I receive a miniature orange tree as a gift about eight months ago. It has
a couple of pieces of fruit on it when I received it, and then went into
flower a couple of months later and produced even more fruit.
The fruit dried up and now the leaves on the tree have begun to curl. The
leaves are not tender to the touch (e.g. they do not fall off the tree,
indeed, I don't think any leaves have fallen off), they just seem to be
curling and dropping (though they are not brittle nor rubbery, they feel
like a healthy leaf to me).
Any ideas of why this might be and what (if anything) I should be doing
about it? The plant gets an ok amount of light, but it has decreased in the
last couple of months due to winter (Saskatchewan). Temperature in the
house fluxes between 17C and 22C. Here are a couple of pictures that
demonstrate what is happening:
On Sun, 5 Dec 2004 14:30:14 -0600, "Christopher A. Brooks"
:) Any ideas of why this might be and what (if anything) I should be doing
:) about it? The plant gets an ok amount of light, but it has decreased in the
:) last couple of months due to winter (Saskatchewan). Temperature in the
:) house fluxes between 17C and 22C. Here are a couple of pictures that
:) demonstrate what is happening:
You can get leave curl from water problems...the plant dried out, or
has been staying too wet now the roots are damaged and are not
supplying the plant with moisture. If the plant is near the window at
all times, could there be a cold draft much colder than what the house
temperature states, that has now stressed the plant. If the
temperature has stayed at that level since you have had the plant, it
may be too cool an environment for the plant to survive long term.
Lar. (to e-mail, get rid of the BUGS!!
Dancing dog is back!
Several things may be afflicting your orange.
Citrus is very sensitive to watering problems. In a pot with the
roots constrained, your orange requires constant moisture. On the
other hand, the roots will rot if the soil is truly wet. The pot
must have a drain hole in the bottom. To protect your furniture
and floors, you must of course have a saucer or other container to
catch excess water. However, you need to put a few large pebbles
in the saucer or container (under the pot) so the pot does not sit
in the water that drains out.
If possible, repot using my recipe for home-made potting mix at
<http://www.rossde.com/garden/garden_potting_mix.html . Omit all
nutrients from the mix except for bone meal. This mix will allow
proper drainage of excess water while maintaining necessary
moisture. Do not feed your orange until it appears to be
recovering. Feeding now will further damage the roots. (But you
need the bone meal now because the phosphorus will not leach
through the mix if you add it later.)
The humidity may be too low. Leaves may be losing water faster
than the constrained roots can replenish it, even if you use my
Low humidity in a warm environment can also promote an infestation
of spider mites, which will eventually defoliate your orange.
Usually, spider mites can be seen with a magnifying glass. If you
have them, spraying might be necessary. Since the use of the
appropriate spray can be a problem indoors, you might instead try
putting the orange in a bath tub and rinsing the undersides of the
leaves with a strong spray of plain water.
Since you are at the University of Saskatchewan (where my daughter
is working for a master's degree in education), you might try
dragging your orange into the botany or agriculture department for
a professional to check it.
Finally, you might consider the fact that citrus is not really a
good houseplant. While it can thrive in a greenhouse with a
controlled climate suitable for citrus and not for humans, it will
do poorly in a house or office. I can't grow tulips because my
winters are too mild. Maybe you shouldn't try to grow oranges
because your winters are too cold.
If your orange survives until warm weather begins, you must put it
outdoors. With appropriate watering, the heat and humidity that I
experienced in Saskatoon when I visited my daughter in August 2003
will be very good for your plant.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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