Nutrient deficiency / excess in Citrus

sreyan(6a)July 25, 2014


I'm new to container gardening and citrus plants. I repotted the plant after I got it from the nursery a month ago as they suggested, and I've noticed some new growth.

The growth however seems to be a different color than the rest of the plant, with a red / purple tint (circled in the image)

* With respect to the reddish leaves: Is this an indication of nutrient deficiency / excess?
* With respect to the strange growth: Is this a pest or insect I need to eliminate? It looks like the plant but is different that the other new growth.


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Here's the growth that doesnt look like the rest.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 1:37PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I can't really see from the pic....but is that a purplish flower bud?

Also, a detail of those leaves would help. Plant leaves appear to be stippled, as with severe mite damage.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 5:41PM
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Hi Josh, thanks for your help!

I'm doing some posts in succession because I can't figure out how to post more than one image at a time.

This image is for scale. The plant in question is the citrus with the tiny leaves. It's in a ~8" pot. The other citrus plants with the large leaves are in the 6" pot.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 8:25PM
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Here is a picture of the leaf enlarged as much as I could. Hopefully it's better than what I got with my cellphone this morning.

In case there are mites, I've sprayed all three citrus trees down with a lot of rubbing alcohol. I'm not sure if that's effective against mites however. What are recommended treatments?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 8:27PM
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Here's the mysterious growth. I didn't think it could be a flower bud because the plant is so small.

Should I be concerned that it's flowering at such a small size and thus making a last ditch effort to propagate?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 8:29PM
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Here's one last pictures of the leaves post spray down.

It looks like an ant died. This also has a better picture of the purple leaves. Could mites cause the leaf to be purple?

Thanks again, and sorry for the multiple posts.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 8:31PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

New growth is often purplish in a variety of plants.

The thing that looks like a flower bud is still not quite clear enough....but I assume it's a bud. Don't worry about it will most likely abort once it has bloomed (or even if a fruit sets).

The leaves would seem to indicate mite damage. I prefer several repeated treatments of Neem oil to battle mites.

The pots are already too small for these plants. Looks like you're using Gritty Mix (good job, there), but looks like some fertilization is needed to get a greener green from the tree on the left in the group photo. How are you fertilizing?


    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 8:53PM
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I will do several rounds of neem oil application. Should i do this for just the tree in question, all of my citrus plants, or all plants near by?

Ouch! I bought these from Logees a month ago the two smaller ones were potted in 2" pots and the bigger one was potted in a 4" pot. I thought I was giving them too much space in 6 & 8 " pots. I assume they're good for repotting so soon given they are all pushing new leaves? Should i stick with terracotta?

I fertigate with dynagrow foliage pro diluted at a ratio of 1/4 tsp per gallon. Watering frequency has depended on weather, on average every two days or so.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 9:13PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Great, you're using Foliage Pro. I'd go with a heavier dose, once or twice a week. With my Meyer Lemon, I comfortably fertilize with 1.5 teaspoons per gallon of water, once a week.

I wouldn't want to re-pot so soon....and I hate to say it. Perhaps others will comment on the containers. I'm looking at the plants and anticipating more growth this season.

There is an interesting debate regarding terracotta. I see that you're located in a zone 6, which means cold Winters. Many folks in the northeast, for example, are finding that black plastic containers help keep the roots warm and the plants more vital during the colder months, including the Spring transition out of doors. I hope some other growers will chime in.

As for the Neem treatment....yes, treat all of your Citrus. I like to do lighter Neem treatments, repeated three times, three days apart. That said, the stippling on the leaves could be *old* damage, and there might not be any mites currently. But Neem won't hurt, so you might as well be pro-active.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 12:19AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

As much as I like, and use Foliage Pro, I make citrus the exception. Because of the micro nutrients,Boron, Iron,Manganese,Molybdenum and Zinc, found in the preferred amounts, in citrus labeled fertilizer, I prefer to use it on citrus. For container grown citrus, because of the limited amount of soil, and the frequency of watering required, I have found monthly fertilizing year around, in the amount of one tablespoon per month, scratched into the surface to be about right. Al

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 10:08AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I agree that there's more than one way to skin a cat, Al ;-)

I use Osmocote, scratched into the surface, for a little nutrient overlap. But I also supplement a few times a year with iron chelate that Tapla sent me. Then, with the weekly Foliage Pro, my plants are covered.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 10:39AM
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Oxboy555(Las Vegas)

Josh, are those standard chelates or a special kind conducive to container growing?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 12:21AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey! I don't think it is particular to containers...rather, sounds like it helps with poor soils. But either way, I only use a light dose a few times a year....just in case. I really do think my Citrus are covered between the Foliage Pro and Osmocote; however, with so much flushing, I figure why not.

The product is called Sprint 138 iron chelate.


    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 2:16AM
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liamkelly Zone 6b Rhode Island / 5b Massachusetts

Is that tree with the small leaves a finger lime? If so, nice find! I understand they're a bit finicky, but I've been meaning to look into purchasing one myself!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2015 at 5:02PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Using a well draining mix like Gritty, you need not be concerned about potting into too large a pot. The smallest size pot for transplanting a rooted citrus, I would use, would be a three gallon, about a twelve inch diameter. Al

1 Like    Bookmark   March 12, 2015 at 7:17AM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

I'm concerned about what you said about spraying the plants with a lot of rubbing alcohol. I hope you have rinsed that off. Diluted rubbing alcohol (1 part to 9 parts water) might help kill scale if you use it with a Q-tip to rub them off, but pure alcohol is more likely to hurt your plants than it is to eliminate any other pests. It's best to figure out what specific pest you have and then only use a pesticide that is designed to kill it.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2015 at 8:34AM
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sreyan, purplish coloration on emerging leaves can indicate phosphate deficiency. On some leaves I think that I see the "green triangle" towards the base; which can indicate magnesium deficiency. I would look into providing trace elements.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2015 at 11:47AM
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Nil13 usda:9a sunset:21 LA,CA (Mount Wash.)

Purple emerging leaves on cirrus can also mean the citrus is simply a lemon.

1 Like    Bookmark   March 16, 2015 at 8:25AM
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