Leaf Curl In Orange Trees: Why Are My Orange Tree Leaves Curling

Leaf Curl In Orange Trees: Why Are My Orange Tree Leaves Curling

Citrus growers know going in that oranges are a fickle bunch and orange trees have their fair share of problems. The trick is to recognize the signs as soon as possible so the situation can be remedied. One of the most obvious signs of an orange in distress is orange leaf curl. Once you have spotted leaf curl in your orange trees, the obvious question is why are my orange tree leaves curling and is there a cure?

Why are My Orange Tree Leaves Curling?

Citrus trees may be affected adversely by pests, diseases, environmental conditions and/or cultural practices. There are four major reasons for leaf curl in orange trees: pests, disease, water stress and weather. Sometimes it’s a combination of all four.

Citrus Tree Leaf Curl Treatment and Pests

If you observe orange leaves that are curling, one culprit may be an insect pest, or rather many insect pests because they never seem to travel alone, do they? All of these marauders have a taste for the sap running through the foliage of your citrus orange tree:

  • Aphids
  • Spider mites
  • Citrus leaf miners
  • Citrus psyllid
  • Scale
  • Mealybugs

Check your citrus for signs of these pests. If this appears to be the answer to your orange leaf curl, it’s time to do some damage. In this instance, citrus leaf curl treatment can lean in two directions. First of all, there are a number of predatory insects that can be introduced such as ladybugs, predatory wasps and green lacewings. These guys will bring the pests numbers down in no time.

If you choose, you can also use an insecticide to treat the pest problem. Apply horticultural oil, insecticidal soap or neem oil to your orange tree on a cool, calm day.

Diseases Causing Orange Tree Leaf Curl

If your orange leaves are curling, the culprit might just be a fungal disease. Both bacterial blast and botrytis disease result in leaf curling.

Bacterial blast begins with black spots on the petiole and moves on to the axil. Eventually, the leaves curl, wither and drop. To combat this disease, apply copper spray to the infected orange.

Botrytis disease infiltrates trees that have open wounds. A gray, velvety mold grows on the damaged area followed by leaf discoloration, curling and twig dieback. Prevent this disease by preventing injury to the tree from machinery, frost and rot. Apply a copper fungicide as a citrus leaf curl treatment before wet weather to prevent the fungus from reaching the blossom or fruit stage.

Other Reasons Why Orange Leaves are Curling

Water stress is probably the most obvious reason for leaf curl on a citrus. Lack of water will eventually affect the flowers and fruit which will drop prematurely. The amount of water an orange tree needs depends on the type, time of year, weather and the size of the tree. As an example, an orange tree with a 14-foot (4 m.) canopy needs 29 gallons (53 l.) of water a day in July when it is dry! Overwatering can affect the orange tree as well. Be sure to plant the tree in an area of excellent drainage. Remember, citrus trees don’t like overly wet feet.

Weather may also affect the foliage of the orange. Of course, extreme hot spells will dry the plant out so you should water more frequently, especially if your tree is potted. Citrus is also susceptible to sunburn, which will also cause leaves to curl as well as peppering fruit with yellow or brown blotches. Cold weather may also cause leaves to curl. Cover citrus trees if a cold snap is expected.

Finally, sometimes orange foliage will cup downward in the late fall or early winter. This is normal and nothing to worry about, since new growth will emerge with ordinary shaped leaves in the spring.

Dwarf Orange Tree Leaf Is Dry & Curled Inward From Tips

Related Articles

Dwarf orange trees put fresh fruit within easy reach in the landscape for many home gardeners. These sturdy little trees produce a bounty of fruit in a much smaller space than their larger kin, making them perfect for smaller yards. Few diseases or insects seriously bother oranges, but the activities of several pests can cause leaves to curl inward.


Several species of common garden pests can attack citrus trees feeding on the liquid running through the leaves. Aphids, spider mites, citrus leaf miners, scale insects and mealybugs are a few of these sap-sucking pests that will cause the leaves to curl, wilt and die. Introducing predatory insects that feed on the sap-sucking pests will help keep their numbers in check. Ladybugs, predatory wasps and green lacewings are a few of these predatory insects that help control pests naturally. You don't need to use insecticides because the pests rarely threaten the citrus tree’s life. If you decided to use insecticides to treat the pest, apply horticultural oil, insecticidal soap or neem oil to the citrus on a cool, calm day.

Where to start

Citrus trees have a shallow root systems, this means it is vital to have good drainage system and soil that is rich in organic matter. When planting ensure you have Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser added into the soil to ensure rich nutrients are present. Only Dynamic Lifter offers the right solution because it is processed organically and a natural product.

Feed your trees regularly throughout the season. Yates Thrive Concentrate Citrus Food is a complete, liquid plant food that provides your citrus trees with the balanced nutrients they require for healthy growth, fruit production and development. Because Thrive feeds through the leaves and roots as you water, it starts to work quickly, so you see the results sooner. Yates Thrive Concentrate Citrus Food is suitable for all types of citrus trees. Use regularly, year round, for best results. If you have high rainfall in your area then nutrients can easily leach from the soil so you will need to fertilise extra.

When your trees have finished fruiting, it’s a good time to cut them back and prepare them for next year’s growth. To do this, cut back any dead/diseased wood, twiggy/straggly growth and any branches growing towards the centre of the tree. Also, remove any branches that are hanging low (almost touching the soil) to help lift the canopy.

Cut back any areas heavily congested with branches to help open the canopy, which will allow for better sunlight and air circulation – ideal conditions for fruit development and it will also help lessen the chance of pests/diseases. If you live in a frosty area, wait until the chance of last frost has passed before pruning.

If your trees are a little old and didn’t perform as well this year as it has in the past, it’s worth giving them a hard prune – it will rejuvenate them and give them a new lease on life! You may not have the best crop for the next couple of years (while the tree grows back), but it will be worth it. This method is called ‘skeletonising’ and involves cutting all the growth back, so that you’re left with a single trunk and strong, evening spaced branch stumps.

Ensure you use a sharp sterile pair of secateurs and/or loppers when pruning – we don’t want to introduce any new diseases or bad pruning practices!

Environmental and Care Problems

Symptoms of both over-watering and under-watering appear on leaves over-watering is indicated by leaf yellowing and drop while inadequate water causes interior leaf tissue to collapse and become translucent and the entire leaf to dry out and turn brown. During hot, dry weather, satsuma requires water about twice weekly, although plants grown in containers may require more frequent irrigation. When conditions are cool and wet or humid, satsuma trees may only need supplemental irrigation every several months. Overwatering also leaves a satsuma more vulnerable to root rot diseases. Although a notably frost-hardy citrus, a severe frost can cause leaves and twigs to appear water-soaked, whither, turn dark and either drop off or persist on the satsuma. Root damage in general causes leaf yellowing and dieback.

Why do leaves curl on orange tree?

How to treat citrus leaf curl. Pests: Check for evidence on the underside of the leaves. Spray your citrus tree with insecticidal soap or neem oil or a good insecticide from your garden centre. Repeat until the plant begins to recover.

Subsequently, question is, what to spray on orange trees? Mix 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon plain dishwashing liquid and 1 cup of water. Spray the solution over the tops and undersides of the leaves, and rinse with water after a few hours. Test both the soap and oil solutions on a small area of the orange tree before you spray the whole tree.

Correspondingly, why are the leaves on my tree curling?

Curling leaves can be caused by many problems, including insect damage, disease, abiotic disorders, or even herbicides. There are several insect pests that cause leaves to curl when they suck plant juices of new or young leaves that are still growing. These include aphids, thrips, and whiteflies.

Are Epsom salts good for citrus trees?

Citrus trees are gross feeders - that means they need to be fed in July, November and March with a good citrus and fruit tree fertiliser. Sprinkle about six handfuls of sulphate of potash around the tree and then water in with two teaspoons of Epsom salts mixed into10 litres of water.

Watch the video: Why are my citrus leaves curling?