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Orange blossoms fall before oranges can grow

jwalker720
11 years ago

I have had an in-ground dwarf orange tree in my backyard for 3, if not 4 years now. When it was purchased and planted it already had several wonderful oranges on it. The years following, have not produced a single orange. I have observed that while the tree seems to be thriving and the blooms are in abundance, the blooms along with the tiny green balls that would be future oranges at their bases, fall completely to the ground before oranges get a chance to grow. What is going on and how can I prevent it from happening? I still have some blooms on the tree as of right now, but hundreds have already fallen to the ground. Would like to save a few this year, if possible.

Comments (48)

  • Grady Stanley
    11 years ago

    I hope you get some helpful responses because I am having the same problem. For the past two years my satsuma tree has bloomed heavily and produced small fruit. As the fruit gets to a little larger than a bb it starts falling off. So far hundreds have dropped and it looks like another year without any fruit. I sure hope someone can help with an answer and solution.

  • fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX
    11 years ago

    My Washington Navel has thousands of blooms and about 95-98% fall off. That still leaves a good crop. If your tree is growing well and gets enough sun, then it should do the same. Are you sure it's not too wet or too dry?

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  • jwalker720
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    I would be happy if I could get just ONE orange per year, but ALL of the blossoms inevitably fall off and no oranges are ever produced. As Sharona describes above, they look like green BBs at the base of the blooms, and then the whole thing falls off. I would think it is getting the proper amount of water since it otherwise looks beautiful and is thriving.

  • Grady Stanley
    11 years ago

    I just checked on my tree and can't find any remaining fruit at all. The tree was about 4' tall when planted 4 years ago and had plenty of small fruit which ripened just fine that first year. The next 2 years it produced no new growth and didn't even bloom, which I subsequently determined was because I had planted it in too low an area where the drainage was poor and its feet stayed too wet. I relocated it to higher ground where drainage is fine, it is in full son and looks to be the picture of health. Since relocating it 2 years ago it has grown to about 7' tall, produced tons of new growth, bloomed prolifically and produced an abundance of fruit, which as I said all falls off when it gets a little larger than bb size. The tree has full sun, adequate water and drainage, good fertilization using citrus specific fertilizers, etc. It's supposed to be a self pollinating tree (so I was told) but am wondering if I just need another tree in the yard to provide for cross pollination.

  • bellcanyonblonde
    11 years ago

    I had the same problem with my trees. This year I started fertilizing once a month, put edging around my trees to form a water well & watering deeply every four days. All of my trees are holding fruit!!

  • gardenathome
    11 years ago

    Hi, Jwalker720. Hope you don't mind us asking something in your thread. :-)

    Hi, Bellcanyonblonde! Wanted to confirm. So you started to fertilize your fruit trees once a month? And ALL of your trees kept the fruit? Wow! Are you still using the slow release fertilizers for fruit trees that are instructed for every 3 months or so? We'd love to learn how we can better care for our fruit trees too! So that the blossoms and fruit stays on! :-)

  • coocoo4plants
    11 years ago

    I have an Orange tree that I grew from seed that I planted when I was 4 years old. 51 years (yikes) later, I still drag it in and out of the house. I repot it every few years, and some seasons it has exquisite smelling flowers which "abort" as well.
    I will repot it as soon as the weather warms consistently (I live in NY). It seems-after reading Bellcanyonblonde's post- that I don't water or fertilize enough. Thanks...I'll try that and maybe I'll get some fruit yet!

  • moshe18
    11 years ago

    Help... I have a orange tree about nine years. Every year bloomed heavily and produced small oranges. After two weeks the little oranges starts falling off the tree.My tree produce ZERO fruit... Whats is the problem and solution... Please advise.

  • grwclark1238_att_net
    10 years ago

    RE: Oranges fall off after blooming hundreds off oranges, tiny oranges falls to the ground, orange leaves turning yellow at time of blooming please help!!

  • silica
    10 years ago

    JWaker, there is nothing wrong with your tree. A citrus tree produces many more blooms then will every produce fruit. If every bloom resulted in fruit, the tree would be crushed under it own weight. Normally, only 1 to 1-1/2 percent of citrus blooms result in a fruit the remains on the tree untill maturity, the rest are discarded.

  • cebury
    10 years ago

    JWalker, can you provide a picture of the tree and any closeups of the yellow leaves and/or the oranges before they fall?

    It is very possible you are under or over-watering, that will cause both the yellowing and fruitlet drop. However, as was posted it is completely normal (and expected) for a healthy tree to drop 99% of it's blossoms and tiny fruitlets. However, once the fruit is marble sized, it is less common for drops to occur. It is also normal for a tree 3 years old and less to do so.

    So you see, it depends on timing and other factors. But "help my orange tree drops all blossoms" is a common newbie concern posted repeatedly and in most cases unnecessarily. But with more information we may be able to provide some actual advice.

    It is also best practice to start a new thread rather than post onto the end of an existing one. The original poster may have set the system to Email notify whenever a reply is posted -- which will now generate an email message every time WE correspond about YOUR topic.

    Chris

  • Jeff82
    8 years ago

    I am having the same issues. I have 2 trees which are 10 feet apart, each is about 4 - 5 feet tall and they continue to grow quite a bit every year. I haven't trimmed them down (to make it grow as a tree rather than a bush) but expect to next year or after the buds fall off. They have both been planted for 3 - 4 years. When I initially planted them they were full of oranges. The first year after they were planted one of them had a lot of oranges and one of them had none. The past year I didn't get any and now i'm showing lots of buds and small green bulbs (oranges to be). If there is anything I can do to ensure these do not fall of again then please let me know.

    -Jeff

  • hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA
    8 years ago

    Jeff, how frequently are you watering your trees and how frequently (and with what) are you fertilizing?

    Patty S.

  • Jeff82
    8 years ago

    I am getting the same issues. I have 2 trees which are 10 feet apart. They have both been planted for 3 - 4 years. When I initially planted them they were full of oranges. the past year I didn't get any and now im showing lots of buds and small green bulbs (oranges to be). If there is anything I can do to ensure these do not fall of again then please let me know.

  • Jeff82
    8 years ago

    I apologize for the accidental post. I am watering them every week (that might be my problem). I am using a citrus fertilizer (small pellets). I recently trimmed down a tree above one of the orange trees so that it can get more light.

  • Billiecat
    8 years ago

    Boron
    Boron is what helps a tree hold onto its fruit. Make sure your fertiliser has it. Or better still, add Trace Elements to your 'three times yearly' fertilising. Make sure the trace elements has boron in it.

  • orangelime1
    8 years ago

    The tree's are probably still to young
    maybe not.When there are flowers and
    just after bloom keep plant moist, I wouldn'
    let them dry out critical time
    for the young fruit.I usually miracle grow a
    little with every watering, for me great results.
    Hang in there you will have lots of fruit before
    you know it. Patience really is a vertue.

  • jijih15
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I have a baby navel orange tree and the blossoms fall off if I barely even touch the tree. The white buds and the flowers are all on the ground. What causes this?

  • Debbie Pratto
    6 years ago

    My tangerine (Satsuma) does what everyone else's does. It was planted 6 years ago and I always get flowers and BB size fruit and then they all drop to the ground. I'm about ready to rip it out although it is otherwise healthy.

  • karlosveloces
    6 years ago

    Fruit drop occurs for many reasons. At least with citrus that favor humidity, blossoms may drop due to dryness. Cool Temps. If they're dropping before fruit sets, maybe they're not getting pollinated. If outdoors, bees and wind will do it. Indoors, the manual self method is the best. Humidity keeps them longer on the tree for sure. Could also be soil related. Leeches out, pH is off, etc.

  • BarbJP 15-16/9B CA Bay Area
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Most of those reason could be true except for the pollination reason. Citrus do not need to be pollinated to set fruit. They do need bees to make seeds, but not the rest of the fruit. It's called parthenocarpy when a plant will make fruit without pollen, and citrus do that.

    Oranges are not the kind of citrus that need a lot of humidity. They grow in arid desert climates just fine if irrigated.

    Healthy Citrus will normally drop between 80-90% of the fruit that sets, but they set an enormous amount of fruit, so even if just 10% stay, that's still a lot of fruit.

    Basically citrus drop all it's fruit when it's unhappy for some reason. So many reasons too. Like karloveloces said, too cool of temperatures can do it, but it needs to be very cool, like below 40*F.

    Not enough water, or too much water and/or poor drainage.

    Poorly draining soil with too frequent watering is a very common cause of fruit drop. Check the soil moisture at least 5 inches down before watering again until one is familiar with how quickly one's soil dries out.

    Plant roots need moisture and air to thrive. Soil has tiny air pockets and in poorly draining soil that's watered too often the water takes up the space where air would be for too long and the plant roots actually drown, then they start to rot. It will start at the root tips and progress upward. The root tip is where most of the nutrients are taken up so a plant in that situation will show signs of nutrient deficiency first, later as it gets worse the roots have trouble taking up water even though the soil is saturated, and the plant will show signs of, ironically enough, lack of water. So it gets watered more and the symptoms get worse. Digging down and checking the roots and the soil moisture is the best way to check if this is the case. The soil will smell sour and the roots will be dark or black and smell bad. The leaves will often drop off as well, with just the slightest touch.

    Not enough water will show a dull look to the leaves, and they often will turn upwards like they are pointing to the sky. If it continues the edges will become burned and dry looking, but will cling to the tree. Oddly enough if a citrus has been dry too long, when they are watered again they will often drop leaves after being watered. But if the branches are green, they will grow new leaves again fairly quickly if they are watered enough from then on.

    Btw, a cycle of not enough water, then too much water, will cause root rot even more quickly, even in fairly well draining soil. Not enough water will cause the root tips to be damaged, then too much water after will let the rot start more quickly because of the previous root tip damage. It's good to water again quickly if one's plant dries out, but often people then water too much and too often because they're afraid of letting it happen again, and well the poor plant then drowns. Better to just go back to regular watering and instead check the soil moisture several inches down before watering again.

    Not enough nutrients ie; fertilizer, but the leaves will also usually show a deficiency as well. Not enough nitrogen is the most common and shows as an all over paling of color, starting with lighter green than before and with a bad case all over yellow of the leaves. Various other nutrient deficiency show other symptoms.

    Heavy pruning can also cause fruit drop, but it would have to be pretty severe.

  • karlosveloces
    6 years ago

    Parthenocarpy isn't a familiar term for me. I looked at some explanations and I'm not sure I fully understand. I've had an original Meyers since they first were available in Minnesota in the early 90s or so. It always dropped leaves if I didn't run a humidifier. It seemed to blossom less with leaf drop. But the lighting conditions weren't always consistent year to year. Many years, I'd crank down the Temps to the fifties; 52 56. Putting plants into a semi dormant state also reduced chances of infestation. I never had a notion to try for fruiting citrus until last year. It's basically four months outdoors and eight inside for a citrus in Minnesota.. I've got eight citrus that more or less require less summer heat than many varieties. So after multiple horticultural evolutions I began to tweak environmental conditions to foster blooming and fruiting. Unobstructed sun and long summer nights til 930 945 and you could get more growth than you'd think at 45 n latitude. Backsliding from September into the abysmally short winter days could only be done by artificial light even with giant south facing windows. I was able to get a Washington navel and a trovita three yr Olds this summer. They may not mind the dryness but my other citrus always dropped a lot of leaves. It's that arid winter continental climate condition that hits by January. I'm trying this year to minimize leaf drop by increasing humidity, Increasing Temps from the 50s to the 60s should help. And running the light longer. Principally I use a middle spectrum bulb, a metal halide, whose color spectrum is noon on the equator. That which encourages growth rather than flowering. The blue white street lamps from the seventies were metal halide. It's a monster 28 inch bulb. 1000 watts. I used,for a time, a sodium bulb which are the ends of our visual spectrum. Yellow, orange is that part of the spectrum that's dawn or dusk and that encourages flowering. Indoors, the Citrus face east about 50 to 60 feet off the ground. So dawn is earlier. More of it. So more blooming, off the fresh growth that the halide helps along? I tried to move around the pollen with a q tip and was going to use a fine paint brush this winter. The blossoms I felt wouldn't crumple with more humidity. With the fans blowing, it always feels colder than the 50s when it's zero degrees outside. I figured if citrus essentially stop growing at 52 or thereabouts, wouldn't that temp be enough to knock off the blossoms? The Meyers, Lisbon lemon, Radphurr lime and an unidentified lime all blossom heavily every February and continue to April. They set fruit as they hadn't previously after spending hours moving pollen around under the light. Many dropped before I put them outside which I did perhaps a bit too early. Squirrels took the rest. I jacked up the citrus soil with Minnesota black dirt, chicken compost and cypress chips. I've a couple additional notions for future repotting. Every May basically. But it drains quicker, retains moisture longer. The vagaries of Minnesota summers where it does rain pretty regularly with higher dew points that always give way to cool fronts and dry. That lose again to advancing heat and moisture from the south and west. The whole parthenocarpy idea doesn't surprise me. Just another wrench in the works that I'll have to figure out. The more I learn of citrus the more I feel I dont know.I still appreciate you mentioning Barb. My botany is weak. Last summer, there were a lot of bees around the deck. I had many lemons, limes. I had two fifteen yr old dwarfs that had around a hundred set fruit. Destroyed in a morning by Grey squirrels that plague the area. Bitten once and thrown to the deck. That last summer, I removed almost thirty from my deck area over a five month grow season. They are vindictive and will target my plants more vigorously as I remove more of their friends and family. People who'd disagree with live trapping and or shooting them probably don't live in states where they proliferate. Destructive and sneaky. Once a gardeners hard work goes up in smoke, attitudes to this fuzzy cute creatures that climb around in the big deciduous trees usually changes.

  • HU-122959428
    8 days ago

    I would actually like my orange tree to shed all of its blossom/flowers and tiny fruits BEFORE they develop into oranges that are full grown, year after year the oranges attract RATS. I want the tree to stay but I do NOT want the oranges. Does anybody have any ideas what I can do beside prune/cutting off the blossoms, which I cant do because the tree is just to big its huge. Thank you for your help & suggestions

  • Ken B Zone 7
    8 days ago

    Not much you can do, it's an orange tree, it's sole purpose is making oranges. Cut it down if you don't want oranges.

  • poncirusguy6b452xx
    8 days ago

    Cat, Owl box, Black rat snake home with snake, Victor rat trap, Rattle snake,

  • Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.)
    8 days ago
    last modified: 8 days ago

    Throw it out or give it away) Good luck Never heard of this kind of question

  • HU-122959428
    7 days ago

    I have heard that if you overfeed an orange tree with high NITROGEN lawn fertilizer when it is in bloom this will make it blossoms and small miniature juvenile fruits fall off.


    Perhaps others can comment whether this is true and work???


    Apparently a woman discovered this after she fertilized her lawn in close proximity to an orange tree!

  • Ken B Zone 7
    7 days ago

    Citrus trees need high amounts of nitrogen, not sure why that would do anything except give you more oranges. Its pretty simple, if you don't want oranges, get rid of the orange tree.

  • HU-122959428
    6 days ago

    I don't want to get rid of the tree itself, 1. its an attractive garden tree feature, 2. its 45+ years old, 3. its extremely large 4. last crop was 80++Lbs (40kg) of sour oranges, 5. rats love the oranges, 6, minor fruit fly problem, 7. too much fruit for one family, 8. can't give the oranges away no one wants them once they have tasted them 9. the tree is tall its difficult to harvest them 10. they go moldy indoors 11. the ones that are not picked or eaten by the rats go moldy on the tree and fall to the ground making a terribly mess. 12. it would cost a fortune to remove the tree or have it pruned. 13. it would take years for a replacement tree of a different species of tree grow to the same size. 14. Hence I want to keep the tree and make it barren or at the very least to drastically reduce the amount of fruit it bears


    Regarding nitrogen / lawn fertilizer, I think the idea is to apply VERY HEAVILY when the blossoms form, as applied too heavily it is supposed to cause abundant leaf growth to the detriment of the blossoms / immature orange budlets.


    Any further comments appreciated

  • Ken B Zone 7
    6 days ago

    I'm sorry but fruit trees are going to produce fruit, nothing you can really do about it. You can't have your cake and it it too.

  • Alex [Lithuania z6a]
    6 days ago
    last modified: 6 days ago

    HU-122959428 - I have not tried it, but I think this strategy will work (Lots of nitrogen and no boron at all). It is necessary to remove / block the entire B from the fertilizer and from soil. To do this, apply Fertilizer without boron (NPK 5-1-3, Ca 3) - nitrogen 50% in the form of NH4. In the soil and on leaves, 2 weeks before flowering. Re-spray the leaves during flowering.

    All the small fruits(as large as peas) will probably fall off.

    P. S. Write the result next summer.

  • Ken B Zone 7
    6 days ago

    5-1-3 is the rate at which citrus absorbs nutrients. Why would that cause the tree to drop it's fruit?

  • Silica
    6 days ago
    last modified: 6 days ago

    All you have to do is spray when the flowers are fully open with a horticultural oil . This will kill the flowers. Spaying with Horticultural Oil when the flowers are still closed will not bother he flowers. Note: not all the flowers are fully open at the same time.

  • Ken B Zone 7
    6 days ago

    If you spray with HO oil be sure to do it in the evening. If you do it in the sun you will burn the tree. I don't think spraying the entire tree is really an option though as the tree has been referred to as an extremely large tree.

  • Silica
    5 days ago

    Yesterday I sprayed my 20 year old in ground Cara Cara with HO. Was easy.

  • HU-122959428
    5 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    BIG thank you to one & all for replying to my question, my first line of action will be the easiest bearing in mind the tree is very large & tall. When the flowers are about to appear over fertilize very liberally with granular high nitrogen lawn fertilizer, at the same time use a hose on spray pack/bottle of liquid high nitrogen fertilizer, repeat every 7 or 14 days, until all flowers have bloomed & dropped, hopefully there will be little to no immature miniature juvenile orange fruits left on the tree, or at the very least very few.


    If anyone knows of a brand of nitrogenous granular fertiliser both granular & hose on pack/bottle that contains the highest ratio of nitrogen without the boron please let me know, thank you???


    With regard to the HO oil I will try it if the above does not work the following year, however I am not aware if HO oil is sold in a hose on pack bottle spray??? As it would be impossible to reach the top of the tree with a convention hand held spray due to the sheer size of the tree & its height.


    With regard to high nitrogenous fertiliser I have found out online after a little research, from a reputable site, that chicken poultry manure applied (at the wrong time) i.e. whilst the tree is in flower; it states " Don't feed citrus while they're in flower. If you do, you'll get lots of beautiful leaves, but very few fruit " Which is exactly what I want in my case.


    Looking forward to reading more of your comments


    Happy gardening to one & all

  • Alex [Lithuania z6a]
    3 days ago


    https://www.yara.us/crop-nutrition/fertilizer-products/yaramila/yaramila-turf-royale-21-7-14/

    YaraMila TURF ROYALE NPK 21-7-14

    or


    YaraRega NK GREEN NPK 22-0-12

    Total Nitrogen N 22% (N-NO3 11.5% N-NH4 10.5%)

    Soluble Potash (K2O) 12%


    Remember - in order to grow beautifully, the plant needs all the fertilizers. Give chicken droppings in the middle of summer. Or fertilizer about 18-10-18 with trace elements.

  • HU-122959428
    2 days ago

    Thank you very much Alex L z6a will do

  • Alex [Lithuania z6a]
    2 days ago
    last modified: 2 days ago

    If there is too little fertilization, there will be no effect. Too much is bad for the tree. Granules must be poured onto the ground in advance. IMHO. Better at the right time - water the tree with water, after 1-3 hours dissolve the fertilizer in water and water the tree. You need to fertilize evenly, the diameter is about 3 meters. The amount of fertilizer depends on the soil (and slightly on the size of the tree).

  • Alex [Lithuania z6a]
    2 days ago
    last modified: 2 days ago

    Ken B Zone 7

    5-1-3 is the rate at which citrus absorbs nutrients. Why would that cause the tree to drop it's fruit?

    - I wrote the optimal formula for the non-professional gardener (for spring).

    - In industrial horticulture, fertilize 3 times a year. The amount of fertilizer is slightly less than the maximum allowable. You cannot fertilize during flowering. (For hobbyists, it is safer to fertilize 4 times a year, but the amount of fertilization is less. But if there are no fruits, 2 times is enough)

    The formula may be different. For example 3-1-3, 1-1-1, 2-0-1 ... + microelements. If applied during flowering, there will be a small yield. Without boron, there will be a very small yield (or yield 0).

  • poncirusguy6b452xx
    2 days ago

    Th only citrus tree s I had that fruited prolifically was my Cuban shaddock in a 30 gallon container. I have an 8 year old grafted NZL that is now just putting on fruit. It has around a 50 cubic yard canopy compared to my CS with its 2 yard canopy.

    Steve

  • HU-122959428
    yesterday
    last modified: yesterday

    Hi Alex L z6a

    I've been told I would be better off buying a bag of soluble lawn leaf greener marketed as dried Urea pearls/pellets (46-0-0-0) analysis Nitrogen 46%. Max Biuret 1%

    What do you think Alex???

    Thanks Hu

  • Alex [Lithuania z6a]
    yesterday
    last modified: yesterday

    Yes, you can buy urea. Have you been told about the consequences?

    Everything that you did not write, I finished thinking for you, since I represent WHAT YOU NEED.

    I believe you should buy the least problematic fertilizer for the grower, and for the tree, in the long run. And, the effectiveness on the fruits is secondary.

    If you buy urea.

    - Urea causes strong branch growth. Do you want the tree even taller than it is now?

    - It is not known how Urea will act on boron.

    - Biuret 1% is a lot for citrus fruits. I don't know what the result will be. Biuret will probably hit the flowers hard, but at the same time it will hit the leaves ... You need to accurately calculate the dose.

    I don’t want to take it upon myself as to what dose is needed.

  • Alex [Lithuania z6a]
    yesterday
    last modified: yesterday

    Quote "Urea used for spraying should have a low biuret content (less than 0.4%), as higher levels cause leaf burn." - Don't believe it. You can spray at 1%, but be careful. Apply only 1 time. When the flowers bloom. A fertilizer that says max. 1% actually has about 0.7% biuret.

    2. Biuret is not a problem when urea is applied to the ground. But in this case, the blow to the flowers will probably be weaker.

  • HU-122959428
    22 hours ago

    Thank you very much for your further advise Alex

    Wishing you all the best Hu

  • Silica
    21 hours ago

    I would not consider spraying a citrus tree with a 1% biuret urea. Doing so you are asking for trouble. The University of California at Riverside (UCR) states 0.25% biuret. If the reason for spraying low biuret urea is to produce a strong bloom, then the UCR recommendation is to foliar spray the tree with low biuret urea 1.5 to 2 months PRIOR to the the tree's expected bloom date.

  • HU-122959428
    21 hours ago

    Trying to achieve the opposite Silica i.e. get the blooms/juvenile fruits to drop off (see earlier posts in thread) Thanks for commenting Silica

    Regards HU-122959428