The Q&A Archives: The health of my lemon tree

Question: Hello there- I bought a Monrovia lemon tree (it was in about a 2 gallon container and maybe 3 feet wide by 3 feet tall) from Long Lake Nurseries here in Nanaimo. I guess I could ask them my question but I think you will give me a more informed answer.
I planted my tree in a very large pot and put it on my sunny front porch (we haven't had much sun here except for a hot spell in early May although the temperature has been hovering around 10-15 degrees). It seems to be growing although it is not getting fuller. Also there are about 30 blossoms coming which I am very excited about. The problem is that the leaves aren't very green and in some places they are downright yellow. I really want my tree to look like the ones I've seen on various trips to California and Arizona.
Is there a fertilizer or food I could use to give it a boost? Should I water it more or less (I have been giving it lots of water and then letting it dry out at least on the surface before watering it again)?
If you have any suggestions I would love to hear from you.
Thank you for your time.

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. In general, make sure your citrus tree gets 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 so you don't accidentally burn the roots. Best wishes with your new tree!

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