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I've been undertaking a campaign to save my orange tree and have made some progress. I live in Arizona and wasn't adequately watering it before, but have since mulched around the tree and deep water it more thoroughly.

I've also fertilized it and I think I see some improvement (at least haven't seen it worsen), but I have some more questions on things I might be able to do to help.

  1. Pruning the dead branches/twigs that are still on there. In this album you can see there's a few larger branches (first picture: the one starting on right, curves over left, is entirely dead) and some smaller ones (second picture) I planned to remove.

  2. Should I be concerned about the appearance of the bark in the first picture?

Orange tree in recovery

Is this a good approach to take? If the tree is in recovery mode, I don't want to do anything to cause it more strain if it's not going to help it.

  • You could assist the tree by thinning the crop. Right now everything is going to the fruit. Remove one in four or one in three oranges now and the others will have more water. – kevinsky Oct 17 '15 at 1:31
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A good technique to help promote growth for any citrus - pee on it. Sounds silly, but it works every time. Citrus generally prefer acidic soils that are not suitable for most plants, so perhaps you need to improve the soil around its roots.

When you are pruning, as a rule you should make an angled cut (between 45-60 degrees) at the nodes (where new stems or buds are forming) only. This discourages rot along the cut stem and encourages the node to grow.

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    Do you have any references for the "pee on it" suggestion that works every time? – kevinsky Jan 27 '16 at 10:52
  • I mean pee on the ground at the base of it, not on the actual tree! I have had several citrus trees. Also I'm a landscape architect. You can look up different soils that you can purchase or mix yourself that will increase the acidity too. Te most common problem with citrus is the soil isn't acidic enough. Hope that helps. – Viv Jan 27 '16 at 22:16
  • I suggest that peeing will not make the soil more acidic on any long-term way. Do you have any university or college publications that confirm your idea? – kevinsky Jan 28 '16 at 2:51
  • Gosh no! It's just a common technique. I thought everyone knew it. If the tree is seriously struggling, it may need more than one "dose", but it's a practice that usually works wonders when planting or re-planting a citrus. I am surprised with your background that you haven't heard of people doing it. – Viv Jan 28 '16 at 3:12
  • regional.org.au/au/asa/1998/8/029condon.htm although urine tends to be alkaline, nitrogen transformations in the soil after application acidifies the soil. – Graham Chiu Jan 29 '16 at 19:34
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You can try to graft 3 or 4 shoots on the surfaces of the cut stems after bracing the stem with circular metal braces. Leave the bark alone. However, you can paint the stems with latex to protect from rotting. Fertilizing and acidifying of the orange tree with urine seem like a scientific proved method:

Good luck!

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