Tropical Fruit Forum - International Tropical Fruit Growers



Author Topic: Could someone help us revive this key lime tree?  (Read 589 times)

DMonts

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 7
    • Atlanta, GA, USA
    • View Profile
Could someone help us revive this key lime tree?
« on: June 17, 2020, 02:41:19 PM »
Got this key lime tree 3 months ago and there hasn't been any new growth since then. Planted outdoors on a balcony in a pot with drainage holes. The soil used is 'potting and container soil' from Pike's Nursery. I try and water only when the soil seems dry about an inch below the surface. Maybe around once a week recently. We live in Atlanta, so this tree gets approx. 6 hours of direct sunlight everyday. About 2 weeks ago, we put "Dr. Earth Natural Wonder Fruit Tree Fertilizer" in the soil and are still waiting to see any effects. Hoping for more leaves, flowers, and eventually little limes, but no luck yet. Any advice would be greatly appreciated - cheers!




brian

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1317
    • Pennsylvania (zone 6)
    • View Profile
Re: Could someone help us revive this key lime tree?
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2020, 05:12:09 PM »
I'm not sure why it dropped all its leaves, but look closely at the areas where the leaves used to be attached.. it looks to me like new buds may be swelling all over and if so should result in leaves and flowers very soon.   Hard to tell, though, take a close-up picture of one of the twigs.



The fact that the limbs are all green is a good sign, at least.  If they were yellow I'd say it was dead.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2020, 05:13:53 PM by brian »

DMonts

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 7
    • Atlanta, GA, USA
    • View Profile
Re: Could someone help us revive this key lime tree?
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2020, 08:39:06 PM »
Thanks for the reply! Here are some close-ups of the stems - let me know what you think.






















brian

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1317
    • Pennsylvania (zone 6)
    • View Profile
Re: Could someone help us revive this key lime tree?
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2020, 10:23:09 PM »
Man I forgot how small the buds on a key lime are.  It's hard to tell even from your photos.  I went outside to compare to my key lime which is healthy, I was struggling to take pictures while holding a flashlight and a magnifying glass though.  If you see green buds like this your tree is probably going to push out new leaves and/or flowers all over very soon.  If there aren't any smooth green bumps it might be on its way to out.  If it is dying the branches start to turn yellow.  Yours look nice and green so I have high hopes for you.  I think you'll just have to wait a couple weeks and see.


« Last Edit: June 17, 2020, 10:29:25 PM by brian »

Millet

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3743
    • Colorado
    • View Profile
Re: Could someone help us revive this key lime tree?
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2020, 12:04:19 PM »
Looking at the picture of DMonts tree, the leaves look like they are needing water. The leaves are curled up and hang down showing no turgidly.  Not knowing how the tree is being watered, I would add that when watering a tree, water it thoroughly until water is running out the bottom of the container, then don't water again until the top 2 inches feel dry.  Dr. Earth Natural Wonder Fruit Tree Fertilizer is a poor choice of nutrition for a container tree.  Organic fertilizers require microorganisms to break the fertilizer down to a form that the tree can use.  Container mediums do not contain enough microorganisms to accomplish this, thus  the fertilizer is not available to the tree.  Chose a conventional fertilizer with a nutrition formulation higher in nitrogen and potassium and lower in phosphorous with all needed trace minerals.   Lastly, how fast does the water pass through the medium and drain out the holes at the pots bottom?

« Last Edit: June 18, 2020, 12:13:00 PM by Millet »

Bomand

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 556
    • LouisianaCFDFMY
    • View Profile
Re: Could someone help us revive this key lime tree?
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2020, 12:39:40 PM »
I am going to agree with Millet. Anytime you see terminal ends start dieback it is usually a  starvation situation of water or nutrients. Thorns that turn brown on the point & continue to die toward the branch means a lac of water. There is a difference in wetting the soil and watering the tree. You can wet the soil every day but if conditions exist so that the roots can not take up water, the tree can die from "lack of water".

DMonts

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 7
    • Atlanta, GA, USA
    • View Profile
Re: Could someone help us revive this key lime tree?
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2020, 01:47:58 PM »
Thanks for the replies!

So I just checked the soil and it is very wet. I used a soil moisture-meter as far down as it could go and it maxed out on the wetness scale. I even poked around the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot and it was wet too. Do you think it's been over-watered and the roots are not getting water/nutrients?

Do you think I need to re-pot it? Or should I add another fertilizer? Or both?

To address Millet's question - I'm not sure how fast water passes through to drain out the holes at the bottom. I didn't want to water it now to test because the soil seemed really wet. What's a good benchmark for this?

brian

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1317
    • Pennsylvania (zone 6)
    • View Profile
Re: Could someone help us revive this key lime tree?
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2020, 02:18:13 PM »
Your pot might not be draining properly, that is a huge cause of tree decline.   

A good benchmark is if you fill the whole pot with water until it is overflowing, it should drain out in 30sec or so, maybe a minute. 

If you water it well right now, does the excess water begin flowing out of the bottom of the pot almost immediately?  It should

Sometimes thick soil prevents water from draining even with proper drainage holes

poncirsguy

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 91
    • Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, 6a/6b
    • View Profile
Re: Could someone help us revive this key lime tree?
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2020, 02:38:05 PM »
If you would like your tree to grow into that pot and soil instead of changing the pot and soil to match your tree you can do what I did.  Using a vacuum cleaner to pull excess water from root bucket while aerating the soil.  This got me through the winter till I could transplant it in spring.



Millet

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3743
    • Colorado
    • View Profile
Re: Could someone help us revive this key lime tree?
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2020, 03:27:17 PM »
Over watering, is equally as bad on a container tree as under watering.  When a medium is over watered, or is constantly wet, the medium has very little, or possibly no air at all in the tree's root zone.  In such a condition the tree will react, and show the same symptoms, as if the medium was totally dry. This is because without available oxygen, roots cannot absorb water, no matter how much water is available. In other words, oxygen must be present for roots to function.   I don't know what "'potting and container soil" is, in which the tree is planted in, or what it consist of, but it is either being over watered, or is retaining too much water at the expense of air.  One last comment, the tree was purchased 3 months ago (12 weeks).  In that time due to the type of fertilizer that was once applied, it has never received any nutrition.  A container tree should be fertilized at the very least once a month, and possibly more often during the summer.  Another option, would be to use a slow release fertilizer like Osmocote Plus. Osmocote Plus contains all the trace minerals, where as just the regular Osmocote does not.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2020, 04:22:32 PM by Millet »

DMonts

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 7
    • Atlanta, GA, USA
    • View Profile
Re: Could someone help us revive this key lime tree?
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2020, 04:46:54 PM »
Ok - I'm almost positive the soil isn't draining properly, hence it's likely constantly wet and so the roots are not getting oxygen.

Brian - to answer your question, if I water it now, I'm pretty sure excess water will not begin flowing out of the pot immediately. I'll try it later and see, but in case it doesn't, I'd like to know what I can do to fix it.

All - would re-potting be the best way to fix this? I'm totally fine with re-potting.

What potting mix do you all suggest? I've attached a picture of the one I used previously - let me know your thoughts.

Also, is one large drainage hole at the bottom enough, or should I drill more?   





brian

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1317
    • Pennsylvania (zone 6)
    • View Profile
Re: Could someone help us revive this key lime tree?
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2020, 06:55:39 PM »
The back of that potting soil mix suggests it might be 40% peat or more, which is probably far too much.  Also, the pine bark that comprises the majority of the mix breaks down eventually and becomes mucky.  I think you would be wise to repot it, maybe take the soil you already have and mix it 50:50 with fresh mulch. 

If that is a ceramic pot I wouldn't try drilling more holes, you might shatter it.  If it is plastic/fiberglass yeah maybe put a few more around the edges.  That looks like the ceramic pots I recently saw at Costco.  One hole can be enough if it isn't clogged and the soil is free draining (and it is level)
« Last Edit: June 18, 2020, 07:00:47 PM by brian »

DMonts

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 7
    • Atlanta, GA, USA
    • View Profile
Re: Could someone help us revive this key lime tree?
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2020, 08:36:00 PM »
Thanks for the advice.

I did some googling and found these two citrus potting mixes (Miracle-Gro and Espoma). Anyone have experience or thoughts with this (the label link is below)?

https://www.miraclegro.com/sites/g/files/oydgjc111/files/asset_files/33774_72078500_BG5231_050616_CFL.pdf

https://www.espoma.com/product/espoma-organic-cactus-potting-soil-mix/#tab2
« Last Edit: June 18, 2020, 08:46:29 PM by DMonts »

Millet

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3743
    • Colorado
    • View Profile
Re: Could someone help us revive this key lime tree?
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2020, 11:29:55 AM »
The cactus, Palm & Citrus and Espoma have long caused harm to container citrus trees.  Many growers use the 5-1-1 or 5-2-1 medium.  5 parts bark, 1 part peat and 1 part perlite,.or 5 bark, 2 peat and 1 perlite.  Growers have also had a good experience with a 60/40 mix of Turface MVP and Miracle Grow Garden Soil.

brian

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1317
    • Pennsylvania (zone 6)
    • View Profile
Re: Could someone help us revive this key lime tree?
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2020, 04:47:03 PM »
What's the issue with the cactus soil?  I always assumed it would be a good long term mix, but I've never tried it.

Millet

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3743
    • Colorado
    • View Profile
Re: Could someone help us revive this key lime tree?
« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2020, 05:39:13 PM »
Like Miracle Grow Garden Soil,  The Cactus, Palm & Citrus is different depending on the area of the country.  Here is the ingredient list and their percentage as shown on the products safety data sheet.

 COMPOSITION/INFORMATION ON INGREDIENTS
Components CAS-No Weight %

Forest Products/Compost No CAS# 60-100
Sphagnum Peat Moss No CAS# 15-40
Bone Meal No CAS# 0.5-5
Ammoniumnitrate, NH4NO3 6484-52-2 <1
Ammonium Phosphate 7722-76-1 <1
Potassium sulphate, K2SO4 7778-80-5 <1
Calciumphosphate, Ca3(PO4)2 7758-87-4 <1
Ironsulphate, FeSO4+1H2O 7720-78-7 <1
Manure No CAS# Variable
Rice Hulls

As you can see the peat can contain up to 40% of the product.

People using he product come to the citrus forum with trees having many of the common difficulties when using the product.

DMonts

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 7
    • Atlanta, GA, USA
    • View Profile
Re: Could someone help us revive this key lime tree?
« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2020, 08:18:50 PM »
All - thank you all soooo much for your feedback and help. I've certainly learnt a tonne - what an awesome forum!

Just finished re-potting the tree using a 5-1-1 (bark-peat-perlite) soil that I mixed myself. I also mixed in some Osmocote Plus fertiliser and put a layer of mulch on the top of the soil. Water now drains easily through the medium in 30s - 1 min.

I'm hoping the tree doesn't go into much of transplant shock. Can't wait to see the results - I'm hoping for the best. Thanks for all your help!




Millet

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3743
    • Colorado
    • View Profile
Re: Could someone help us revive this key lime tree?
« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2020, 11:06:42 PM »
DMonts, with your tree in a 5-1-1 medium, you will need to be watering more frequently. In hot summer weather with temperatures reaching 90s the tree could requiring water in every 2 or 3 days.  One good thing is you will never have to worry about over watering.  5-1-1 is almost impossible to over water.

Vlad

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 159
    • Medway, MA zone 6a
    • View Profile
Re: Could someone help us revive this key lime tree?
« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2020, 10:10:31 AM »
DMonts, did you do a "bare root" re-pot, i.e., did you remove all of the old soil mix before putting the tree into the 5:1:1 mix?
Also, keep it in the shade for about a week and transition to part sun and then sun.

brian

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1317
    • Pennsylvania (zone 6)
    • View Profile
Re: Could someone help us revive this key lime tree?
« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2020, 01:53:23 PM »
Thanks for the explanation about the cactus soil, Millet.  I always assumed it would be mostly sand or gravel, but I never looked at the ingredients.


DMonts

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 7
    • Atlanta, GA, USA
    • View Profile
Re: Could someone help us revive this key lime tree?
« Reply #20 on: June 21, 2020, 11:21:46 AM »
DMonts, did you do a "bare root" re-pot, i.e., did you remove all of the old soil mix before putting the tree into the 5:1:1 mix?
Also, keep it in the shade for about a week and transition to part sun and then sun.

Yeah I removed as much of the old soil as possible before putting it in the new mix. And thanks for the tips - definitely leaving it in the shadier area of our balcony for a bit.

 

Copyright © Tropical Fruit Forum - International Tropical Fruit Growers