From near death to adoption. Please help this tree. Pic

meyermike_1micha(5)January 16, 2011

I was hoping I could spare this tree from death.

I have managed to adopt a this plant the other day.

It is called a "Fragran Olive Tree".

This poor thing was left for dead and I had to spare it from the abuse.

The first thing I noticed about this tree was it inability to fight off pest's and the mix it is growing in.

Upon examining the roots, I noticed that many were half dead and the tree was in such a weakened state, that it was nearly engulfed with pest's.

I absolutely know the mix it is in is having a very negative affect on it's ability to thrive and handle stress. I wish I could re-pot in into the gritty mix I use for all my trees, but at this time it is impossible.

I am in fear of causing further shock to it since it is already weak. I did manage to scratch off most of the old soil and shake out much more and replace it with a bagged mix which is something I personally do not typically use, since it was this type of mix that caused it's demise in the first place according to the nursery owner and my evaluation of it.

I wish I had a batch of gritty mix already made, but I did not.

Other than the fact that I will be planting it into a better mix come spring, spraying for pest's and giving it a choice spot in a huge window, is there anything else one could recommend I do to help it along as fast as possible?

It can take years for a tree to grow this size in a pot and I really do not want to loose this one. I am already attached.:-)

Look at all the damage to the leaves and its overall appearance.

Thank you


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Oops! The pictures...

Thanks everyone.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 6:18PM
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Hello Mike

Apart from repotting with new mix into a larger pot, there are a few observations I could make.

The leaves of the plant look like they have an iron deficiency.

Is the plant a citrus ? Do you have its botanical name ? This might help in knowing what else can be done.

I assume you are in winter where you are, and that the plant would not be in its' growing season, but are there flowers on it ?

If you purely want to give it first aid, at this point, perhaps you could try a seaweed solution, I believe this is a good tonic for ailing plants.

Hope this helps you in some small way.


    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 11:46PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Mike, is that the tree you had to chop in half just to get it home?

I assume that you've flushed the soil with water and vinegar, yes?
I'd also add a wick to make sure that crappy soil dries out a bit faster.

Osmanthus fragrans - I think that's the botanical name for Fragrant Olive/Sweet Olive.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 12:07AM
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If anyone can save it, Mike, you can... you have all the tools necessary in your arsenal of knowledge... and you have a support group just waiting to help!

I'm sure you already know, but isolate it from your other plants if you're treating it for found pests... you don't want those creepy crawlers to spread!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 7:37AM
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I do not care for where you have it located. In a window is fine for the light but it is also with a heater vent and the air must be very dry. I grow Osmanthus fragrans here, they go through our light frosts just fine. The size of the container does not match the amount of root a tree with that caliper would normally have, so the roots must be compromised. It only has about 25% of the normal leaves, and is not growing any new ones. All this you already know. A few years ago I bought(rescued) a potted Camellia looking very much like your tree. It had been in the same pot and soil forever. First thing I did was to bare root it and any bad rooting was removed. I put the tree in a bucket of fresh water while preparing a new container mix. With the roots hydrated and wet I liberally sprinkled an endomycorrhizal fungi on the bare roots, and planted immediately into the mix. The plant was then kept outside in a shady frost proof area. The recovery was rapid and worth all the trouble, as a really FRAGRANT Camellia is a rarity. Al

    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 8:57AM
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If you don't want to wait for spring to re-pot there's plenty of mix ingrediants for that container here No black pumice thou LOL

    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 10:32AM
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Popi: I wanted to thank you for your suggestion. Yes, it is actively growing and those are flowers on it. I forgot to take a another picture today after spraying it for bugs again, and I will tomorrow. A re-pot is a sure must come spring.

Josh: Yes, this is the tree! Would you believe that the nursery was so taken back by my concern for this tree, that they gave me back the little money I put down on it. They credited my card for it.
Thank you for naming its proper id.
I did flush the mix, but would you believe that I of all people I never thought of using vinegar? I am on it once I find out if they like sweet or acidic soil. Thanks!

Jodik: Thank you for your vote on confidence. Really appreciated and I hope I do not disappoint you or this poor tree. I will keep you updated as time goes by, even if it should die.;-( ;-)

Al: Thanks for your input and nice to see you. I hear you about the roots but I am not sure what to do just yet with them, but I am sure you and others will guide me through the process when I do decide to cut. Thank you
I love Camellia, lucky you. Great job and I can only imagine it rewarding you. I have 3 and all are very fragrant, but very small. Congrats for sure.

Mrlike2u...Not without the black Thanks man.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 10:27PM
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I have to agree with Calistoga Al, when he says that keeping a plant that near to a heat vent is a concern. If the plant is already stressed, you'll likely want to avoid more... and dry, heated air from a furnace vent will definitely place more stress on that tree.

I'd move the plant if I had another location for it.

Or... I'd get one of those clear plastic directional vent covers... so you can direct the flow of heated air away from the plant and into the room.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 6:37AM
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Thank you so much Jodi! I am glad I already did that since you seconded the motion thank

Thank you again so much. I will be taking pics today and show you its reaction.

Have a great day all of you!


    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 9:23AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I'm not sure how I missed this thread, but this is the first time I looked at it.

I'm not sure if the material on top of the soil is very coarse perlite or some other chalky rock. If it's perlite, I wouldn't worry about it. If it is a calcareous form of rock, I would remove it. I would flush the soil thoroughly and repeatedly with room temp water, then remove the plant from the pot and allow it to dry down. I'm assuming it's in a muddy soil. Use the opportunity, while the plant is out of the pot, to put a wick through a drain hole on the side at the bottom - make one if you have to. Also tend to any diseased roots, making sure you cut back to sound tissue.

Every time you water, tilt the container at a 45* angle so the wick emerges at the lowest point, and wait until draining has stopped before righting the plant. This will remove most of any perched water and help negate the negative effects of the soil.

After flushing, I would fertilize with a 1/4 to 1/2 strength of your favorite fertilizer. In the meantime, I would get a 3-in-1 product by Bayer

that has Imidicloprid and Tebuconazole in it. It also contains a miticide. The Imidacloprid is a systemic insecticide and the Tebuconazole is a very effective systemic fungicide. These chemicals are approved for houseplants, but you should not spray indoors, so wait for a warm, sunny day to spray outdoors.

These steps should help the plant reverse course, and you can do a full repot/root-pruning in the spring after the plant has gained some strength. It's probably better to deal with the negative effects of a poor soil for now to spare the plant from the additional stress of a full repot. The one way I would say you might have to bite the bullet & do a emergency repot is if the roots are in such bad shape you're nearly certain the plant will continue decline even after your efforts at intervention.

The plant is a scale magnet when grown in a container, though keeping it healthy, as I'm sure you will, goes a long way toward helping the plant resist the pests.

Best luck.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 1:57PM
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Hello in regard to that heat vent on the floor, I have great news! It is only vents that blow in fresh cool air because that show room can get so hot!
Now I can leave the tree in its spot again. I always wondered how my gardenia and citrus trees did so well near these vents and now I know. :-)

Al, great suggestions and I have already done a few of these. I plan on doing the rest once the snow melts and allows me to drag it out doors on a bit of a warmer day to do a complete and thorough transplant.
Saturday I will remove those silica stones.
I will also insert a wick asap until I can put this tree into the gritty mix.
Thank you for all your help, it means a lot. Thanks everyone!

Here are a couple of pics of new growth and still pest free leaves.

Thank you for helping me everyone since taking care of an "Osmanthus fragrans" this size is new to me.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 10:21PM
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It looks like it's doing better, already! I see new growth sprouting... it's budding... and the older leaves look a lot happier!

Great intervention, Mike! You've saved it's life... no doubt about that!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 10:16AM
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Thank you so much for helping and the confidence in me. You along with many have been an inspiration.

I will say in this instance it was obvious that the "mix" was the main limiting factor and then, "lack of care", and "over watering" were to follow to cause the demise of this poor thing..I can say the limiting factor in it's demise was not the lack of light, since it was right out in the middle of the greenhouse the whole time getting mostly full sunlight!
It is amazing how much we learn in each plants individual circumstances.

Thank goodness for this the forum to help me make those true judgements!

It did not suprise me since I know and saw first hand how many plants there were rotted in their containers, some with full root mealy and thousands of fungus gnats, in poor soil mixes, even though they had prime seating in the best imaginable light possible!
Sad to say, even all that light they recievd coud not spare some from the frosty cold tamps that many were exposed to in another greenhouse. So sad I tell you:-((

I am grateful for all I learn here and for everyone's support.

I will take more pics in another week. It's funny, it acted as if it sucked up the nutrients I provided it like a sponge even though I have it is suggested at other forums not to fertilize this tree, especially at this time of year.

It also took very well to an almost complete soil change over with lot's of perlite added to the MG mix I used just until I can take it out come spring and do a whole new mix. Almost as if it wanted to say a huge thank you, but not quite
I can't wait to see an even bigger change for the better if it makes it till then when I pot it up in the gritty mix.
I pray it holds on, and I pray for a quick retrun of spring guys!
More snow today and another blizzard next week!


    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 11:09AM
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There's a lesson here, it seems... by giving equal importance to all factors in growth, and then looking for the most limiting of those factors and correcting them, Mike has effectively proven the case that light cannot be the most important factor in growing. The fact that the tree WAS in full light and still managed to attain a near death status shows us quite clearly that light is only as important as any of the other factors involved.

Light would only have been the most important factor to this tree if it had been the limiting factor. Such was not the case.

I look forward to seeing the imminent progress of this tree, Mike!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 1:37PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Before you get jumped on by someone else, I think you made a little typo, Jodi. Light CAN, at times, be the most limiting factor in growing - it's just not ALWAYS the most limiting factor, or the most important factor, and it certainly cannot negate the effects of other limiting factors - you can't make up for a dry or over-fertilized plant by giving it more light. That would be a ridiculous suggestion, as we all agree, I'm sure.

The most important factor changes, and if you're working on eliminating limiting factors you'll find they will arise in a succession, but it is always the most limiting factor that is most important.

Example - A plant that loves bright sun is doing poorly. It is in the shade, but it is dry and malnourished, and has scale. The obvious most important potential limiting factor to correct is the moisture level. Then, we really have no way of knowing whether light, the malnutrition, or the scale infestation are the next most limiting. If we correct one issue, say light, we may or may not have corrected the next most limiting issue. If we did not, we cannot expect the plant to grow at beyond it's limits. If we DID - if light WAS the next most limiting factor, then the next most limiting issue, after light, becomes the most important. Light is just 'somewhere in the queue'.

Don't get me wrong, I'd never try to diminish the importance of light and it's influence on healthy plants, but plants grown in perfect light die quite often from other limiting causes. Since I assume the viability of the organism is the measure by which we judge the importance of limiting factors, it can ONLY be concluded that when plants in perfect light die, light was NOT the limiting factor, it was not king, and it did not negate the limiting effects of other factors.

Never, is everything exactly perfect, and as soon as you get one factor as close to perfect as possible, the factor that is farthest from perfect becomes the most important issue to deal with.

It takes thousands of parts to build an automobile on an assembly line. The part that is in shortest supply will always have the greatest potential to bring the line to a stop. Replenish the supply of that particular part, and the next part that is in shortest supply claims the greatest potential to bring the line to a stop ....... and so it goes with plants.

Keep us posted with pics, Mike. Where do you find the time to take & post so many shots? Good job!


    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 2:37PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

I think he carries his camera in his pocket. lol! ;-)
Hi Mike! Everyone!
Enjoying this thread and seeing hope for a few of my babies that really need a new start!


    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 3:54PM
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I say potatoes - you say potahtoes! I'm fairly certain the gist of the lesson was understood... even with the tiny error, Al... but thank you for correcting it. I meant to say... "in this case".

I think Mike got a new phone for Christmas... one with a decent camera and other nice functions!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 9:05AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

yes he did Jodi,
But I know he still uses his camera. I saw a post in citrus where he mentioned forgetting the card. ;-)

Hi Mike, were picking on you, where are you? lol!
Hope everyone is having a good day!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 12:08PM
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Ah, yes... my camera is compact enough that I could bring it with me and use it wherever I was, too. I just figured it was a new cell phone... the newer ones take decent photos. Mine is old and does not!

Mike, you do have a nice command of photography, as well as plant growing! :-)

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 12:53PM
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Al..I will! Thanks for the kind words and support.

I will be taking more photo's next week with my up to date "cell phone" and my

Jojo: How'd you know that? It never leaves my side especially in the summer: There is always the chance of getting a great lightning shot you
I once carried my camera skiing just to fall on it and attain a black and blue on my hip thta lasted for days.
Pray that my pop-up in the back yard loaded with many of my citrus makes the -11 degree mark, will ya?:-)

Jodi: Hi! I only learn from the best my friend! Look at all those rose pictures that just dazzle these forums! i wish you would put a few over on the thread I started about my ponderosa tree somehow to spruce up the journey a bit. So colorful and majestic.
Now we wait for the bulb photos so close, yet so far away.
Can't we just melt this snow away? I still have about 3 feet of it in my backyard. I will tell you though that all my small shrubs and things looked like they were pretty safe buried with the warmth of it. -11 tomorrow!

Many hugs and a hand shake to you all!


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 5:00PM
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