Oak Leaf Compost for HLB?

Researchers have been working for years to find a treatment for the devastating Citrus Greening disease also known as Huanglongbing or HLB. Now in 2020 there are two promising new treatments that are showing exciting results. Both are naturally occurring and can be easily applied to the trees and/or soil. One is even easily available to homeowners.

Finger Lime Protein

Finger limes are a distant relative to our sweet oranges that have a really interesting fruit. The fruit is shaped and about the same size as a finger. Inside the fruit is not the typical citrus. Instead of segments with juice vesicles, it is just the juice vesicles that look like caviar. It is a specialty crop with very thorny stems that some growers were trying because of the demand by chefs who use the juice vesicles to garnish dishes and to rim fancy cocktail drinks. The plant is tolerant to HLB. Researchers in California trying to find what made it tolerant to this devastating disease found a protein in the plant that confers tolerance. A protein that can be isolated and applied to other citrus trees in sprays seems to help the trees fight the disease. The genes for this protein have also been determined and may be used to breed new tolerant citrus trees. This exciting find stimulated lots of new research to determine just how effective this protein is and how it can best be implemented. The tree is not hardy outside in central Florida, but more information on this interesting plant is available.

Oak Leaf Compost Tea

The other new option with lots of potential for homeowners is right in our landscapes already. Researchers noticed that citrus trees under or near oak trees seemed to grow much better and have fewer HLB symptoms. This stimulated work on whether it was the shade (and thus reduced stress) that provided the benefit or something else from the oak trees. With the idea that some chemical may be leaching out of the oak leaves and either falling on the citrus leaves or on the ground around the citrus trees and affecting the disease, researchers decided to test extracts. They took laurel oak leaves and soaked them in a bucket overnight. The next day they filtered out the leaves and applied the “compost tea” as a spray to the leaves and as a soil drench under the citrus trees. To their amazement, this compost tea soil drench appeared to help the citrus trees recover from HLB symptoms. More work is needed to determine the exact extent and why this works, but it is something that any homeowner can try to help save their citrus trees.

Less Stress Still Key

The trees still need to be kept as stress-free as possible with the use of frequent light fertilizer or controlled release fertilizer and frequent light irrigation (don’t start fertilizing your trees now though – they are normally fertilized February – late September so they are not stimulated to grow when the new growth could be damaged by frost). The soil pH should also be kept at 6.0-6.5 and micronutrients supplied. However, you can also create your own oak leaf compost tea and apply this water to the root zone. Or, if this seems like a little too much work, just rake your oak leaves under your citrus trees. Don’t let the mulch come up against the trunk, or you could get foot rot, but under the drip zone is good. Live oak and Laurel oak both seem to contain the disease-fighting principle.

Citrus are iconic backyard trees for Florida and finally we have some hope to overcome this devastating disease in an easy and natural way. Try oak leaf compost tea on your citrus and let us know how it works for you.


Posted: January 21, 2021

Category: Agriculture, Fruits & Vegetables, Horticulture
Tags: Citrus Greening, Compost Tea, HLB, Oak Leaf Compost Tea


Rebecca Elliott

February 2, 2022

Dear reader, Thank you for your feedback! I have more posts coming up soon. Plase stay tuned. If you wish to participate in our classes on nutrition and healthy lifestyle, feel free to sign up to my next class using the following link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/healthy-for-life-series-1-live-session-5-virtual-sessions-tickets-243082485257?aff=eprofsaved All the best, Rebecca

February 1, 2022

Hi there Rebecca Very nice content and blog, I found it very informative and useful, hope to read more nice articles like this one around here, Keep sharing the best content, Best regards! Your follower Salvatore Cataratas

Rebecca Elliott

November 16, 2021

You are welcome, Catherine! Please subscribe to be notified of my next posts. Take care, Rebecca

Catherine E McEwen
November 16, 2021

Wonderful tips! Thanks for sharing!

Rebecca Elliott

November 16, 2021

Thank you! I hope you can implement some of these tips. Stay tuned for my next posts. Take care, Rebecca

Anna Seskerni
November 16, 2021

Thanks for these suggestions I'll think about while shopping for our big holiday meal. We did try a tofurkey loaf last thanksgiving and everyone enjoyed it, but i didn't know about some of these other substitutions to helpmy health

November 16, 2021

Very well prepared and healthy list diet! Thank you Rebecca!

Rebecca Elliott

November 12, 2021

Thank you eericdw07! I'm very glad you are finding this information helpful! I hope you find the recipes tasty! Stay tuned for my next post next week! All the best, Rebecca

November 12, 2021

Hi, I really love to read your blog, it’s such a rich information, I particularly love two recipes above on the second video avocado in the egg and the last one avocado and strawberry... I hope learn those recipes for keep a good health and have a wonderful thanksgiving.. well it’s going to be one more thing to be thankful for .

Rebecca Elliott

November 12, 2021

“What was your favorite recipe?” “Do you intend to cook any of them?” “Do you intend to include any of the unsaturated rich foods in your diet?”

Rebecca Elliott

November 9, 2021

Hello Lamont, Thank you for your comment, and I'm sorry about your father. Improving your diet is a crucial step to preventing heart disease. Please subscribe to receive notifications on my next posts about diet and heart disease prevention. All the best, Rebecca

Lamont R
November 9, 2021

Thanks for this info! I don't smoke, but I can see I probably need to improve my diet. My pops died of heart disease last year!


April 7, 2021

The researchers I talked to believe it is any kind of oak, at least the kinds that grow here in Florida. Our oaks will hybridize and it can be difficult to tell them apart. They believe there is some antibacterial property in the oaks that helps the citrus overcome HLB. They are not sure what it is, so research continues. It could be some type of peptide like that found in finger limes that also has antibiotic properties and is being developed for HLB therapy. It could also be that the oaks create a healthier soil microflora that allows the trees to resist HLB. Research will tell, but it is something that homeowners can try now before we know exactly how it works.

April 7, 2021

You mentioned Laurel Oak in your article. My property in Fort Pierce has several different oak varieties, and although I am not certain which varieties they are, I have heard them referred to as Live Oak and others as Scrub Oak. Are these leaves also believed to be beneficial in trying to counteract the effects of HLB in citrus?


February 1, 2021

You can grow native persimmons or Kaki persimmons. Kaki persimmons are more popular because there are non-astringent types which can be eaten firm or soft. Many nurseries provide Kaki persimmons. More information about growing persimmons can be found at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_persimmon. Popular cultivar information about which cultivars to grow can be found at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg242. A local nursery near you that provides persimmons is Chestnut Hill, https://chestnuthilltreefarm.com/product-category/fruit-oak-trees/persimmon-trees/, but you need only search online for Kaki persimmon to find more.

January 30, 2021

Hello, please give information where we can buy persimmon tree? And which kind is good for Marion County. Thank you, Tasha


April 22, 2020

The blueberry gardener's guide at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg359 provides some guidance on the amount of water blueberries need at various times of year. It depends on your soil type, the blueberry being grown, and the environmental conditions.

Marcos Bengolea
April 20, 2020

Whats a typical bluenerry water use curve in South Florida?


April 13, 2020

The research was done on plots without crops, so there was no comparison of yields. Vinegar works by burning back leaves on contact, so great care should be taken when using around crops. Glyphosate is translocated within the plant to kill weeds and even greater care should be taken when using that around crops.

Don DeWitt
April 12, 2020

How did the crop outputs fair with the different applications? Was the crop yield less with some because of the intensity of the application? Could you use an application to control weeds within the crop growing peruod? I am a strong adcocate against "Roundup"! I don't even know why it is still legal to use. I know of a farm that uses a combination of powerful weed killers (obviously not organic) and the overspray floats over to a horse pasture and burns their grazing grass.

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