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brian

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Tree not thriving...
« on: July 28, 2016, 07:12:11 PM »
a Moro Blood Orange story...

2013: Bought it at home depot, and after this picture I repotted it into a rootmaker container that Millet gave me.  Soil is 5:5:1 mix of cedar mulch/peat/perlite


2014: Looking fantastic.  Huge root and canopy growth, nice dark green all around.  After taking this picture I cleaned the soil off the roots and repotted it into a slightly larger diameter rootmaker container.  The tree was nearly 6ft tall including container.


2015: Looks about the same as last year, no significant new growth.  Some of the oldest leaves are getting very yellow and overall color less green than last year.  Somethere around this time I had stopped using liquid fertilizer and switched to only Osmocote Plus because with so many trees it was a huge burden to mix many gallons of fertilizer-water.  Right before taking this picture I had repotted it into a 4" wider rootmaker pot, which has a diameter of 19", however, I did not clean the old soil off I just filled in around it.  Over the winter those yellow areas all dropped their leaves and the same twigs died back.  The newer growth stuck around.  It bloomed but none of the fruit held.


2016: Here it is today during repotting.  The canopy is smaller than it was 2 years ago, though the rootball is as large as ever and filled a 19" diameter rootmaker container.  You can't see in the picture but it does have new white root tips around the perimeter.  It had put out substantial new growth in spring but it still is overall smaller than its peak.  It looks much lighter green than it once did.   I regularly refresh the Osmocote and when repotting I still saw plenty of unspent pellets floating around.  This time when I repotted I cleaned all the old soil out extensively.  I planted it in the same 19" wide container but this time I planted it "higher" as after cleaning it had some roots hanging down that looked like they could begin to fill the lower third of the container.  I've seen 15ft tall trees in containers this size so I'm skeptical that it really needs a wider one.


So, I'm disappointed that it isn't thriving.  I'm not yet worried at this point because the roots look great.  When I repotted today the soil was mostly mud as the cedar chips had almost completely decomposed.  I think not cleaning the old soil off last year was a big mistake.  However, I thought that if soil aeration was limiting growth it would show up as rotted roots of which I found none.  So, I'm stumped as to what the problem is here.... insufficient fertilizer or insufficient aeration?  Other possibility is insufficient light, as the nearby apple trees at my old place were starting to grow in and shade it.  At my new place all my trees get direct sunlight the entire day.

My new greenhouse won't be ready until next year at least so all trees have to stay in containers until then, and I can't switch to sand/gritty mix because it is too heavy to carry.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2016, 07:20:29 PM by brian »

vanman

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2016, 08:52:19 PM »
Hope you meant 511 otherwise that may be your problem.  Do you add lime or gypsum?  I'm certainly no expert, but I think citrus like an acidic soil.  So if you added lime, the soil may not be acidic enough.  I've used gypsum in the 511 and still use muracid soluble fertilizer at least every other fertilizing which is about every 2 weeks in the active growing time.  Van

brian

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2016, 09:14:26 PM »
Nope, 5:5:1.  That is, about half mulch, half peat, then some perlite thrown in.  I've never add lime (or gypsum) because of the PH preference you describe, plus we have hard water around here that is somewhat alkaline.

I looked at the Osmocote package and I think I haven't been using nearly enough.   I wasn't following the directions and was just winging it but I think I guessed far too low.  I also noticed that it describes how after the pellets are spent the empty husk remains, so me finding them when repotting is meaningless as they are likely spent.

I'm thinking perhaps I can get one of those hose-attached sprayers where I can mix a quart of high concentration soluble fertilizer and it will come out at the target rate as it mixes with hose water.   I'm not sure how accurate these are, though.  I have about thirty trees so my old system of mixing fertilizer-water in 5-gallon buckets is impractical.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2016, 09:29:58 PM by brian »

Millet

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2016, 10:36:20 PM »
Brian I notice the tree's root ball is not as high as the RootMaker container that the tree was growing in.  Either the medium degraded and the tree sunk lower into the container over time, or the bottom of the container was so wet the roots would not penetrate into it. Therefore, the tree was not actually using a 19" container.  I agree with Vanman 100 percent that growing in a 5-5-1 medium is not good, way too much peat moss.  That much peat holds a LOT of water at the expense of root zone oxygen. Without oxygen roots cannot absorb water thus can not absor fertilizer.   If the oxygen level is reduced the absorbtion is reduced.  I think the problem with your tree is lack of aeration AND that the tree is not getting enough nutrition.  If you want to use bark, go to  a 5-1-1`medium.  In the past I grew in a CHC medium, then switched to a 5-1-1, then about 5 years ago on Laaz's recommendation switched to Miracle Grow Garden Soil (Note: NOT Miracle Grow Potting Soil.)  I now have perhaps 20 or so container citrus trees growing in MGGS, plus 6 citrus in the ground.  MGGS has worked very well for me without a single failure. Some young trees in 1-gallon, some in 5 gallon, some in 10-gallon, and a couple in 50 gallon . All containers are RootMaker Air Root Pruning Containers.  Osmocote uses heat to release the nutrients from the prill.  During the warm spring and summer months Osmocote releases the nutrients faster than the label states. The Osmocote could have already spent all of its nutrients some time back.  If you want to use a slow release fertilizer try also using a liquid fertilizer once every month or month and a half in addition to the slow release..   I make my liquid fertilizer solution in 55-gallon plastic drums at a time using Peters 25-5-15 W/TM, and apply the solution with a pump that I purchased at Home Depot.  Brian my person best to you. - Millet
« Last Edit: July 28, 2016, 11:23:14 PM by Millet »

brian

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2016, 11:05:54 PM »
Hah, I do believe you yourself reccomended this 50:50 mix a few years ago :)

In any case, the mix does seem to work quite well for me until the bark rots and it ends up effectively ~90% peat/composted bark, which happens faster than I expected given the low quality of the cheap mulch.  I have been thinking about switching to CHC instead of cedar mulch for containers, or just use the Miracle Grow soil.  I am looking forward to getting these in the ground.

The bottom of the roots were pretty matted but appeared to have zero rot.  I guess it is possible that they rotted away long ago and I never noticed.  The new root growth was all along the edges where the soil meets the container.  The rootball was actually taller before so cleaned it off.  Due to the tree's considerable weight the bottom of the rootball flattens out a bit when it is self supporting
« Last Edit: July 28, 2016, 11:32:35 PM by brian »

Millet

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2016, 11:42:14 PM »
Brian, if indeed I recommended a 50:50 mix then I was wrong, although I agree with you it probably would worlk until the bark degrades..  I can tell you that MGGS has worked very well for me over the last 5 years.  Some growers also add some perlite to the MGGS.  The most used container medium for trees by commercial nurseries the world over is 5 parts bark, 1 part peat and 1 part coarse sand. This is because it is inexpensive to make, the ingredients are easily located, readily available in most areas of the world, and last one year before it begins to degrade.  The rule for GOOD commercial nurserie is to sell a containerized tree during its the first year, or re-pot into a larger container, or throw the tree away. - Millet
« Last Edit: July 29, 2016, 12:48:59 PM by Millet »

vanman

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2016, 12:57:46 AM »
Again, no expert.  If you don't add a source of calcium, I think you'll always have a deficit no matter how much fertilizer you use.  I'm not sure how available the calcium in the hard water is.  The water would have to be acidified before it becomes calcium ions. 

People who are smarter than me on this, could there be some calcium deficiency?

brian

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2016, 01:05:52 AM »
Thanks guys.  I think I will reduce the peat content from here out.  I'll have to be more careful about keeping them watered, though. 

Vanman, I read somewhere that calcium deficiency is extremely uncommon in citrus.  I don't remember the source but I know my hard water is chock full of calcium.  However, other nutrient deficiencies are quite common so if I'm underfertilizing thats certainly a reasonable thing to see here.

Millet

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2016, 10:21:58 AM »
I remember reading a post by Dr. Malcolm Manners, professor of citrus and horticultural science at Florida Southern College, where he wrote in all of his carrier he has never once seen a calcium deficiency in a citrus tree. - Millet

NewGen

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2016, 04:59:54 PM »
Millet:

 Do you use the Miracle Grow Garden Soil as is, straight out of the bag, with nothing else added? And how long can I expect the medium to last before I should change to new soil?
Thanks!

Millet

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2016, 09:43:19 PM »
NewGen, some people add  perlite to Miragle Grow Garden Soil to increase the drainage. I use Miracle Grow Garden Soil straight from he bag.   I always answer the question how long a tree can remain in a container, (no matter what medium is used), before it needs to be repotted into a larger container, or root pruned and put back into the same container as being one year.  Having said that, I have kept some trees in the same container for two years.  Longer then that the tree begins to suffer.  I have used Miracle Grow Garden Soil for 2 years, and it still drains well.  For pineapple I have used the same Miracle Grow Soil for over 5 years now.  After picking the pineapple, I remove the soil from the plants roots, toss the old plant onto the compost pile, and then plant a new pineapple into the same MGGS.  Never had a problem --- YET. - Millet

NewGen

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2016, 12:58:45 AM »
Great to know that you can still reuse the old soil. Thanks!

Tom

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2016, 10:08:58 AM »
Reusable especially if it's not mushy or stinky. Been there. Done that. After a long time Rootmaker trees seem so good they look root bound to me meaning there is no more room for roots. What does one do
then ? A friend told me his daddy could keep things in a pot longer than anybody he'd ever seen. His dad's trick was to use ice cubes so the water from melting ice had time to slowly be absorbed by root bound plants.....until he could sell it !! Long ago the guy would cut the sod in his front yard for a sale ! He had his own small private sod farm in town. He was a plant retailing genius !! Too many lawyers and HOA s , you could not do that in town now.....Tom
« Last Edit: August 19, 2016, 10:22:14 AM by Tom »

brian

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2016, 10:22:42 AM »
When I repot I fill a wash bucket (aka keg bucket) up with water and put the tree rootball in it.  I loosen the soil underwater so there is less tugging on the roots from gravity, plus any any ant nests are drowned.  All the perlite floats to the top and the peat sinks to the bottom.  I recently read that peat moss doesn't decompose further so I reuse both it and the perlite forever, just adding woodchips back to the mix.  This has the added advantage of having pre-wetted peat which is otherwise difficult to wet initially.

brian

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2016, 10:29:09 AM »
...After a long time Rootmaker trees seem so good they look root bound to me meaning there is no more room for roots. What does one do
then ?...


I was wondering same thing in an older post (http://tropicalfruitforum.com/index.php?topic=15986.0), here was Millet's response:

"Re: limiting tree size
Reply #2 on: May 25, 2015, 02:54:19 PM
    Quote
RootMaker air-root-pruning containers stimulate extensive root branching, but the advantages do not last indefinitely. Root branching increases and increases, reaching a maximum, then, if transplanting does not occur, benefits begin to DECLINE. This occurs because there is a limited amount of space in any container, and as that space is filled with roots there is little space for new root development. Plants can run out of space and stagnate, even though there is no root circling. If you do not wish to keep increasing into a larger and larger container, then you can remove the tree from its present container, trim off 5 or 6 CM (2 - 2.5 inches) from the sides and bottom of the root ball then replace the tree back into the original container, and fill the empty space with new medium. There is a common belief that the foliage of the tree should also be trimmed back to match the trimmed root ball.  There is conflicting thought if this needs, or does not need to be done.  Do whatever you think best.  I don't trim back the foliage. The leaves provide support for the development of new roots.  - Millet"

Tom

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #15 on: August 19, 2016, 11:22:14 AM »
Thanks Brian, I remember that now. Ice cubes would probably help any root bound type problem as an emergency fix for the short term but what Millet said certainly makes sense. Have a great weekend. Tom

NewGen

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #16 on: August 19, 2016, 11:24:46 PM »
Millet: is this the Miracle Grow Garden Soil that you're using? I got 3 bags of these.



 There's another kind that's also MGSS, but it states for "Herbs and Vegetables, Moisture Control", I didn't  want any Moisture Control, so did not buy those.


Millet

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2016, 11:09:05 AM »
Yes that is the Miracle Grow that I use.  I also never purchase any product that contains moisture control.  - Millet

Millet

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2016, 11:34:41 AM »
Tom, my wife has a Split Leaf Philodendron in the kitchen that is about 33 years old.  It is watered only by ice cubes that people drop in the container from their drinks after lunch.  My wife does fertilize it every once in a while, but its only watering comes from the ice cubes.  It looks very healthy. The Philodendron has remained about the same size over the years. New leaves pretty much replace the old leaves as they die off. It has never been repotted in 33 years. However, it is a plant that produces air roots- Millet

Tom

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #19 on: August 20, 2016, 03:23:08 PM »
33 years old ! That's not bad considering our throw it away mentality now. Also I know a friend of mine in that household will throw things in the compost pile occasionally .......😳

NewGen

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #20 on: August 22, 2016, 09:28:24 PM »
Yes that is the Miracle Grow that I use.  I also never purchase any product that contains moisture control.  - Millet

Even though it says "for in-ground use", you use it as a container soil? Obviously you have great results. What makes a soil mix suitable for "in ground"  use as opposed to "potting soil"?
Thanks!

Tom

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #21 on: August 22, 2016, 10:27:16 PM »
Potting Soil to me means good for one or two years or even less as a potting mix. They tend to decompose quickly and many people have been stuck with a mushy mix too soon for the most part. I had some MG PS that either had black gnats in the bag or the gnats found it very quickly. They almost ruined some tomatoes I started from seed. Other forums have mentioned the same problems.

I think the MG Garden Soil says to add it to existing beds only suggesting it's too good by itself or not good enough by itself depending on your guess it seems to me ! It was a good bit less expensive when I bought it and I thought it was a bargain. I had not used the Garden Soil earlier because of its instructions. I missed or forgot that Millet and others were using it with great success. Independently I figured out I did not like the potting soil but I liked the garden soil. To me it was much better and easier to use.

I have added commercial composts like Black Kow to soils that were too wet or too dry natured in the south east US where I am. Different places are less known to me but compost is well own for its benefits. It does not seem to get mushy and it improves soil structure. It can be expensive or it can even be free depending on local green efforts. Black Hen is much 'hotter' but very good. Other local composts could be very good too. I hope this helps.

Tom
« Last Edit: August 22, 2016, 11:23:55 PM by Tom »

NewGen

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #22 on: August 22, 2016, 11:09:29 PM »
Potting Soil to me means good for one or two years or even less as a potting mix. They tend to decompose quickly and many people have been stuck with a mushy mix too soon for the most part. I had some MG PS that either had black gnats in the bag or the gnats found it very quickly. They almost ruined some tomatoes I started from seed. Other forums have mentioned the same problems.

I think the MG Garden Soil says to add it to existing beds only suggesting it's too good by itself or not good enough by itself depending on your guess it seems to me ! It was a good bit less expensive when I bought it and I thought it was a bargain. I had not used the Garden Soil earlier because of its instructions. I missed or forgot that Millet and others were using it with great success. Independently I figured out I did not like the potting soil but I liked the garden soil. To me it was much better and easier to use.

I have added commercial composts like Black Kow to soils that were too wet or too dry natured in the south east US where I am. Different places are less known to me but compost it well own for its benefits. It does not seem to get mushy and it improves soil structure. It can be expensive or it can even be free depending on local green efforts. Black Hen is much 'hotter' but very good. Other local composts could be very good too. I hope this helps.

Tom

Thanks Tom,
I usually add some worm casting to whatever "potting soil" that I use, along with some myco and azomite.

Mark in Texas

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #23 on: August 27, 2016, 09:34:18 AM »
I think your messing with it too much and stressing the poor thing out.  Didn't you write that there were no dead roots, they were white and healthy?  I have all my trees in RootMaker type containers. They can stay in them for a long time due to the root tip pruning affect.

Leave that root ball intact when you upcan!  :o If you're paranoia about organics decaying prematurely then use more inorganics in your mix.  I use a 50/50 mix of organics/inorganics....whatever is on the shelf or in a pile outdoors - pine bark, compost, peat, builder's sand, vermiculite, cedar chips....no biggie.  I use a lot of vermiculite cause it's light and mix it with my tractor's bucket. 



Here's my Moro. Been in that container for at least 4 years.




« Last Edit: August 27, 2016, 09:47:42 AM by Mark in Texas »

brian

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Re: Tree not thriving...
« Reply #24 on: August 29, 2016, 09:42:02 AM »
Mark, I'm impressed that your tree looks so good in the same container for so long.  Mine clearly had issues as it was in a slow decline over 2yrs, so I knew something had to give.  Perhaps it was limited light, not enough fert, I'll never know.  I can say I've never regretted aggressively repotting a tree, they always seem to look better soon afterwards.

 

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