The Q&A Archives: Improved Meyer Lemon leaves have fallen off.

Question: I have an Improved Meyer Lemon tree I purchased last year and placed in a large 924 inch) container with my other citrus tress. The problem is that the tree is loaded with ripe lemons but has no leaves at all? I fertilize with Citrus stakes and water when the soil is dry on top. The container has a drainage hole. What can I do to recover the leaves or is it a lost cause?

Answer: It doesn't sound good for your tree! Although it's loaded with fruit, your tree needs leaves to support itself and recoup the energy it is using to produce the fruit. Plants growing in containers need some special care, especially when it comes to fertilizer application. Because the roots are in a confined area they are more susceptible to burn if too much fertilizer is used. It's always best to use 1/2 to 1/4 strength liquid fertilizer and feed more often than to apply it full strength through stakes. You may be able to save your tree by removing the fertilizer stakes and flooding the soil to leach out some of the excess fertilizer. It may take some time, but the tree might recover and produce new leaves and fruits. Although it may seem cruel, I'd recommend picking off the fruit, because I don't think it will ripen properly. Removing the fruit will help direct the plant's energy into recovering from the over-fertilization rather than into developing the fruits. Hope your tree perks up soon!

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