Lime tree struggling and dropping leaves

Discussion in 'Citrus' started by Jaiaceae, Nov 26, 2021.

  1. Jaiaceae

    Jaiaceae Member

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    Location: Auckland, New Zealand

    Currently heading into summer - cool evenings and very warm days with occasional rain.

    I bought a Bearrs/Tahitian Lime from the garden centre which came in a 25L bag. The leaves were a bit yellow when I saw it at the garden centre and assumed this was a nutrient deficiency as it's common in citrus and did prevent me from wanting to purchase this lime.

    I prepared the hole with garden soil mix and planted the lime. I gave it some liquid seaweed as a tonic to alleviate the transplanting process.

    Days following the transplant the lime started to drop it's leaves. Each day there would be several leaves lost. As it's a young plant this makes it very noticeable to the point where some branches has no leaves.

    Although leaf drop is not uncommon due to transplant sock but this is at an alarming rate. The lime is planted against a west facing fence and receives plenty of sun and sheltered from strong winds.

    Ironically, I planted a mandarin at the opposite end of the garden on the same day providing it with the same treatment and it has been thriving.

    Any advice as to what is happening?

    I'm considering to dig it up and place it in a pot then sit that in the ground until it's healthy enough to be in the garden bed.
     

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  2. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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  3. Sulev

    Sulev Contributor

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    It seems, that mostly older leaves are dropping. That could be shock from abrupt environment change. Citruses don't like fast changes.
    I would be careful with fertilizing. Wait until the tree will show decent growth, before fertilizing.
    Don't over water. Roots need oxygen.

    I think, that better leave the tree where it is. Putting it into a container would cause additional stress. Unless you know, that there is something wrong with its roots, don't dig it out again. I believe, that your lime tree will survive.
     
  4. Will B

    Will B Active Member

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    I would not recommend transplanting back to the pot, that will create additional stress.

    The damaged tips on many leaves look like salt damage to me, which can easily happen from too much fertilizer. The yellowing leaves also show some type of micronutrient issue, but it is not showing a classic pattern for a specific micronutrient deficiency so most likely it is an issue with multiple micronutrients. Did the plant come in a soilless mix by chance? If so then the issue may be a lack of calcium. A lack of calcium can result in an inability for the plant to absorb and process multiple micronutrients and is difficult to diagnose. Many soilless mixes run out of calcium.

    I would recommend adding some gypsum to the soil. This adds calcium (and sulphur) to the soil, correcting any calcium deficiency. It also helps to leach salt from the soil.
     
  5. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    The tree was already showing symptoms at the time of purchase. Therefore, if indeed the problem is fertilizer related then the 25L bag of soil that the tree came in would be suspect. It's likely that same soil had been mixed into the planting and so would continue to adversely affect the tree. It has only been days since being planted into the ground so I don't think moving it now will cause much additional stress. I would take the chance and replant it using fresh soil, withholding any additional fertilizer.
     
  6. Sulev

    Sulev Contributor

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    Plant roots are meant to stay calmly in the ground. Every time you dig your tree out and bareroot it, it would be major stress source for plant, does not matter how many days ago the tree was planted into current location. If replanting will occure close to initial planting so that the stress from the first planting has not been relieved yet, it would not be a positive thing and would have adverse effect on vitality of the tree. So this measure is reasonable only in case you know, that there is something drastically wrong with the roots or the soil.
    The yellowing of leaves in gardening centre could be caused by long storage and poor handling (especially irregular watering, but also possible fertilizing issues), not necessarily adverse composition of the soil.
    Of course, as citruses are not bog plants, there is no point to amend soil with a peat based substrate and if the tree was planted into the ground by digging a hole and filling it mostly with peat, it should be corrected despite present stress.
     

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