Overwatering, nutrient difficency, or shock?

MountainCitrusJune 16, 2013

Hello All,
I recently purchased a 3 year old dwarf improved meyer lemon from Four Winds Growers. It arrived a little beat up but after planting in a 12inch diameter, 5 gallon pot, it perked right up. The soil I used was a mix of standard top soil, some stuff called Bark and Steer (compost with larger bark pieces), and the wood shavings that the plant arrived in. I watered when I put it in the pot and it looked great for a week.

I moved it outside and watered again (this is about a week after the first watering). I did not gradually move it (after reading a lot of these posts, I probably should have). After being outside for 2 days, I realized the weather was going to turn and we were going to have a night with temps in the 20s so I picked it up and put it inside not wanting it to freeze. It has since been in a spot with windows facing south and east.

It looks very sad! New leaves are drooping, older leaves are turning yellow and starting to fall off, and the one beautiful bud has lost it's petals :(.

I have not watered it again, worrying that it is overwatered or not draining well, I haven't given it any fertilizer yet as instructions from Four Winds said to wait a couple weeks. I know I need to do something, but I'm not sure what the best course of action is and refer to all of you as experts! Please let me know any thoughts.

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MountainCitrus

More pictures: Drooping new growth

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 3:00PM
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MountainCitrus

More pictures: yellowing leaves

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 3:01PM
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MountainCitrus

More pictures: stick test- this is what the skewer looks like if stuck down all the way. This is a week after second watering.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 3:02PM
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MountainCitrus

More pictures: some of the inner leaves are curled and crackly

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 3:03PM
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susanne42(6)

somehow i suspect you used a pot that has a fixed tray underneath?
your lemon is sitting in water as the tip from the skewer looks like it has mud on it.
make sure your pot has good drainage.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 3:22PM
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MountainCitrus

Hi Susanne,
Thanks for this note. It did have a tray that I removed but I suspect there still might not be enough drainage. I am thinking repotting is a must. Any thoughts on Al's gritty mix I keep reading about? Is there a risk of it draining too well? I live in a VERY dry climate.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 3:31PM
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susanne42(6)

i have no experience with al's mix and can not comment on that. if you are in a very dry climate you would need much more fertilizer i guess.
maybe a good potting soil mix and not too big of a pot would work well for you??
yes i would re-pot now to get the moisture off the roots. cut everything off of the roots that looks mushy.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 6:30PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Looks like transplant shock, changing light conditions, and an unsatisfactory potting mix.

Al's Gritty Mix in a container of that size won't dry out too fast. However, the mix will be heavy and it will be more difficult to source the ingredients and then assemble them properly.

I would recommend instead Al's 5-1-1 mix which is must lighter, much more economical, and much easier to source and assemble. It is a bark-based mix (5 parts) that is amended with peat or peat potting mix (1 part) and perlite (1 part). Dolomitic Garden Lime is added to the mix (1 Tablespoon per actual gallon of mix made) to slightly raise the pH, and to provide Calcium and Magnesium. I am also a proponent of adding a slow-release fertilizer like Osmocote. Then, I fertilize with a soluble liquid every week, tapering the dosage slightly for a short period during the deep Winter months.

When considering your mix, don't think so much of the dry months; think of the Winter gloom and how slowly the mix will be drying out. You can always water more often when it's hot....but it's a much greater challenge to remove excess water.

Josh

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 6:46PM
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MountainCitrus

Thanks Susanne and Josh!

Josh, do you use the bark flakes for the 5 parts bark? I saw someone used Repti Bark for Al's gritty mix- do you use that for the 5-1-1? I am going to try and source these things today so I can repot asap.
Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 11:13AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Rept-Bark is too large on average, and far too expensive for my personal budget. I use Greenall Micro Bark, which I then screen over a 1/4 inch sieve. In the past, I've also purchased bags of "Orchid Bark" in fine-grade (which is still larger than optimum and needs screening). Finding the bark is always the hardest part.

Josh

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 12:39PM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Along with the great points made here, and hello Josh, have you made sure that you do not have some type of pest such as mites?

Deformed very new leaves like that are likely to be from a pest. If your tree is weak, then I suspect it has been a very attractive meal for insects, those that you can not see with the naked eye I think.

Great points Josh:-)

Mike

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 7:03PM
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MountainCitrus

Eeek! I hope there are no pests. If you cannot see them with the naked eye, how do you find out if they are there?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 10:29AM
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susanne42(6)

now you got me curious. the smallest i thought are spider mites. and they are very visible unless vision impaired.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 10:46AM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

'White' mites are not visible, at least to my eyes, nor that of many others until their plants have webs, or their plants have died before they were ever spun and neither are thrips that seem to attack when you turn your back....Sneaky critters they are but almost always the cause of many deformed brand new tender growth.

Use of a magnifying glass staring at one spot underneath an affected leaf is always a good practice.

Good luck.

Mike

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 9:39PM
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MountainCitrus

Update: I repotted in Al's 5-1-1 mix adding Osmocote and Garden Lime. I also put it in a pot with more draining holes. It's been one day and my plant has definitely perked up. Leaves aren't drooping as much. So we shall see. I'm hoping we are on the road to recovery!

Did take a magnifying glass and did not see anything Mike mentioned. I will probably check again though in a couple days.

Josh, when you fertilize each week with a soluble liquid- is there a specific one you use? Four Winds Growers recommended Miracid. Thoughts?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 7:03PM
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johnmerr(11)

An absolute requirement for citrus growers is a 10X magnifying glass; without it there are a lot of "critters" that you can't see. I have one and every one of my farm administrators has one; and has been trained how to use it and what to look for. One of my "secrets" is that someone looks at every one of my trees every day; his supervisor looks at every tree at least once a week; and I look at every tree at least once a month; and I never go into the field without my 10X glass.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 7:40PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I use Foliage Pro 9-3-6, 1 teaspoon per gallon, once per week.

I'm sure Miracid is fine, but I haven't used that particular product before.

Josh

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 3:42PM
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