Ask a Question forum: Sick swingle lime tree

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Redlime
Aug 21, 2016 4:58 PM CST
My red swingle lime tree is sick and I can't figure out what's wrong. It used to be my best and heartiest container citrus and produced so much delicious red limes for us last year. In the past few months the leaves have started to droop, curl and fall. Branches are dying. It only produced 3 limes and they have speckling.

I took some pictures and am hoping someone can help:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/1gp8ynlkzvn2e2o/AABwT_fiBcsFtPl6U...

Does it look like fungus or pest (I see no visible pests).

Any help would greatly appreciated.



[Last edited by Redlime - Aug 25, 2016 10:50 AM (+)]
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Aug 21, 2016 6:30 PM CST
Hi Redlime, and welcome Welcome! to garden.org

If you could please fill in your profile with your location it will be easier to help you diagnose your little tree's problems. Citrus diseases can be keyed to location. Also, you can download your photos directly to your post, and they will blow up bigger for us to see better.

First, a couple of questions - how and when have you been fertilizing the tree, and with what? How much water is it getting? The leaves it has look like they are a good color, but the drooping is not healthy, and the leaves are not shiny. Seems more indicative of drought than nutrient deficiency.

Is it possible that the root ball down below has dried out? When you water it, does the water rush straight through and come out the bottom really quickly? If you stick a knife deep down into the root ball, and then push a slat of wood down the cut to see how moist the soil is, that may tell you something. If the slat comes out pretty dry, you need to lay the pot on its side and slide the whole plant out to check the root ball.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

Redlime
Aug 22, 2016 8:30 AM CST
Hi, thank you! I'm in Miami, FL. I'll look into the root ball. I water it every day, often twice a day and I use Down To Earth Organic Citrus Mix 6-3-3 Fertilizer, 25-Pound quarterly. I may try moving it to a larger pot and adding fresh soil.

Would that also explain the spots on the fruit?

Here are the photos embedded:

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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
dyzzypyxxy
Aug 22, 2016 9:44 AM CST
Hi again. The pot really looks big enough to me, but potting soil is notorious for drying out and then it's troublesome to get it wet again, because of the peat content in it. If you turn the pot on its side and slide the plant part way out of the pot, you should be able to see if the potting soil is uniformly moist. If it is dried out, just setting the pot in a large tub or something, and letting it soak for a few hours should help to re-hydrate the potting mix. A little plastic kiddie pool would be perfect if you don't have something else big enough.

Your fertilizer should be great, although 25lb. sounds like too much even for a big tree in the ground. Did you mean 2.5lb. maybe? Even that is a lot for a little tree in a pot.

The spots on the fruit are very likely just cosmetic, a little bit of rusty fungus or mite damage when the fruit was small would leave a lesion like that on the peel. Commercial growers generally spray for fungus and mites regularly, so that's why fruit you buy looks so perfect. It's pretty rare for home-grown citrus fruit to be perfect.

Um, hate to say it but it would be a good idea for you to pick off the remaining fruit right away. This will help your tree to recover, because it's putting a lot of energy into fruit right now, instead of growing leaves and roots like it should be.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

Redlime
Aug 22, 2016 10:37 AM CST
Thank you!

BTW, 25lb was just the size of the bag of fertilizer I purchased - I just copied and pasted from amazon. I put in the recommended amount on the bag - can't remember what it is but maybe 1/2 cup?

I'll go ahead and follow your advice.

Best!

Redlime
Aug 25, 2016 10:50 AM CST
Just an update, but what you suggested did the trick! the leaves have perked up. thank you! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
dyzzypyxxy
Aug 25, 2016 11:48 AM CST
Hurray! That's great. Thanks for the update.

Keep an eye on it going forward in hot weather. Citrus have a lot of feeder roots near the surface of the soil, and they suck all the moisture, and dry out quickly with the sun beating down on the soil. Sometimes a few handfuls of wood chip mulch on top of the soil will keep the root ball and surface roots cooler. Once the tree is a bit bigger, it will have more canopy to shade its own roots. Keep the mulch an inch or two away from the trunk though. Oh, and don't ever use rock or rubber mulch - they actually heat up the soil and dry it out. Even some leaves or pine needles make a fine mulch to shade the soil and retain moisture.

I'd also suggest whenever you re-pot to consider a white or light colored pot, again to help keep the root ball cooler. From the size of the tree in your pics I wouldn't think you'll need a bigger pot for a year or two. Maybe paint the pot it's in? Know an artist ? ?
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

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