My 47 year-old grapefruit tree was moved 3 years ago and since then he has been unwell. His name is Bernard, hense a he. He was given a radicle leaf trim before moving ecause of his size. However, since then he looses leaves after watering. We tried requent watering, weekly and bi-weekly watering, lots of water, little water but he just looses leaves.
Also, I need to move again and upstairs in December. He’s super heavy and a thought I have is to take him out of his pot and move without earth and then trqansplant. Yet, worried he won’t survive.
Any and all help as to how to help him get well and survive a move is hugely appreciated. I planted him from a seed and he is very dear to me.
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your inquiry.
Congratulations on growing a grapefruit tree from seed and nourishing it along for 47 years! Bernard had certainly flourished with your care. I certainly understand why he is a part of the family.
You mentioned that you had pruned your tree 3 years ago. Citrus trees need to be kept pruned regularly when grown outdoors, so that would not have damaged the tree.
There are a number of situations that could cause a citrus tree to lose its leaves:
Over watering, under watering, lack of sufficient sun, drafts, lack of humidity, especially in the winter, not enough fertilizer 0r root rot.
Your watering regimen over 40 years must have been perfect since your tree grew very well. After pruning, the tree would not require as much water – fewer leaves. The soil should be moist but not soggy. And it must drain easily. Any water that had drained should be removed within a few hours. If your plant stands in water, it could develop root rot which, if left unattended and spreading could kill the tree. Your move to little water would not be effective. Citrus trees need even moisture, both in the soil and in the air. You could mist it regularly or add a humidifier to the space in the winter.
In addition to watering regularly, citrus trees require regular fertilization. As the water drains through the soil, it will regularly remove essential nutrients.
You mentioned you were going to remove the soil to decrease the weight of the tree. This will be a good opportunity to check the roots carefully for root rot. Any soft, mushy, or dark roots should be removed. Remove as much soil as you can, replace with good potting soil that contains nutrients (or add some compost) and perlite to encourage swift drainage. Repot into a new pot that is one size up from the current pot, making sure it has good drainage holes.
Your 47-year-old grapefruit tree should eventually recuperate in your new location.
I am some more detailed information about growing citrus trees.