Ask a Question forum: Lemon tree dropping leaves

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Name: Josh
Thunder Bay Ontario Canada
Dec 11, 2016 2:50 PM CST
Hello I just recently bought myself a beautiful lemon tree when I got it it was in good health it had hundreds of tiny little flower buds about 1mm big now they are the size of peas to marbles and some have started opening. But the leaves are starting to shrivel up and the are falling off at an alarming rate. I have had it about a month and just in the last week it started to decline in health significantly The greenhouse I bought it from was very humid and my house is very dry Please help!!! I really like this tree and want it to do well! Thanks in advance!! I am also curious if I can artificially pollinate it so I can get a few lemons to grow any help is greatly appreciated!!
Thumb of 2016-12-11/Joshsz/dc1eb8

Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Dec 12, 2016 1:03 AM CST
It looks too dry to me.
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

Name: alyssa
Pennsylvania (Zone 7b)
Dec 12, 2016 7:10 AM CST
My boyfriend is having the same problem with a Valencia orange I got him, except he doesn't keep his dry. It lost about half of its leaves in maybe two months, and just started to bloom last week. Not sure what's going on, but I have read that citrus' don't like adjusting to new conditions and will protest by dropping leaves. Try putting your tree in the sunniest window you've got and mist it once or twice a week to keep the humidity up.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
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Dec 12, 2016 7:37 AM CST
The leaves are curling and drying up so I would be inclined to also think it is too dry. One thing I've found with those pots with a small saucer (attached?) is that it's hard to water plants enough without its overflowing. I'm no citrus expert but I wouldn't put it in a more sunny spot at this point until we're sure it isn't too dry as that would increase the need for water.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Dec 12, 2016 8:30 AM CST
Citrus plants don't like to get completely dry. I'd recommend you lay it on its side on some newspaper, and slip the root ball out of the pot to have a look. Be careful, you don't want to tear or break any roots.

The plant's water needs would increase - maybe double - when it goes from a lush, humid greenhouse to your dry home environment. They probably told you to water "once a week" but that's probably not nearly enough. I'm betting when you see the root ball, it will be a solid dry brick of soil. You need to put it back into the pot, stand the pot in a bucket or the kitchen sink, and soak the whole root ball, right up to the rim of the pot in lukewarm water for an hour or two.

Once you are sure it is well soaked, and have let it drain (let the water out of the sink, or dump the bucket, then leave it sit in there for a little while so the excess water drains from the pot) then you need to lift the plant and see how heavy it is when it is well watered. Now you know how much it weighs when it's just been watered, you need to lift it every day and when it is getting lighter (the plant is using up the water in the soil) water it and keep watering until the root ball is soaked again. Sticking your finger into the soil is also a good practice to see if the soil is drying out.

Putting the whole little tree into the shower once in a while is a very good practice too. It will not only hydrate the leaves nicely, it will also wash off any beginnings of insect infestations that tend to bother indoor tropical plants in the winter.

Going forward, if you can manage to increase the humidity around the plant that will help it to not dry out as fast, and to keep its nice healthy, shiny leaves too. An evaporation tray of pebbles for it to sit on, with water below the level of the tops of the pebbles will help somewhat. Spraying the whole area as often as possible (just keep a spray bottle of water around there and mist it whenever you walk by) is also good.

I'm with Sue, don't put it in the direct sun until the leaves perk up and it is drinking again. Then move it gradually until it is right in the direct light from the window.

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
Seed Starter Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
Dec 12, 2016 10:47 PM CST
Elaine's suggestions are spot on. When we up North bring tropicals, especially Citrus indoors, it is imperative to mist them 2 - 3 times a week and provide the things she suggested. Maybe run a humidifier in the area. Homes get DRY, especially in Winter.

Good luck.
Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
Name: Josh
Thunder Bay Ontario Canada
Dec 19, 2016 10:50 AM CST
Hey everyone the soil is not dried right out I am misting it daily i use a soil moisture meter so I know the exact moisture levels. I am not new to plants just new to the lemon tree. I was able to put it into that pot without disturbing to soil and root ball at all as the pot was quarter inch bigger all the way around. I have the rocks on top of the soil to help keep it moist. Yes my house is very dry in the winter with the heating system but I have the plant very close to my fish tank and I mist it daily. Has any one herd of the lemon tree dropping all its leaves when it gets moved and grow new ones better suited to the new environment?
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Dec 20, 2016 8:32 AM CST
Josh - my two lemon trees seem to drop leaves when I bring them indoors for the winter. They get watered a couple of times a week and I do feed them over the winter. Even though I have supplemental light on them, they start dropping leaves when they come indoors. Right now both are blooming and I am hand-pollinating. You could use a small, clean paintbrush or even a q-tip for that. They'll generally start putting out new leaves when the light quality gets better in late winter/early spring.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
Name: Josh
Thunder Bay Ontario Canada
Dec 27, 2016 6:51 AM CST
Thanks that's very helpful! So they will be completely defoliated for a few months?
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Dec 27, 2016 8:21 AM CST
Some of my lemon leaves do hold on through the winter. I have more trouble with my older tree, which has a different form, than the new one I acquired last spring. Both of mine are currently blooming profusely. DD's lemon trees, which grow great outdoors for her in MI during the warm months, shed some leaves when they come indoors. During winter, they sit in front of a south-facing patio door with lots of sun exposure which I think helps immensely in preventing a lot of leaf-drop. It seems (to me) that it's a light quality thing. As much natural sun as you can give your tree will help.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb

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