Treating root rot in citrus

Root rot in my kaffir lime tree

Today I uprooted the very sad looking kaffir lime tree and inspected the roots more thoroughly. I definitely have a case of root rot on my hands. You can see that the roots are wet and soggy, and the brown sheath on the roots rub off very easily with my fingers.

I have read that root rot can be treated with a 20% bleach solution, so that’s what I did. I made up a bucket of 20% household bleach, and sat the tree in it for a couple of minutes.

lime roots sitting in a 20% bleach solution

Lime roots sitting in a 20% bleach solution

I then re-potted the lime into the same soil, but in a terracotta pot rather than the grow bag that it has been in. I then flushed the new pot and soil with the bleach solution by pouring the whole bucket over the new potted tree in soil. I now need to leave it until the soil dries out – and must not water until the top 2 inches of the soil is dry. I suspect that it may be too late for my poor little tree, but we’ll see how it goes.

Re-potted kaffir lime

I am keeping a close eye on my other trees, because I have obviously been overwatering them too. I unpotted one of my apple trees today, but the roots of that look OK. More of a concern is the reaction to the foliar feed of iron chelates that I sprayed the other day. I think that is what caused the black blemishes on the young leaves of my mandarin, and my mulberry has blemishes too, and it has dropped a bunch of the immature mulberries. Tragedy. I don’t know what I was thinking by spraying the mulberry with the iron. It was clearly only the citrus that needed it.


**Update** My Kaffir lime eventually died – I think it was just too late by the time I treated it. I’ve been treating root rot lately by using Phosphorous acid (in the form of Yates Anti-rot). It can be used as a preventative treatment too.

6 Comments on “Treating root rot in citrus

  1. There is an anti root rot solution you can buy from your favorite place that you can try. Also I would’ve thought a kaffir lime would be used to hot weather and less water. I usually water every 3rd day unless it’s going to be a scorcher like a fortnight ago. Not that I can talk – my kaffir is also looking very sick. Either iron or magnesium deficiency. :-(

    • I think I had one chance with the kaffir, and that’s it. If the bleach doesn’t work, then the lime is cactus :( I’ve definitely learned my lesson though.

  2. Oh dear. I see from a later post that the lime is looking quite sad but, do you think it’s a done deal yet?

    Persistance is the key as they say. I’d just keep it fed every fortnight with worm juice or a sea weed solution. That will promote leaf growth and that’s exactly what you need if you’ are going to get this sucker back to health.

    I have a tip that might help with the water situation. Its especially good for potted plants over summer or while you are on holidays. You know the drip trays you get for under your pots? Get one a size or two bigger than your pot. Get some sand (the big hardware store sells them in bags for sandpits) pour it into the tray & fill virtually to the top. Place your pot on top of the sand. Now fill the drip tray with water. The water will wick up into the pot as the potting mix dries out. This will mean that the plant can take up water as it needs it and wont drown by being overwatered. The sand also prevents mosquitos breed up in the pools of water usually present in the drip tray.

    This info won’t save your lime but might help save the next one =)

    Good luck.

    • Such great tips Jodi, I really appreciate it. I’ve actually planted the fruit trees in the ground after a number of them were stolen this week, but I’ll try again with some bigger pots in future, and I’ll follow your suggestion with the sand.

      With the kaffir lime I have pruned it heavily (all the leaves were dead and some of the branches were dying back too) and watered with seasol. Still haven’t given up – There are a few semi-promising buds.

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