My Kishu mandarin saga

Feeling like a terrible gardener today. Let me tell the tale:

A couple of years ago I ordered two kishu mandarins from Four Winds. Planted both in-ground on my hillside and all was well for awhile. Then they began to decline significantly (leaf loss, yellowing). I was able to perk one back up with fertilizer and a bit of fresh soil/mulch while the other one died. :cry:

It’s been about a year since then, and now the other kishu has deeply declined again.

Out of desperation, I decided to chance digging it up and caring for it in a pot where I could more closely keep an eye on it and care for it.

The rootball had barely grown in two years:

And I did notice this white stuff in the soil near the roots:

It’s now in the shade on my patio to (hopefully) start recovering… or head towards death. We’ll see. I potted it in a mixture of sand, potting soil, peat moss, perlite, and a dash of mini lava rock. Pine needle mulch, and a dose of Miracle-gro liquid fertilizer in the hopes of a fast food injection. Not sure if that was a good move or not.

I keep thinking that the soil I planted it in was not decomposed enough, or that the heavy rains we’ve been having has leached out nutrients from the ground.

I’m any case, I’m pretty bummed because of the money I spent on those two kishus, and I’ve never had any of my other new citrus get hit so hard. Just when I think I’ve got the hang of things, a curve ball comes along.


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Looks similar to Cotton Root Rot I had one year in a potted, outdoor tropical plant.


fungus means its too wet. plant it in a mound with good draining soil. citrus dont like wet feet. now that you have it in a good draining soil it will likely recover. let the top 2in go completely dry before watering again.

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Over here in Vista I have similar soils. 9 years ago I planted 6 citrus trees from 24" boxes. All were failing within 2 years. I dug them up and then re-dug the planting holes down to 4’ in what turned out to be clay. I then had a contractor dig trenches and install a network of 3" drainage pipe. In each tree hole we laid perforated pipe with “sock” and a vertical for sweep-out. The remainder (majority) of the length is unperforated and travels to the rear of the yard.

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When I planted these guys, I dug into the ground about two feet and replaced the clay soil with store-bought soil. Then I built a mound and placed the young tree in it. However, I think I had too much organic matter and not enough native soil, and the mound slowly shrank over time till it was just barely below grade when I took it out. If it recovers and I plant it out there again, I’m going to make a monstrous mound. :blush: Will add a little more native soil and a bit of sand.


That’s dedication! This clay soil is a real nuisance around here. I’m sure your citrus have been much happier. I wonder if all the rain we’ve had was pooling water in the hole sight unseen. The kishus were planted right next to a slope, so I had hoped it would help improve drainage, but apparently it has not been enough.


sand and coarse perlite are your best friend. :wink:


I think kishus are hard to grow… I’ve killed two over the years at different times. My other mandarins are doing well but never my kishus. It’s unfortunate because they’re my favorite mandarins.

Mine is doing well but I only had o r fruit so far, it’s planted in a difficult I found a better place for it. Let’s hope I get some fruit otherwise it will be back in-the container.


The danger of replacing the native soil with such a lighter mix is, if the native soil doesn’t drain well, what you have created is a pool where water will sit on the roots and drain slowly into the native soils.

Most places recommend planting using the native soil you’ve removed for the hole, or planting a bit raised and mounding the soil to improve drainage or the root crown.

Also make sure you compact the planting soil as you create a lot of air pockets when you dig and those eventually collapse, lowering the soil level from what it looks like when you plant.