Ask a Question forum: My Lemon Plant

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Name: Ryan
Northern Virginia
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Whereisammo
Apr 20, 2017 1:45 PM CST
I've had this lemon plant in my house since it started growing (6+ months now). When I transferred it to a new the pot (it was in a cup before), it stopped growing. It was fall during that so I thought it was normal. Now it's starting to wilt and some of its leaves are drying up. What do I do?
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[Last edited by Whereisammo - Apr 20, 2017 7:04 PM (+)]
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Apr 20, 2017 1:54 PM CST
To me the soil looks too dry and might be too compacted. I would add pumice or perlite to allow air at the root zone. It prefers to be on the moist side but not soggy, heavy soil. Also it is more ideal to grow them outdoors. If your weather conditions outside are good now, like overnights at least 50F and higher, I would consider moving it slowly outdoors, so it can get more light. No fertilizers for now, plant is very stressed.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Apr 20, 2017 1:57 PM CST
Welcome!

It looks like it needs a good drink - the soil seems quite dry. If you are watering, the soil may not be absorbing the moisture the plant needs. Was the potting medium completely wet when you planted the tree? Try soaking the whole pot in a bucket of water until all the soil is completely wet and see if that perks the tree up. If the soil doesn't absorb water, you have a problem.
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Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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dyzzypyxxy
Apr 20, 2017 2:35 PM CST
Hi and welcome. I agree, the soil looks too dry. What kind of potting soil did you use? It does look like it might be too heavy for use in a pot that size.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Ryan
Northern Virginia
Rabbit Keeper
Whereisammo
Apr 20, 2017 7:22 PM CST
It's called "Scotts Premium Topsoil". I actually took the plant out this morning to check for root rot. I did not find any root rot, but the soil that was left in the pot was very hot and humid. I added a small amount of topsoil to the top this morning as well. I also have golfball sized rocks at the bottom to promote proper drainage. I think that water won't help, and will only kill it faster.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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dyzzypyxxy
Apr 20, 2017 8:35 PM CST
Hm, "topsoil" is not potting soil. That's something you'd amend a garden bed outdoors with. It will compact and not let enough air get to the roots of your lemon.

Also the rocks in the bottom of the pot actually doesn't help drainage at all. It most often creates what's known as a "perched" water table which means that the transition area between where the soil ends and the rocks begin doesn't let water drain through. Was the soil really soggy when you pulled it out of the pot?

So, basically, you're probably suffocating your little lemon plant. Go buy a bag of "Potting" soil which is a mix of organic materials like peat or coconut husk fiber and perlite. It is light and fluffy, holds water but also allows air into the pot. Is there a drainage hole in the bottom of that pot? If not, use another pot.

Repot that little plant quickly, (wash all the other soil off the roots) keep it in the shade and cool *room temperature* for at least a week and it might recover.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Ryan
Northern Virginia
Rabbit Keeper
Whereisammo
Apr 20, 2017 9:13 PM CST
Alright, I'll do my best, but I can't get any right at this exact moment, what could I use in the meantime?
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Apr 20, 2017 9:17 PM CST
Wait until you can get potting soil. Removing the plant twice is just going to do more harm. Take a skewer or some long thin stick and aerate the soil for the plant right away. Then get the potting soil as soon as you can.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Ryan
Northern Virginia
Rabbit Keeper
Whereisammo
Apr 20, 2017 9:19 PM CST
I'll do that right now. Thank you for your help, I'll keep you updated with the status!
Name: Ryan
Northern Virginia
Rabbit Keeper
Whereisammo
Apr 20, 2017 9:42 PM CST
I just aerated the soil. I never mentioned this, but it has very small roots and I think they're very fragile... Here's a pic of said roots.
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Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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dyzzypyxxy
Apr 21, 2017 7:05 AM CST
That's actually a pretty good looking root system for a little lemon plant. All citrus have very fine roots, and they tend to stay near the surface of the soil, too, not go very deep. When people grow them in the ground here, they have to be careful not to let grass and weeds grow in the root zone of their citrus trees because they will steal water and nutrients from the tree.

When you're repotting, be sure the potting mix you use is already well dampened before you transfer your plant to the new medium. Don't let the roots dry out if you can help it. Hope the new potting mix works!
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Ryan
Northern Virginia
Rabbit Keeper
Whereisammo
Apr 21, 2017 1:38 PM CST
Good news! I found some Miracle Grow Potting Mix in my shed! So all is good with the soil. Now I just have to worry about recovery...
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Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Apr 21, 2017 4:05 PM CST
Hurray! Glad you are on your way, now. I would still keep the little guy in the shade, near a window but not in direct sunlight for at least a week. Then gradually move it back to a sunny window.

Btw, I forgot to ask whereabouts you are? Could you please fill in your location in your profile page?

That "Moisture Control" potting mix is fantastic for indoor plants and also for growing outdoor plants in dry climates, but here in Florida everything but the most moisture-loving plants stay much too wet using it. The moisture "stuff" in it (some kind of gel, I think) stays wet all the time because of the humidity. It constantly absorbs water from the air.

So, if you are planning to let your little lemon grow outside for the summer months, be very careful about watering if you have high humidity. Use the finger test, i.e. stick your finger about an inch into the soil to feel if it is still moist.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
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pod
Apr 22, 2017 8:32 AM CST
In my experience with potted citrus, that clay pot that Ryan is using will help wick the moisture away. Might have been part of the "too dry" problem.

Do you guys think that may also be too little a root system for that size pot?
Be content moving inch by inch because, by days end, the inches, will add up to feet and yards.

Fulfilling ambitious objectives is usually done one step at a time.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
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dyzzypyxxy
Apr 22, 2017 8:51 AM CST
I think the pot size is ok, Kristi. If this plant survives, it should put on a lot of growth through the summer. It's not a house plant, it's going to be a little tree pretty soon!

Part of the problem is when it was originally potted up from the cup it was in, all the soil was removed and it was potted into "topsoil". As Ryan's picture above shows, it was transferred bare-root to the new heavy soil. Let's hope there's more root system now.

Ryan, for future reference when you are potting this plant up again, it's best to keep the root ball intact with the soil around it so as not to damage those delicate, fine little feeder roots. Now that you'll have the right soil around them, once you re-pot into the potting mix, keep it as undisturbed as possible.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Ryan
Northern Virginia
Rabbit Keeper
Whereisammo
Apr 22, 2017 8:39 PM CST
Alright Elaine! I did replace the soil already and... well she (my friend named her btw) just looks even worse. She's too stressed, and I don't think she'll have the ability to recover. Is there any way to increase the chance of recovery? She looks like shes as good as dead...
I wish I knew more about plants... I have other ones and they're doing fine.

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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
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dyzzypyxxy
Apr 22, 2017 9:27 PM CST
Well, you could try making a little "greenhouse" for the plant out of an inflated plastic bag. Higher humidity will help the plant to not transpire so much water out of the leaves. Be sure it's not too warm, and gets no direct sunlight whilst in the bag.

First and foremost, have patience. It may take a few days and it will start perking up. Don't give up on it yet.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Ryan
Northern Virginia
Rabbit Keeper
Whereisammo
Apr 22, 2017 9:36 PM CST
I'm wondering why the leaves are curling up in that fashion though. They're definitely drying out and getting crunchy. I'll try the bag and see what happens, I just want her to pull through. Also, the area (the bud) where the stem would continue its growth upwards is brown, so I don't know what to do about that.
Name: Minnie Li
Bellevue, Washington (Zone 8b)
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MinnieLi
Apr 23, 2017 12:38 PM CST
Hi there!

I have a lemon tree, just like you, except that my lemon plant has grown to a larger size than yours.

1st of all, like people said above, I believe that you should be watering the lemon plant more often. Perhaps like 3-4 times a week. But each of those times, you have to make sure that the soil is moist, so that the water can reach the roots. Lemon plants need their soil to be slightly moist all the time.
2nd of all, it might appear that the soil is dry on the top. Perhaps this is due to it being compacted. The soil on the bottom might be very wet, causing the roots to start rotting. I would recommend using larger particles, such as mulch, to ensure that the roots are slightly moist, but that there's also good drainage.
3rd of all, citrus plants need a lot of sunlight. More than your usual windowsill plant. It's better to leave them outside whenever there's light. But when temperatures drop near 20 degrees, bring your plant back inside. They absolutely love basking in the sunlight.
4th, if you're going to put it on a deck or something, you have to make sure that it's ready to be moved easily. I presume that the climate there is like that of Bellevue, Washington. Virginia has 8a, while Washington has about 8b. Make sure that when there's wind to bring your plant back inside. The leaves will be blown off otherwise.

Good luck, and happy growing!
Name: Ryan
Northern Virginia
Rabbit Keeper
Whereisammo
Apr 29, 2017 11:33 AM CST
So... She's not doing very well. Her leaves arent curled but they are a very concerning color of green... is there any hope left?
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