The Q&A Archives: Meyer Lemon

Question: I bought an improved meyer lemon last june and it did very well on my sunny patio. I took it indoors in september and gradually the tree lost all its leaves and smaller lemons except for two larger ones that got as big as limes. I phoned my local nursery few weeks ago and they suggested that I prune the tree and start fertilizing with a 20-20-20. The tree looks dead. Is there a chance that it could pick up when I take outside again this spring? I kept the tree by a kitchen window where it got few hours of direct sunlight but lots of light, stopped fertilizing last October but kept watering every week. When I scratched the tree bark I still got a citrusy aroma. Does that mean anything?

Answer: Citrus requires full sun and warm temperatures to thrive. That's why citrus crops are grown in Arizona, California and Florida. Being moved indoors would have been a shock, and dropping leaves is a common response when a plant is stressed. Citrus in the landscape generally requires alot of nitrogen, but since yours is in a pot, the 20-20-20 should be fine. If the bark tissue was green when you scratched it, it is still viable. It's very likely that the tree will perk up again when moved back outside. I would not prune it because often what looks "dead" can sprout new growth, and you may prune off something that doesn't need to be pruned. As a general rule, it's better not to prune citrus, unless a branch is dead or diseased, or you have a space problem since yours moves indoors. Citrus in the orchards are not pruned! Finally, citrus are very moisture dependent, so make sure soil stays moist, but not wet. Water when the top inch or so dries out. Good luck!

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