worth saving this dying or dead kaffir lime tree?

soekarno(z11)September 29, 2011

Dear Citrus Forum,

For nearly two years I had a very healthy kaffir lime tree in a pot on my balcony, at an apartment in Jakarta, Indonesia. Despite the air pollution here, I think it was in its tropical element, and it thrived for awhile. We used the leaves routinely for cooking. Yum.

Two months ago all the leaves started to fall off and now it's totally bare. After studying this forum, I now know with some certainty that the small tree had two major problems: scale and overwatering. (silly me, I thought the sticky residue from scale was productive tree sap!)

My question: if all the leaves are gone, is it worth trying to save? I'm willing to go through the effort of treating for root rot, and repotting, and taking better care in the future if it's possible to rescue it. Or, if you all think it's a lost cause, I'll toss it and get another one. I'm posting two pictures of this sad bare tree on flickr, but the lighting is less than ideal (too bright in the background).



Wish I had a pic from when it was healthy... it was so beautiful and green! Appreciate your honest advice!

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Start over with a new healthy tree; and watch/search this site for advice.... My philosophy of trees, it is a lifetime investment... don't start with a bad one...it is like buttoning your shirt... if you get the first button wrong, it doesn't matter how careful you are after that

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 12:54AM
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madferret(UK 8b-9a)

I suppose it's not that difficult to find a new tree there?


    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 4:25AM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

If you want to try and save it first determine if it has any hope. To do that scrap a bit of the bark and if the cambium layer is still green you may have a chance. Rinse off the roots and re-pot into a well draining mix and see what happens.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 9:25AM
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it doesnt look too good from the pics.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 1:00AM
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thank you Johnmerr, Nick, Mike, and Houston for the honest advice. yes it would be easy to just get another (and I'll probably pick one up soon as insurance), but in the interest of just giving it a shot, I cut back the totally dead (brown) branches, cleaned the roots, and re-potted. Most of the tree still has a green cambium layer, and the kaffir lime smell where I checked under the bark is still pungent. so we'll see!

Any other advice is most welcome. We just got two small nagami kumquat bushes, so I'll be lurking around the citrus forum more often from now on. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 5:40AM
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What Mike suggest is exactly what I would do.lol

Of course I have a weak spot when it comes to sparing sick plants of their demise. For some reason, it makes me feel good that I can handle such a feat.
It's funny about me, but when I see a plant for sale that looks like h*ll, I tend to grab it and find myself having a good time bringing it back from such an aweful state. call me crazy if you would like.

You certainly have to have the patience to accomplish such a feat and the know how. The know how will come from being a part of this forum along with persistence in learning.
The patience, well, not everyone is up to that.

The fact that you have green cambium tells me there is hope, that is if you are willing to look at such an ugly/ oops,cute tree if so that is what you choose to think of it.:-)

Please make sure that mix is coarse enough to allow proper drainage and encourage much new root growth.
Provide LOTS of sunlight and NO fertilizer until you see its first sign of growth.
Make sure the mix you choose dries out evenly and rapidly.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 8:12AM
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No fertilizer... therein lies the secret to new plantings. The lack of ample food in the new soil encourages the roots to grow in search of nutrients. Once the roots grow, the branches will follow and that is the time to start with a complete fertilizer with essential minerals.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 12:09PM
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And don't forget to get rid of the scale. That alone can denude a tree of leaves. Not to mention that it can infect your new tree as well if not addressed.


    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 3:15PM
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How much sun does that terrace get? I didn't think I was afraid of heights but that photo had me sweating a little bit. I would scrape the bark too to see if its still green underneath and cut back on watering do to lack of leaves. It seems small enough to move around so maybe find a different spot in a window that gets as much sun as possible.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 12:12AM
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luvrhome(z9 CA)

I know that this is an old posting but I have the same problem with my kaffir lime tree and was wondering what happen to your tree. Do you have updated picture of the sad tree?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 12:23AM
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