Ask a Question forum: Re-potting a container grown Meyer Lemon

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Name: Pat Morris
Augusta, GA, Zone 8b (Zone 8b)
I love gardening & love to share.
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patmorris1
Mar 17, 2018 2:49 PM CST
Happy St. Patrick's Day. My great grandparents came to our beautiful country many years ago. And even if you are not of Irish decent, they say, "EVERYONE is Irish on St. Patrick's Day!"

I have three container grown Meyer Lemon Trees. The one I have a little concern about is about 1-1/2 years ago -has been doing great. It has blooms on it and I pruned it a few months ago. I noticed that even though the leaves are green and the plant otherwise looks happy; it is dropping its leaves. I have the same drainage in the container as I have in the other two; but noticed yesterday, the soil seems wet. I thought I would re-pot it with new, dry soil (with Spagnum Moss, Perlite and Miracle Gro potting soil) -in pretty much the same size pot; and screen wire in the bottom of the pot.

Should I rinse the soil from the roots, or just re-pot it and see if that stops the leaves from dropping? I am growing this one for my nephew; and I want it to be nice when I give it to him. He wants to wait until the cold weather is behind us before taking it.

Here is a picture (I think I already removed the fallen leaves from the pot). Also, since it is St. Patrick's Day, I am attaching a picture of my sweet cat, who died a couple of years ago. She was 16-1/2 when she died. She loved lying on the patio on right by the garden when I was planting or taking care of flowers and plants.

Thanks for your opinion as to if you think it could have dropped leaves because the soil is wet; not damp and if I need to scoot the soil off the roots when I re-pot it or just re-pot it.
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Bringing more beauty to the landscape.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 17, 2018 3:07 PM CST
Replacing wet soil with dry soil is never the solution to a plant that has been overwatered. Removing the wet soil will damage many of the roothairs that do most of the work and traumatize the plant.

If the soil is not drying out it is either because you are watering too often or water has accumulated in the bottom of the pot if it lacks drain holes. If that is the case, then it might be a good idea to gently move the plant from the square planter to the cylindrical planter while disturbing the roots and soil as little as possible.

I don't know what your idea of "drainage" is and the purpose of the screen wire, but neither are a good idea. Good drainage occurs when you have a good potting mix that is porous throughout and a pot that has drain holes.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Pat Morris
Augusta, GA, Zone 8b (Zone 8b)
I love gardening & love to share.
Image
patmorris1
Mar 17, 2018 3:26 PM CST
Thanks. My idea of drainage is an adequate pot with drain holes. I was told by someone who grows Meyer Lemon Trees to put the screen wire on the bottom of the pot to keep soil from coming out of the drain holes. It is working well in the other pots. And maybe this one too. I just noticed it dropping its leaves and thought that may be the problem. I wanted to act before it dropped too many leaves.

It may not even be the wet soil that is making the leaves drop (??); but I see no evidence of any little critters on it and it gets the same amount of watering as the other ones. I have a good potting mix and it has done well for the year and one-half that I have had it. I had brought them in for a little over a week, because of the weather -and I think that I let them dry out too much. Maybe since I watered them when they were a little dry -I got them too wet. I will leave it on the patio tonight to see if it dries out some; before disturbing and replanting it.

Thanks for your feedback.
Bringing more beauty to the landscape.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 17, 2018 5:42 PM CST
Pat - the screen will do no harm if used as you described. However, it should not be necessary. Initially, a little soil may come through the drain holes, but that will soon stop.

Leaf drop could be caused by either under or over watering. I am confused about whether the soil is too moist not too dry. You seem to be saying both. Because other plants are on a particular watering schedule, that does not mean your Lemon should be on the same schedule. Every plant should be watered as needed, as inconvenient as that may be.

When soil gets dry enough to need water, the soil should be watered thoroughly until some water comes through the drain holes. Unless the plant is in pot way too large, then you cannot give it too much water at one time. Overwatering means that you are not allowing the soil enough time to dry out properly between waterings. It is about the frequency of watering not the quantity of watering.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

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