repotting into gritty mix, need some pointers

Boozemonkey(Massachusetts 6B)December 12, 2013

Hello everyone,

This is my first post and I am a citrus newbie. I'll be repotting my Persian lime and Clementine tree this weekend from MB Citrus mix to Al's gritty mix.

Do you guys clean the root ball of all the old soil? If so, how do you do it? And how do you lay it down in the new substrate?

My poor persian tree is doing terrible in the current mix and I want to save it



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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Booze. Where do you live?

First pointer: now is a difficult time to re-pot Citrus in the northern hemisphere (I don't know where you live, though). Optimal time would be to re-pot in early Spring between flushes of growth.

Bare-rooting the citrus now will be even more traumatic to the tree and probably ensure a longer, slower recovery time. But if it's a choice between the tree dying, then proceed.

After cleaning off the roots, you would trim any wild, j-hooked, angled, girdling, or heavy and woody roots. Then you would build a mound to the desired height and place the root-ball on top with the roots spread outward and down the sides of the mound like the spokes of a bicycle wheel (or, perhaps, imagine lava running down all sides of a volcano). Then, add the mix a layer at a time, using a chop-stick or similar poker to work the mix between the roots. Add another layer of mix, poke, layer of mix, poke, leaving no air-pockets. Once the roots are mostly covered, do a thorough watering to settle the mix even better, and then add your final layer of mix to cover the root-flare (the point at which the roots transition to the trunk).

Secure the tree / roots in relation to the pot, so that there is no wobbling. This helps the roots establish faster. I typically put a stake into the mix at the outside edge of the container, and then I loosely tie a prominent branch to the stake. If the tree wants to lean a certain direction, put your stake on the opposite side of the pot, and secure a branch to it. Position the tree so that the leaning side is facing away from the sun (with the hope that the tree will reach for the sun and pull itself in that direction). I hope that's not too confusing.

For one or two weeks, water lightly every 2 - 4 days (to keep the mix uniformly moist while the roots are re-establishing themselves).

Two weeks after re-potting, resume fertilization. You could start with a 1/2 strength dose since this is Winter (again, assuming you're in the northern hemisphere).

With more information, the advice can be better tailored to your situation.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 8:49PM
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I'm with Josh on this..

Optimum time to repot especially into an entirely different mix would be spring...

What wrong with your mix now?
If it holds water too long, why not use a wick to draw the water out and wait until spring?

If you choose now anyhow, then follow Josh's very sound advice please...

Welcome by the way"-)


    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 9:00PM
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Boozemonkey(Massachusetts 6B)

Greenman - Thank you for the great step by step instructions

Meyermike - I mane two newb mistakes, the first was to assume that Miracle Grow Citrus mix was ideal for my citrus plants. The second, was that I overwatered and have a water logged plant. My plant has lost about 70% of its leaves and they are constantly drooping. Everyday I find a few more leaves on the ground.

Do you mind explaining the wick method, and how I would implement it? My citrus are at my office and I would have to take them out into the Massachusetts cold, then work on them at home and then bring them back to the office.

If I dont hear from you guys by the end of my shift today, I'll go a head and try the repot and see what happens.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 5:55AM
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If you can get some rope or take a few strands from an old mop and find a way to push them up into the bottom of the pot holes that would be awesome..

I usually use a hanger and use that to force a piece of rope up through one the the drainage holes..

Too, you could gently lift your plants out of the pots and stick a piece of rope right into the center of your root balls and before sticking the plant back in, put the other end of the rope through the drainage hole then set the plant back down into the pot.

This way you get little disruption on the roots and will encourage the moisture to drain out of your mix...

The rope or string, preferably made of rayon or cotton, one that absorbs moisture well dangling from the pot to trick the water in your pot down and out from your plants.

You will probably have to lift it up off the saucer somehow, so that the rope hangs..

Sometimes I use a pot a bit smaller than the one I the plant is in so it's raised up in the smaller pot and the wick can hang in there.

If you thing it's a bit to much to try this, then you could go to the second choice..

Place one of your potted plants into a bigger pot so it fits into the bigger pot with mulch on the bottom of it...The mulch will draw out the moisture from your potted plant one..The only disadvantage I get doing this is that, if left long enough in that mulched pot, the roots of my plants will grow outside the pot it's planted in right into the pot with mulch...

Remember, this is just to get you by until spring.:-)

I hope you get it.:-)

Here is a link explaining the further use of a wick..

Here is a link that might be useful: About wicking

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 8:23AM
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Boozemonkey(Massachusetts 6B)

Thanks Meyermike and Greenman. I have some options to think about.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 8:29AM
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Boozemonkey(Massachusetts 6B)

Hey Guys,

I just wanted to post an update. I decided to repot my Persian Lime because it didn't look like it was going to last a week.

Well to my surprise when I took it out of the pot to make the substrate switch the root ball was wound tight with a lot of woody growth and it was DRY AS A BONE. I soaked it in a bucket of room temperature water for about 5 or 10 minutes. Then I trimmed some of the roots.

It's been repotted and I know its probably all in my head but the tree does seem perkier lol. I know it will drop the one lime it has and the other small blossoms but its worth it if it survives and thanks me down the road with some fruit.

I still am speechless as to what happened. I used to water it at least twice a week, then when I suspected over watering I cut back. In retrospect, all I was doing was starving the plant even more. SMH

Once again thanks to everyone who helped me


    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 7:24PM
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Boozemonkey(Massachusetts 6B)


Ok so I need some more help or talking off a cliff lol. I've attached pictures in hopes that it will help diagnosing my issues. So I have had this lime now for about two months.

Since I took it to the office it has been on a slow decline. It started off having tons off leaves and its slowly been dropping them. The last couple of weeks the plant has almost become bald.

Above is before the potting

After Al's gritty mix repotting

Perfect beautiful leaves falling off

I fully expected to drop a few leaves after the repotting or that last little lime in the background. But this is nuts, perfect leaves are falling off. When they do fall they leave the petiole on the trunk. I cant even bump the pot without a leaf falling to the ground. And it worries me that all the leaves will be gone soon.

Please any experts chime and give me some of your valuable insight.

BTW Plants are currently in low sun environment recovering from transplant shock( I hope) and are getting water every two days as the pot dries out. Im waiting for the one week mark to move them back to my sunny office Same thing is happening to my Clementine :(

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 8:13PM
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Hey Booze, or Monkey, not sure how to address

Don't fret...As long as you noticed the roots were ok, it should be fine..

It is true that perfectly normal looking green leaves can fall right off if left to dry out to long...
You might even loose a few branches of there was root die back..

But if your twigs and branches look fine, and if you water appropriately, you will get new growth to emerge as the sun does its job..

Just make sure you keep the root ball moist at all times...

I hope it does well for you..It should.:-)


    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 8:40PM
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Boozemonkey(Massachusetts 6B)

Hi Mike,
Booze is fine :) Its from my old bartending days as a youngster. I have some of the Dyna-grow rooting concentrate on the way. Do you think I should use it on the freshly transplanted plants or do you think I should let them get a natural foothold?

Also, and I hate to say you think I should pull that one lime off so the tree can concentrate on new growth?

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 8:52PM
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Booze...I would hold off on the fertilizer until the roots are back to working as usual again..A couple of weeks is good...Sometimes I use a root starter such as Superthrive...not sure if it is just a bunch of hocus pokus but it seems to work..

I am the right man to ask if you have no need for the I would pull it right off and divert ALL the energy back to root and leaf growth...

Good questions...


    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 9:12PM
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