trying to save a kishu

serge94501August 11, 2014

I put a newly-purchased seedless kishu mandarin in the ground and after four months it looked ready to die. I think the soil in that particular part of the yard has serious problems. I put meyer near there two years ago that won't grow but won't fully die - just kind of sits there looking lame.

The kishu, though, needed help, so I transplanted it into my sloppy 5-1-1 mix into a decent pot. Here's the before, during, and after.

Odds on recovery? Meanwhile, I am going to have that soil tested. We found a very VERY old concrete water transport trench when putting in irrigation pipe. Maybe that breaking down has done something to the PH or introduced some kind of bad soil condition.

This post was edited by serge94501 on Mon, Aug 11, 14 at 13:08

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

prior to digging.. first pic .... that soil was desert dry.. for a newly planted tree ...

its odds of success in the pot is astronomical.. compared to the bone dry soil ...

but you can have just the opposite problem in good potting media ... too much water .. so dont go drowning it ... trees in pots.. need not be watered like perennials and annuals ...

see link on how to plant and care for trees... at min.. its a 2 year process of proper watering ... and it should never go bone dry.. especially at depth ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 1:13PM
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It just looks bone-dry in that picture, perhaps - it's anything but.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 1:33PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Serge, looks like you're on clay soil? Almost no root system for your little tree, but you'd be very surprised at how resilient citrus trees are. Just be sure to water well (water should run out the bottom), and as soon as you see some rejuvenation (tiny flush starting), start to fertilize with Foliage Pro. Just be sure to water first, then fertilize, so you don't burn those new, tender feeder roots. If you're on clay, I would plant your citrus trees on mounds. That will help with drainage. Ken, for us here in dry S. California, it's almost impossible to have 511 mix get too wet.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 2:25PM
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You could have a number of microclimate soil issues in that area; examples include high pH, high calcareous condition, or soil pathogens such as phytophera, nematodes, or oak root fungus.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 2:50PM
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The soil we have here is super, super sandy. We also have a high water table. I'll come back to this post with the soil test results when I get them.

Patty - thanks for the advice, I will wait on the FP. I did put some CRF in the mix, hope that won't hurt the lil guy :S

I water daily - too much? The other plants in containers seem to be quite happy with that...

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 3:01PM
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BarbJP CA 15-16/9B

Hey Serge, just wondering. Is your water table brackish, or fresh water? I've always wondered since you're surrounded by the bay water. Just a side question, probably nothing to do with your tree's issue.

Your tree's symptoms look like my cara cara's when it was in really damp and rotting potting soil. Root rot. Even if your garden is sandy soil, I wonder if the problem may be the soil the grower had it in and that was surrounding the roots before it even got to your sandy soil.
I had re-potted my Cara Cara into good draining 5-1-1 mix, but it still was rotting. (soft yellow leaves dropping, stems blackening and dying) However I had just popped the plant, in the original soil, into the new soil.

When I un-potted it, the new soil was fine, but the original soil was badly rotted and stinky. And on top of that, when I pulled that soil off, there was a clump of pure, sticky clay under that around the root crown. It was like the root stock was started in the ground, then after grafting, dug up and potted with the bad potting soil before being sold.

Good new, since I bare-rooted it like you did and put it in the 5-1-1 mix only, it's stopped dropping leaves and black stems, and is putting on a lot of new healthy growth. So I have high hopes for yours.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 4:00PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

I agree with Barb. Here are before and after photos of my Ortanique and my Chironja, that were about dead from phytophthora (root rot). The before and after photos are about a year apart. I potted them up, and they came around and are doing just great, now. No clay for me, just a case of "too much love", with over-watering, and living in an area that has really significant issues with several species of phytophthora.

Ortanique before:

Chironja before:

Ortanique after:

Chironja after:

So a little TLC, and it should rebound just fine :-)

Patty S.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 4:35PM
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Barb, that was it exactly! There was an ugly black clump enveloping and sticking to the roots and when I say sticking I mean STICKING! It took a lot of washing to get that 'dirt' off. Maybe 5 minutes worth. (As for the water, it's fresh).

Patty, I know you hear it a lot but you do fantastic work. I am going to stay steady with the water and then add FP when I see some rejuvenation. Speaking of Chironja, mine looks anemic (it's in the nursery pot still) - I think I will up-pot into my 5-1-1 variant as well. Next out will be that sad old Meyer - right into a half wine barrel.

As for that area...I don't know what I will do there. 20 feet to the left there is a thriving VdB fig tree and 20 feet to the right is a Yuzu that has grown from 4 feet to 10 feet in 18 months. Perhaps I will try some other kind of tree (more fig?) that might not be bothered by the soil there...

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 5:27PM
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BarbJP CA 15-16/9B

Yes, Patty is awesome! She's helped me and a ton of other folks!

Btw, I don't want people to think that the grower of your kishu has bad practices. I know of them and they're a very good grower, and I've bought good trees from them.

It's just that the soil mix a lot of wholesale growers use is not meant to be the sole support for any length of time.
It's meant to grow the plant just long enough to be sold and planted in the ground quickly.
I'm sure they figure the relatively small amount of mix will break down and decompose in the ground as the young trees roots grow out into the native soil.
And the Wholesaler knows his soil well and knows exactly how much and how often to water and feed. That's why they look so good!

But the retail nursery doesn't know that soil mix well, and more often than not, the tree doesn't sell right away. Retail nurseries often over-water, (and sometimes under water in the same month or week even, ask me how I know, lol) and the poor tree gets stressed, (damaged roots) and the mix breaks down faster.
By the time a tree does get sold, could be months and months later, often that soil is done.
Breaking down from being too damp, it will then hold too much water, and it makes it hard for the young roots to break free and grow into the native soil.

Best advice I can give is find out when the retail nursery is getting new citrus stock delivered and buy within a week or less of that, and plant it into the ground asap.
Or if into a container, semi-bare root it and put it in the 5-1-1 mix or gritty mix, asap. imo.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 6:13PM
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molewacker z9b Napa CA (No.SFBay)(9b Danville E(SF)Bay CA)

Serge! I went through a crisis with my S.Kishu [on C-35] here in Danville the last 2 years. It was initially planted too deep (by my "experts") and then when i raised it up 6 inches, i failed to give it enough water. Once the soil dried out, it became hydropobic and i had a really tough time re-hydrating it.

The S.Kishu's leaves pointed up, yellowed out, and then fell off. 2 years later it has now re-leafed. [pic below]

My issue was clearly inadequate dehydration coupled with aggressive fertilization: = burnt roots. However, my planting location of south facing ridge [and competing roots] is far different from yours, so i trust that your shovel could tell the story.

From your first posted picture, I do see yellow tips. To me that is evidence of too much fertilizer and inadequate water. [ I am seeing that now on some of my citrus as i attempt to conserve water but still feed to get that last gasp of growth before the freezes hit in Dec/Jan.]

Now that you have pulled it, i echo the suggestions. Weekly FP application. Additionally, check your water pH if you haven't already. EBMUD delivers 9.1-9.4 out here so i need to adjust for that. It will likely come back!

- good luck, George.

P.S. - nice to have a practice putting surface!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 6:13PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

What Barb said. Again. And Serge, if you've got a problem spot for citrus, definitely plant more figs! They are much less finicky. Find yourself a lovely Black Madeira to go with your VdB (which we are enjoying right now, as a matter of fact, along with our Peter's Honey), or a RdB and call it a citrus day for that spot.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 9:57PM
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George, your Kishu is looking good! My poor putting green is in need of a good cleaning. We also have 9+ EBMUD water, but I use well water that IIRC is in the 7+ range.

Patty I hate to talk figs in the citrus forum...but here are my potted figs that are candidates for planting back in the citrus no-go zone:

Peter's Honey
Osborne Prolific
White Ischia

I am convinced that figs are not well-sutied for containers. At least not with me as a custodian. Eventually I want all of these to go in the ground. I think I can fit two back next to the VdB.

Of those I have languising in pots...which 2?

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 6:54AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Serge, sounds like a plan. Peter's Honey can get pretty big, so put it in the back. Not sure about the other cultivars and how they grow. Figs can grow in containers, but you should pick cultivars that are naturally compact (VdB is an example). Italians grow them in containers all the time, but, there is some effort that must go into successful container growing, such as root pruning. For me, it ends up being too much of an effort. Plus, they grow in the ground here in California like a weed. In fact, I just found a Panache seedling that has popped up from most likely a dropped fig or bird poop. So, now to dig it up, and find a new spot in my garden for a second Panache. If you don't have Panache, I would highly recommend this cultivar, if you get enough long summer heat. It is outstanding.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 10:34AM
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