Transplant shock or have I messed up?

carsons_mimi(7)October 7, 2010

Hello everyone!

I've been reading quite a bit on the citrus forum lately due to a recent acquisition of a few citrus trees. I've never tried to grow them before and unfortunately, do not live in a zone where they can overwinter outside. I'm sure that will bring on a learning curve in itself.

I recently purchased two Improved Meyer Lemons, a Lisbon Lemon, an Armstrong Sumatra and a Thornless Key Lime. They will be container plants due to our winters here (central OK, zone 7a). I plan to use Al's Gritty Mix with the Turface, Gran-i-Grit and Pine Bark Fines. I've been screening for what seems like forever in order to have enough for the five planters.

I've noticed that several forum members indicate spring is the best time to repot. After much internal debate and not knowing what type of soil they were growing in and if they would make it til spring in this medium, I elected to go ahead a repot while our temps were moderate (highs in the 70's-80's; lows in the 50's-60's).

Now my concern.... In late afternoon shade, I repotted two of the five trees (sumatra & lime) by removing the nursery dirt, barerooting them and immediately placing them into their new container home. The roots were not exposed for more than 15-20 minutes while removing the old soil. Once potted, I immediately watered them with slightly cool water with a tbsp. of vinegar (our tap water is around 7.0 ph) and about 1/2 tsp. of Foliage Pro mixed in (since I had no idea when they were last fed) and watered until a steady stream was running out the bottom holes. They were in shade for the remainder of the day. By the next morning, I noticed all the leaves were curling fairly tight but figured that was just transplant shock. They received morning light only and I pulled them inside my garage for the rest of the day. By the second day, the curling was even more severe with the normally 2"-3" wide leaves now curled to about the size of a pencil. The leaves (although still green) are rigid and feel dry but have not started falling off yet. I checked the moisture level with a wooden skewer and they still had adequate moisture around the roots.

So is this transplant shock or did I miss a step somewhere along the way...? I still have three trees left in their original containers that I'm now tempted to leave alone until spring. Do trees go through less transplant shock in spring vs. fall? I've always thought fall was the ideal time to plant/repot.

Thank you in advance for any guidance provided as this is all very new to me and I'd like to get my plants off to a good start. Or if need be, immediately run back to Lowe's and trade them out and not touch the planters until spring. lol


aka carsons_mimi

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Lynn,

What kind of mix did you put them into? How did you remove the soil? How did the plants look before you transplanted it? What did the roots look like? Were they healthy looking, or already sick from sitting at Lowes all this time?

Thank you..


    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 5:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That's definitely not transplant shock. Transplant shock might cause some leaf drop, but not what you're describing.

What you're describing is what you will find if you cut a branch completely off a tree. It looks fine for a number of hours, then the leaves curl into tubes and dry out.

So it sounds like the plants are drying up due to root damage. I would pull one out of the pot and check the roots. It's not enough for the roots to have water available - they must also be in a shape to absorb it. I would bet that you will find badly damaged roots.

When you transplanted, did you ensure that the roots remained wet at all times? I would suspect dried-out roots during the transplant process first.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 6:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mike, I put the trees into Al's gritty mix (Turface, Gran-i-Grit, Fine Bark Fines). I removed the soil by starting from underneath the center working up to the main root and gently removing the soil while working outward. I used a bamboo skewer on any stubborn clumps. The plants looked healthy prior to transplanting. The roots were mainly made up more of small roots instead of larger ones. They were of a beige-brownish color and looked okay (as far as my limited knowledge goes). I hurried to not let them dry out too much and I was as gentle as I could be to not break roots unnecessarily.

Displacer, I can't find evidence of recent broken branches and I deliberately didn't do any root pruning since I wouldn't have a clue what to prune at this point. Luckily, the trees weren't root bound in the pot. Sounds like I may have goofed by not using water during the barerooting process. So... working off the dried-out roots angle, what am I looking for when I pull the plant back out of the gritty mix? Can this problem be fixed and if so, how?

Ugh! I hope I can pull these back out. If not, they are under warranty so all is not lost if they can't be saved.

Thanks for much for the assistance!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 7:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, I'm not saying that the branches are broken. I'm saying that it's the same kind of symptom you see in broken branches - a branch that has been completely cut off from its source of moisture.

In other words, the whole tree has been cut off from its source of moisture: the roots.

If the leaves feel dry, then it may be too late, but it's probably worth a try to rehydrate it. I might try getting all the potting mix off and "potting" the plant in moist wood chips, the kind you use for gerbil bedding. Soak the wood chips in water for about 30 minutes, then wring most of the water out, pack them loosely around the roots and then wrap in a plastic bag tied off around the trunk. If you don't have any wood chips and you don't care to buy any, you could try strips of moist paper towel instead.

The easiest and, in my experience, safest way to bareroot a plant is to hose the soil off the roots. You don't need to be particularly gentle - a hard jet of water will take the soil off unless you've potted it in concrete, and a healthy citrus can handle 5 minutes of hard spray.

If, for whatever reason, you need to leave a plant's roots hanging out for more than 2 or 3 minutes, covering them with wet paper towels is a good idea. They'll dry out faster than you think.

Good luck! I've got my fingers crossed for you!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 8:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Hi, Lynn - It is usually to your advantage to work on trees that have finely matted roots in stages. Usually, I'll divide the tree into 4-6 imaginary wedges (like a pie) and remove the soil from 2 or 3 wedges during one repot, and do the remainder at the next repot, then allow the tree to grow w/o repotting for a year, possibly two. Spring really is the best time to repot. Alternately, when the tree has just finished a spurt of top growth is also a good time.

I wouldn't bare-root the tree again by removing the soil and packing it with anything. If I did choose that route, chopped sphagnum moss (not peat) would be my medium of choice.

If it's in the gritty mix, there is plenty of aeration, so as long as the soil is moist, there is little advantage, if any, in removing it. Make sure the tree is protected from wind, and is in bright light but not direct sun. A greenhouse to help keep humidity high would be helpful as well - as would be a tent-type arrangement.

It's possible the tree may shed all or some of its foliage as a drought response, as it's pushed toward a situational dormancy while it regroups and gets its feet back under it. Be careful about over-watering. It's difficult to do when using a properly made gritty mix, but possible.

Best luck.


    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 9:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ashleysf(9 San Jose,CA)

Use Kelp solution to water the plants that you transplanted as well as spray it with Kelp solution (as per directions on the bottle). Kelp contains lots of enzymes that are very helpful in a plant regenerating itself. It has worked for me before, so it is worth trying.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 10:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I assure you that a citrus tree whose leaves have tightly curled and feel dry, while still firmly attached, is not a tree that is merely regrouping or in a situational dormancy.

It is a tree in extremis for lack of moisture, and possibly already dead. It is a tree that dessicated so quickly that it didn't have time for water-saving measures like leaf drop.

If it reached this state while in its current potting mix, then it seems to me that keeping it in the same mix is not going to help. Of course it's up to you what you do with your own plants. It may be that nothing will help, and it may be that the trees will recover. I really can't say.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 6:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

i dont have much to say on how to help you trees now. I can say that back in april I bought the exact same trees you have and I bare rooted them all with no problems. All the Lowes here in Northeast OK havent had any for months now. And thats probably a good thing, LOL

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 9:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Lynn, is there any way you can get access to wooden dowel sticks?

I fear you might have missed a step as you asked, and maybe, just maybe you dudn't fill in around and into the root zone with the gritty mix..A mistake I have made that did exactly what yours is doing..

Those roots, the inner roots, the majority of them might be dying off while the only roots that are getting the moisture are the outside ones..I push a pointed stick in and out through the whole root ball, wiggling the stick as I watch the mix fall by inches in between the center roots..Sometimes the mix will fill in around the center roots so much, I usually have to add a lot more to the pot. Please make sure asap if not already to late..

Did you do this?

I would not take it out of the pot again, not for a second..That mix is fine, if not the best for your plant, and it is usually the way it is used that catches some off guard..


    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 12:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Situational dormancy, aka consequential dormancy is not a regularly scheduled event, like predictive dormancy, which we can rely on to put temperate deciduous trees to sleep each fall as a protective mechanism against cold. Situational or consequential dormancy occurs as a result of adverse conditions, most often drought. The mechanism by which this occurs centers around a lack of water to carry on polar auxin transport. A flow of auxin from leaves and apical meristems is required to allow the conductive pathway through the leaf abscission zone to remain open. When auxin is not flowing through the abscission zone, an abscission layer forms, effectively isolating the leaf from the trees moisture reserves. This can trigger the onset of situational/consequential dormancy. The tree doesn't have a choice. It copes with this type of drought stress via the dormancy mechanism, or collapse due to dessication. Note that I didn't say the tree was IN a situational/consequential dormancy - I said it was being pushed toward it.

It's not the medium acting as the problem source, it is compromised root function. No matter what medium you might move the plant to, it would still have the same compromised root function, so why heap further trauma on the tree by bare-rooting it yet again (rhetorical)?

It would be difficult to make a case for any medium that has a air/moisture ratio more conducive to root growth than the gritty mix (or something equally porous that holds ample amounts of water), unless it was sphagnum moss (not peat). I have more than a little experience with the excellent root rejuvenating properties of chopped sphagnum moss, but even then, the potential benefits would still need to be weighed against the additional trauma of disturbing the roots again.

FWIW - I have what amounts to a root cutting of a Ficus benjamina 'Too Little' that I pruned during a July repot. I meant to pot it up as soon as I was done with the repot, but it got dark and I forgot it - left it with the roots exposed on the work bench. I kept the cutting because it had a branch coming off of it that I could grow into a new trunk for bonsai. Because I forgot to pot it immediately, the leaves and branch were shed and the cutting is currently in a situational dormancy while it gets it's feet under it. The roots will grow until they can support top growth. Once this occurs, dormant buds will be activated, or tissues in the vascular cambium will dedifferentiate and redifferentiate into new meristematic regions so new growth will occur. The tree was very healthy when I cut back the roots, so it has plenty of energy. I have no doubt this will occur, it's just a question of when.

No one can predict what WILL happen to Lynn's tree, but if its energy reserves were high when she repotted, it's probably just a waiting game, waiting for the tree to regroup and some order to be restored to its systems ... and making sure the watering regimen is favorable.

Good luck, Lynn.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 2:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Lynn, the soil you removed from your root ball was more dense than the soil you replaced it with. In removing that soil you also will have removed many tiny root hairs that were taking moisture into the tree from the fine soil. Many will disagree with this, but when I repot my citrus trees, I keep the root ball intact as much as possible, move the ball into a pot that is large enough to provide new soil all the way around the ball, bottom, sides and top. Potted plants require feeding anyway, so changing out all of the soil at the risk of removing root structure is not necessary. Just another opinion, but I wouldn't add any food to the water you're giving your tree now. Cheryl

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 2:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree with Al and Cheryl --

I wouldn't want to wash the potting soil off any plant, really; I can't see the point of doing that. I'm using a more absorbent soil mix for the citrus, too: Pro-Mix, peat moss, Perlite and a little builders sand, and black sterile compost from the local landfill that they make with bulldozers.

Jeepers, I thought the root-pruning advised for citrus was radical! I can't imagine washing all the dirt off a plant's roots; this must be some new idea I haven't run into yet. The problem citrus didn't seem to like it, anyway.

I had a lot of small citrus roll up their leaves and the leaves die and fall off this summer, for the excellent reason that I was in the hospital and ill for some time and they didn't get enough water. Or anything else, except too much sunlight. HOWEVER, all but two of them are vigorously putting out new leaves as fast as they can! For that reason, if these were my trees, I'd wait and see if they refoliate and recover.

New leaves refoliating on a citrus plant, Oct. 2010.

The traumatized citrus plants that are mostly refoliating, except for one on the left (the front left is a tea plant, probably dead).

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 2:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I completely bare-rooted a citrus this Spring, and it has only discarded two older leaves in all the months since.
Truly, I intended to complete the re-potting in stages, but when I slipped the root-ball from the container,
all of the sandy-peaty soil fell off the I had no choice but to completely re-pot and replace the mix.

Because I've been working with these gritty mixes for a couple years, I anticipated some sort of shock/stress.
To counter this, I kept the exposed roots moist during the re-potting process and I worked as quickly as possible.
Once re-potted, I added a layer of bark mulch (less than one inch deep) to the surface of the mix.
Lastly, I kept my citrus in a protected/morning sun only location for a couple weeks, then gradually
moved it back into sun. I began fertilizing two weeks after the re-potting.

With these precautions taken, my tree never skipped a beat.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 3:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

;o) Oops - I'm a strong advocate for bare-rooting and root pruning all containerized trees, but how to proceed so the health of the tree isn't jeopardized varies, mostly by genera, but often by species as well.

I'll leave a copy/paste job from something I wrote a long time ago for you to consider. I realize it gives most people 'the willys' to think about bare-rooting a tree, but I bare-root/root prune up to 200 containerized trees every spring, and a few more in the summer and fall, with no difficulty. See what you think about the reasoning:

I have spent literally thousands of hours digging around in root-balls of tropical/sub-tropical trees (let's allow that trees means any woody plant material with tree-like roots), temperate trees collected from the wild, temperate nursery stock bonsai candidates, and trees that have already had some root work in preparation for bonsai training. The collected trees are a challenge, usually for their lack of roots, and have stories of their own. The nursery stock is probably the closest examples to what most of your trees are like below the soil line, so I'll offer my thoughts for you to consider or discard as you find fitting.

I've purchased many trees from nurseries that have been containerized for long periods. Our bonsai club, just this summer, invited a visiting artist to conduct a workshop on Mugo pines. The nursery (a huge operation) where we have our meetings happened to have purchased several thousand of the Mugos somewhere around 10 - 12 years ago and they had been potted-up into continually larger containers ever since. Why relate these uninteresting snippets? In the cases of material that has been progressively potted-up only, large perennial roots occupied nearly the entire volume of the container, plant vitality was in severe decline, and soil in the original root-ball had become so hard that in some cases a chisel was required to remove it.

In plants that are potted-up, rootage becomes entangled; encircling, girdling and hooked roots develop. As root diameters increase, portions of roots constrict flow of water and nutrients through other roots, much the same as in the case of girdling or encircling roots on trees grown in-ground. The ratio of fine, feeder roots to more lignified and perennial roots becomes skewed to favor the larger, and practically speaking, useless roots.

Initial symptoms of poor root conditions are progressive diminishing of branch extension and lessened vitality. As rootage becomes continually compressed and restricted, branch extension stops and individual branches die as water/nutrient translocation is further compromised. Foliage quality may not (important to understand) indicate the tree is struggling until the condition is severe, but if you observe your trees carefully, you will find them increasingly unable to cope with stressful conditions - too much/little water, heat, sun, etc. Trees that are operating under conditions of stress that has progressed to strain, will usually be diagnosed in the end as suffering from attack by insects or other bio-agents while the underlying cause goes unnoticed.

It is widely accepted in the nursery trade that plants should be potted up at or before the time when the root and soil mass can be lifted from the container intact. If the plant is allowed to remain in the container longer than this, growth and vitality will be permanently affected. My own caveat to this accepted belief is "... permanently affected unless the root restrictions and negative issues are addressed through root pruning", which of course requires removal of all or a substantial portion of the soil.

Potting-up temporarily offers room for fine rootage to do the necessary work of water/nutrient uptake, but these roots also soon lignify while rootage in the old root mass continues to grow and become increasingly restricted. The larger and larger containers required for potting-up & the difficulty in handling them also makes us increasingly reluctant to undertake even potting-up, let alone the now increasingly difficult root-pruning.

I haven't yet mentioned that the dissimilar characteristics of the old soil as compared to the new soil when potting-up are also a recipe for trouble. With a compacted soil in the old roots and a fresh batch of soil surrounding the roots of a freshly potted-up tree, it's impossible to establish a watering regimen that doesn't keep the differing soils either too wet or too dry, both conditions occurring concurrently being the rule rather than the exception.

Most who read this would have great difficulty showing me a containerized tree that's more than 10 years old, growing well and in good vitality, that hasn't been root-pruned at repotting time (Trees in extremely large containers excepted. Growing in very large containers is similar to growing in situ). I can show you hundreds of trees 20 years to 200 years old and older that are in perfect health. All have been root-pruned and given a fresh footing in in new soil at regular and frequent intervals.

Deciduous trees are some of the most forgiving of trees when it comes to root pruning. The process is quite simple and the long term benefits include best opportunities for plants to grow at or near their potential genetic vigor, and stronger plants that are able to resist the day to day perils that bring down weaker plants. Root-pruning is a procedure that might be considered borrowed from bonsai culture, but bonsai culture is nothing more than highly refined container culture, and to restrict the practice of root-pruning to bonsai only, would be an injustice to those of us who simply enjoy growing trees in containers.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 3:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I an in agreement with Josh..My repotting processes are just like his..

I certainly would not throw hard, compacted, old soiled root balls in the gritty mix or any other completely different mix, unless the mix can not be washed away easily with just a good stream of water..If it is that bad, then I use the route Al talks about in cutting sections away..

Mine have never skipped a beat, and never go through the shock process and demise that many experience..

Most my healthiest plants have been mailed to me "barerooted", and never loose a leaf from the time it is potted up nor react badly..

I think there are other issues going on with the process of transplanting. You did use the gritty mix, and as I said, if you did not fill in around the roots properly,it is going to die...There many other reasons as noted above that could cause it's demise or success. Some plants have completely different root structure from the same as the enxt which makes you wonder why is doing great and not the other.. I hope it works out well for you on this one.....

Once you get the repotting process down, especially if you wish to not use the old mix at all as I choose not to, you will do just fine..At least now, if your plant makes it, and you should decide to repot again, the mix will just fall away from the gritty mix and make your next transplant much easier and less stressful for both you and your plant.:-)

Just a word of advice..If you know others that are repotting in the process that you decide to choose, then listen to them, those that are always successful with the method you desire..You did say that you wanted to rrepot into the gritty mix..:-)

Stay with one thought, with those that know how with this mix, and you will not be confused..


    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 3:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Holy guacamole! You walk away from the computer for a day and look what happens. Seriously, I can't express how much I appreciate everyone taking time to give input into my repotting dilemma. Who knew getting a plant from pot A to pot B would be so complex?!?

Displacer, I have to thank you for a good laugh (at myself) with my initial impression of your 'broken branch' example. I thought "wow, we're really being thorough in looking at all possibilities for the tree's misery". After re-reading your post a little slower, I got the point of your very well written illustration of cause and effect. Sometimes I'm just too literal for my own good.

mksmth, April?!? Wow, if they've been there that long then Lowe's has been doing a great job keeping them alive and healthy. I live north of OKC and there are still several stores that have quite a few trees left of all four varieties. No wonder they were marking them down to blow out the inventory.

Okay, back to business. I think we're all in agreement I should be charged with 'reckless endangerment' for darn near killing my poor tree - which was the last thing I meant to do. So I have a few questions going forward.

Let's forget about these two trees for now and focus on the three healthy ones still in their nursery containers. I've spent countless hours reading on the citrus forum, as well as the container forum, about barerooting when repotting. If I understood correctly, leaving existing soil could cause various problems including nutritional issues, compacted/dryer soil essentially choking the roots or less compacted soil holding too much water which could lead to root rot. I elected to go with the gritty mix simply because so many people have raved about it and because it seemed to lessen the possiblity of overwatering as well as the issues listed above. It certainly wasn't easier (I now have screeners elbow) or cheaper initially (I'm hiding the receipts).

So...getting back to the three remaining citrus...

* Should I wait until spring to repot? The nursery soil in the two I've messed with so far wasn't compacted nor terrible looking soil so will it be best to wait until the optimal repotting time before I disturb their roots?

* If I move forward with repotting the final three, knowing now ;-> that I should keep the roots moist during the process, should I briefly submerge their roots in a bucket of water to loosen the nursery soil then use a directed stream from the multi-function sprayer to dislodge any remaining soil? It seems like blasting them with a strong stream would be harsh for the smaller roots but maybe not.

* Should I pre-wet the gritty mix waiting in the container for the new transplant (again, to lessen the chances of the roots drying out while I finish filling the pot)?

* It sounds like I should hold off on any additional fertilizer for now. Is there anything else I should add to the water (other than vinegar to lower the ph)?

Mike, I remembered reading your advice (aren't you proud?) about filling in around the root ball. I used a skewer to push the mix into all the little hiding places around the roots. I kept juggling either the trunk or the pot to help settle all the small pieces around the root ball until it would take no more. In fact, when I pulled the two trees back out of the mix (they're going back to Lowe's), it took several attempts to get all the particles out of the root ball and what I removed was still moist from watering two days ago.

I truly do want these trees to succeed. Winter will be hard enough on them so I really want to get them off to a good start in their new home. I apologize for the novella. I'll try to restrain myself next time (insert group groan here). lol

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 5:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I have to say that I am having a hard time figuring out what your mental image of me must be. I assume that your, hn, lecture (for lack of a better word) was directed at me, but it is sending me very conflicting metamessages. On the one hand, you are providing an explanation of dormancy, which implies that you think I need educating. On the other, you lace your lecture with a large number of highly technical terms with no explanation, which implies that you believe me to be quite adept and need no definition for any of those terms.

So which is it? Am I a callow student who needs to be told what dormancy is, or am I a technically proficient individual? As it is, this just comes across to me as passive-aggression.


There's nothing particularly radical about barerooting a citrus tree. Citrus are pretty durable in the roots. Carnivorous plants will protest being barerooted by growing bizarre deformities for months afterward (and some simply die outright), but citrus take it in stride.

Everyone who intends to grow citrus in containers eventually needs to become comfortable with examining and dinking around with the roots of their trees. You can ease yourself into this if it alarms you (and it IS kind of alarming the first time you do it) but you can't grow citrus in containers for more than a few years without messing around with the root system.


Spring is the best time to repot, but fall is not necessarily bad. The danger in repotting in the fall is that it increases the chances that you will overwater during the winter (because there is a portion of the pot not colonized by roots that can stay wet). If you are using gritty mix, that should not be an issue, so repotting in the fall should be fine.

If the trees are young, you probably won't have any problems getting the nursery soil out of the roots with just a hose. If you decide to soak the rootball in a bucket, be sure not to leave it in there for more than a few minutes.

"I apologize for the novella. I'll try to restrain myself next time (insert group groan here). lol"

No need to apologize. :D More info is better than not enough.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 6:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Lynn - dissimilar soils in the same container can create problems, but we can't always replace all the soil at one time w/o jeopardizing the well-being of the tree. Sometimes it's better to change from a nursery blend to the gritty mix in two repotting sessions, instead of one.

With your other trees, I would proceed with the thought in mind that a spring repot would be best, unless there are pressing issues that demand your immediate attention - like root rot, e.g. Even if the trees would happen to be rather root bound, you can still cut some vertical slits in the root mass with a utility knife & wait until spring to repot.

To answer your question about keeping roots moist: I usually saw the bottom 1/3 of the roots off, then use a combination of a root rake, and a Dramm Foggit nozzle to clean and blast the easy soil from the roots. After that, I'll resort to a tub of water and a root pick (a thin, sharpened dowel or chopstick will work well) to dislodge the stubborn soil. I'll dip the roots & slosh them around, then work with the root pick before dipping/sloshing again. Always keeping the roots wet.

If you'd like to see some sequential photos of a repot, let me know & I'll post them.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 9:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Sorry - I meant to say "you can still cut some vertical slits in the root mass with a utility knife, pot up, & then wait until spring to repot. I forgot the 'pot up' part.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 9:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I believe that Al was providing the information of dormancy and root-work for general public consumption.
Unless I'm wrong, it wasn't aggressively directed at you.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 11:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Sok, Josh - thanks. I wanted to offer an explanation that illustrated what moves a plant toward situational dormancy, and that my reference to the plant being moved toward that type of dormancy via a root-compromising repot was an accurate assessment. My bent, when someone assures the forum my information is innacurate, is to offer a thorough explanation of my reasoning, and usually a little additional information I think others might find interesting or helpful.

Take care.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 12:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Displacer saying, "Everyone who intends to grow citrus in containers eventually needs to become comfortable with examining and dinking around with the roots of their trees. You can ease yourself into this if it alarms you (and it IS kind of alarming the first time you do it) but you can't grow citrus in containers for more than a few years without messing around with the root system."

Most interesting, thanx! I think I'll join the container plant forum, too.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 1:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
puglvr1(9b central FL)

I wanted to post pictures of when I bare rooted, pruned and repotted my Calamondin tree to Al's Gritty mix. Hopefully, it will help someone who might want to attempt it next Spring. Although, I would never recommend you did what I did all at the same time...but somehow I got very lucky and had very good results. the tree didn't seem to have any ill effects from the drastic and radical things I did to it. Maybe Calamondins are a lot more forgiving than most Citrus? I'm a very visual person and prefer to "see" pictures of how its done whenever possible. Of course I did this in Spring in I'm sure that had a lot to do with my not having any issues at all...Hopefully it will help someone? I'm NOT recommending anyone do this to their Citrus...I took a very big risk doing such drastic measures all on the same day. I was very lucky that everything worked out so well for me. Hope yours recover...good luck!
It was almost 3 ft tall when I purchased it.

I sliced(removed) about 1/4 to 1/3 off the roots

Pruned off almost 2 ft off the top of the tree

This is what it looked like once I got all the old soil off


    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 8:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Nancy is a gifted grower and never takes the credit she's due for her skills. I've seen dozens of pictures of her beautiful plants, and my impression has always been that she's the kind of person who would feel blessed for her accomplishments, long before proud; that, in spite of the fact that it's her own efforts and hard work that produce plants with such good vitality. Strong work, Nance. ;o)


    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 8:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


As I understand it you have two main questions. What should you do now with the transplanted citrus to improve their chances of survival and how/when should you transplant the remaining citrus to improve their chances of survival?

I would check the small branches on the repotted citrus for life by cutting off a few tips. If the centers still show green your tree has a good chance of survival. If the centers are not green, continue to trim until you see green. If you see no green, the trees are dead. If your trees are alive, do not over water. The roots have probably been damaged to some extent as others have said. Spray the tops with water frequently, but only the tops, or tent them in vented plastic to increase humidity, again as someone else has said. If they are still alive they will probably resprout.

As to the second question: others have well addressed soil composition. Another issue is roots drying out. Oklahoma can be very dry and you took about 20 minutes to repot. I think that this is likely to have caused the problem. Repotting in Spring would probably have the advantage of more humid conditions, personally that would not deter me from Fall planting, but I would take extra care, either using water to get soil out of the roots (as described above), or spritzing with a water bottle frequently and covering exposed sections of root that you are not actively working on with plastic.

I hope your plants "bounce back".


    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 12:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
puglvr1(9b central FL)

Thank you Al...that means a lot coming from you :o)

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 7:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I must agree 100% with Al...

Nancy, knowing you has given me much more confidence in growing many things up my way, even your processes of growing such beautiful plants.

I would like to know if you don't mind for many others here too: How did you remove all that old mix without hurting the roots which seem all to be in tact, and how did you fill the new mix in between that massive amount of roots to ensure all of them were well hydrated? It seems to me you know what you are doing, and therefore you deserve a big thank you from that plant, it which it seems it has already by treating you very well from that day forward..

I too have done this method, without any ill effects on any of my citrus because people like you take the time to show us your skills and results.

Thank you so very much for this..

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 10:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
puglvr1(9b central FL)

Hi Mike...Thank YOU!!

I hosed it all off with an adjustable hose end sprayer till it all came off...I wasn't very dainty about it either,lol...I just kept the water in a medium setting(nothing too strong) until all the soil came off. I used a thin wood dowel to work all the potting mix in there a little at a time till everything looked nice and filled in.
Hosing it off didn't seem to bother it at all.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 3:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Lovely photos, Nancy --- You give me hope. [:-)

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 10:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
puglvr1(9b central FL)

Thanks Phebe! I hope it helps you sometime down the road.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 1:13PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Got a couple citrus and don't know what to do
So, I got a lemon tree and a lime tree as housewarming...
Leaf drop question, meyermike, johnmerr, or all expert advice please
I've been watching one of my two meyer lemon tree's...
stickstring (Northern California 8b)
Need help with my Meyer lemon!
Hi everyone, new to this forum and to gardening in...
Bugs 16
Bugs 15 is getting to big so starting this one. Trace...
tcamp30144(7B N.ATLANTA)
My lemon tree needs help!
Hello, I recently got a new house with some citrus...
Roderick Agius
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™