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I just bought this dwarf mandarin tree a week ago and planted it in a pot and the leaves are starting to curl already. I have been looking every day but they seem to be getting worse.

I'm wondering if the roots are too wet - The soil seems to be holding onto a lot of water for some reason.

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I watered it once right after I planted it and have been checking the soil each day but it continues to seem wet. There is a drainage hole in the bottom of the pot but I wonder if the soil is retaining too much water for some reason?

I used the soil that was recommended (G & B potting soil) and added citrus fertilizer in the correct proportions.

The tree is in San Jose CA and gets about 8hrs of direct sun right now but it hasn't been very hot. (65-85º)

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It's probably just transplant shock and it should recover. The curling of the leaves is there to prevent evaporative losses so there might be some damage to the fine root hairs that actually absorb the moisture.

Citrus likes a freely draining soil, and you can purchase a moisture meter to make sure that you're not over watering it. A chopstick pushed deep into the pot that comes back wet would also indicate that it's been over-watered. Or the potting mix is not coarse enough to allow free drainage.

  • Thanks! I do have a meter. How long should it take to dry out? It's about a week right now to go from very moist to dry. Is that too long? And should I flood it when I do water it? – Adam Meyer Jun 14 '17 at 4:54
  • You probably used the wrong potting mix. The correct one is kellogggarden.com/products/gborganics/… which has sand and pumice to help drainage which the mix you used does not have. And yes, deep watering to encourage rooting to the bottom of the pot. – Graham Chiu Jun 14 '17 at 5:00
  • Thanks! I thought so, but the person at the nursery recommended the soil. Since it has been under 2 weeks is it ok to change the soil so soon? Would you add fertilizer to it right away? – Adam Meyer Jun 14 '17 at 5:14
  • I'd repot it for its long term health and you can see if any of the roots are damaged. No, you can always add fertilizer later on and the potting mix has plenty anyway. The mix has oyster shell limes to pH adjust but normally you want something on the acidic side. I just mix in a handful of sulfur but I would presume that the recommended mix has the right pH. – Graham Chiu Jun 14 '17 at 5:18
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I looked up G & B potting soil. Do you have your bag the soil came in? What I could come up with is that they might have added water holding 'gels' or 'sponges' in the soil. The other thing I found is that it had kelp worm castings and compost added. This needs to be added to your citrus fertilizer amounts or you could easily go over the chemical (nutrient/fertilizer) limits for your plant and kill it.

What I am seeing doesn't match too little fertilizer or too much fertilizer. Not a happy plant.

Could be too wet like you are thinking. If you have only watered it once and it seems saturated and heavy still...you are probably right. Did you put just soil in that pot or did you put gravel and rock at the bottom of the soil above the drainage hole? If so, I'd dump the soil out right now and repot with different potting soil; no water holding gimmicks like the sponges or gels. No fertilizer and the organic additives should have been sterilized with the rest of the soil. You will have to add fertilizer balanced fertilizer but for now let's deal with the saturated soil.

Tell me how you planted your plant, did you add just soil to that pot or did you add gravel at the bottom of the soil? Tell me the formulation of the citrus fertilizer you used. If you can find that bag, tell me the NPK proportions that should be on the bag. Otherwise describe in more detail the components of the soil. Looks like it should be a great soil but I am against those water holding gimmicks.

Please give more information. Leaf curl is normal in an effort to protect the leaf from too much evaporation and heat.

Where did you find this plant before you purchased it? Was it in doors or out doors? I am assuming it is out doors now. If it wasn't acclimated to the out of doors that might be why it is trying to protect itself from too much light, heat.

  • I just added images (to the original post) of the back of the soil and fertilizer bags so you can see the ingredients. The soil does seem to have a lot of fertilizer. I bought the plant from a store 3mi away from my house from a nursery that had a lot of citrus plants. The plant was outside completely unshaded at the nursery. If anything it may get 2hrs more sun than the new location (I have morning shade). I placed the soil and fertilizer combo in the pot with no gravel at the bottom and then filled it to just below the root ball. – Adam Meyer Jun 12 '17 at 14:40

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