Mini orange tree

Asked March 25, 2019, 8:58 PM EDT

After producing 10 oranges last year, my potted orange tree dropped most of its leaves and seems to be barely alive. I repotted to larger pot and fertilized. Still no new growth. What should I expect? See photo.

Hennepin County Minnesota orange tree

3 Responses

Thanks for the question. However in order to give you the best answer, could you please provide the following information:

1. How long have you had this tree indoors?
2. Previous to this year, has this tree had leaves and produced fruit?
3. When did you repot the tree? Within the past three months? Past six months?
4. When you repotted the tree, was there extensive root development?
5. How much sun does your tree get per day?

Many thanks for your answers.

1-tree indoors 6 mo, since too cold at night.
2-plant is 3-4 yrs old. Always has leaves, once had fertilized blossoms but failed to develop beyond pea size fruit.
3&4-repotted 6 mo ago after harvest. Roots not highly developed.
5- North window daylight available only.

Thanks for your response. It has helped clarify my thinking. Generally speaking potted plants and especially trees, whether kept inside or outside, can experience difficulties for one or more reasons:

1). The plant has reached the limit of its growing life. This would result in a gradual loss of vigor but not the sudden events that you observed. This does not seem to be a reasonable possibility for your tree.

2). The plant becomes root-bound. If this was an issue, when you repotted it you would have seen extensive roots on the perimeter of the soil next to the pot's interior surface. You did not observe this so this cause can also be eliminated.

3). Growing conditions are having a detrimental effect. This seems most likely.

Whether or not your tree will ever develop extensive fruit is problematic. When only one tree is present in a location, hand pollination may be necessary. However this is a secondary consideration at this point. The loss of leaves is the major event that needs to be addressed. One of the most common causes of leaf drop is a significant change in temperature. Last fall when you moved your tree inside, if there was too abrupt of a temperature change leaves could drop. See:

Note that at the above site in the lower right corner, you can move forward or backward to get additional information.

Something else to consider is the amount of humidity inside your house/apartment. Ideally, orange trees grow best when the humidity is between 40% and 50%. Given the extremely cold temperatures this past January, I suspect that your interior humidity was well below this.

Another factor to be considered is the amount of light your tree is receiving, especially when indoors. A daily minimum of at least five hours of direct sunlight is preferable. Perhaps this winter season your tree is received less direct sunlight than in previous years? A north location may not the best place for your tree. See:

Finally, when fertilizing your tree, it is important to be sure that sufficient nitrogen is applied. This is the major nutrient needed for leaf growth and development. See:

In short, I suspect that there is nothing seriously wrong with your tree and when you move it outside for the summer, leaf buds should develop and grow.

Good Luck!!