Black Leaf Tips on Satsuma

alexaniaSeptember 17, 2011

I have a very young satsuma tree (about three feet high). It being spring, it's put out a vast number of new leaves. It was going well until recently when I noticed that a lot of the young leaves have pitch black tips. I tried searching for this, but nothing describes it.

I've also noticed quite a few tiny (grass-blade sized) leaves lying on the ground around the tree, as if something was breaking it off.

And then I'm also pretty sure it has aphids or something similar. I went to the nursery and they gave me some poison called Merit, but it says I can't eat the fruit for 7 months afterward, which seems a bit pointless.

So far, apart from that, the plant looks relatively healthy, should I worry and if so, what can I do?


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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I suggest that you take the Merit back. Shame on them for selling you something that you don't need! For ONE plant??

Yes, you do have aphids, though I am not totally convinced that that is ALL you have. What's available to you in S.Africa in the way of pest control? Do you have ordinary insecticidal soap or Neem oil?

Anyway, with one plant to care for, my vote is that you take a little hand sprayer (a misting bottle) and sit down with your plant...misting and squishing those little aphids. A fairly strong spray of water from the garden hose will do the job, too. Just don't make it so strong that you peel the leaves off! Aphids can multiply like crazy, so you'll need to keep up with this task. Neem oil applications would last longer

I believe I see the trails of a leaf miner, and maybe some spider mite evidence. I'm also wondering what those white things are in the bottom picture. Not the cast-off aphid skins on the leaf, but much larger...sort of hidden in the axils of some of the leaves. Am I seeing things? (Wouldn't be the first time.)

The black tips could be caused by a number of things. Fertilizer burn or severe deficiency, soluble salt build-up, improper watering techniques, etc. We would need more information in order to help you.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 3:51PM
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Thank you so much for your reply. I don't think we can get Neem Oil here, I'll take a look and see if I can get insecticidal soap (silly question, could I use liquid dish detergent in water?)

I'll go take look tomorrow to see what other creatures I can see (the big white things :P) I bought the two trees (this one and a Meyer) from that same nursery and they're both infested :() My Meyer has psylla and leaf miner.

As for the black tips, I gave them some epsom salts about a week ago (1tbsp to 4 litres of water) but I -think- I saw the black tips before I fed them the salts. I usually water them every two weeks or so, or when they look dry. It's warm, humid and coastal here and it's been raining quite a bit. Could overwatering cause that? I've check the drainage and they're draining well.

The only other thing I can think of, is the neighbours' cat decided to start using it as a cat litter box but I've put chicken wire over it, so it hasn't gone in there for probably a month.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 3:06PM
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Do you have access to fish emulsion?
1-2 tsp in 1 l of water sprayed on the leaves and soil once a week should take care of the infestation within a month.
I agree the black leaf tips are probably chemical and would suspect fertilizer, etc.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 3:46PM
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Two sprays of dormant oil will cure your aphids and it's completely non-toxic. I didn't know consumers could buy imidicloprid(Merit)!

Here is a link that might be useful: mrtexas

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 5:37PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Imidicloprid formulations have been on the retail market for quite some time, distributed by several chemical companies and manufacturers. Sad, but true.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 4:27PM
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Thanks guys! I went to go check and couldn't find the white things, so I assume it must just be the background peeking through or some trick of light.

I've sprayed the leaves with soapy water and manually destroyed any creature I found, while looking for proper insect stuff.

The black leaf tip plague continues though (and I'm seeing quite a bit of leaf miner) :( I'm wondering if I shouldn't just Merit the tree until it's big enough to withstand this onslaught of nature, I swear everything in a 5 kilometer radius is trying to eat it.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 4:41AM
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Your tree looks over fertilized/salt damaged which does encourage pest issues.

I hope you got it under control. A good flushing out of the mix it is in once a month with fresh or rain water wouldn't hurt.


    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 1:29PM
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I Agree with mike...looks like fert burn to me...what system of feeding are you using? slow release or soluble fert?
If soluble pays to water well first before you feed with solution to avoid fert burn to the roots and as mike says...give it a good slow long watering for wash out accumulated avoid foliar feeding in direct sun...good luck.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 7:36AM
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