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