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Re-Planting Orange Tree Into Ground?

Posted by sandiegodude (My Page) on
Sat, Dec 18, 10 at 1:59

Hi guys--

About 8-9 months ago, I planted a full-size Washington Naval orange tree into the ground in San Diego. I have clay soil that drains so-so, but it's pretty hard.

Stupidly, I was worried about the hard clay stopping root growth. So I filled the hole with some topsoil rather than the clay soil I dug out. I have since read that this isn't a very good idea for a variety of reasons.

The orange tree isn't doing great. The fruit this year didn't ripen (it turned yellow when it was about the size of a golf ball, got brown spots and the skin split) and now the leaves are yellowing. I wonder if this from water saturation sparked by my dumb idea for planting it.

The question is, can I correct my mistake, dig up the tree and put native soil back in, and try again? Or would that shock the tree to death?

I'm not worried about fruit in the near-term as much as I'm hoping for long-term success. Any advice? Do I let it go or do some reconstructive surgery on it?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Re-Planting Orange Tree Into Ground?

need pictures beforeny detailed advice. clay soil might prevent root growth, or water saturation might lead to root rotting, so that it cannot support fuit.
without seeing and, and i would wait for others opinions, take it out, inspect roots, and replant in heavily draining soil


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RE: Re-Planting Orange Tree Into Ground?

Plant it in a raised bed. Dig it up, set it on the ground and pile dirt up around it.

Here is a link that might be useful: mrtexas


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RE: Re-Planting Orange Tree Into Ground?

Thanks guys. I attached pictures below. About 12 feet from this tree is a Eureka lemon tree, which seems to be doing fine in the same clay soil. However, I did NOT fill the hole with anything but it's native soil with the lemon tree, which leads me to believe that might have caused a problem with the orange tree.



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RE: Re-Planting Orange Tree Into Ground?

We still don't have enough information to help you. It's one of those cases that we can only do so much to help without actually being there in person. I'd like to know what color your soil is. Color can hold some interesting secrets.

You are correct about the problems associated amending the soil and/or the back fill with something different than the native soil. Clay soil, as long as it drains well, can be perfectly suitable for growing healthy plants of all kinds. Only YOU can be the judge of how well it drains. This is very important for citrus. "So so" drainage worries me a bit, since I don't know quite what you mean by that.

For example, I have nothing but hard clay soil; brick hard when it's dry. But it drains well, even after hours of rainfall. Plants from the lawn to trees (and everything in between) thrive wonderfully with very little care. No amendments have ever been used to 'improve' the soil upon planting anything.

It is also important, especially when planting into clay soils, that the hole be dug only as deep as the root ball requires for it to sit a little above the natural grade....but two or three times as wide. Break up that clay soil before putting it back into the hole. Planting high is VERY important in clay, and advisable in all soils due to the settling that might occur.

SDdude, if you decide that the planting hole has become something of a soggy site, removing the tree could save it. If the roots have been struggling in that hole for 8 or 9 months, they won't have established much into the surrounding soil...making transplanting pretty easy. Use a sharp shovel to dig the root ball. Measure the height of that root ball with the end of your shovel so that you can dig the appropriate depth of the new hole into the shallow basin discussed earlier.

When using mulch, be sure to avoid piling it up against the trunk of the tree, but pull it away from the top of the root ball surface. Apply your mulch in as large a circle around the trunk as you are willing to sacrifice to the tree. Since you aren't planting in a lawn, you could really mulch a pretty big area. Mulch encourages the growth of roots.

Yet another factor in the success of planting into a clay soil is your watering routine. Clay soils (obviously) hang on to moisture longer than other soils with larger particles. Only you can decide if the planting sites are staying water logged or not.

Be sure to let me know if I can help any further.


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RE: Re-Planting Orange Tree Into Ground?

We still don't have enough information to help you. It's one of those cases that we can only do so much to help without actually being there in person. I'd like to know what color your soil is. Color can hold some interesting secrets.

You are correct about the problems associated amending the soil and/or the back fill with something different than the native soil. Clay soil, as long as it drains well, can be perfectly suitable for growing healthy plants of all kinds. Only YOU can be the judge of how well it drains. This is very important for citrus. "So so" drainage worries me a bit, since I don't know quite what you mean by that.

For example, I have nothing but hard clay soil; brick hard when it's dry. But it drains well, even after hours of rainfall. Plants from the lawn to trees (and everything in between) thrive wonderfully with very little care. No amendments have ever been used to 'improve' the soil upon planting anything.

It is also important, especially when planting into clay soils, that the hole be dug only as deep as the root ball requires for it to sit a little above the natural grade....but two or three times as wide. Break up that clay soil before putting it back into the hole. Planting high is VERY important in clay, and advisable in all soils due to the settling that might occur.

SDdude, if you decide that the planting hole has become something of a soggy site, removing the tree could save it. If the roots have been struggling in that hole for 8 or 9 months, they won't have established much into the surrounding soil...making transplanting pretty easy. Use a sharp shovel to dig the root ball. Measure the height of that root ball with the end of your shovel so that you can dig the appropriate depth of the new hole into the shallow basin discussed earlier.

When using mulch, be sure to avoid piling it up against the trunk of the tree, but pull it away from the top of the root ball surface. Apply your mulch in as large a circle around the trunk as you are willing to sacrifice to the tree. Since you aren't planting in a lawn, you could really mulch a pretty big area. Mulch encourages the growth of roots.

Yet another factor in the success of planting into a clay soil is your watering routine. Clay soils (obviously) hang on to moisture longer than other soils with larger particles. Only you can decide if the planting sites are staying water logged or not.

Be sure to let me know if I can help any further.


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RE: Re-Planting Orange Tree Into Ground?

As far as so-so drainage, this is how I determined it:

I dug the hole for the lemon tree, and filled it with water. Once it drained, I filled it with water again. After the 2nd time through, it took about 24 hours for the hole to empty, which I read somewhere is the maximum amount of time for good drainage. So I was right on that edge.

Thanks for your help. Unfortunately, I did NOT plant high for either one of my trees. My lemon tree seems to be doing fine but it is in a little bit of a low spot in that area. I think I'm going to transplant both and set them up higher, and in native soil. I'm going to wait a week or so. The rain in San Diego is pounding right now.


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RE: Re-Planting Orange Tree Into Ground?

I agree with you about the drainage. 'On paper', your test may indicate borderline drainage, but in reality we should call that poorly draining clay. It doesn't take 24 hours for saturated root hairs to begin to die.

I wish you the best of luck in your efforts.


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