Ask a Question forum: Lemon Tree Help

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MA (Zone 5b)
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LCL
Dec 27, 2018 4:37 PM CST
I took delivery of a 2-3 year old Meyer Lemon (not a dwarf) about 3 weeks ago and repotted it with VERY little root disturbance in a slightly larger pot than the one in which it was shipped .I live in the northeast where outside temps are running from mid to low 20s to mid to high 30s. My inside thermostat is always set on 68 degrees F. I have forced hot air heating (quite dry) and shipping instructions advised do not over or under water. Check for soil moisture and keep it moist which I thought I did. However I think I may have under watered once indicated by leaves appearing to droop and a short while after watering they perked up. Been trying to keep them "perky" but a couple days later five or six leaves fell off and are on the soil surface in the pot. I have the plant sitting on a wide sill in the large east window so perhaps what I thought was enough natural light was not. The only other plants in the house are a real nice Amaryllis and a dwarf Alberta spruce for Christmas. The reason those are mentioned is in addition to the leaf problem I described, something appears to be eating some of the leaves and it could even be a leaf miner. Wondered if infestation from either of the other two plants. Any suggestions or is it doomed and heading to Lemon Tree heaven?
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[Last edited by LCL - Dec 27, 2018 4:39 PM (+)]
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Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
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porkpal
Dec 27, 2018 4:43 PM CST
It is not happy but I wouldn't say it's doomed. It might like to sit on a bed of moist gravel for humidity. As for what's eating it - do you have a cat?
Porkpal
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
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ctcarol
Dec 27, 2018 6:15 PM CST
From what I see in the photo, citrus leaf miner is NOT what is eating your plant. I have lime and lemon trees and know what leaf miner damage looks like. From the photo, I would guess either over watering or iron deficiency. Check the drainage and if it's good, try a citrus fertilizer at 1/4 to 1/2 strength and see if that helps. Potted plants don't need constant feeding, but all citrus do need all the sun they can get, and time to acclimate to their new environment.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Dec 27, 2018 6:22 PM CST
I marvel at how vague watering instructions can be and so open to interpretation. Your Lemon plant should be watered thoroughly - until some water trickles through the drain holes - as soon as the top quarter inch of soil feels dry to the touch. I suspect you may have been underwatering yours and that caused the leaves to fall off a few days later. The fact that it occurred right after you watered was coincidental. When leaves perk up after watering, it is a pretty good indication it got too dry. Citrus trees don't tolerate dry soil very well. They will tolerate dry air as long as the soil and roots are kept moist.

The more light you can provide, the better. Keep it very close to a sunny window, if possible.

Remove the dried leaves from the soil. The lower stem has leaves that appear to be pale and you may lose them. The main stem looks healthy. Check for spider mites that thrive on plants that are underwatered.

Mini Alberta Spruce trees are popular gifts at this tie of year. Unfortunately, they don't survive warm home temps during the winter when they really require temps in the 40 degree F. range. If it doesn't make it, don't blame yourself.

I see some holes in some leaves, but I don't think they were caused by an insect.

Will Creed
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MA (Zone 5b)
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LCL
Dec 27, 2018 6:38 PM CST
Thank you for your quick responses. I too believe that as some have indicated, watering instructions can be a bit or even a whole lot vague. I have removed the dropped leaves but left them in the photo on purpose to see if anyone may see color or any insect damage or whatever may be ailing it. This is my first attempt to have indoor citrus plants.
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Henderman
Dec 27, 2018 6:40 PM CST
Are those exposed roots at the base of the plant? If they are you should raise the soil level to cover them.
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LCL
Dec 27, 2018 7:10 PM CST
The roots are covered. Thank you Henderman and Carol, Will and Porkpal. I may have neglected to answer or comment.

Porkpal, No cat.
Carol. I'll check the fertilizer and/or iron issues.
Will, The Alberta spruce is going outside tomorrow.

Thank you.
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_Bleu_
Dec 27, 2018 9:35 PM CST
@LCL, if the leaf I pointed at (see orange arrow in photo) is still on the tree, could you please take a photo of it that shows what that discoloration is? I see something wiggly on/in it that kinda looks like a leafminer. I have a potted dwarf kumquat that had a leafminer in just one leaf and it looked quite similar to what I think I see on your lemon tree.

Also, is your lemon tree in that self-watering pot? How does it work?

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@ctcarol, wouldn't fertilizing the plant in such an environment (winter, very dry indoor air, poor air circulation, and not nearly enough direct sun), even at 1/4 strength, do more damage than good? Most potted plants already come with granular fertilizer in the soil. Yellowing leaves could be a symptom of nitrogen deficiency but, in this case, inconsistent irrigation and not enough direct sunlight may just be the cause.



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[Last edited by _Bleu_ - Dec 27, 2018 10:00 PM (+)]
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Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Dec 27, 2018 10:16 PM CST
I don't necessarily recommend fertilizing at this time. I was just saying that that was an option if it is iron deficiency. The leaves look more like over watering to me.
MA (Zone 5b)
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LCL
Dec 28, 2018 8:30 AM CST
Thank you all but I think it may be "post mortem" time for the Meyer Lemon Tree. Three more leaves have fallen during the night.See photos of two that were in trouble. You might say I tried valiantly but failed miserably.
What I learned from this experience is the availability of resources and willingness to help by the others on this Garden.Org forum. I thank all who responded and offered suggestions and advice. @_Bleu_ The self watering pot I got at Lowes where the garden guy suggested that the reservoir in the bottom of the pot will hold extra water that may pass through the soil or could even be filled so that roots are not always in water but they can find the water in the reservoir and the water can then migrate up into the potting mix. I'm not sure if it even got a chance. May wait to try the Citrus Tree or else if all else fails I may have to move to zone 9 or 10 where I can have citrus trees outside. Ho hum!
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Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Dec 28, 2018 11:55 AM CST
I think the self-wateriing pot may have drowned your little lemon.
Porkpal
MA (Zone 5b)
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LCL
Dec 28, 2018 1:43 PM CST
You may be right Porkpal but the lack of natural light was not a help. It wasn't a major investment. It was a valuable learning experience so I treat the investment like tuition. There is an old adage that goes something like this "if you have a lemon, you can make lemonade with it" so I think I just made lemonade by my reference to tuition.
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
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ctcarol
Dec 28, 2018 1:47 PM CST
I have had terrible luck with that type of pot. I have a couple of them and everything I've planted in them has died.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Dec 28, 2018 2:02 PM CST
Don't give up on your little lemon quite yet. Pull that self-watering thing off the bottom and water properly. As long as the tree has green pliable stems, it is alive and will grow new leaves.

In the mean time, don't ferilize, water when the top half inch or so of soil is dry and don't let it sit in water.

Citrus trees brought in for the winter often lose all their leaves. Its caused by the sudden shock of the change in environment and lack of humidity. Transplanting so soon after you got it didn't help either.

The roots should be planted at the same level as they were when you got the tree. Adding extra soil to the top of a citrus can cause root rot.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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MA (Zone 5b)
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LCL
Dec 28, 2018 3:23 PM CST
Thank you both Ct Carol and Daisy L.

Hope for the little tree? Should I go ahead and name this poor plant "Lazarus?

Just kidding.

When the plant arrived it was in a tiny pot so I simply got a bigger pot and lifted the plant with very little effort out of the tiny pot and placed it in the larger pot into which i had put about two hands full of organic potting soil. Tried not to disturb any roots and just set it down into and onto the soil and then gingerly pushed some of the organic soil just to cover the voids between the ball of dirt and the potting soil. I'm not sure even today if the self watering pot has done anything good or bad so I will simply remove reservoir portion without disturbing any thing else. Wish me luck!
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Dec 28, 2018 8:39 PM CST
Crossing Fingers!
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Dec 29, 2018 12:41 PM CST
Hello LCL, I do agree, not yet post mortem time for your plant. Look closely at the stem of your plant, if there is still some green on that stem, it still has potential for recovery:

My citrus plant is a calamondin, it really suffered big time a couple of years ago, too dead than alive, had to remove all the dead leaves and brittle branches, but I saw hope, way down the trunk of the plant:
Thumb of 2018-12-29/tarev/78c2fa Thumb of 2018-12-29/tarev/6e34eb

Just be patient, keep it warm, and do not overwater. You are using a self watering container, yes, remove that base reservoir, to allow water to drain out properly. Typically I add perlite or pumice to the soil, to allow good airflow at root zone as well. Although the plant likes to be kept on the moist side, you are growing this plant indoors, conditions during winter time makes the plant grow slower too with less light it is getting than needed, hence it has been dropping leaves and since it is new, it is still acclimating to your environement. You have to be patient till mid Spring returns, it should be perking up once more once temps go warmer and light levels longer and stronger. I do not want to disturb the soil of your plant anymore at this time, so wait for Spring to make any changes in its soil and in the meantime, be careful with watering. Stick bamboo skewers, if it comes out wet, delay watering.
MA (Zone 5b)
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LCL
Dec 29, 2018 2:58 PM CST
To everyone making suggestions, I so appreciate. Thank you. I assumed it was about to give up the ghost but your comments and support have changed my mind. When this little tree starts producing please advise where I should start distributing the fruit!. No leaves dropped today so maybe it realizes that someone does care about it. Just checked the soil and no need to water today. Crossing Fingers!
MA (Zone 5b)
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LCL
Feb 16, 2019 6:42 AM CST
An update on my Meyer Lemon tree.
I took a short vacation and while gone I asked friends who happen to be neighbors to take the little tree to their home which seems to be a more ideal position for it with more light. The little tree seems to be thriving so I thank them and anyone who made welcomed comments relative to the little tree's future.

I hope they let me take it back but they are such nice friends I may gift it to them providing they give me visiting rites!
[Last edited by LCL - Feb 16, 2019 6:43 AM (+)]
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