued to turn black and I was worried I had pushed it past the brink and it was going to die.

I also watered it very, very little, after re-potting, as the soil dried slowly in the shade. I checked the soil moisture with a thin wooden dowel to make sure it was dry down almost to the bottom before I watered.(btw, by "dry" I don't mean dusty dry! I mean just barely moist, like a wrung out sponge that's drying but not hard yet, if that makes sense) Really only watered it twice in the whole time.
But then after about 4-5 weeks the turning black stopped, then about a week after that I saw tiny new little leaves starting to grow. Yay!

It took about another 3-4 weeks for them to grow out, and even though they're a little on the small side, they're all nice and dark green, firmly attached and healthy! It's even now starting to elongate new branch tips from some branches. I am slowly putting it into an hour or so more sun every few days and eventually it will be in almost full sun.

Imo, the blackening stems are a sign of distress roots, usually from heavy soggy soil. When soil stays wet too long it drives out the air in the mix. A healthy soil needs both air and moisture, and when it's only moisture, the roots literally drown and then start to rot.

I would investigate the condition of the roots if I were you. Slide it out of the pot and examine them. Healthy roots should be a light tan to white, and be firm. Rotten roots will be dark brown and mushy. If it's root rot you may need to re-pot like I did. Good luck!

This post was edited by BarbJP on Tue, Jul 29, 14 at 13:29

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 1:23PM
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Hi BarbJP, thank you so much for your detailed response! I'll definitely give this a try; it kind of sounds like hitting the restart button on the tree but I'll be super thrilled if it works. Best of luck with your trees and gardening.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 1:31PM
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