The Q&A Archives: dropping leaves

Question: Recently I fed my lemon tree and my camellia bush, both relatively young, and now the lemons that were on the tree are staying small and green and the leaves on the camellia bush are falling off. Why is this and what should I do?

Answer: If the lemon tree and camellia were healthy and growing well before you fertilized, but are dropping leaves after you fertilized, you may have applied too much fertilizer. Excess fertilizer can burn the roots, which will lead to leaf drop and fruit drop on lemon trees. Since you're seeing the symptoms now, the damage may already be done and I'm not sure you can do much except to try to leach the excess fertilizer out of the soil. If your plants are in containers, simply unpot them, brush off as much potting soil as possible from the roots, then repot in fresh potting soil. If the lemon tree and camellia are planted in the ground, try soaking the root zone numerous times to rinse away the fertilizer residue. Hope your plants recover!

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