Meyer Lemon Trees - yellow leaves, falling off

spicegirl_0101January 27, 2013


We live in zone 7a and have two Meyer lemon trees. We transplanted them into 12" pots when we first got them. We got them last spring and they did well outside over the summer.

We've kept them in our closed-in solarium for the winter where they get a lot of sunlight. After being inside for a while, the leaves began to turn yellow and fall off.


We think maybe we are not getting the watering right.

We are planning transplant the trees into a bigger planter (from 12" to 16" planter). Here are some questions:

1. Okay to transplant while distressed like this?
2. Should we line the bottom of new planter with rocks (we got red lava rocks to keep the weight down)?
3. Vermiculite or perlite?
4. Should we add sand?
5. More fertilizer? Trace minerals? Both?
6. Just realized this - we water with softened water. Could we have salt issues?

Thanks for any recommendations on what to do first here. We are VERY new at citrus.


This post was edited by spicegirl_0101 on Sun, Jan 27, 13 at 10:34

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Hi spice girl and welcome...

One of the things that everyone forgets to do is take an up close picture of their mix in the pot. Can you do that?

Also, what is your mix made of? How long does it stay wet?


    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 1:37PM
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Water softeners replace minerals with Sodium Chloride (table salt); it is too common that people water plants with water that has come thru the water softener... stop it; the salt will kill the tree... and other plants as well.
You likely moved your Meyer directly from outside to inside. Meyers are sensitive to significant light change and will drop leaves to replace them with new leaves better suited to the new light. In the future move the tree from full sun to partial sun; after 2 weeks move it to full shade; and after another 2 weeks to inside. Reverse the process in the Spring. I would not re-pot a stressed tree; wait until you put it out in the Spring. 2... skip the rocks. 3... perlite, never vermiculite. Your leaves have good color, so you are probably giving it what it needs in fertilizer.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 4:17PM
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There is nothing wrong with your tree. Falling leaves from citrus is quite common at this time of year, and for the next month depending where you live. The leaves in question are just old leaves that have lived out their life span A citrus leaf has a life span of 20 - 24 months. If you look at the leaves you can even see where the tree has pulled back out most of the remaining nitrogen from the leaves so that the nitrogen can be reused before the old leaves are discarded. When an older citrus leaf can no longer accomplish it full required work task for the tree it is quickly discarded. There is no welfare program for an old leaf. Adding gravel, rocks, or other such material, does NOT help with the container's drainage. It actually hurts the drainage, because the layer of rock only raises the perched water table even higher into the container's growing area. There a all types of mediums that a container citrus will grow well in. Just be sure that it has good drainageand good aeration. The number one potting mix world wide for container trees is 5 parts conifer bark, 1 part coarse sand and 1 part peat moss. It is used by most every commercial nursery in the world. This forum has two favorite mixes that they seem to use. Personally, I have never use them, but for small trees in small containers they seem to work. Good luck to this tree. - Silica

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 6:41PM
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So Spicegirl...How's it going?

Is your tree doing any better than when you first asked?

Hoping so:-)


    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 12:36PM
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Hi Mike,

Thanks for checking in.

The trees are holding their own. We stopped using softened water, which I think was the easiest and most important step. And, we'll be more mindful when it comes to moving them from inside to out and vice versa.

Will check in as time goes on.

Thanks to you and all!


    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 5:09PM
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I'm so glad that John brought that up. It's great to see you learn from such good people here.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 5:23PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

That yellowing is not normal and definitely looks like sodium toxicity to me.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 8:18PM
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