I think my key lime tree is dying :(

va_canuck(8A)November 29, 2007

A month ago I bought a key lime tree at a home depot in florida. It is about 5 feet tall with a zillion limes all over it in various stages of development. I brought it home with me to SE Virgina. Since winter is coming, I brought it inside into my kitchen where it has a large south-facing window and gets loads of bright sunlight.

In the last few weeks it has been dropping a lot of leaves - they are dried up. The soil though it not dry - I have been maintaining it as slightly damp but generally not out of line with many other plants I have.

I fear it is dying and I don't know why. Help please! Some of the leaves are turning a bit yellow before they fall off but many just dry up.

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A couple of things are going on with your tree.

One is the shock of coming from florida- anytime you change what the tree has been used to there will be a period of 'pouting' that the tree will go thru til it gets used to its new surroundings (light, temp,humidity, etc)-

but the second thing is your watering.. Key limes do not like to be kept moist. You want to water your tree deeply when you water it and then leave it alone till it needs water again- they actually like it a little on the dry side (but not dried out).

maybe others will add more to this.

I have a key lime I am growing in my kitchen.

good luck :)

    Bookmark   November 29, 2007 at 10:20AM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

+1 ditto on sounds like to much water.
Also, if there is as much fruit as you say, I'm thinking you need to remove a significant amount of it. When a citrus is stressed it can't carry as much fruit. The move certainly stresses it, so it would be best to remove a lot of the fruit. If it was my tree, I'd take it all off in favor of more fruit next season. But at least more than half. I know... hard to do. The old saying is for every fruit you remove the first year, you get 4 the following year. and in this case it doesn't sound as though most of that fruit will make it. time to thin.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 2:22AM
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I repotted it (really just moving the rootball - the plug of roots and dirt is one big mass), moved it outside because it's been warm (70s and 80s) this week - and the roots and dirt were VERY dry. I suspect I have not been watering it enough. I gave it a few nice showers and it is looking MUCH better - the leaves are vibrant and the fruit is plumping up. Hopefully when it comes back in I can keep it happy. Thanks guys.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 9:48AM
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Hi Canuck..sounds like your lime needs a larger home.
If, when you lifted ball from its pot, you saw mainly roots and little soil, it needs to be repotted.
You can probably get away w/o doing so till Fl's spring, but if you find soil drying every couple days, it really should be repotted. 1-2 sizes larger than current pot..
Good luck and Happy Holidays, Toni

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 9:38PM
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OK some news on this front and I am just wondering if there is anything else I should do...

I failed to be informed of the fact that "limey" was forced to endure two frost-filled nights of 29-30 degrees while awaiting transport home from Florida while I was away. He was then brought home. Over the next three weeks he dropped about 80% of his leaves and some of the limes. A few small branches turned brown and appear totally dead but most stayed green. Most of the leaves that remain at at the ENDS of the branches, if that means anything.

The shower of leaves has stopped - it's been about 3 weeks since one fell - and what remains looks fine - the limes continue to develop and ripen as if nothing happened.

My current plan is to just pray it makes it through the winter and go back outside whenever the weather is nice enough.

Does this downturn sound consistent with frost damage? Will it recover OK? Is the low humidity in my house during the heating season a serious problem? Should I prune off the brown branches?


    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 11:52AM
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At this point, I would not move it anymore but wait out the rest of the winter. Lay off the watering and keep the soil on the dry side. If in doubt about watering now--DON't. DO NOT FERTILIZE! Mist the remaining leaves and stems frequently if you can. When the weather warms and settles, place it outside into a protected, deeply shaded spot until it acclimates (a couple of weeks), then move it into full sun. Once it is shows signs of new growth, you can start watering more and start fertilizing. (I move most of my citrus out by early April to the south side of the house--but, being near the coast, excessively wet or chilly conditions may still force me to drag some back into the garage until late April.) Citrus really have a problem with indoor heating during our winter season. This is why I keep almost all my citrus in a garage where the winter temp is maintained in the 40-60 degree range. Under these conditions I never experience any leaf drop with the citrus (lemons, oranges, kumquats, limequats, etc.) Limes tend to like it a bit warmer than other citrus but they still suffer in our homes in the winter. The only citrus I currently have in the house is a Kaffir lime as they are more tropical; it's on a radiator and is actually doing very well (something must citrus would HATE). Having said all this, I suspect that your tree should make it (still having green stems is a good sign.) Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2008 at 8:21AM
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My key lime tree has been outside since early March now. I managed to limp it through the winter even though it lost at least 80% of it's leaves.
Within 2 weeks of being outside, it began flowering. It continues to flower now - hundreds of them - and now new leaves are growing all over it. I am SO happy it has pulled through with no apparent permanent damage.
I planted it in the ground and have a plan to keep it protected with xmas lights and a plastic drop cloth if needed in the next coming winter (it is close to the house and in a protected location). It rarely goes below freezing here so I think I will be able to get it through this way.

Thanks for your help guys! I look forward to a whole mess of key lime pies again later this year! :)

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 2:01PM
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Canuck, it's a whole new ballgame when citrus are brought outside..Felled leaves are replaced, flowers bud, and fruit matures.
Since you're in z8, you can probably keep citrus out longer than most of us in lower zones..what month do you bring plants indoors? Citrus can stay outside until nights dip in the 40's, (most ppl leave citrus out till then.) I have discovered by chance, keeping citrus out when temps drop in the 40's, (some, not all but sometimes) leaves are bound to drop..the difference from out to in change drastically. From sunny, fresh air, humidity, to dry, stuffy, semi-sunless days. For a time, I would bring citrus in during Aug, when temps were still in the 80's and 90's..but since decided to improve indoor conditions, by added humidity, fans and artificial lighting, so I too now bring citrus in during Sept/Oct. Toni

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 2:55PM
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I bought a lime tree from Tyty nursery in GA for christmas. It was shipped to me in NC. I potted it and kept it in my sunroom. It lost all of its leaves and dropped all of its fruit. In March it started putting on hundreds of flowers and new leaves. Now that summer is here I put it outside because it stays 80-90 degrees. I am keeping it slightly dry and spraying the leaves. I noticed that the new leaves are drying up and falling off, no more blooms have appeared and now branches are turning brown and dying. Does anyone have any suggestions on what is happening to my tree. I thought it would like being outside in the sunny 90 degree weather. Any tips or insight would be appreciated.

Oh, also I noticed it had the scaly brown things stuck to it that I could brush off with a q-tip. What is it and does this have anything to do with the dying. I brushed all of the off and havent seen new ones since I moved it outside.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 7:14PM
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