Meyer Lemon Tree

GradybFebruary 26, 2013

As you can see by the picture, my lemon tree looks pathetic. This is not the first year, it seems to look this way every year. My confusion is that I have a Satsuma Orange tree right next to the lemon tree(You can see a little of that tree in the picture foreground). The two trees are about 7 years old, kept in a container that is about 18" in diameter and the same depth. The trees are fed, watered, etc., at the same time. However, the orange tree leaves are a rich green, the tree has small fruit on it(will probably drop due to the early time in the season), and the tree looks very healthy. The lemon tree has limbs with no leaves, leaves that are a yellowish green color, leaves that look like they are being chewed(have sprayed tree with indoor insect insectiside), and no blooms. I guess my question is "Why would these two trees look so different when their environment is so similiar?"
Thanks for your assistance.

PS. Both trees produce fruit each year. That is not a problem.

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johnmerr(11)

Your Meyer looks to be seriously underfed. Meyers are heavy producers and also very heavy feeders; they need a a regular feeding, maybe 4 times per year in containers, of a 3-1-2 ratio NPK plus Magnesium, Calcium, Iron, and Zinc.
Look for a good citrus food that has that ratio or close to it and it will probably include the minerals. My field Meyers in full production get 3 pounds per year of 18-6-12 made specially for me with the above minerals. A good citrus fertilizer like maybe Vigoro Citrus and Avocado food will have directions on the label for container plants; I would give the Meyer a little more than the label recommends as it is pretty hard to overfeed Meyers unless you are trying.
I am not expert in Satsuma growing; but I am pretty sure they need lots less food than a Meyer.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 8:13PM
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arkberry(8b)

What zone are you in. I have both satsuma and Meyer lemon outside in an unheated green house. It could be your Meyer is just suffering some winter damage from the temp (nothing to probably worry about). Satsuma have a much better cold tolerance than the lemons. My meyer has dropped a few leaves and shows some einter burn. My satsumas look great and my big Meyer does not look near as nice.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 9:53PM
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Gradyb

I just fertilized with 3 tblsp of Citrus-Tone (5-2-6) with Mg and Ca. It is supposed to be an organic food. I am in Zone 7b. Both trees have been in a protected environment where the temperature rarely gets below 49 degrees and is open to fresh air when the temp is above 50.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 10:09PM
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johnmerr(11)

Citrus Tone is a very good product; and organic. A bit pricey and you have to use quite a bit; but with that your Meyer should soon look happier.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 10:36AM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Your tree should not be doing that even without fertilizer for a season or two...The fact that the other is fine may give us a slight 'clue', but not enough.

You have plenty of light..........

I'll venture to say that the roots in that pot are suffering from something, and it would take a little work to figure out what it is.If the roots are weak, there isn't anything you can feed your tree, or water in a pot that the roots can handle until you first address that and stop them from suffering.

Please, fill us in on the root temps, how long they stay wet or damp, how often you flush your mix, the kind of water you use, how much fertilizer, type of pot and or type of mix? Is it clay? Plastic?

Have you made sure you have no pests? Look for scale, spider mites, thrips, or some other insect.

Mike:-)

This post was edited by meyermike_1micha on Wed, Feb 27, 13 at 12:20

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 12:04PM
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Gradyb

Meyermike:
I'm not a professional gardener so I'll try and answer your questions in my best layman's terms.
I just finished repotting the two trees a couple of weeks ago. I did not see anything in the roots to cause me to think they had a problem. Plenty of feeder roots and no dead ones. The lemon did have more feeder(smaller) roots than the orange. I used a mixture of potting soil, cow manure and cedar chips for the potting. I don't remember the exact makeup of the soil, but I got it from my local bulk mulch dealer. I don't have any idea what the root temperature is or how long they stay wet. I give the plant about a gallon of rain water every five or six days, usually when I find a couple of dry spots with my moisture meter. I will put one tablespoon per gallon of Miracle Grow at about once a month. The pots are plastic with a drain hole in the bottom and a drip pan to catch whatever water runs through. Like I said, I have sprayed the tree a couple of times with an indoor insecticide and I have never seen any insects on the tree. That's the best I can describe the tree's environment.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 8:52PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Wow, you just re-potted a couple weeks ago?

Well that's a MAJOR piece of the puzzle...especially the mix that you used. We never recommend Cedar chips due to the potential for natural chemicals that inhibit root-growth. We also don't recommend "cow manure" for containers - the particulate is too fine and compacts, leading to lack of aeration and drainage; and, if the manure isn't composted, it can be too "hot" (too rich) for direct planting.

Did the tree look like this before the re-potting? Even if it looked bad before, it certainly won't look any better for some time to come. A late Winter re-pot is least optimal from the plant's perspective because it is at its lowest level of energy reserves. Best time to re-pot is in Spring, between flushes of growth (for zone 7, that's probably sometime in April).

Josh

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 10:13AM
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Gradyb

I mis-spoke. I used cedar shavings, not cedar chips. Yes the manure was composted and I used what I thought would be enough to add a little more nitrogen to the soil. The tree has looked like this every year for I guess the last 3 or 4 years. The pot has always drained freely, not a problem with being too compacted. I went ahead and re-potted early because I was going to be out of town and the tree was in a controlled environment.
My big unknown is that both the lemon and the orange trees are treated identical, but there is so much difference in the appearance of the tree.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 10:31AM
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