My baby lemon tree is getting sick

Discussion in 'Citrus' started by Pinar, Jan 30, 2022.

  1. Pinar

    Pinar New Member

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    Hello everyone,

    I planted a couple of lemon seeds in a pot in June 2021 and a baby lemon sprouted. She grew up in a really healthy way. Since then, I have changed the soil and the pot only once. I used regular soil that I got from the supermarket. Unfortunately, lately, I've been having a problem with my baby lemon tree. Since I am not very knowledgeable with botany, I don't know the reason for this and I don't want to do anything wrong.

    There are various white and brown spots on her stem. Two of her leaves are starting to turn brown. Also, when I pour water, somethings that look like tiny tiny bugs jump up, but when I don't pour water, there is no movement in the soil. I live in the south of Germany, the sunniest city. No matter how sunny I say, there are many dark, cloudy and gloomy days. I try not to water her too much. She stands in front of the sunniest window. You can see the photos attached.

    My baby lemon tree is very precious to me. When I planted her, I wasn't feeling well mentally, I was going through stressful and unhappy days. I don't want to lose her. I hope someone can help me figure it out.

    I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best wishes,

    Pinar
     

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  2. Will B

    Will B Active Member

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    It appears to be heavily infected with scale and may also have spider mites, although I cannot be sure about the latter from the photos. Mites are tiny, and I see flecks that could be spider mites but not sure. One can use an oil spray to control both scale and spider mites. Here is some info on scale: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/fruits/citrus/controlling-citrus-scale.htm ... you may also want to peruse my "growing citrus" pages for info on growing citrus, they are available here: Growing Citrus on Vancouver Island | Aprici
     
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  3. Pinar

    Pinar New Member

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    Hello Will,

    Thank you so much! I took them with a tweezer. I bought organic citrus tree soil. I will wash the leaves and the stem with a soapy water and change the soil with the organic citrus soil. I will update this post in the upcoming weeks.

    Best wishes,

    Pinar Aksu
     
  4. Sulev

    Sulev Contributor

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    Poor light conditions in conjunction with warm and dry air are causing decreased resistance against pests for citrus trees.
     
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  5. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Welcome to the Forums.

    The tree doesn't look that bad. There is some scale on plant surfaces and some silk-like material on the leaves which suggests there may be some spider mites as well. The infestation is not severe in either case and so should be fairly easy to deal with using insecticidal soap. I think the browning leaves is the result of an issue in cultivation. Possible causes: Temperature too hot or cold due to proximity to the window; exposure to drafts; dry air.

    The soil appears to be a typical peat-based mix which is too dense resulting in it staying wet for longer periods than desirable. It should be amended with coarser materials such as bark chips, calcined clay, pumice, and perlite to make it more porous. Allow the medium to dry somewhat before irrigating. Use the weight of the container to gauge the amount of moisture present and water when it feels relatively light.

    References:
     
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  6. Pinar

    Pinar New Member

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    Hello,

    Thank you so much for your answer. I am glad it is not that bad. I will take into account all the recommendations.

    Best wishes,

    Pinar
     
  7. Will B

    Will B Active Member

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    I see lots of good advice. A few things occur to me as I read through the thread:
    1. Don't use both oil and insecticidal soap at the same time (or within a couple of weeks of each other). Either one is good, but both together is usually not good for the leaves. I prefer oil as I have found it more effective against scale, but soap might work for you.
    2. If you change the soil be very careful with the roots. Damage to roots from transplanting can be worse than having poor soil. Damage to roots interferes with nutrient and water uptake, and can allow infections in. I would not personally transplant unless you are certain something is seriously wrong, but I'm sure opinions on this will vary.
    3. Remove any leaves that look damaged or diseased prior to treatment. I think one leaf in your photo looks like it may be damaged or diseased.
    Best of luck! Hopefully your lemon will make a good recovery once the pests are dealt with.
     
  8. Pinar

    Pinar New Member

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    Dear Will,

    The citrus soil that I bought arrived today. I was trying to remove the old soil, and all of a sudden some part of the soil fell together with the 35% of the root... I am so worried now. I was trying to be really gentle but it didn't work out. I changed the 85% of the old soil and put it in a clean pot with the new soil. I wiped the leaves and the stem with soapy water. I also cut the sick leaves (There were two). I hope nothing will happen to my lemon tree.

    I didn't water it yet, I felt like the new soil is already a little moist. Should I water it?

    I don't know if there is a way to compensate the damage I created with the roots. Germany is not sunny in these days, do you think it is possible to create artificial light? I can leave my table lamp on all night and leave the plant under the lamp. Do you think it would work?

    I attached the photos of the bulb. I am open to any suggestions.

    Best wishes,

    Pinar
     

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  9. Will B

    Will B Active Member

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    One should always water a plant after transplanting. It settles the soil and helps moisture uptake. However, make sure the pot has good drainage holes so excess water can drain out.

    The thing to watch out for is wilting. If the leaves start to wilt it indicates the leaves need more water than the plant can take in and you should trim a few leaves off to try and restore a balance between moisture uptake and the requirements from the leaves. Also, if you have a humidifier now is a good time to keep the air a bit more humid around the plant.

    I would not recommend introducing other changes at this time. Increasing light now increases the moisture required for the leaves and would most likely increase stress as the roots cannot take in more moisture.
     
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  10. Pinar

    Pinar New Member

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    I just watered it from the tap but I don't know why the water is not going away from the drainage holes. I don't know what is wrong. It looks like the new soil is so dense. The plant is in front of the kitchen window and the kitchen is the most humid room in the house since I regularly cook. Here is a photo of the drainage holes.

    Best,

    Pinar
     

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  11. Will B

    Will B Active Member

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    Those drainage holes look perfectly good. Some soils absorb an enormous amount of water, much more than one would expect, so the most likely reason is the soil has simply absorbed the water like a sponge. That is not necessarily a problem. I would not change anything for a while, just watch for wilting leaves and trim some leaves if it starts to wilt.
     
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  12. Pinar

    Pinar New Member

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    That's good to hear! Thank you so much :) I will update this post if there are any unexpected changes.

    Best wishes,

    Pinar
     
  13. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    I have a couple thoughts on wilting leaves. Firstly, such leaves can not only indicate a lack of insufficient watering but also an excess. Root damage resulting from transplant or from rot due to over-watering will cause wilting so be careful with your analysis. Secondly I would not remove any leaves if the wilting is not severe as they are a part of a tree's nutrient store. They'll be needed in the tree's recovery.
     
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  14. Sulev

    Sulev Contributor

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    1. It looks like your new soil has high peat content. Citruses prefer well drained mineral soil. Peat tends to hold too much water and may become anaerobic environment, where citruses really struggle. On the other hand, when too dry, then peat becones hydrophobic. Some experience is needed for watering citruses in a peaty soil. Sandy loam has much less problems. You can water your citruses often and generously, if the soil drains really well. They don't tolerate compact, anaerobic substrate. Watering well draining soil actually pumps some fresh air into the soil.

    2. You have much more light down there in the South (in Germany) than me in Estonia. It is best to keep citruses in a cooler room during the darkest season, then their need for light, water and nutrients is significantly lower. I don't use artificial lights for my citruses. They are in a semi dormant state in a room with temperature between 10 and 15 degrees C.
    Of course, if your citruses start to bear fruits, then warmer temperatures and artificial light help a lot for fruit ripening.

    Loosing 1/3 of roots should not be an issue. From time to time you have to root prune your container trees anyways.
     
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  15. Pinar

    Pinar New Member

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    This is an update post.
    I observe wilting leaves after a week I changed the soil and ruined the roots as it is seen in the pictures attached to this post.

    upload_2022-2-7_16-1-51.png
    upload_2022-2-7_16-1-1.png
    upload_2022-2-7_16-2-46.png


    But there are two baby leaves coming on the way! See the pictures below.

    upload_2022-2-7_16-4-45.png
    upload_2022-2-7_16-5-57.png

    The soil still feels wet at the top (I watered it a week ago). Do you have any recommendations at this point?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 7, 2022
  16. Pinar

    Pinar New Member

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    Unfortunately I don't know much about that. I just wrote "citrus plant soil" on Amazon and bought the one which had the highest ranking. The soil looks like this right now:
    upload_2022-2-7_16-14-53.png
    upload_2022-2-7_16-15-21.png

    It doesn't feel so wet, but it is not too dry either. I think I should wait at least one more week to water it again.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 7, 2022
  17. Pinar

    Pinar New Member

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    Hello Junglekeeper,

    Thank you so much for your comment. I shared new photos of the plant after a week I changed the soil and ruined the roots. You can see in the photos that there are some wilting now. The top part of the soil feels still wet so I am not going to water the plant.
     
  18. Will B

    Will B Active Member

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    The soil surface looks ok to me. Moist but not soggy. However, when checking moisture you should not use the surface as a guide as it can be deceptive. Scratch the surface a bit (1/4" to 1/2") in one spot to see if moist or dry, that is a much better guide. You may want to also consider using the weight of the pot to determine how dry it is. The heavier it is the wetter. I do not recommend using the passage of time as a guide to when to water as that can vary wildly. In my greenhouse in winter here it can be months between waterings, while in summer they can need it daily.

    The leaves look ok to me, only a bit stressed. They will droop down when really wilting. The new leaves forming are a good sign.

    One last thing, the last photo seems to show scale still on the plant near the soil. You may want to treat that area again.
     
  19. Pinar

    Pinar New Member

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    Thank you for your message. I scratched the soil and it is wet so I am leaving it like this for a while. And about the scale, I couldn't clean that part, I wiped it a bit, however, it doesn't go away.
    Should I scratch it with a toothpick or something? I don't want to hurt the plant.
    upload_2022-2-7_18-8-25.png
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 7, 2022
  20. Will B

    Will B Active Member

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    Unfortunately scratching scale by hand will never get rid of it all, or really bring it under control. The easiest thing is to coat the scale with oil so it cannot breathe any more and dies, but there are other approaches. The links provided earlier in the thread provide information on controlling scale.
     
  21. Pinar

    Pinar New Member

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    Yes, I wiped it with soapy water but it didn't work I guess. Maybe I should do it again. I can't use both oil and insecticidal soap at the same time. I can also buy neem oil if soapy water doesn't work out.
     
  22. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Looks like it's doing fine. You could use isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol) and a Q-tip to remove the scale from the stem. A spray, soap or oil, would rid the tree of the juvenile scale which you cannot see. Spray on a cloudy day to prevent potential phytotoxic injury. I repeat soap sprays every 7-10 days.
     
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  23. Pinar

    Pinar New Member

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    I have a hand sanitizer. I will write the content: chlorhexidine gluconate (0.2%) + isopropyl alcohol (70%) + Gliserin (2%) + deionized water (27.8%).
    Would it work to remove the scale from the stem?

    Best wishes,

    Pinar
     
  24. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    The sanitizer would probably kill the scale because of the isopropyl alcohol but some of the other components may do harm to plant tissue.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2022

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