Dying Mini Orange Tree!

(Question)

So I got a mini citrus tree for Valentine’s day but it’s been slowly dying since I got it home. The leaves have started to fall off and curl, and the oranges are shrivelling and turning purple. I’ve been watering it every 3 days instead of once a week and it hasn’t improved. I added a humidity bowl-thing and put it in less direct sunlight but that also hasn’t helped. I’m worried the apartment might still be too dry? It’s a pretty warm temperature. The soil and pot are the usual grocery store kind. Any help would be welcome!!

(Answer)

How lucky to receive such a lovely Valentines Day gift. Citrus trees or orange and lemon trees provide year-round interest, with fragrant white flowers, followed by small fruits which take 4-6 months to reach full size.

Central heating which makes our homes warm, dry and cozy during the winter can put the citrus tree under a great deal of stress and cause serious leaf drop. Citrus trees do better in a cool (18C ) humid (50%) room rather than a warm living room. Frequent misting, adding a humidifier or placing the plant on top of a tray filled with water and pebbles are all ways of increasing the humidity in your home.

Make sure not to overwater your citrus tree during its period of slow growth (October-March); allowing the soil to dry out in between watering is a must. Fertilize only when the plant is actively growing from April through August.

It is also important to check your plant for pests such as whitefly, scale or spider mites. Wash the foliage periodically to deter these insects, paying careful attention to the underside of the leaf. Serious infestations may require several applications of insecticidal soap, which is readily available from your local nursery.

Finally, we receive a number of inquires concerning the care of indoor citrus trees. One of our earlier posts entitled:Help me save my indoor lemon tree contains detailed information on soil, fertilizing, insect prevention along with additional reference material which you may find of use.