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Need help with Cara Navel tree

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2005
by DebiR on November 14, 2005 04:15 AM
I got this tree last year for Christmas. It already had an orange on it! It looked as if it would do well at first but this year, all the leaves are yellowing and falling off with no fruit in sight. I have watered it and provided citrus plant food according to directions. It is planted in my front yard which is basically pasture grass as my lawn used to be a field, so soil should be good. Any ideas on what could be happening?
by Longy on November 14, 2005 09:17 AM
Debi the tree sounds like it is in a situation of less than ideal drainage. Check the soil and see how wet it is and how long it remains wet after watering. Citrus like regular water but they also like the soil to have excellent drainage.

If you find this may be the problem, you may need to cut back on your watering firstly and if this is insufficient, consider raising the plant 6 inches or so.
To do this you would need to remove it, work a well drained sandy loam mixed with compost into the soil and then replant. The resulting mound should be about a yard in diameter and at least 6 inches higher than the surrounding soil.

Use this time to shape the tree by giving a light pruning and shaping the basic framework into the shape of a wineglass. Afterwards, mulch the soil well, at least out to the dripline with more compost and maybe some straw or rotted woodchip over the top.

The soil in your front yard is probably unsuitable for citrus without impovement in drainage and organic matter content. Also the grass will compete directly with the citrus as they have similar root feeding areas. The grass will win so a good mulch is essential.

Don't worry if you don't get fruit for a season or two. Citrus are best left fruit free for a few years to allow their root system to develop.
The reason they have fruit on them in the plant nurseries is because they are stressed and attempting to produce offspring.

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The secret is the soil.

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