my first citrus trees...HELP!

debbiekim(6)December 6, 2010

i'm a newbie and i need your help, please!!!

i recently bought a clementine and a mandarin tree online - 1.5 years old. just got them delivered last week. i opened the box and saw that one of them had its leaves curled downward. the other one had some leaves that looked healthy, glossy, and dark green, but some of the other leaves looked olive green and more "transparent" than the others. doubtful, yet hopeful, i put them in terra cotta pots with organic potting soil, gave them a deep watering (not totally soaked or anything), and put them in the sunniest spot in the house, which gets a good 8-10 hours of sun. now, all of the leaves on both plants are drying up and some are falling off!

i left a message with the company and am waiting for a response, but i thought i'd check in with you knowledgeable folks!

help!! what did i do wrong??

(let me know if you need more info from me...i didn't know what i was suppose to include!)

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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

Hey debbiekim

welcome to GW. Your trees are probably in shock right now, which is pretty normal. Any chance they may have been exposed to freezing temps during the shipping to your zone? A couple hours on a freezing FedEx truck or dock can damage an unprotected citrus tree. The mix you put them in, is it free draining? When you water you should start to see some come out the bottom in a matter a seconds. If not it will hold more than you think and you will need to be extra careful to not over water this winter. Your first instinct when trouble starts will be to water and most often that compounds you problems. Just be sure you can provided adequate light, keep the roots warm and dont overwater.

posting some pictures of the overall tree, soil mix and location they will be in will help us guide you to a healthy recovery of your trees.


    Bookmark   December 6, 2010 at 12:33PM
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ashleysf(9 San Jose,CA)

Your trees are in root shock. I have a little experience reviving shocked citrus. There is not enough water or nutrients being taken up by the damaged roots to keep the foliage healthy. I recommend that you take your pots outside, completely drench the leaves and soil with Kelp water (follow mixing ratio recommended on bottle - kelp has natural enzymes that promotes root growth) until the water drains out of the holes in the pot. Bring it inside and tent it with transparent plastic for a couple of weeks and leave it in the sunniest spot you can find inside your house. You will see that the humidity inside the bag will greatly help to restore the condition of the foliage. Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2010 at 1:18PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

"Organic potting soil" is usually a disaster for an indoor tree.
Is there anything in the soil - like grit (pumice, perlite, turface, gravel) -
to help promote drainage?


    Bookmark   December 6, 2010 at 1:21PM
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Debbie: Nice to meet you...

Everyone here thus far is on the matk. These are different ways of making sure your tree has a good recovery..So many great points and suggestions..

The very first thing that came to my mind is what exactly what "Josh" said..

Your main concern should be your "mix" then everything elses follows..Usually before I order any type of plant that I am aware will come especially barerooted, I will usually have batch of my own mix prepared ahead of time..
Too, once you unwrap the plant from the package, it always helps to let the roots sit in warm water for at least an hour if you notice the wrap around the roots is dry, then plant up..It is also a good idea to make sure that the mix fills in extremely well around the roots..

There are so many idea's here on these forums for a very good mix..
The one you are using is not something I would ever use on mine..

I see many here are suggesting a fast draining mix and what you have is not..It will only create more problems sooner than later..

I am not sure if repotting at this time is something I would do..Maybe someone here can let us know? How long exactly have those trees been sitting in the bagged mix?

If you can take pictures that would be a good thing too..

Good luck with it and please come back for more support..Many love to be of help.

Next time, you may want consider holding off till spring for a far better advantage all around for you and your new plants to be less stressful and more successful..:-)


    Bookmark   December 6, 2010 at 2:34PM
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thanks, everyone! such good information!

i will try to post pics as soon as i can.

i tried the kelp water today. we'll see what happens!

the soil mix has sphagnum peat moss, aged pine bark fines, and perlite. no clue what the ratio is. i potted them a week ago...i'm assuming at this point, it's not a wise thing to try and repot them...

at this point all of the leaves are dried up so i have little hope for these trees! i suppose all i can do is wait and do the best i can.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2010 at 11:26PM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)


dont give up you can get them through this no problem. We have seen some members trees go from literally sticks to completely healthy trees in a matter of months. Your situation will be a bit more difficult because of the season but you can do it. I dont think I would re-pot now, the mix isnt ideal but with careful watering you should be able to get by until spring when you can do it and put the tree outside. You will need to be sure and find a way to keep the roots warm enough to keep them active, 55 degrees is a minimum that I have researched and is what I try to keep mine at in my greenhouse. Keep it in the sunny window and water only when the mix dries out and use luke warm water when you do.

good luck and keep us updated

    Bookmark   December 8, 2010 at 9:36AM
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thanks, mike!
i feel much better about the trees. =0) hopefully, i'll be updating with good news!!

    Bookmark   December 8, 2010 at 2:55PM
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I think Mike and Ashley have done a great job!

Ashley mentioned something that I would definitely do..Put a plastic bag over the whole tree to keep it humid within the bag to help keep the leaves moist..

You still might loose all the leaves, but that does not mean the plant is a goner..I know many people that have lost every leaf after some sort of shock and grow them right bak once the roots are happy...As long as the BRANCHES are not dying and you watch your watering, it will come back..Do not over water at this time..Make sure your mix is dry, but not beyond dry before another drink..


    Bookmark   December 8, 2010 at 8:25PM
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