Ask a Question forum: Seeking advice on blighted citrus tree!

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Gettysburg, PA
knob_creek
Apr 13, 2018 9:24 AM CST
Last autumn, my parents gave me this potted orange tree. It was infested with ants-- a problem we were able to solve-- but it also, of course, is covered in scale. I have been treating it with neem oil spray throughout the winter, but it seems to be getting worse--- in the last few weeks, it has started to lose all its leaves, and one whole branch appears to be dead.

I've had it all winter by a window (indirect sunlight most of the day, best I can do) and have been very conscious to not over water. But have I under-watered? And is there a better approach to the scale issue?

Any and all advice would be most welcome!
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Apr 13, 2018 10:13 AM CST
That looks like a pretty serious scale infestation. Try adding some alcohol to the neem to help break down the outer covering of the scale. Be sure to get complete coverage of all leaf and stem surfaces until they are all dripping wet. Then, wipe away all scale that you can reach.

Plants that are under stress are vulnerable to plant pests. Citrus trees require lots of direct sun all day when kept indoors. If the indirect sun is all you can provide, then yours will always struggle.

In reduced light, plants use less water, so overwatering is a more common problem. However, you may have over-compensated. Allow the top half-inch of soil to dry before watering thoroughly until some water trickles through the drain holes.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Gettysburg, PA
knob_creek
Apr 13, 2018 10:21 AM CST
Thank you so much! How often should I do the neem/alcohol spraying? Its there any risk of overdoing it?

Can I put it outside if the temperature is still dropping into the 40s at night? It would get more sun, obviously, and make the neem spraying less unpleasant.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
WillC
Apr 13, 2018 10:26 AM CST
If you are really thorough with your neem coverage, a single treatment should be enough. However, if you miss a few, the survivors will reproduce and the infestation will return. I know neem is very popular, but it is no more effective than a solution of 5 parts water, 1 part alcohol and a squirt of liquid soap.

Night temps are still too cold. Wait until they are no longer falling below 50 degrees at night.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Gettysburg, PA
knob_creek
Apr 13, 2018 11:39 AM CST
Thank you so much!

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