Why is my orange tree dying? 5 reasons and solutions

Why is my orange tree dying? 5 reasons and solutions

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Don’t jump to the conclusion that your orange tree is dying if things start to go wrong with it. Problems with the fruit, leaves, branches or stem could be the orange tree’s way of dealing with stressors in its environment or even be part of its natural life cycle. It’s pulling back on its energy use to focus on the problem. Here’s how to determine what the problem is (if any) and more importantly, how to fix it.

If you have yellowing leaves and it’s not root bound, see my guide here on reasons your orange tree leaves are turning yellow

Outgrowing its pot (Rootbound)

Orange trees grown in pots need repotting every few years or they become stressed from lack of nutrients and water

Every two or three years, your orange tree will likely grow too big for its current container. The leaves may start to turn yellow/brown and shed and the branches may die back. The issue with orange trees becoming root bound as it’s also known, is that there is usually a lack of nutrients but also it’s hard for the soil to retain moisture as the roots are so compact, and there is basiclly no soil.

What to do

If it’s been a few years since you moved your orange tree to a larger container, repot it now. See How to grow orange trees in pots for information on how to do this.

Root rot in oranges

Root rot is usually caused by excess moisture from over watering or poor draining soil

Root rot is a fungal disease that’s usually caused by over-watering your orange tree. This is the number one problem found with fruit trees. Root rot starts under the soil and gradually shows up in yellow leaves that fall off the plant and in the stem becoming soft and mushy as well as the leaves even turning brown. It may turn into stem rot at this point. Root rot is probably one of the most serious issues with orange trees, as it’s hard for them to recover if you don’t notice the problem soon enough.

What to do

You need to dry out the roots of the orange tree. Remove any that are dead and diseased using a sharp pair of secateurs. And repot the plant. Instructions for doing this are found in the root rot section of this guide here.

And you need to review your watering schedule. Water the orange tree only when the top 3cm of the soil are dry. Make sure all excess water drains out of the pot, drilling in more drainage holes if necessary. See the Water section of How to grow and care for orange trees for the details.

Fruit problems with orange trees

Orange fruit with mould

Do you think your fruit tree is dying because it doesn’t have any oranges on it? That may not be the case. There are natural and environmental reasons why this could happen and it usually doesnt actually lead to a dead orange tree. Head over to My orange tree is not bearing fruit to find out if any of these issues could affect your tree. There’s advice on what to do there as well.

And if you have fruit but it’s dropping off your tree, I’ve got you covered there too. My article Why is my orange tree dropping fruit? helps you figure out why there are only a few oranges left on your tree.

Leaf problems that are early signs of orange tree problems

Orange tree with black sooty mould

By far the most problems that make an orange tree look like it’s dying have to do with the leaves. They can range from the leaves being sticky through orange tree leaves turning yellow to the leaves turning black. Perhaps your orange tree’s leaves are curling? Or maybe you’re anxiously asking Why is my orange tree losing its leaves?

Visit each of these articles to find out what the particular problem is and what to do about it.

Pests and diseases

There is a selection of sap-sucking pests that may live on your orange tree and although not usually fatal, a severe infestation can be fatal if not resolved. They suck the sap from the leaves, stem and branches. They harm the plant and can leave it looking quite ravaged. If you suspect that this is why your orange tree is looking very poorly, take a read of Orange tree pests and diseases to figure out if your tree has an infestation. There’s advice in the article as to what to do in case you do find these pests.

As for diseases, I’ve given root rot its own mention in this article (see above). But a couple more diseases may have moved into your plant. Visit the same pest and disease guide for information and advice about these.

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