Ask a Question forum: Help citrus tree leaves and fruit falling: root rot?

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Amsterdam
Dtsoneva
Jan 6, 2018 12:14 PM CST
Hello,

My favorite citrus tree is dying and now has a very reduced amount of leaves and fruits. It's grown in a pot indoors and I have it for 2 years. It's the first time this happens and the soil is wet so I checked for root rot. However, I am not sure this is the real cause. Could you please tell me if the roots are fine?
Thumb of 2018-01-06/Dtsoneva/a4602e
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Jan 6, 2018 1:33 PM CST
Citrus trees indoors need maximum sunlight all day long. They also need to be watered properly. You haven't provided details on either of those so it is hard to diagnose why your tree is deteriorating.

If properly potted in the right sized pot and given good light, then it should be watered thoroughly as soon as the top half-inch of soil feels dry. That should occur about once per week.

The roots in the photo appear to be okay. However, it appears that you have removed a lot of the soil from the rootball and that can traumatize the plant. Return it to the SMALLEST sized pot that will accommodate the roots and just barely enough soil to cover them. Use a moderately porous potting mix. It should fit snugly. If the pot is too large and the soil too heavy, there is a good chance that the soil around the roots will stay wet for too long and cause root rot.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Amsterdam
Dtsoneva
Jan 7, 2018 5:22 AM CST
WillC said:

The roots in the photo appear to be okay. However, it appears that you have removed a lot of the soil from the rootball and that can traumatize the plant. Return it to the SMALLEST sized pot that will accommodate the roots and just barely enough soil to cover them. Use a moderately porous potting mix. It should fit snugly. If the pot is too large and the soil too heavy, there is a good chance that the soil around the roots will stay wet for too long and cause root rot.


Thank you very much for the detailed answer. I removed the soil around the roots because these were the instructions to check if they were rotten. The leaves and fruits started falling a month ago and in all forums it said it could be temperature change or overwater. I notised the soil stayed wet for a while, so decided to check. However, I am not expert and probably messed up here. I repoted the plant back to its previous pot size, which is something you don't recommend if I understand correctly. Shall I move it to a smaller pot now or it's best to leave it as it is?

I also have a cat, not sure if this could be the reason for the plant to lose leaves, but I have no clue what else could be. Here is a picture of the plant now and the location in the house.

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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Jan 7, 2018 9:28 AM CST
Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad information available online and it sounds like you have found some of it. Unless your home is unusually cold or you left the tree outside after temps dropped significantly, then the temperature was not an issue. Repotting is never a good solution to overwatering. If you suspect overwatering, simply stop watering so frequently. Unless you are experienced and know what to look for, I don't recommend root inspection. Removing all or most of the soil from the roots is never a good idea.

In the photo you posted, your tree does not appear to be in bad shape, although I would expect that it will continue to lose additional leaves and fruit. At this point, I think watchful waiting is the best approach. Keep it in a warm, sunny location. Remove any loose soil that you added to the top of the rootball. Then, water only when the top half-inch of soil feels dry.

Be patient. It will need to stabilize first and only after that will you start to see healthy new growth. Make sure your cat isn't using it as a litter box.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Amsterdam
Dtsoneva
Jan 7, 2018 11:10 AM CST
WillC said: Unless your home is unusually cold or you left the tree outside after temps dropped significantly, then the temperature was not an issue.

I would expect that it will continue to lose additional leaves and fruit.

Be patient. It will need to stabilize first and only after that will you start to see healthy new growth. Make sure your cat isn't using it as a litter box.


Thank you for the advise! I actually thought it might be too warm at my place because of the heat, but it's not more than usual house temperature.

I will leave it as it is then, how long do you think it would take to stop dropping leaves and is there anything I can do if the problem persists? Shall I try any fertilizer or similar?

Many thanks,

Desi
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Jan 7, 2018 11:45 AM CST
Desi - There is no way to tell how much damage was done or even what the initial problem was. Therefore, there is no recovery timetable. Look for gradual progress. That means initially a gradual reduction in leaf loss. As long as conditions don't deteriorate, it should be okay, but recovery will be very slow at best.

Fertilizer is not medicine and is intended only for healthy plants that are growing vigorously and have depleted many of the soil nutrients. There are no quick and easy fixes for your tree.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
Image
Philipwonel
Jan 8, 2018 2:09 PM CST
I believe I know. It was rootbound when someone planted it to pot it's in now, and roots were not scuffed up so they could escape rootball.
Notice, how dry soil from football is.

Notice, how rootball is square, up and down, and pot is V- shaped.

Water couldn't penetrate the dry compacted soil inside rootball.
It would of been best, if you had spread the roots out some when you had it out of pot.
Take all fruit/flowers off, until tree recovers.
😎😎😎
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Jan 9, 2018 2:14 PM CST
Philip - I think you are making a lot of assumptions based on a photo.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
Image
Philipwonel
Jan 9, 2018 8:07 PM CST
Will !!!
Pictures can tell !!!!
A thousand words.
😎😎😎
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.

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