Bearss Lime Tree Leaves Looking a Little Dry

AzTreeGuyJuly 23, 2012

This is my first post on GardenWeb. This site looks to be a good community of people and I will definitely be around for a while. I would like to make a big formal introduction but I don't want to get off subject here in this topic... so here it goes.

So, probably about 8 weeks ago I bought this grafted Bearss Lime tree from my local Lowes. It seems to be doing decent right now but I had some questions about it.

(BTW, I am in southern Az. About an hr west of Phoenix.)

The biggest question I have is, Why are some of the leaves on my tree kind of shriveled up while others looks excellent, in my opinion?

Am I watering it to much or not enough? Or what could it be? Right now I'm giving it probably about a gallon of water every 2 days, maybe a gallon and a half.

Recently I went on a trip and was gone for 3 weeks. I hooked up my lime tree to to a watering system that would water the tree every 4 days. Probably with about 6 gallons of water (way more the container could handle, the excess water would just overflow)

At that time the tree was in the full Arizona sun from about 11am to 5pm. It was in shade for the other hours.

While I was gone it rained a few times. When I got back to Az the tree was still nice and green but it seemed like it had less small branches of leaves on it. I wasn't to concerned because it still had a good bit and was still green. When I got back the pot/container soil was saturated with water, I guess from the rain and watering system. I drug the tree out into the direct sun and let it sit there for 3 or 4 days until the soil looked like it was finally drying up.

After that I started to examine the tree, noticing that some of the leaves were crinkled and crumbled up and kind of dry. Others still looked perfect. Some of the tips of leaves were a little brown/dry/dead. (I read that is from to much salts in the soil??? I dont know though). I also noticed that a couple of pieces of the bark were stripped/scratched off (like from an animal or something).

Anyways, So now I'm trying to take care of my tree a little bit better. I moved it to a fully shaded screen room I have in front of my home a couple of days ago. The crinkled leaves look to be doing a slight bit better then they were a week ago but I can't be 100% on that.

None of the leaves are dropping and they seem to attached pretty strong... I gave a few of them a slight tug.

Anyways, Any information you may have for me would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for taking the time to read about my concerns.

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another pic

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 9:32PM
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last pic I have

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 9:34PM
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anyone there?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 9:12PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Okay, the leaves being crinkled may be due to aphid damage that could have occurred either at the nursery or at your place. Also, I would try re-potting your tree, as you will want to improve the mix the tree is in. The potting mix from the grower is really not designed to be a permanent potting mix. So, re-pot using a well-draining mix (you can search this forum for "gritty mix" or "511 mix"), or plant in the ground if that's your intent. Be sure your young tree gets a bit of protection from the later afternoon sun, since it's pretty intense in your part of the country. The burned tips on some of the leaves may be due to salt burn, but that usually occurs from too much fertilizer, or poor watering with water that has a higher salt content. Flooding the pot is usually what we recommend to flush out built up salts from fertilizers, so doubtful that was the cause. The bark damage is concerning. Could be from rasping or chewing insects (snails or grasshoppers). If it gets into the cambium layer, the branch will most likely die, so watch for bugs. And, you do want to allow your tree some direct light. You live in a nice sunny area. Citrus love, love, love sun. So, lots of morning sun, maybe a bit of protection from stronger afternoon sun would be a good thing, so try to find a spot in your yard that provides that type of sunshine. Create a nice large well so the water will fill the well, but flow away from the trunk. Fertilize every 2 to 3 months while young during your growing season with a good citrus fertilizer. Lose the stake.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 11:00AM
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Hey, WELCOME aboard Aztreeguy.

Patty sure read my mind and spoke my thoughts!
I wish you much luck on this.

The first thing I always do is try and look at the mix. I could barely see what yours is in. It looks dark.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 2:43PM
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Patty S, Thank you for your reply! Mike, Thank you for the welcome.

Ok, so I've never seen any aphids on the tree but that doesn't mean they weren't there at one point in the past right? If they did cause damage to the leaves, wouldn't the leaves recover or would they not? If they won't, should I just cut them off?

So far I haven't seen any bugs on the tree at all, but then again, I've only been paying attention for the past couple of weeks. I've even gone outside a few times during the night on a few different nights to see if I could catch any bugs or anything in the act... but nothing.

My lime tree is still producing new growth that is looking good as it comes out... I hope it stays that way.

And about the repotting, I already did that on the first day that I got the tree. It came in a tall thin pot, I put it in a much bigger pot. The soil I used was Miracle Grow potting soil, it's supposed to feed up to 6 months.

I'm not sure if the water I'm using to water it is causing problems? It comes from a water well that isn't filtered at all. Well it has filters, they've just never been changed out. The well is just for the yard. I'm not 100% sure if I did it right but for the heck of it I got a pH test strip (that I got from a friend) and I dipped it in the irrigation water. I believe the water was around 9.0 pH I don't know how that would affect it becasue I'm not familiar with how the pH works.... YET.

Well, my tree still seems to be doing fine except for those shrunken leaves. I've been looking at it closly, trying to see if anymore leaves are shrinking. I haven't noticed anything major yet but maybe it's happening so slowly I'm not noticing?? I don't know.

Anyways, thank you for the replies. Any other info you may have would be greatly appreciated. (Like if I should cut those leaves off or not, or if my water is the problem)

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 4:43AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Never cut distorted leaves off. A young citrus tree needs those for photosynthesis. They're not causing an issues, like the spreading of disease, so leave them on. If they are beyond repair, the tree will eventually drop them, and replace them with a new flush of leaves at that node. Not your water causing this either. But, I would find it surprising if your municipal water's pH is that high. Inexpensive pH meters are notoriously inaccurate. Call your municipal water district and ask them what the average pH is of your water. You'll find it's probably around 7.0 to 7.3 or thereabouts. The potting mix you've used could be problematic. You're better off with a more porous mix. You can search the forum for "Gritty Mix" or "511 Mix" to find home made mix recipes that our citrus container experts like MeyerMike use with a very high degree of success. Or, you can try to find Fafard's Heavyweight Professional Mix #3 or Heavyweight Professional Nursery Mix. Both have the right combinations of ingredients and the correct size of fir bark fines. I cannot find it near me, unfortunately, so I have had to use EB Stone's Cactus Mix, which is more dense than the above mix, but not too bad. You may also be able to use this mix successfully, as you are in an even hotter and drier area of the country than I am. Our container citrus will dry out much, much faster than our friends on the east coast, where their relative humidity during the summer is significantly higher than us here in the southwest. You also need to fertilize with a good fertilizer about once a month. Many folks here like to use DynaGro, or DynaGro in combination with Osmocote Plus (the Plus contains the micros, and the NPK ratio is pretty close to exactly what a citrus requires). Do not rely on fertilizer added to a potting mix, it will not be nearly enough for citrus. And, I wouldn't worry about the few leaves that show damage. It could have even happened to the tree before you purchased it. Keep it outside with lots of sun, and some afternoon sun protection and protection from high winds, which citrus hate. Lose the stake.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 9:49AM
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Ok, Thanks Again Patty. I lost the stake already too.

Ok, so kind of an update.

The tree is still alive and still producing new growth, it seems slow though. Some of the new leaves are still becoming damaged. I think I finally may have figured out why. After researching and researching and not finding anything I accidentally ran across an article yesterday talking about citrus trees that have been infested with Thrips. After reading the article, seeing pictures and then understanding what the Thrips are and how they feed and infest a plant, I'm 99% sure that my tree has Thrips.

I bought a pesticide, safe for fruiting plants, yesterday and applied it today. I guess I will see how that goes.

I will try and keep you all updated but I just wanted to post this message to hopefully help someone else who is running into the same problem and can't figure it out.


    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 6:36PM
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Citrus grow slowly and in spurts; first the roots grow and then the leaves and branches. A black plastic pot in the AZ sun will literally cook tha roots and stunt, if not kill the tree. Is there any reason you cannot put it in the ground? If you choose to put it in the ground, you will have new problems, because your soil is probably high pH; but inground planting is much easier to solve problems than container. FYI.. inground for citrus is ALWAYS preferable to container... assuming you have climate that will support inground production.
Bearrs lime is pretty easy to grow; it is quite forgiving of a lot of issues that affect other varieties.

If your water is pH 9, you will have to add some vinegar to it; alternatively you could add phosporic acid... only for inground.

Best of luck. There are lots of genius people here who will help you... just post photos.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 10:46PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

AZTreeGuy, how is your tree doing? Doesn't look like thrip damage to me, but I can't get a close enough look at the leaves. More likely Citrus Leafminter damage. Spinosad will control the CLM. As well Bayer Advanced, which sounds like what you may have purchased. And John's advice of re-potting in something not black is a very good idea. As well as reducing the pH of your water if it is, indeed 9. You have a great fertilizer in AZ that is formulated just for your area, Arizona's Best Citrus Fertilizer. It is carried all over the place in AZ, even at your Lowe's/Home Depot often, as well as at Ace hardware and at another one of your local hardware chains (name escapes me at the moment.) Contains a fair amount of soil sulfur to help acidify the soil.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 8:25PM
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