Author Topic: Is this root rot on my lemon tree ?  (Read 1899 times)

Enzo

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Is this root rot on my lemon tree ?
« on: April 06, 2024, 03:21:28 PM »
Hello everyone,

Does this look like root rot?

I've had this lemon tree for 2 years in this 20 liter pot. The soil is 50% potting soil and 50% coco-coir, to prevent root rot! It's been doing very well so far, but I noticed last week that a few twigs were turning brown and dying. So I checked its roots earlier today (I'd planned to repot it in a 50 liter pot) and to my surprise, when I pulled the tree out of the pot, only 3/4 of the root ball came out. The lower part remained in the pot and the roots left in the soil looked dead and flat.

As for the lack of leaves, it lost a lot when I brought it indoors for a few days in February because I was expecting freezing temperatures for a few nights. The "twig dieback" happened afterwards, just recently, and for the first time since I've had the tree. There are quite a few buds and flowers at the moment too.

What do you recommend? Repot it in its new 50 liter pot and hope for the best? Or leave it in its current pot with new soil at the bottom?

Here are a few photos of the roots and tree:













Thanks for your help!

brian

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Re: Is this root rot on my lemon tree ?
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2024, 03:43:58 PM »
It does look like root rot, yes

Bagged potting mix is often mostly peat moss which is extremely water retaining, and I believe coco coir is itself quite absorbent.  I suggest making chunky, minimally-absorbent material a significant portion of your potting mix.  Something like mulch, perlite, vermiculite, gravel, hydroton, turface, decomposed granite, etc.

The amount of roots lost is not too bad, your tree should recover and regrow new roots if it is otherwise healthy.  When I root prune my container trees I cut off about 25% of the rootball

Enzo

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Re: Is this root rot on my lemon tree ?
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2024, 12:48:44 PM »
Thanks for your reply! If it is root rot, won't it eventually spread to the whole root ball?

Millet

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Re: Is this root rot on my lemon tree ?
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2024, 01:34:04 PM »
At the bottom of every container is what is called  perched water table.  This will occur even in containers with no bottom.  This is where water remains even after completely draining. Your trees roots above the perched water table look fine.  50 percent peat an 50 percent coco bark is not a very good medium.    A 5-1-1 would be a much ;better soil blend.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2024, 06:56:15 PM by Millet »

citrange

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Re: Is this root rot on my lemon tree ?
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2024, 04:37:05 PM »
The root rot will only spread if the medium is too wet and lacking aeration. Most of your plant's roots still look in good condition considering that peat and coir can easily stay too wet. It looks like the pot is traditional clay which helps by permitting evaporation through the sides.
When you re-pot (using a gritty, free draining mix) you should only use a slightly bigger container. Going from 20 litres to 50 litres is likely to leave a considerable volume of new mix which can stay too damp because there are no roots to absorb moisture. Roots starting to try and penetrate this region are likely to rot.

Enzo

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Re: Is this root rot on my lemon tree ?
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2024, 08:07:46 AM »
Thanks for all the good advice!

I thought that coco coir (coconut fiber), while good for staying moist, was also very good for keeping the roots oxygenated. I'm going to get some perlite to add to the mix.

The current pot is a 15" and the new one is a 19". I'll be very careful about watering until it gets warmer.

Last question: I put off repotting until I got some perlite today. The tree and the broken rootball have remained as they are in the container since yesterday, is this likely to cause more damage?


kulasa

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Re: Is this root rot on my lemon tree ?
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2024, 12:25:59 PM »
At the bottom of every container is what is called  perched water table.  This will occur even in containers with no bottom.  This is where water remains even after completely draining. Your trees roots above the perched water table look fine.  50 percent peat an 50 percent coco bark is not a very good medium.    A 5-1-1 would be a much ;better soil blend.

There's this thing going on citrus groups on facebook where some people are saying bark based medium are garbage. That bark turns into "muck" in about 6 months, it's not sustainable, it's useless, and does not provide any nutrition to the tree. Makes my ears hot every time I read them.

 

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