Yellow leaves on orange tree: what to do?

The orange tree can have yellow leaves for various reasons

The orange tree is a very pretty tree, especially when it produces its small, fragrant white flowers. But if there is something that worries all of us who have at least one specimen, it is the fact that sometimes, and perhaps for no apparent reason, its leaves turn yellow. And it is clear, a plant that has yellow foliage is one that is having a hard time.

Why can the orange tree have yellow leaves? Is there anything we can do to keep her condition from getting worse? We talk about this below.

The soil does not have some nutrients available to the plant

The orange tree is a fruit tree that can have chlorosis

Image – Wikimedia/Hans Braxmeier

El Orange tree, and actually all citrus, are trees that when planted for example in a clay soil, they tend to show symptoms of chlorosis, such as yellowing of the leaves. This is because, although these soils can be very nutritious and fertile, for the simple fact of being alkaline (and therefore having a very high pH, ​​7-8), there are certain nutrients that are blocked and therefore inaccessible to the roots.

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Chlorosis: an easily avoidable evil

Therefore, it is not uncommon for our tree to have yellow leaves if it is growing in that type of soil, because in these conditions it lacks iron and manganese, both essential so that the plant can manufacture chlorophyll on the one hand, and carry out photosynthesis on the other. So how can we know if you really have this problem?

We have said that the leaves turn yellow, but… how? Well then the loss of its natural green color starts from the edge of the leaf inwards. In the specific case of iron chlorosis or lack of iron, we will also see that the nerve remains green. What can we do?

Although it can be quite a serious and serious problem, the solution is not too complicated. In fact, To prevent it from getting worse, we will only have to pay it with a citrus fertilizer, which contains all the nutrients you need and, most importantly, they are available for you to absorb from the moment you compost. But yes, it is very important that the instructions for use are followed so that we do not add more fertilizer than indicated.

But beware: this will not be enough. If we irrigate with alkaline water, it will have chlorosis again. Therefore, it is necessary that whenever possible, rainwater is used for irrigation, or one that is sweet, suitable for human consumption.

Irrigation frequency is not adequate

Either because it is being watered more than necessary, or because, on the contrary, it is not watered enough, the orange tree can end up with yellow leaves. But the reality is that it is difficult to control irrigation, since the frequency must be variable as a result of the change of season, and the variations that occur in temperature, wind, rain, etc., throughout the year.

Watering is especially necessary -and I would say urgent- during a heat wave, and even more so if the thermometer reaches values ​​of 40ºC or something more for several days in a row. But we cannot neglect it either if the land in which it grows dries out quickly, since otherwise the roots will suffer significant damage. For this reason, we will have to water much more often in summer than in winter. The question is: how many times a week would be correct?

The truth is that this is a question that does not have a single answer, since we do not have the same climate in La Coruña as in Badajoz, for example. Even within the same province, there are different microclimates. I myself can say that, in the extreme south of the island of Mallorca, where I live, it rains much less than in the Sierra de Tramuntana (which is to the northwest); In fact, we are talking about a brutal difference: in my town about 350mm of precipitation falls annually, but on the other hand in the mountains about 1000-1500mm fall. And of course, my orange tree needs to be watered much more than the fruit trees that are in the northwest of Mallorca.

Then, to know when to water it, it is important to know -broadly speaking- the climate of the area where it is being grown, since that way we can get an idea of ​​when to water it. But if you have doubts, I recommend that you check the humidity of the soil. This is something you can do with a simple wooden stick: you just have to insert it all the way in, and that's it. When you take it out you will see if it is wet or not: in the first case, you will see that a little earth has adhered to it; and in the second, on the other hand, it will come out practically clean and dry.

Symptoms of excess and lack of water in the orange tree

But how can we find out if we've been overwatering it? What symptoms will it present? Good, Well, an orange tree that is drowning, either because it has been watered a lot, and/or because the soil is so compact and heavy that it does not allow air to circulate well between its pores -which occurs in soils with poor drainage-, You will see the leaves turn yellow, starting with the lower ones and continuing with the newer ones.

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If just the opposite occurs, that is, it is being watered too little, the first leaves to show yellow will be the new ones. These will eventually dry out and fall off. Also, the soil will look and feel very dry, and may even crack.

How to save it? Well then if it has an excess of water, what we will do is suspend the watering for a while, until the earth dries up. Likewise, we will have to treat it with a systemic fungicide such as this so that the fungi do not damage it.

If it is in very compact soil with poor drainage, whenever possible (for example, if we have planted it a year or less ago, or if it is a young tree), it is best to remove it, make a hole at least 1 x 1 meter, and fill it with a mixture of peat and perlite in equal parts.

Y if what happens is that it is drying out, we will water it more often. In addition, it is important to pour water until the soil is well soaked, otherwise the tree will not be able to quench its thirst.

The orange tree has pests

Orange trees can have many pests

Image - Flickr / Katja Schulz

Although it is a fairly easy tree to care for, it must also be said that it usually has some other problem related to pests, especially during the summer. The most common are mealybugs, aphids and thrips, all of them insects that feed on the sap of leaves (and the aphid also of the one of the flowers), and that when doing so they leave discolored spots. If the situation continues, eventually the leaves turn yellow, dry up and finally fall off.

To do? The best thing is to prevent, and for that I recommend treating the tree before symptoms appear with diatomaceous earth (for sale here!). The leaves are wetted with water, and then this product is poured over them. Naturally, it does not harm the environment, except of course for these small pathogenic insects.

However if there are already symptoms, the ideal is to use an insecticide, following the instructions for use. If we opt for a spray, like this, we will spray the product on both sides of the leaves, the branches, and it is also advisable to do it on the trunk.

As you have seen, there are several reasons why the orange tree may have yellow leaves.


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