Yellow leaves on moro blood orange trees

Asked December 9, 2016, 2:59 PM EST

Hi, I planted two moro blood orange trees in mid October of this year (two months ago); they are saplings, and maybe 4 and a hald feet tall total. I live in Houston, Texas, and my soil is pretty clay heavy, so it holds water for quite a long time. The trees are in my backyard with a southern exposure, and they have unobstructed sun all day - I'd say they get about 10 or so hours of sun during the day. One of the trees has had yellowing leaves since shortly after it was planted - the leaves started turning yellow in late October or so. That tree has continued to have its leaves turn yellow, and it's shed quite a few leaves, and I am most worried about it. The other tree has stayed greener, but over the past few weeks, it has started to show some yellowing in its leaves, and has dropped a few leaves. I initially watered the trees fairly thoroughly in the weeks after planting. I tried to follow the gardening instructions I read on-line, and just watered them very deeply, but only about twice a week, to encourage deep root growth. I also have given them something called Moon Juice, which is what the nursery I bought them from suggested and helps prevent root shock, twice... once when I planted them, and once a month after I planted them (it is recommended I apply it to them once a month for about a year). Other than that, I have used no fertilizers or pesiticides or anything. When the yellowing started, it was suggested to me that they might be overwatered, and that might be causing the yellowing. I pulled back on the watering, and it seemed to neither help nor hurt; the yellowing didn't get worse, but didn't really seem to improve. It should be noted it rained quite a lot in the past month, so whether I water them or not, they are getting quite a bit of water. So what can I do to help the trees get fully healthy? Even the worse one doesn't seem on death's door - the leaves on it are yellow, but with some green here and there, and the leaves aren't droopy - but obviously everything isn't fully right and I want their health to improve. Any advice you can give would help immensely. Thanks very much! Nick

Harris County Texas

1 Response

Nick,
It is most likely a root problem, could be transplant damage or more than likely too much water. Roots need oxygen and in a clay soil the planting hole can become an underground bathtub. At this point there isn't much for you to do except not water much at all during these colder days of winter. When it warms up start watering in the absence of rainfall. Dig down into the original pot area and feel the soil to see if it is moist or drying to the touch before watering. If the area is low lying and prone to staying wet you may need to lift the plants and build up a raised mound about 10 inches high and 10 feet in diameter to replant them onto. That is a drastic measure so you may just want to wait and see how they do next spring.