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Citrus Problems – Leaves Curling Inwards Along Their Length

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When leaves of a citrus tree curl evenly along their length, this is a protective response to minimises leaf surface area in order to reduce moisture loss. It indicates that the roots of the tree can’t supply enough water to support the leaves.

This form of leaf curling may be due to temporary conditions, such as:

These are simply conditions of water stress, from which the tree recovers when water is resupplied or extreme weather subsides.

It may also be due to more permanent conditions, such as:

When the roots become permanently damaged, there isn’t enough roots to support all the leaves on the tree, so leaves usually start dropping soon afterwards. This kind of root damage and leaf loss can weaken or kill a tree.

Another possible cause is physical damage to the tree, such as:

Diagnosing Leaf Curling Problems in Citrus

A problem can’t be treated without first figuring what the cause of the problem is. The best way to figure out if a tree has run dry, or is waterlogged, is by using a garden trowel (small hand spade), pushing the blade its full length into the soil, pulling it back, and observing the soil beneath.

In the article – Citrus Problems – Why Is My Citrus Tree Dying? we also discuss other forms of leaf curling, and the various solutions to all these problems in detail.

The relevant solution sections can be viewed directly through the following links:

By the way, to clear any doubts, the title photograph was created by separating citrus leaves from their roots by pruning a branch off the tree. After a few minutes, the leaves naturally curled along their length. If the cut branch was placed in a vase filled with water immediately after pruning it off, and it was kept out of harsh sun or strong wind, the leaves would not have curled.

Citrus leaves also curl inwards when a branch is separated from the plant and its roots, just like a tree with root problems

Minimising and Repairing Citrus Root Damage

When leaves curl longitudinally in most plants or trees, including citrus, it’s usually a sign of root damage. The earlier that action is taken to remedy the situation, the greater the chances of minimising any permanent damage and helping the plant fully recover.

If roots have died back for whatever reason, they can be induced to grow back by watering with seaweed extract.

Seaweed extract contains almost every mineral, which helps boost plant health very quickly, and it also contains various hormones which act as growth stimulants for plants. The main hormones in seaweed are auxins, gibbelerins, cytokinins and betaines. The cytokinins are root growth stimulants which assist in the regrowth of new roots.

For root recovery, apply seaweed extract along the canopy dripline, as this is where the majority of feeder roots are located.

For general transplanting and planting, the recommended application rate is 30mL of seaweed extract into a 9 litre (2 gallon) watering can, applied to the soil at planting time, then again 1 week later.

When dealing with stressed trees, the recommended application rate is 100mL of seaweed extract into a 9 litre (2 gallon) watering can, applied to the soil, around the dripline (edge of the canopy) of tree. Apply monthly until the tree recovers.

Other articles on citrus problems and how to fix them:

More articles on Garden Pests, Diseases and Problems

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