The Q&A Archives: Citrus Drop Fruit

Question: I have two Meyer lemon bushes and one dwarf orange tree. They drop a lot of leaves in the spring, and later on in the summer they produce two or three fruits which drop off when they are very small. One of the lemon bushes has never produced fruit. What should I do to get them to produce mature fruit?

Answer: Several things could be at play here. When young leaves (those near the end of shoots) turn yellow, we ususally consider an iron deficiency to be the cause. High pH, high phosphorous and of course low soil iron levels all can result in iron deficiency symptoms. If older leaves are yellowing, nitrogen may be deficient. However, with iron or nitrogen deficiency, the leaves usually do not fall from the plant.

Root problems are a more likely cause. Root rot infection, physical damage to roots, drought and overwatering (soggy, waterlogged soil) can all cause leaves to turn yellow and fall. It can also cause blossom and early fruit drop.

Try to determine which of the cultural problems listed above may be the cause and take steps to alleviate it. If a root rot disease is present, there may be little that you can do at this time other than to avoid overwatering which tends to make things worse. You may need to repot the trees in a potting soil that is rich and drains well before they rebound. After that, give them consistent soil moisture, avoiding over and underwatering.

In general, make sure your citrus trees get plenty of sunlight, and a regular fertilizer program of nitrogen. Use a fertilizer formulated for citrus, and follow the application instructions on the package. Water well before and after applying.

Once your trees resume healthy growing habits, they should produce fruit which will stay on the tree until maturity. Good luck with your citrus trees!

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