Ask a Question forum: Mandarin Tree leaves drying/curling & fruit dry and leathery

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Shizuoka, Japan (Zone 9b)
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AshleyD
Dec 6, 2016 3:58 AM CST
I recently got a Satsuma Mandarin Orange Tree. I was advised to not re-pot it until it had finished with the fruit it was already growing. I placed it outside on my balcony intending to have it as a potted Citrus. However, we had a very cold day and I neglected to bring it in.

The leaves have curled up a bit and are now drying off and falling. Some other leaves are still bright green (others have yellow patches but not too many do). The branches and trunk are green with bits of brown but nothing too out of the ordinary.

Recently some of the fruit have seemed to dry out as well (not all of them). I have the tree in my room where it is warm. I worry about the dryness. And while I've been googling a lot- I feel like I want more definite answers from people with experience.

I know the cold has gotten to it, would spraying the leaves with water help with humidity or do I need to just let it be as it tries to recover? Am I completely mis-diagnosing it?

Thanks so much,

~Ashley
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Dec 6, 2016 10:20 AM CST
Welcome!

Is it possible for you to post some photos of your tree? It would be a great help if we could see the tree for ourselves. An overall photo plus some closeups would be awesome.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Shizuoka, Japan (Zone 9b)
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AshleyD
Dec 7, 2016 3:28 AM CST
DaisyI said: Welcome!

Is it possible for you to post some photos of your tree? It would be a great help if we could see the tree for ourselves. An overall photo plus some closeups would be awesome.


Here are some pictures I took yesterday. Hopefully they are good. If need be I can take more. As you can see there are some curled up and dried leaves. They are falling off (but sometimes more healthy looking leaves also fall off so I am trying to be very careful with it). The super healthy clusters seem to be doing ok and are basically giving me hope that I didn't kill this poor tree.

I have included pictures of the trunk, and the fruit. Those three had a very leathery like feel to it and the inside was dry (hence why i took them off the tree). There are still some other fruits, some have the softer peel I am used to seeing, and others are dry or tough.

I just am brand new to this, I've tried to do a lot of reading and the like, but I feel like I am still lost.

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Edit: The healthy looking leaves that fall are actually yellow... am I overwatering as well? I watered it 2 times this week... should I space it out more?
[Last edited by AshleyD - Dec 7, 2016 6:17 AM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Dec 7, 2016 6:32 AM CST
Welcome! Looking at the fifth picture down, the potting mix looks dry and seems to have pulled away from the sides of the pot. If you push your finger into the potting mix does it feel damp? You're watering. 2 times a week but how much are you giving it each time? Does it run straight out of the bottom of the pot when you water?
Shizuoka, Japan (Zone 9b)
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AshleyD
Dec 7, 2016 7:49 AM CST
sooby said: Welcome! Looking at the fifth picture down, the potting mix looks dry and seems to have pulled away from the sides of the pot. If you push your finger into the potting mix does it feel damp? You're watering. 2 times a week but how much are you giving it each time? Does it run straight out of the bottom of the pot when you water?


The soil is actually pretty hard so i can't really put it in. When I watered, it tends to come out the bottom, yes. Once it does, I usually pull back because I've been afraid of overwatering. I've been holding off on re-potting but if I need to get new soil I can, I just don't want to shock it.
[Last edited by AshleyD - Dec 7, 2016 7:49 AM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Dec 7, 2016 8:01 AM CST
It may be hard because it's full of roots and/or compacted. I wouldn't repot it yet though, I don't think that's the problem. Can you slide it out of the pot and check how dry the potting mix looks? If it's as dry as it looks in the picture above then you would need to soak the rootball in a tub of water for an hour or so to rehydrate it. Another way would be to water it in the pot and leave the water in the saucer underneath until it soaks up into the pot, then repeat if it's still too dry. My preference would be the tub soaking. If you're not sure what you're seeing when you lift the rootball out of the pot then post us a picture.
Shizuoka, Japan (Zone 9b)
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AshleyD
Dec 7, 2016 8:07 AM CST
sooby said:It may be hard because it's full of roots and/or compacted. I wouldn't repot it yet though, I don't think that's the problem. Can you slide it out of the pot and check how dry the potting mix looks? If it's as dry as it looks in the picture above then you would need to soak the rootball in a tub of water for an hour or so to rehydrate it. Another way would be to water it in the pot and leave the water in the saucer underneath until it soaks up into the pot, then repeat if it's still too dry. My preference would be the tub soaking. If you're not sure what you're seeing when you lift the rootball out of the pot then post us a picture.



I tried to lift it up and basically its all compacted. Do I just get any tub and then some new soil to repack it back up? The soil seemed a bit damp, but it was still pretty hard.

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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Dec 7, 2016 8:19 AM CST
It doesn't look like that rootball will hold together if you take it right out to soak in a tub. It looks like it is planted in ordinary garden soil? I would set it back in the pot for now. Water it and see how quickly the water soaks up from the saucer. If there is still water in the saucer by the end of the day then tip the water out, that's not the problem. If the water has soaked up you may need to repeat. I'm not sure what to suggest after that, I think it needs someone with more experience with citrus, so I'm calling on @Daisyl and @dyzzypyxxy .
Shizuoka, Japan (Zone 9b)
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AshleyD
Dec 7, 2016 8:26 AM CST
sooby said:It doesn't look like that rootball will hold together if you take it right out to soak in a tub. It looks like it is planted in ordinary garden soil? I would set it back in the pot for now. Water it and see how quickly the water soaks up from the saucer. If there is still water in the saucer by the end of the day then tip the water out, that's not the problem. If the water has soaked up you may need to repeat. I'm not sure what to suggest after that, I think it needs someone with more experience with citrus, so I'm calling on @Daisyl and @dyzzypyxxy .


Ok it is nighttime for us (about 11:25 PM), so I put it back in and I'll water it tomorrow morning. I'll also monitor it after work is done. I think it is.... I bought it like this. I was going to pot it in normal soil that was more appropriate but the ladies at the center I bought it from told me not to until it was done with the fruit.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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
Dec 7, 2016 10:22 AM CST
Hi Ashley, the advice Sue gave you is good. If the root ball was hard and dry, re-hydrating the soil will help to revive the plant. You shouldn't need to add new soil, as the old soil will expand when it takes up water again. Take note of how heavy the pot feels when the soil is well wetted, and in future when you water, be sure to heft the pot so you are sure the water was absorbed and didn't just whiz on out. If you're only watering once a week which is fine in winter but not nearly enough in summer, you need to make sure the plant is thoroughly wet each time. Increase watering as soon as you put the plant outside again, and keep increasing as the weather gets hotter or the root ball will dry out to a brick again. Citrus hate to dry out.

I must admit that I would have advised you to remove all the fruit right away from a plant that small. The first year you have a little citrus tree, it's best to let it grow lots more leaves and roots before putting it to the hard work of making fruit. So if it still has fruit coming along, I'd advise you to take it off, to allow the plant to recover and put its energies into surviving. Otherwise the plant will put too much into the fruit (survival to a plant means making seeds and completing its life cycle even if it kills the parent plant) and won't grow new roots and leaves for you. Putting it simply, leaving the fruit on may kill a stressed plant.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Shizuoka, Japan (Zone 9b)
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AshleyD
Dec 7, 2016 4:12 PM CST
Thanks so much! I've cut off the remaining fruit (especially since it is stressed already like you said). I also watered it. Again. The water really went through everything so there is a lot in the saucer (and around it... some of the water didn't soak into the soil right away and kinda just ran off and around it.)

Hopefully it will soak up from the saucer right?
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[Last edited by AshleyD - Dec 7, 2016 4:16 PM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Dec 7, 2016 4:16 PM CST
If it's too dry yes the water will soak up from the saucer. Let us know what happens.
Shizuoka, Japan (Zone 9b)
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AshleyD
Dec 7, 2016 4:23 PM CST
Will do, I added pictures JIC.

Also the little roots at the surface. Is that harmful for them to be exposed?

Also I want to thank you both for your wonderful advice. I really like gardening but I am completely new to it.

My only prior tree experience was managing to grow a 3 foot or so sapling from an apple seed (my mom killed it when she stopped watering it in Summer when I was on a study abroad).

Right now I have Basil (still learning), roses, and a purple flash. The environment in Japan is completely different than NC. Let alone the fact that now I have a language barrier to deal with when I ask for advice here. Once again thank you so much.



Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Dec 7, 2016 4:36 PM CST
I don't think it will hurt the plant for the few roots at the surface to be exposed. You could sprinkle a little potting mix over them, not deeply, if you're worried. Remember to empty out the saucer if that water doesn't soak up in a few hours.

I too significantly changed environments (UK to Canada, zone 9 to zone 4) so I can understand the adjustment. There were even some language differences even with just English to English but your language learning curve is going to be much greater! You could take advantage of being there by learning about some of the many interesting native plants. Many people here who grow daylilies and hostas, for example, would be quite envious and love to be able to go and explore in Japan!
Shizuoka, Japan (Zone 9b)
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AshleyD
Dec 7, 2016 6:05 PM CST
Thanks!

I'll leave them be then. I am at work but left it in a sunny place near my balcony doors and inside where it is warmer.

I should be off around 445 and my apartment is in walking distance so I will be able to check and empty as soon as I'm done.

I'm hoping it soaks up and starts to recover thanks so much and I'll keep you updated.

Shizuoka is one of the warmer places on the main island apparently. In terms of flowers they have a lot of roses, azeleas, hydrangeas, and spider lilies. That doesn't include plum and cherry blossoms either haha.

I haven't ventured into lily growing just yet but I wanna give it a shot sometime. Fingers crossed that I'll get my garden back on track soon. It's slipped a bit recently and I'm trying to revive it. So things like pruning my roses (which is intimidating to try but also apparently it isn't the season and I'm supposed to wait until February), and watching my basil as it comes back and my purple flash baby.

My ikebana teacher recently gave me a new plant. I don't know what it is though but she said it needs to stay inside.
Shizuoka, Japan (Zone 9b)
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AshleyD
Dec 8, 2016 3:37 AM CST
Small Update:

I came home and the water soaked in while I was gone. There was only a little bit left (barely any). I tossed that. I will say it has lost a lot of leaves ._. hopefully it bounces back.


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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Dec 8, 2016 5:50 AM CST
Good. The potting mix still looks dry on one side in those new pictures so you might want to try watering that side and do the same thing, toss any water that doesn't soak up from the saucer after several hours. I also might move it away from the sunny window temporarily to reduce the water needs of the leaves until it has rehydrated.
Shizuoka, Japan (Zone 9b)
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AshleyD
Dec 8, 2016 7:59 AM CST
Alright! I gave it some more water. The soil I added is a different type than the stuff that was already in there- but it was all I had on hand.

But I'll keep an eye on it. After this water soaks (or doesn't soak). Should I just keep monitoring on how hydrated it is (in terms of it not dying?)
[Last edited by AshleyD - Dec 8, 2016 8:00 AM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
Image
sooby
Dec 8, 2016 8:12 AM CST
Elaine @dyzzypyxxy can advise you better on continuing needs for citrus specifically, but basically with any plant you need continuing monitoring on water needs. Is there any sign that the leaves are getting less dry?
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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
Dec 8, 2016 11:18 AM CST
As long as you are keeping it indoors - in stable temperatures, that is - you should keep it evenly moist and hope for the best. The fact that it was very dry when you left it out over the cold night may be why it's still losing leaves. A plant that's well hydrated tolerates cold much better than a dry one.

Lift the pot and see how heavy it is, or better yet, weigh it now that it's taking up more water. It may or may not be the plant using the water - the soil may just still be absorbing it.

I'd also slip it out of the pot again and see if the root ball is completely soft and moist. If not, you do need to set it in the sink in lukewarm water up to the pot rim for an hour or so to completely moisten any parts of the root ball that don't have water yet. The fine feeder roots on the top of the root ball should definitely be covered with a thin layer of soil, too. When you stick your finger into the pot, that layer of fine roots should be moist. So you can let the top layer of soil dry a bit but if you can feel dryness a half inch or an inch down, it needs water.

It will be hard to say "water once a week" or at any interval until the plant has recovered and is growing again. You'll need to water it "as needed". If you have dessicated roots in there that have died, it will take the plant a while to grow some new ones to take up water. IF too many roots got dried out and died, it may not recover. The dead roots will rot and the plant will die.
Elaine

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

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