Ask a Question forum: Meyer Lemon Tree Yellowing Leaves and Leaf Drop

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Maryland (Zone 7a)
Seedhunter
Aug 24, 2018 8:37 AM CST
Back in January, I bought a Meyer Lemon Tree at Home Depot. It's been inside since I bought it and it's set between a south and east facing window. Overall it's been pretty healthy, with some occasional leaf drop (about 1 each month), but within the last 3 days it's dropped upwards of 12 leaves, with others yellowing. In early July it flowered, and I pollinated them so it seems to be growing some lemons, but I have no clue what's causing it to deteriorate in the way it is. Please, if anyone can help at all, it would be greatly appreciated. The leaves seem to be yellowing from the base and drooping quite a bit. It also hasn't had any new leaf growth since I bought it. I fertilized it 2 weeks ago, water it once every 8 days, and re-potted it back in May. It's in Miracle Grow Cactus, Palm, and Citrus soil and I fertilize it every 2.5 months. It's the one with the yellow tag on it. Thanks in advance, and if there's anything else you need to know, feel free to ask.
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[Last edited by Seedhunter - Aug 24, 2018 8:40 AM (+)]
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Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
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Calif_Sue
Aug 24, 2018 9:55 AM CST

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Maryland (Zone 7a)
Seedhunter
Aug 24, 2018 10:11 AM CST
I think it gets an average of about 10 hours of sunlight each day, but just in case, I took it off the chair and put it on the ground where it's getting significantly more light. Thanks for the response.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Aug 24, 2018 11:39 AM CST
Hello Seedhunter, what is your watering regimen for your plant. As mentioned by Sue it does like lots of full sun and alongside with this it likes lots of water, and good humidity levels especially during summer time when it should be actively growing. Full sun outdoors is much stronger light than sun coming indoors. I would put that plant outdoors maybe in part sun to acclimate then slowly into more sun while light levels are still strong, before Fall season ensues further.

The plant looks in too much distress, and fertilizers at this point will just aggravate its situation. Scale down or stop the fertilizers for now and concentrate on reviving the overall conditions of the plant.

It is not a lost cause yet, I still see lots of green on the trunk, so just try to improve its light and watering needs. It can still bounce back.
[Last edited by tarev - Aug 24, 2018 11:40 AM (+)]
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Maryland (Zone 7a)
Seedhunter
Aug 24, 2018 11:59 AM CST
I water it every 8 days, thoroughly watering it until it drips out the bottom. If moving it outside would help, I'll do that now. Is there anything I should be worried about when it comes to moving it outside? I really appreciate the help!
[Last edited by Seedhunter - Aug 24, 2018 12:06 PM (+)]
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Aug 24, 2018 12:26 PM CST
That 8 day watering interval was too long an interval, it is not a succulent. It likes more moisture, likes to be on the moist side, warm temps and full sun, but still with well draining soil. Like most citrus plants, moist side with high humidity.

Position it in part sun outdoors to acclimate, like in morning sun position, then maybe after a week to more full sun. It has been growing indoors, so it will need to adjust to the change in light levels and temperature.
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Seedhunter
Aug 24, 2018 2:39 PM CST
After setting the tree in partial sunlight, I took a close look at the leaves. Most of the top leaves seem to have spots of a weird white substance. Can anyone identify it and could it be linked to the problems I've been having? I'll link to a picture.
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[Last edited by Seedhunter - Aug 24, 2018 5:36 PM (+)]
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Name: Will Creed
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WillC
Aug 24, 2018 5:38 PM CST
The white residue on the leaves looks like mineral salt deposits left on the leaves when they are misted or sprayed with water, fertilizer or pesticide. It is harmless.

Outdoor light is much more intense. If you move it outside to anything more than shade, the older leaves will not be adapted and you will lose even more of them. You will have to move it back inside soon anyway, so I suggest that you keep it in the sunniest indoor location that you have.

The leaves you have lost so far could be from a lapse in watering or simply because it simply has reached the maximum number of leaves that can be supported in that light. Pruning back some of the longer branches will help it preserve the older leaves and keep it more compact.

Don't water by schedule. Water it thoroughly as soon as the surface of the soil feels dry. If new leaf growth is healthy, then you are on the right track and no major changes are required.
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Maryland (Zone 7a)
Seedhunter
Aug 24, 2018 5:44 PM CST
Thanks! I moved it back inside a couple hours ago. I've been worried about pruning because it hasn't put out any new leaves since I bought it. Is that anything to be concerned about?
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Aug 24, 2018 8:15 PM CST
I would have left that still in part sun area outdoors, you still have time to revive it. Then do daily spritzing of the entire stem and branches to revive those nodes. Just need to encourage those leaves to come back. I know your area is different than mine and you will have more pronounced winter conditions, but you still have time this Fall, before you bring it back in for winter protection.

I will show you my Calamondin tree, this one to all intents looks dead, growing outdoors but I was away in summer so it suffered big time, got dehydrated, and since our area is no rainfall area during summer, there was nothing for it while we were away. It gets full sun from 11 am to 2pm, and dappled sun the rest of the day. Temps soars high 90F's to triple digits.
31 Aug 2016
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But there is still some remaining green part on the lower part of the stem, so I just removed all the dead leaves pruned brittle branches, and continued spritizing the entire plant and watering the root area.
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By Oct 2016, some signs of leaf growth finally shows
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By November 2016, those leaves continues growing
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By 14 Dec 2016
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Jun 2017
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August 2018, very fully recovered, and right now making buds
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So good luck on your plant, it has lots of potential to recover, if you continue it growing indoors right now with such distress and lack of better light, it may continue to suffer. It really takes a big deal of patience for its recovery.
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Seedhunter
Aug 24, 2018 8:23 PM CST
Ah, I brought it in because I read somewhere that to acclimate a Meyer lemon you have to move it in and out a lot, but I can put it back outside. It seems to be doing better already, and I don't notice any newly yellowing leaves. Thank y'all for all your help, it's greatly appreciated.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Aug 25, 2018 10:19 AM CST
When you keep moving it back and forth it makes it harder for them to acclimate. I do move my plants only if there is a verifiable weather event approaching like very strong winds, or frost advisories, also depends if I can still move them since some are really too huge to move. So if I am unable to move them, then all I can do is to cover and protect them.

We also have distinct seasons, so in your case, eventually you will have to move your young plant indoors for overwintering. In the meantime, allow it to grow new leaves and take in whatever natural light and warmth it can take outdoors. Remember in part sun for now, to avoid undue full sun distress.

But otherwise, I let them harden themselves to whatever is happening outdoors. Especially if it is in such growing distress, just got to nurture them patiently, no fertilizers, it needs to recover nicely first.
San Antonio, TX
Pinkrabbit
Aug 25, 2018 1:02 PM CST
Unless I missed it I do not know in what zone you are trying to grow the lemon tree. A light frost will not hurt the lemon tree so it is best to get them outside as soon as possible. They like to bloom around January. I have one I never bring in and it handles 25 degrees with no problem. During the blooming cycle it is best if the plant is exposed to the honeybees. My lemon trees get watered twice a day for 3 minutes during the summer and 2 minutes in the winter and there is always water running out of the pot. They are on an automatic trickling system. That causes the need for more frequent fertilization (Twice a month).

Go to Lowes or Home Depot and buy a moisture checker. They are only about $4.50. Best money you will ever spend. Don't bother buying a two probe model that tests PH. They rarely work. I'm lucky I finally found one that does test soil PH and I use it all the time.
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Seedhunter
Aug 25, 2018 2:19 PM CST
I'm in Zone 7a, but we border on being 6b. We get a couple feet of snow each year. I'll definitely buy a moisture meter and leave the lemon tree outside. Thanks!
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Seedhunter
Aug 26, 2018 10:44 AM CST
I found what looked to be webs on various parts of my meyer lemon tree and on a few other plants. I brushed them off with my hand, but noticed a few more later in the day. What could be causing this?
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Aug 26, 2018 10:45 AM CST
Could be spider mites or actual spiders. Check under the leaves, any critters there?
Name: Honey
9a (Zone 9a)
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honeyx4
Aug 26, 2018 11:05 AM CST
I have a Meyer lemon in my yard and one thing I have observed personally and from researching citrus blogs is that the quality of the water makes a difference. My tree is so much happier when it gets rain water than when I water it from the tap. I am noticing the same thing with several of my other plants that are less drought tolerant than some others. It can rain for days and the plants love it but if I water them from the tap everyday the leaves turn yellow.

I think its the chemicals in the tap water. I collect rain water when I can but its never enough so I have to supplement.
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Seedhunter
Aug 26, 2018 11:07 AM CST
There are a few black specks. The white substance on top of the leaves has gotten worse and I've noticed it on another tree.
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Cat Lover Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Region: California Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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tarev
Aug 26, 2018 11:21 AM CST
Ah yes, rainwater is always best for the plants. I think that is why my Calamondin is happy here in winter, even if it is cold, it is the only time of the year when we get rain. But we have no choice, we have 6 to 7 months of zero rainfall in my area, so all I can use is tap water. Thankfully it takes it...better this tap water than no watering at all.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Cat Lover Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Region: California Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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tarev
Aug 26, 2018 11:25 AM CST
Seedhunter said:There are a few black specks. The white substance on top of the leaves has gotten worse and I've noticed it on another tree.
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If it is staying outdoors now, try to do like a gently power wash all over your plant, see if it washes it out.
Next approach, use a diluted liquid soap with some alcohol and spray mist all over the plant. But do it while plant is in shade, not when sun is hitting it. Observe if it recovers after a few days. I try to do the simplest approach first.
[Last edited by tarev - Aug 26, 2018 11:25 AM (+)]
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