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Lemon tree losing green leaves

February 5, 2019

My indoor lemon tree is losing green leaves in winter. For clarification, he's about two and a half feet tall. We re-potted him with sandy soil, because I thought it may be rot root. His roots are brown and gross looking, but they may have been covered in dirt. We cleaned off an aphid infestation, and there is still some sap on the trunk and leaves. When it gets watered, sometimes the water comes right out the bottom. From googling this, it may either be rot root or the pot may be too small.

How do I tell what the problem is, and how do I fix it?

How much water should I give our lemon tree?

Comments (137)

  • Denise Becker

    Jodi, please tell me you don't really count the words but have a computer program that does it for you.

  • Meyermike

    Wow, you really do dispise Al....Wow. Hope it's for a very good reason. Let's hope it's not towards anyone else here who actually appreciates his presence. Time will tell to all)

  • Denise Becker

    Meyermike, Nope don't despise him at all. How can I do that if I have never met the guy? He's probably a very nice man in person. I just can't believe somebody takes the time to count words. Does he/she not have a life? lol. I have better things to do than that. I don't have the patience to count more than maybe 40. lol. I remember vaguely there is a computer or word processing program of some sort that counts words for you when you type essays which is why I asked.

  • Meyermike

    Denise, you crack me up!! lol I was thinking the same darn thing. Where does anyone find the time to count words? Imagine doing that in an ecyclopedia? lol Wishing you well)

    And, feel free to call me MIke. After all this time I would think you would)

  • Denise Becker

    Thanks for not flaming me too badly. lol. Counting words to make a point is a waste of time imo. Paragraphs is much easier. lol. I would rather spend my time on educating myself on other things regarding citrus trees. For example I am trying to find information on why my 16 y/o Meyer has complete and incomplete flowers. I cannot find information on that anywhere which is so frustrating. I think I know why, but I need something to back up my reasoning. Maybe a research paper. haha

  • tropicofcancer (6b SW-PA)

    Simplest way to count words is to cut n paste to a text editor like microsoft word and it has a feature to count words. On google chrome browser there is an extension which does it for you.

  • Denise Becker

    Thanks tropicofcancer. I could not believe anybody actually counting off the screen. I tried to do it, but said the hell with it. lol.

    Edit: I had to check for myself. lol. Microsoft Word counts Al's last post as 556. OMG. This is too funny.

  • Meyermike

    Denise the reason I thought you despised Al was because we here at work interpeted Silca's post, or Jodi what have you, lol, as making fun of the amount of words that he uses to help us out thoroughly here. Certainly not meant to be nice in a few of my friends eyes either. Then when you 'liked' what she said, I thought it meant that you liked that she did that.

    My bad.

    Curious though. Why did you 'like' her post then if it was unprofessional and disrespectful?

    I must of missed something.

    I believe you are not the type of person to be that way, and that is appreciated. I've seen you display many fine qualities here and woudn't want you to think any less of you)

    Thanks for not dissapointing us in that respects.

    Tropico, wow, there really is a way of counting words without really counting them one by one?



  • tropicofcancer (6b SW-PA)

    I suspect Jodi was manually counting otherwise there is no way you can get it wrong. There are even online tools to do it for you. All you have to do is cut and paste.

  • Jodi

    3,099 characters total

    78 words were Rude

  • Heruga (6b/7a NJ)

    Gotcha on the pot sinking topic. I just happen to like a lot of invasive plant species so this solves the problem. Kinda. At least for small perennials. Can't use this method for running bamboo.

    I don't not completely understand silica's feelings. Sometimes when one is so overwhelmed by feelings of distress and anger, especially when caused by another person(s), we tend to lose ourselves temporarily and act in a way we know is not of our true nature. Even if its online. I recall silica responding several times in my previous citrus threads and she did it to help me. No way she is doing this unreasonably. The more people to help out an inexperienced citrus grower like me the better!

  • Meyermike

    Silica/Jodi, I thought you said " you had enough of this forum"?

    Lighten up a bit and enjoy the good others have to offer here. I wouldn't just count words and characters. What fun is in that unless you feel compelled to derive joy from what you are doing? You could really enjoy being here and have long lasting people or relationships in your life from even here where others will actually care about you and all that you do, if that even matters. The more the merrier is the way I was raised.

    All you have to do is learn not to be so affected by Al's givings, be a bit more respectful of other peoples feelings. You don't have to make this all about you or Al, and you will have a joyful experience here at all times.

    How many words was that?

    Heruga. I do get it, but that does not matter here. I am sure Al and Silica do too and if you have followed these forums for as long as I have, you would see why.

    For years I have seen this behavior and iI too subjected to it and it makes me sad. We are all here to spread truth about the best care for our growing experiences. That is what seperates this forum from all the rest. Many share science, facts, experiences and ideas. All should be done in a respectful manner whether one is upset with another or not in as many words as want. That was obviously lacking on this thread and a few times in others past.

    Al and Silica would be able to explain that to you, but as for you, enjoy what good many here have to offer and decifer what you think is very important to you and your growing experience. Focus on the good. You have to to survive as long as I have on these forums. I can be a bit wordy too at times, but that is because I get in moods where I actually enjoy spending time here and helping others. Many of us have been guilty of that.

    Giood luck.


  • PRO

    Interesting Denise - You ask me not to mention you by name, and I'm happy to oblige, yet you don't seem interested in reciprocating, and continue to disparage/malign me whenever an opportunity presents itself (see your recent posts). I honestly don't mind if you do, you've been flying under the radar and taking shots at me for a long time and I've never mentioned it until now, but isn't there something wrong with telling someone you should be respected when you're unable or unwilling to deny yourself the fun of making direct sport of me? If you're going to emphasize the rules and delineate what's proper and not, shouldn't you live according to your belief? I realize I'm not the kind of person you could respect, and it's doubtful you could earn mine, but I've never gone out of my way to disparage you.

    I'm not asking you to stop, I'm just not going to let you play victim w/o pointing to the irony. Neither of us is special and we should both expect to be treated the same way we treat others. If you don't like what I say, or disagree with it, why not challenge my ideas/ suggestions/ advice directly? That's what I do; plus, I always welcome an alternate point of view and the opportunity to explain exactly how I arrive at a conclusion or express an opinion. You might not appreciate that, but I think many others appreciate anyone not inclined to make short, half-baked utterances with built-in loopholes that be crawled through to avoid being pinned down whenever challenged, which is exactly what this thread devolved from.


  • Denise Becker

    Mike, Jodi was making a point that it was too long and I agreed with it. Plain and simple. It was not to poke fun and I don't think she was either. I don't like to make fun of anybody as that is just plain mean, I firmly believe nobody is truly mean on this forum. We are adults here. At least I would like to think so. Thank you for giving me the benefit of the doubt.

    Let's talk about professionalism for a bit here. I am not a professional, but just a mature 58 y/o woman who can only take so much disrespect from some people and then have to stand up for myself. I am nobody's doormat. I believe other people have been spoken to with disrespect and they get upset as well so I am not the only one.

    Let me say no professional person is going to write or give a speech that is five hundred words long to make one point anywhere. When you do so, you lose your audience when something is too long and boring. Seven paragraphs and not in layman's terms? Get real. It's like being a 16 y/o kid being lectured in a foreign language for 20 minutes. If you go to the Tropical Fruit Forum or FB to ask the same question, you would get an answer in 10 sentences or less. If somebody told me my information was too long and was losing them while teaching, then I would be willing to change my approach.

  • jaydub83

    complains about long posts with too many words, then proceeds to post consecutive long posts with too many words, except with none of the insight. makes sense.

    And all that insecurity from a grown ass 60 year old woman. Sad!

  • Heruga (6b/7a NJ)

    Deleted. Whatever

    Done with this thread as I had all my questions answered and further involvement in here is pointless and will only get myself in a situation like Jodi and Denise. See you all in my next citrus thread...

  • PRO

    D - Again, the victim, but it's you who continues to disparage me, not the other way around. I'm not picking on you you here - just pointing out that you can't have it both ways. I'm perfectly happy to treat you with more respect than you show me, but when you keep showing your disdain for me over and over in this thread and others, then point at me as being the offender, it's only right that I should point to what's actually going on.

    I think we all get that you believe everyone thinks my posts are pedantic, way too long, and boring to a fault. That's your opinion, and one I would never try to change or challenge. You don't think I deserve to be a member of GW/Houzz, and think short answers that focus precisely on the question asked is a much better strategy, and we'd all be better served if I changed how I go about helping people. Did I get anything wrong in this paragraph?

    Edited to say that the following was written as a reply to some things Heruga said, but subsequently deleted. Read if you wish, ignore if you don't.

    H - I came to this thread because a friend invited me here to comment. I didn't show up looking for trouble. I commented, and was then asked to further qualify my offerings, which I did. Silica, who has a very long history of playing games every time she gets backed into a corner, referenced a nonexistent "experiment" as refutal of what I said and proof of a claim designed to be contentious (and apparently it has been for quite some time on this forum). Should I not have challenged that type of support? When she couldn't produce the "experiment", she cherry-picked a statement from University of FL as "more proof", but I went looking for the context in which the statement appeared. As I noted, what she submitted as proof was refuted in the very same paragraph in which the hand-picked statement was found. Nearly every time I post on this forum, I get grief from a couple of people, only one of whom have had their toes stepped on, and the only reason that occurred is because she was operation at well beyond the limits of her knowledge.

    Some of us are critical thinkers and don't appreciate it when someone makes wild cl;aims they cannot support. That has the potential to diminish the growing experience of everyone that reads it from now until who knows when. I don't make wild claims, and I can support everything I say to the nth degree because I know and respect my limitations. MANY people don't, they get challenged, and then try to change the subject to save face. The easiest way to change the subject is to start throwing insults around. If you notice, I don't usually take a lot of time to hurl them back, but I absolutely do point to the fact that essentially no one is disputing what I said, they're just venting because They got their toes stepped on. Again, for getting way out over their skis, not because anyone is picking on them.

    Any who supported me here didn't do so because they're my hit squad. I know the first name of one person here (unless it's part of a user name), Mike, and have never had any sort of contact with the others (that I remember), other than running into them often on the fora. I have never attempted to get anyone to support anything I say. I try to always tell the truth and never misinform anyone, this to the very best of my ability. I don't own the people who express an opinion or have any influence over them. If they feel any obligation to me, it's probably because I'm normally very patient, how much I enjoy helping people is clear, and I'm very careful to maintain my credibility.

    You can judge me harshly either by what you see in this thread w/o understanding what the history with 2 participants is, I get a lot of that, or because I call things as I see them (even though I explain why), but there are a lot of folks who don't look at things that way. I get at least 10-20 messages (plant/soil questions) from Houzz/GW every day depending on the season, a surprising number of them from lurkers, and I sure didn't trick the people who follow me into hitting the 'follow' button. The number of clubs and organizations I speak to continues to increase, and I rarely speak to a club only once. I have to believe I'm not going about things as indefensibly as my advisers in this thread think.

    I can't wait to see what this reply's word count is (I think I'm entitled to at least a bit of sarcasm, given the circumstances).


  • nanzjade z5 MA

    Al, I just wanted to thank you for the thorough explanations (on this thread and countless others). You are a true gem and it is very rare on the forums to have someone with your top notch science and horti background. I love when you go into detail, as you're full of amazing information. I am the opposite as far as Science goes, so I really appreciate it. Your like a college professor giving the reason why things are so instead of just the answer. I would never tell someone to shorten their answer, it's absurd to me. Your wisdom is greatly appreciated, and I send many thanks!

    Mike, thanks for helping folks get on the right path to success. Your time and efforts are also appreciated. Appreciation and kindness sure is lacking by some people on this thread, and it boggles my mind how people can act so unrespectful.


    I saw a thread that was long and wordy but it was a good read and helpful. We should celebrate that Jodi didn't count the words and make them seem meaningless. Because that is what she did to Al's. Thanks for what you offer too, Denise.



  • Meyermike

    Heruga, you forgot to mention the other good people here. Have a nice night and your welcome. I wish you all the best.

  • PRO

    Thanks, Nancy. You know I appreciate the kind words ..... at least I hope you do. And just to be clear, I took your statement about "..... being the 'opposite' as far as science goes", meant that it's your meat and potatoes, and of course, I agree. I think we all exist on varying planes when it comes to growing things, or doing anything well, and as we're elevated from plane to plane, the potential for personal satisfaction grows and grows to those who open their minds and make the effort to learn. By learning, then using our practical experience to validify what we learned as being true, we're propelled to green thumb status so much faster than the trial and error crowd, those who shun knowledge are left standing in a slipstream.

    Just musing here - not trying to draw anyone in. It's kind of interesting how people's impressions can vary so much. I've thought about that quite a bit. The deadliest sin, that from which all others descend is pride, and that's what drives over 90% of the arguments you'll see here at the fora ..... except for the imbroglios to be found on Hot Topics; for those, there is no discerning what might be causal. When someone allows their self to be governed by a most irrational judge - emotion, they will always default to their prejudices.

    Expanding on emotions - it's universally true that people often mistake the strength of their feelings for the strength of their arguments. The heated mind so resents the chill of reason that it's hard for the prideful to remain calm and focused when tested or confronted by a considered refutal. Because I see it almost daily, I know if I say it's best that you cross that 20 ft chasm in a single bound, I can usually count on one or more of a fairly small but vocal group to say, "That's wrong. It should be done in 2". Simply pointing to the folly of the reflexive move to disagree is enough to more firmly cement my standing as outcast from that group.

    Raising the roof and making lots of noise works great to get someone's attention, but reason and knowledge are what carry the day in a debate. When I consider whether or not it's worth trying to get some growers to open up to new ideas, I ask myself, "What would be easier - changing the way someone approaches growing, or trying to make leap-frog a stadium game". More than a few times I've decided that leap-frog would more likely be a success.

    Thanks again!


  • Jodi

    Words for this complete thread: 6,656 Words ... 36,921 caricatures

  • nanzjade z5 MA

    Jodi, wow I never realized that Al invested so much time and effort into helping us on this tread. Now I have a new found appreciation thanks to you.

  • O J

    All three concerns, over watering, water retentive mix, and lack of oxygen are involved in the damage to the tree's root system.. Neither Al or Silica were completely wrong, but I believe Silica had the correct answer when she claimed that oxygen, or rather the lack of oxygen is the actual killer of the tree. Without oxygen, the roots would be unable to carry out respiration, No respiration = death.

  • tropicofcancer (6b SW-PA)

    OJ: The debate above was about logical fallacy. I presume some do not want to go there and that is fine. People find it easier to hang on to a simplified statement and it seems satisfactory.

    First, you can definitely over-water a well aerated mix. You just have to water more often or have long periods (several days) of rain.

    Second, No respiration = death. What dies? Only the fine root hair dies, the rest of the root is still alive (and so is the plant) and has the capability to regenerate the root hairs once the wet conditions become favorable. The plant will live unless the roots get attacked by pathogenic fungus and or bacteria in the meanwhile. For that to happen they must also be present. Of course the plant can die if left in fully saturated conditions for very long periods. But that is the crucial distinction from animals/humans who cannot live without oxygen for more than a few minutes. But plants can.

    Often in overly wet conditions, in containers you will see the plant will produce more roots on the sides of the container where there is more air. Sometimes you will see roots come above the soil in search of air. The plant is not dead, it is actively trying to find air.

    Anyway, the debate is about what is the real cause. We know roots need oxygen. We also know saturated conditions removes air from soil. We know overwatering causes saturated conditions. Since, I as a human, has control over the last part which is watering I can prevent it. So logically the cause is over-watering. All other elements of the puzzle were caused by this one human activity.

    From plants point of view it could lack of air or pathogens or both that caused its demise. Since the plant does not know that is I who is ultimately responsible by over-watering.

    Imagine this scenario: A person pushes another person into water and he dies. Medical examiner will say it is asphyxiation. The examiner is only looking at the body and he is correct from his point of view. But Judge will rule the person who pushed is guilty of the death.

    Not counting this sentence, the above text is 368 words unless I decide to edit it later.

  • tropicofcancer (6b SW-PA)

    I also just learned that roots have the ability to draw out oxygen from sugars for a short duration if there is lack of oxygen. In the process they release alcohol. I have to read more. No wonder my plants sometimes look too happy when it is raining for days.

  • PRO

    OJ - If a grower forgets about a plant and it dies from drought stress, have you ever heard anyone say, in a normal conversation, that the plant died because there was too much air in the soil? No, you almost certainly haven't. If a person is stabbed in the chest,would yousay that he died from loss of blood, a precipitous drop in blood pressure, lack of oxygen to the brain, loss of consciousness and eventual cardiac arrest? Any one would be accurate, but the cause of death was a stab wound to the chest. Can you think of any other way there could be a lack of oxygen in any appropriate container media that would be sufficient to kill a plant other than by over-watering?

    I rub elbows with a lot of degreed horticulturists on fairly a regular basis, and I guarantee that you would instantly forfeit all credibility if you started an argument with any of them by saying, "It's not over-watering that kills the plant, it's the lack of oxygen". All would instantly recognize a lack of oxygen as a cause ancillary to over-watering.

    Finally, too much air in the soil cannot cause a lack of water under normal conditions because you simply water and water displaces the air. Too much water in the soil cannot be corrected by adding air because in conventional container culture, the air will not displace the water.

    The entire disagreement pivots on Silica's word play, which was intentionally designed to produce heat instead of light, and the way Silica and one or two others subsequently comported themselves. I've seen this play out more times than I can count on fingers and toes.


  • TheyCallMeDave

    This discussion has been pissing me off for several reasons.

    Long story short, you can have plants grow in water, for example some cuttings roots in water or hydroponic growing.

    Therefore, "too much water" does not kills all plants in certain conditions. Hello, water is H2O 2 Hydrogen and 1 oxygen. What kills plants is lack of oxygen.

    Now, lets not play games. In this case or question, Too much water is what caused the lack of oxygen. In this case, too much water is what killed the plant because that's what caused the oxygen deficiency.

    Science and facts are very important regardless if people care or not. Now grow up and stop flooding my notifications with non sense. I just solved this whole problem.

    1 person is correct on a technical level, the other person is correct on this topic/question.

    The problem here is you guys turned it personal and nasty. Nobody here is or was 100% right. Y'all came from different directions with different thoughts and again, the problem started when you guys got nasty and personal.

    Now that I answered the question to this topic, lets close the forum or someome tell me how to delete myself from this conversation.

  • PRO

    Dave - you're aware that a very large number of plants, including trees, can survive inundation indefinitely because their root system changes to allow them to obtain the O2 they need to drive root function from air above the water line? Here's what occurs:

    When many terrestrial plants find themselves partially submerged in an aquatic environment, they begin to produced roots quite different from those produced in a solid medium. Physiologically, you will find these roots to be much more brittle than normal roots due to a much higher percentage of aerenchyma (a tissue with a greater percentage of intercellular air spaces than normal parenchyma). Aerenchyma tissue is filled with airy compartments. It usually forms in already rooted plants as a result of highly selective cell death and dissolution of cell walls in the root cortex in response to hypoxic (airless - low O2 levels) conditions in the rhizosphere (root zone). There are 2 types of aerenchymous tissue. One type is formed by cell differentiation and subsequent collapse of select cells, and the other type is formed by cell separation without collapse ( as in water-rooted plants). In both cases, the long continuous air spaces in the cortex allow diffusion of oxygen (and probably ethylene) from shoots to roots, oxygen that would normally be unavailable to plants with roots growing in hypoxic media. In fresh cuttings placed in water, aerenchymous tissue forms due to the same hypoxic conditions w/o cell death & dissolution.

    Note too, that under hypoxic conditions, ethylene is necessary for aerenchyma to form. This parallels the fact that low oxygen concentrations, as found in water rooting, generally stimulate trees and other plants to produce ethylene. For a long while it was believed that high levels of ethylene stimulate adventitious root formation, but lots of recent research proves the reverse to be true. Under hypoxic conditions, like submergence in water, ethylene actually slows down adventitious root formation and elongation. I'm not saying this has much bearing on the topic, other than the fact that not all plants are doomed when there is no free O2 in the rhizosphere to drive root function.

    I have wooded hunting acreage in Northern MI on the big lake (Huron) that is wooded peat bog - trees growing on top of the bog. The water table is always AT or above the surface. If I jump on the ground, you can feel the wave 20 feet away. It used to be covered in mostly ash and maple, with a few other species sprinkled in for fun, but the emerald ash borer took care of the ash and the maples really took off. Here's a couple of interesting trees from the property:

    Here's tea cup:

    2 views of Burl:

    and Butty:

    To stop receiving notifications from any thread, scroll way down to the bottom, then look at the link on the left side top half of the screen. It says "click to stop receiving ......", or something similar.


  • poncirusguy6b452xx

    Al Are burl deadly to the tree

  • PRO

    I don't know. I don't think so, because I've come across trees with burls nearly the size of Kim Kardasian's butt. Well, almost that big. Quip aside, I've seen them larger than 4 ft in diameter.

    Not my work:

    "What makes burls so sought after is the way that the grain of the
    wood is generally twisted, contorted, and deformed, producing what’s
    called “figure.”

    Visualize a normal grain pattern as parallel strands of yarn. A burl
    would be a ball of yarn. It’s as though the tree’s cells went haywire
    and decided to tie themselves into a knot. That’s pretty much what goes
    on, Smith said.

    In burl formation, the tree’s growth hormones get disrupted when the
    metabolism of the tree is hijacked by some other organism – a virus,
    fungus, or bacterium.

    The crown gall bacterium is responsible for many burls (although many
    are too small for woodturning). That common bacterium is especially
    interesting, said Smith. It carries within it a little extra DNA, called
    a plasmid, which infiltrates the tree’s genetics. The plasmid prompts
    the tree to make special amino acids and growth regulators to produce
    the burl, which apparently is the preferred habitat for the bacterium.

    Figuring out exactly what prompted the formation of a particular
    burl, however, isn’t always easy, explained Smith. The bacterium that
    started the process “can be long gone by the time the burl is of any
    size,” he said. “Burls are occasionally associated with dormant buds,
    but even that does not explain why they get ‘turned on’ here and not
    there. So verifiable proof of the cause of a turnable burl will be hard
    to come by!”

    Burls don’t seem to do much harm to the tree or shorten its life,
    said Smith. The xylem, twisted and contorted though it is, still seems
    to do its job of transporting water and nutrients. “The vessels are
    still working and there’s still starch storage in the healthy outer
    parts of the burl, so it’s capable of normal function, though I’m sure
    that function is diminished.”"


  • tropicofcancer (6b SW-PA)

    Nice burls. I may be incorrect I thought burl is formed as result of a defense mechanism of the tree to shield itself from a (fungal ?) infection. A dense impenetrable woody barrier. Tree knots looks/feels like a smaller version of burls.

    Interesting info on roots of some plants being able to change to another form. You have mentioned it before in another context but I did read about it somewhere else too. But never made the connection that roots can change their structure to mitigate hypoxic conditions. I am assuming changing forms must be stressful/energy consuming especially if conditions keep changing back and forth. Anyway food for thought.

    Last year I did an experiment with a potted bald cypress. I submerged the entire pot in a small backyard pond for the entire season. It did not grow as much as the other one in a pot but did not die either. It was the last one to drop its leaves late fall. After that I buried it in the ground. In Spring I will have to decide what to do with it next.

  • tropicofcancer (6b SW-PA)

    Aah I see you already posted explanation for burls. Thanks. I find them quite fascinating. I have one small one but I would like to get a large one for a backyard decoration perhaps.

  • PRO

    Yes - there are several factors that contribute to the start of burls, and a pathogen is almost always one of them, then surprisingly, what started them seems to "go away", yet the tree keeps on producing/adding woody mass to them.

    Through their knees and lenticels in their trunk is how cypress trees get enough oxygen to drive root function.

    Many growers will argue to the death that because plants like peace lily are usually found in situ in riparian settings, they prefer a boggy soil. You can grow them fairly well in some form of aqua/hydro culture, but as you noted, they are not able to transmogrify from roots suited to conventional container culture to some form of water culture fast enough to prevent the plant from backsliding to the point of loss of viability. It's also interesting that in situ, plants are very often not found growing where they prefer to be. Pick any plant, and match it to the perfect site. You shoul be able to sit back and watch them flourish, right? Not always so. Even if a site is perfect for plant A, plant B will surely come along and compete with plant A. Even if the site isn't perfect for B, if it's genetically more vigorous it can out-compete A for its perfect spot.


  • Meyermike

    Al wow. All new information to me.

    That explains what happens to my Phals when I turn them to Semi hydro. Although they still have to be grown in a very very porous medium like pure chunky bark or even sphagnum moss and I still have to watch that I don't give too much water too often, when I take them out of that medium and replace into a semi hydro pot, the roots that were growing in the medium will die off literally rot away only to replaced my roots that are entirely different if it does not die before then.

    It is very stressful and yet if it survives in the process, the new roots don't mind being wet all the time. And here I thought growing in just pure batk was already semi hydro.

    It does set my Phals back a bit though. Like even lucky bamboo, I don't have to worry about them drying out for weeks on end, that is why these are so easy for me. Fill a glass of water and leaves it for quite some time. I do find the more often I exchange the water, the healthier it looks though.

    Still I have to worry about the undesolved salts and the water turning stagnate. So I still have to replace the water with a fresh load at times.

    Does water loose it's ability to provide oxygen if not replaced with fresh water?

    I know that if I were to turn the aerator off to my fish tank my fish would eventually die do to no oxygen unless I’m wrong.

    When rooting citrus cuttings in my case, I find I have to constantly refresh the water they root in or they will die.

    My boss had not done a water exchange for weeks on his lucky bamboo and it did die on him, And the cuttings I was rooting for quite some time were doing very well but eventually died because I maybe I didn't do enough water exchange?

    And ,does damping off if that’s what they call it on seedlings play any role in this topic?

    Sorry for so many questions but I’ve always wondered these.

    Not sure if my post or questions made sense I’m oretty sick but really would like to know.

    Thanks very much in advance

    Nancy , ditto!


  • PRO

    Still I have to worry about the undesolved salts and the water
    turning stagnate. So I still have to replace the water with a fresh load
    at times.
    When growing plants in some form of hydroculture, you do need to worry about a few things re dissolved solids in the water. If you have water in a vase, the water slowly evaporates and leaves all of the dissolved solids behind. As this occurs, the concentration of dissolved solids in what water remains increases in an inverse relationship - the smaller the volume of water becomes, the higher the concentration of dissolved solids, until water water is less than 1% and dissolved solids are more than 99%. Of course, this doesn't consider the gases in the vase that water displaced when you filled it, which aren't germane to the topic. Even if you only top off the vase when you see the water level getting low, the water will still increase in the level of dissolved solids, and at some point will become so high that the osmotic movement (water moving in and out of cells) will cease, then reverse, 'pulling' water from cells by the same mechanics that curing salt 'pulls' water from ham/bacon/salami .... Cleaning the vase and refilling it with fresh water would be the equivalent of pushing the dissolved solids 'reset' button ...... and using deionized water (distilled or r/o water) makes dissolved solids pretty much a non-issue, with the exception of any fertilizer salts you might add that will build up over time as water evap[orates or as you add more w/o changing the water.

    Does water loose it's ability to provide oxygen if not replaced with fresh water? I know that if I were to turn the aerator off to my fish tank my fish would eventually die do to no oxygen unless I’m wrong. Under normal conditions, water will always acquire oxygen at the water to atmosphere interface (water's surface). When you turn off the aerator, any plants in the water will add oxygen and the water will absorb some oxygen from the air, but bacteria will be using oxygen as they digest fish/plant waste. It's not so much that there isn't any oxygen in the water - more that there's not enough to sustain some of the processes occurring in it (water). This is called 'eutrification', which can occur when water receives a significant nutrient load (an elephant poops in your wading pool) or when the oxygen supply dwindles.

    When rooting citrus cuttings in my case, I find I have to constantly refresh the water they root in or they will die. If you absolutely must start your cuttings in water, start them in your fish tank. Start with a thin block of something that floats and isn't toxic to fish. Poke/drill a hole in it, stick the cutting through the hole, float it on top of the water in the tank. The water stone will provide all the oxygen the plant needs.

    My boss had not done a water exchange for weeks on his lucky bamboo
    and it did die on him, And the cuttings I was rooting for quite some
    time were doing very well but eventually died because I maybe I didn't
    do enough water exchange?
    Can't say. Nutritional deficiencies or the plants vasculature clogged by any of several rot organisms are also on the high probability list. The level of nutrients in tap water is usually miniscule.

    And,does damping off if that’s what they call it on seedlings play any role in this topic? To a degree. Excess water in the soil causes limited or nonexistent gas exchange and can set the stage for any of several fungal infections that cause damping off. Abiotic stress factors in the parent plant or the propagule are also common players. If I can stray from seedlings to cuttings for a moment ..... how/when the propagule is prepared has a notable impact on the likelihood of it striking (growing roots). Cleanliness, sharp/sterile tools, seasonal considerations, vitality level and stored energy of the parent plant, even from what part of the plant the cutting is taken can all be weighty in deciding success/failure.

    From a post I recently made about damping off:

    Damping off is a fungal infection caused
    by any of a number of different fungal pathogens. If you want to do
    some research, the major players are Pythium, Rhizoctonia, Phytophthora
    and Fusarium. The plant is usually first affected in the root to shoot
    transition zone. I don't think the reason the new leaves are dying has
    anything to do with how you watered in the past, nor do I think the
    issue is localized to the point only new leaves are infected. The plant,
    considering the organism as a whole, is currently not healthy as it's
    unable to sustain new growth in a viable state. When that occurs, there
    is usually a biotic pathogen at work.

    Several of the 'damping off' fungi also cause vascular wilt disease,
    which is what I suspect to be the issue with your plant. When the
    pathogen enters the vessels in the xylem (which supplies the top of the
    plant with water and nutrients) and multiplies, the end result is the
    blockage of the vessels, followed by wilting then death of leaves,
    followed by involvement and death of the whole organism. It's extremely
    common in cuttings, which is why I try always to stress cleanliness and
    assert that when you are trying to get a cutting to strike, you're
    actually in a race to get a connection between newly forming roots and
    the shoot's vasculature before the fungaluglies clog up the plumbing.
    Older plants that become infected often remain viable for a period after
    infection but usually die. Often, seemingly healthy basal shoots or
    leaves will occur, only to collapse from the infection after a short
    time when the pathogen spreads systemically into the new growth.

    Plants are organisms that tend to wall off injuries and decay so it can't spread throughout the plant. Use the search words CODIT "Alex Shigo"
    for more about how plants that eventually lignify (grow woody) wall off
    injury. Surprisingly, it's not the pathogen that clogs the vessels,
    it's the gelatinous material produced by the plant as the beginning of a
    potential barrier to the spreading of the pathogen that occurs when the
    plant senses the invasion. Too, the pathogens have very limited ability
    to invade healthy tissues. They reside in the plant's water conducting
    plumbing until the plant is so weakened by water stress it it can no
    longer mount a defense.


  • Meyermike

    Al, again a wonderful abundance of information to save. I can understand how that works like I never did before. I really appreciate all your kindnes and the time you tak from your very busy schedule to help folks like me. I appreciate every word you have to share and I will always be indebted to you for my success.


  • PRO

    Thanks, Mike. I appreciate that very much.


  • O J

    After reading through the discustion, especially the link to what the Univversity of Florida had to say on the subject, it seems quite clear that Silica was correct all along, the actual element that causes death is and was oxygen. This of course does not lessen the importance of proper watering and slecting the proper growing mix. Sorry she decided to leave the forum, but I can understant her reasoning

  • Meyermike

    OJ, in a way I have to politely disagree.

    The problem was that every time anyone would say that someone was overwatering , Silica would say it’s not overwatering that killed the tree but “lack of oxygen “ the second half might be right the the first half misleading, leading many people including me to believe that you can water all you want Because that’s not the cause.

    The number one reason for the issues people have with their containerized trees is because of root rot from overwatering, simply put , watering too often and too much in mixes with roots not adapted for that. A lack of oxygen, pathogens,bacteria and many other factors come into play because of it.

    Quite frankly I’m tired of people who don’t get or see what problems people get from watering their potted trees too much and too often called ‘ over watering’. Geez. I don’t get it.

    I’ve been here too many years to see people will disagree whether the truth or science is there or not. And then this. When the sky is blue there will always be someone who disagrees and that’s their option.

    Thank God we have some members here willing to take the time to thoroughly explain so that my trees are not destined for disaster.

    Of course roots won’t take Oxygen if one constantly floods their pots especially in mixed that are not porous or compacted.

    But we have a choice to provide too much water and suffocate them.

    Simply said and probably yet not good enough.

    Therefore the reason we need people like Al to explain how and why in detail.

    Silica has had many wonderful things to share here and I have learned much from her. I don’t favor one over another but I do appreciate the right facts or things explained properly so that I’m not mislead. I just want to be well informed to be able to benefit my growing success and help others.

    Even I agree that a lack of oxygen and other factors can cause root rot and kill trees and other plants in containers , but which comes first ?

    Or the chicken or the egg ?

    If one does not believe there is such a thing as ’over watering ‘ then water away everyday in any mix one chooses and hope the oxygen will stay there despite.


  • poncirusguy6b452xx

    The egg definitely came first before the chicken.

  • Meyermike

    I was musing and come to the conclusion that this thread is all about Silica verses Al.

    So those that don't like Al or his expertise and advice, do what Silica says'

    It doesn't matter what issue comes up, some are not here to learn anything, just to take sides and fight or defend the supposed underdog.

    There will always be a group split 50 /50 or more, and no one will ever be on the same page while good people are here to teach us according to science and facts. Let's just stick to pictures and what works for our own trees, and forget guiding others appropriately since some don't seem to get it or appreciate that here.

    No I am not an Al or Silica supporter, just one who likes too learn From science experience the facts and the truth.

    This thread is almost about people and not about the trees, and what a shame. Thank goodness much good can still be derived form this one though.

    Look at your trees and see what they tell you. Most of it is guess work anyways for those that don't like the science end of things. IF you can't read your trees, then I wish you all the luck in the world to figure out whether it's from over watering or a lack of oxygen.

    Everyone here has the freedom to choose between truth and science someone they just like or the guessing game


  • Meyermike

    Steve buddy. I can always count on you. To crack me up. Believe it or not your a blessing here .

    By the way even if you proved that many would disagree with you. Lol

  • PRO

    Almost any container grower who's been around the fora for a while and is trying to improve their game understands very clearly that over-watering causes the hypoxia (lack of oxygen) that eventually causes root issues. If we wanted to parse words and start looking at plants at the cellular or molecular level, we could find a number of causes subsequent to hypoxia that could be labeled as causal, such that they would displace lack of oxygen as the cause of root death. If all free oxygen could suddenly be removed from the soil, the roots would still have access to the oxygen within root tissues and the oxygen dissolved in water. Kozlowski and Pallardy in "Growth Control in Woody Plants" list Citrus as moderately resistant to inundation (flooding). This means that roots don't die within minutes of the oxygen supply being cut off is clear evidence that root death is a process, so the actual cause of death when free oxygen is removed would not be the absence of free oxygen. Lack of oxygen causes cellular dysfunction, which leads to other factors at the cellular level that cause loss of viability.

    You can look at what I said in 2 ways, you can say, "Hmm - he has a point"; or, you can say he's full of it and grasping for straws, basing his argument on a technicality. Which way you look at it doesn't matter to me. The reason is, if you think I'm full of it for what I said, you need to consider the fact that Silica's position is exactly the same. I wouldn't be doing anything she hasn't done. She named a secondary effect and made it the primary cause. Would it not make much more sense to either really enlighten us and explain what happens at the cellular level as roots slowly die, also siting tertiary, quaternary ..... causes until you arrive at the site of cellular death; or, would it make more sense to stick with the primary cause of hypoxia, which is resultant of over-watering. Having too much air in the soil isn't the cause of under-watering, but you sure can end up with too little air in the soil by over-watering. Assuming you're using a medium appropriate for conventional container culture, can anyone name a cause, the effect of which would be too little air in the soil, other than over-watering?

    What has occurred is, one person decided to rephrase a concept that is a foundational underpinning of growing well in containers, that is known by millions and millions of growers and clearly understood, and rephrased it in such a way that it's contentious. Intentionally confusing cause and effect as support for any argument is a pretty clear indication of the tenuous nature of the claim.


  • Meyermike

    Al, thank you for that well put post. I try my best to make sense and sound logical, but coming from you it makes everything seem even more clearer and exactly what I would of expressed if I was capable that way.


  • O J

    Citrus can live for approximately 73 hours while being flooded, more or less depending on the temperature. This is probably due to using up the residual oxygen in the roots and or water. When the oxygen is gone the tree is gone. I also liked her example of growing a citrus tree using hydroponics. One thing for sure you can't over water hydroponics. The tree's root system can live in water indefinitely as long as an appropriate nutrition and oxygen level is maintained. Remove the oxygen and the tree dies

  • PRO

    Remove the oxygen and the tree dies - not necessarily true, by a long measure. I've posted this so often I decided to save it as a word document: A plant's first reaction to inundation is to begin to form a differentiated root structure that allows roots to access O2 from above the soil/water line. The root cortex/pith is normally filled with a tissue called parenchyma. When soils are waterlogged and O2 in short supply, most woody plants form aerenchymous tissue filled with airy compartments. It usually forms in already rooted plants as a result of highly selective cell death and dissolution (the cell dissolves) in the root cortex in response to hypoxic conditions in the rhizosphere (root zone). There
    are 2 types of aerenchymous tissue. One type is formed by cell differentiation and subsequent collapse, and the other type is formed by cell separation without collapse (as in water-rooted plants). In both cases, the long continuous air spaces allow diffusion of oxygen (and probably ethylene) from shoots to roots that would normally be unavailable to plants with roots growing in hypoxic media.

    In fact, plants can live in inundated soil devoid of free oxygen, and can, through their root system, provide oxygen to inundated soils, oxygen that can be used by microbiota. This, and what I wrote above obviously and clearly illustrates that lack of free air in the root zone is not necessarily a death knell for plants under conditions that are common, AND, the final cause of death at the cellular level is way downstream from the secondary cause of hypoxia, which is caused by flooding/inundation/over-watering.


  • O J

    Your last post has moved you in to the relm of absolute pure fantancy. Al, your ego is so huge, that it ihas become so very easy for us to continue egging you on and on.

  • tropicofcancer (6b SW-PA)

    OJ: You said: Al, your ego is so huge, that it ihas become so very easy for us to continue egging you on and on.

    I appreciate your honesty about yourself and others (according to you) that you folks have been only provoking a response so far. Perhaps you are admitting that you really do not have any counter arguments to what Al is presenting and resorting to baseless tactics. I suspected that is what is going on and now you have confirmed it. Very mature indeed.

    I do very much appreciate the knowledge and wisdom of Al and I do not feel threatened by it.

    Edited to add: A debate can be invaluable learning tool even when discussions become a bit heated at times. But that is only possible when both (or more) sides are willing to keep to the claims/reasonings presented in discussions instead of bringing in extraneous issues and pet peeves not pertinent to the topic.

  • Meyermike

    O.J. How kind of you with your lovely words to a well respected member of these forums mind you. One who has been here way before you even heard of this place. Looking at your profile you are off to a great start since the only activity you have is here on this thread. Which makes us wonder what your intentions are? No credentials and certainly no history.

    Tropic, you are spot on and I totally agree. I couldn't of expressed it better.

    HU, did you ever figure out why your leaves were falling off so fast? I know you said you fixed the aphid problem? You did say the roots were brown and gross. Did your tree survuve? Please update us.


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