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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
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Wednesday - January 02, 2008

From: Royal Palm Beach, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Container Gardens
Title: Containerized citrus foliage deformed
Answered by: Candace Fountoulakis

QUESTION:

I have three 2-year old potted grapefruit trees that have recently developed problems with the emergence of new leaves. The new leaves are stunted, deformed, often with wavy edges. Although it did have snail issues a while back, I treated for those and that no longer seems to be an issue. I fertilized it with a citrus fertilizer about 3 weeks ago to see if that would help, but it hasn't. I do not see any pests on it that appear to be causing a problem. I'd like to send a photo to help with your assessment, but can't figure out how to do that. Your advice is most welcome.

ANSWER:

To submit a photo for help in identifying problems with your plant, use a digital camera and take several images including details of leaves, stems, flowers, fruit, and the overall plant. Save images in JPEG format, not more than 640 x 480 pixels in size, with resolution set at 300 pixels per inch. Send email with images attached to id@smartyplants.org. Put Plant Identification Request in the subject line of your email and refer to your question above so that we can link the two.

Containerized trees need full sun, loose potting mix and room for roots to grow. If the trees have been in the same containers for more than a year, they need either to be root pruned to keep them in the same size container with fresh potting mix, or moved up to a larger container. Full sun, avoiding temperatures near freezing and cold winter winds will protect the trees from damage. Overwatering is the number one killer of citrus in containers so let the soil dry out (top inch) between waterings. Soils generally stay wet longer in plastic, metal and ceramic containers than in wood or clay containers which permit water evaporation through the sides. Cool weather slows growth, so reduce watering frequency during winter. Soilborn fungi can cause foliage problems, and we would suggest contacting the local Florida Extension Service for assistance in diagnosing your plants' symptoms, including forwarding digital images of the trees and leaves. Check www.ifas.ufl.edu/ for your local extension office.

 

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