lemon blooming with few leaves on tree

gardenfan_1March 8, 2007

My lemon tree blooming is excellent, looks almost all white, but worry for too few leaves on it, and some are dropping. Is this normal at blooming stage? also do I have to reduce watering for flowers not to fall?

please help

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rickjames(9 Cali)

Your tree sounds like it is quite stressed: lots of blooms, and few leaves. So, no--it's not normal. However, when citrus does bloom, it does drop a large proportion of the flowers and/or tiny fruit, so that sort of thing is nothing to be concerned about in general if everything else is ok.

Can you tell us anything else about it--is it in the ground or in a container (and if so what kind of soil and how long has it been in it), how long have you had it and how has it done for you, have you changed anything about it recently?

When you say 'reduce watering' I can't help but think that there is maybe a problem with over-watering and rotted roots. Do you think that may be the problem?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 5:10PM
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Many thanks rickjames for your feedback. and here is some info about the lemon tree:
1-origenaly it is budded (grafted) tree, about 7 - 9 year
old (has been gifted to me last November 2006) now it's
about 3.5 to 4 feet high, trunk is about 2 - 2.5 inch
2-yes it is planted in the ground, and was transferred
from old site on Nov. 22, 2006 i.e. 107 days in her
new home
3-the soil is well-drained, well fertilized with home
made organic fertilizer - compost of dry leaves and cow
manure (no urea no chemicals...no etc.)
4-watering habit since I have it, apply once a week a
semi deep course this is about 10 - 15 gallon, plus a
very fine misting once a while say every two weeks.
5-as regard roots system ,just superb white and healthy.

rickjames, appreciate your comments again

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 3:21AM
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rickjames(9 Cali)

Ahhh, ok. So just to make sure we get it, it is 7-9 year-old grafted tree that was in the ground and has been *moved* to a new site approximately 3 months ago, but the new site is also in the ground? And when you did see the roots *at the time of transplant*, they were healthy-looking (that makes me assume that the tree was bare-rooted or nearly so)? Well, that would certainly explain the stress reaction that you are seeing. (I will also assume the remaining and recently-fallen leaves look relatively normal, the site where it was has climate like it has now, and that there is nothing else obviously wrong with it like rotting bark, etc.)

If I am understanding the situation clearly, the reason your tree is exhibiting stress is likely from root damage in the transfer. You did plant the tree at the same depth at which it was planted before? I've seen trees planted too deeply and struggle for a long time and finally not survive.

The only other thing that comes to mind--yet again--is a watering issue, though it is hard to know if it is a possible over- or under-application of water. When you dig a hole for a new tree, it is possible to create a an interface between the original, undisturbed surrounding dirt and whatever you may have used to amend or markedly change the texture of the soil for the transplanted tree--creating a drainage problem. It is also possible that there is not complete penetration of the rootball and the tree is not getting enough water if, for example, the tree was in very clay-like dirt and now is in sandier soil.

If it is stress due to transfer, I don't think there is a whole lot you can do except support it the best you can--make sure the irrigation is appropriate, maintain your organic materials for nurtrients (you don't think the manure is too fresh or too much and possibly causing burn?)--certainly I wouldn't apply additional fertilizers right now--and you may wish to consider providing some sort of protection from sunburn if there is a risk for it (Kuwait yes?). Having recently lost its leaves, the bark could get damaged. It can take a really long time for your tree to recover, so don't be surprised if it doesn't look well for a while-- and that has a lot to do with how healthy the tree was prior to the move. Some people say to use vitamin B and/or things like Superthrive, but I don't subscribe to those schools of thought.

If you're not too sure on the watering issue, I suppose you could insert a long thin probe into the soil before your next irrigation and see how the water situation seems to be.

Good luck with it.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 6:59PM
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My Mexican Lime is doing the same thing. Mine is about 3 1/2 ft. tall. I bought it last year from a local Houston Nursery. It is in a pot that is about 20 inches across and 18-20 inches tall. It was originally potted in a soil mix that I made from a recipe in the soil forum with 1/3 potting soil, 1/3 pine bark fines, 1/3 high fired clay (Turface Substitute). It stayed outside all winter, but I covered it when we had a freeze. It has had water from rain, and I didn't tend to add extra over the winter since I had read that it didn't need as much. We had pretty good rain (at least once or twice a week). It doesn't have many leaves, but has a ton of flowers, both open and just little buds). If it is stressed, would it be better to de-flower it so it can put its energy into healing and growing? Or should I just let it go and start regular waterings now that it is warming up?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 12:27PM
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after reading your last very valuable post I've done some investigation to the lemon tree, and can tell you this: * Yes the lemon tree is now planted in the ground in a very nice location under surrounding date palm trees which provide good shade to protect it from sunburn (You Bit... Summer in Kuwait ' June to October ' No kidding can burn even the rocks, so I have to take care of this little creature) * On transplant time and as will as of yesterday when I inspect the tree the bark looks beautiful and healthy silver + gray to greenish with no sign of any damage in any part of it, also I find the roots (I made not too deep hole about 1/4 ft around the foot of the tree to enable see some parts of the roots ) just perfect and vigorous going deep in ground, some are as thick of 1/8 to 1/4 inch and some branching to very fine hairy ones looks yellowish and so alive , no cavities on the rootball under ground. * yes the climate in the new and old location of the tree is the same. * As regard application of fertilizer, I believe it's not too much, in time of transplant I nearly did not add any to soil, after one month I gave only 1/2 kg of compost which contents does not include any fresh materials, then I apply another 1/2 kg in the next month.

rickjames , Many thanks again for your indispensable views and comments.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 2:30PM
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rickjames(9 Cali)

You're quite welcome and I hope someone else will comment on your tree as well. Sounds like your tree should eventually recover then--I certainly hope so. Be careful with checking the roots--you do want to allow them the become established and to grow lots of fine feeder roots. A layer of mulch around the dripline (but not too close to the basal flare) might help with water retention and to help keep the soil temps cooler. Keep us informed :)

In my typical talkative fashion I have a bit more to say so please forgive my longwindedness :)...In a nutshell you can remove the blooms and that may help--if your tree is quite stressed it prolly won't set fruit anyway or if it does manage to set a few, they won't be completely normal. But what really needs to be done is to correct the underlying problem and I think that can be different in a container as compared to gardenfan_1's situation above. I will also assume that it is pathologic stress on your tree...and I am certainly no expert, these are merely my opinions...

There could be a few reasons why your tree is stressed as well: 1. You've had it only since last year but you repotted sometime since then, therefore it could be sulking from that and so see above. 2. the situation with the watering is also a little unclear--you weren't applying, but hard to know how much is getting to the actual roots. I have a potted Key lime that has kind of a wide mushroom-shaped canopy now and when it rains--even kinda hard rain--it doesnt really get that much water to the soil and so my neighbors must think I am nutts (skippy!) when I water just after or during a rain. Maybe your tree got too dry. 3. Even though you use Turface-substitute in a mix, the fact that you are mixing it with a good deal of potting soil may negate a lot of your efforts in using the fired-clay particle. The small particles will clog the larger pores and you may retain more water than you think. I've even been concerned about that using *straight* Turface right out of the bag but not screening it. Somewhat *uniform* particle size, as opposed to only the addition of chunky or inorganic material, is important in minimizing too much water retention. That's why fine sand as an additive to potting soils really doesnt do a whole lot to actually improve overall drainage. 4. Even tho covered, did it get freeze damage? I know Texas gets some real cold but you are z9b...

As much as we are all wary of overwatering and water-logged soils and whatnot, citrus really doesnt like to be bone-dry either--ask my plants, they know that well, lol. I should grow only cacti and rocks but that's another story... You may wish to insert a probe as well to check for water or even slip the whole thing out of the container if you dont think that would make things worse(hard to do if the soil is new and still kinda crumbly). The other thing I like to do in smaller containers is just heft it--you can get a feel for how much water is in the soil by the weight. It is a surprisingly easy thing to do to get a rough idea.

*SPDestroyer rocks*

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 8:02PM
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I don't know about the freeze damage thing and how long it takes for something to get freeze damage, but in January and in February, we had temps in the 20's. I live 30 miles from the coast but that is what the Weatherbug station reported. It is two miles further south than where I am. There are some brownish-yellow leaves. I am guessing these are damaged, but the limbs look fine. I repotted last spring when I bought it and haven't repotted since. I do have some citrus fertilizer stakes that you are supposed to apply every three-four months during growing season. I applied at planting and again in July(2006) and haven't done it since then. I was planning on applying again this week. If I de-flower the whole thing, will it re-flower or is this season just a loss? Last season, following the directions on from the nursery, I took off most of the flowers. THey said this helps concentrate energy on the overall growth of the tree. Was this the right thing to do? Thanks for the input.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 5:53PM
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rickjames(9 Cali)

Temps in the 20's is prolly too cold for a Key, but that really depends on what you're doing for cold protection and what you have going on for microclimates. So, cold exposure is one reason your tree may be stressed. Still hard to know on the watering situation and that is something only you can judge--a re-pot a year ago with a significant amount of potting soil may show significant soil breakdown at this time.

Regarding the spikes--are they designed for container use? I am not a big fan of spikes in general tho I have used them for in-ground trees and have never seen citrus spikes for container use. However I have seen tablets that supposedly can be used. I would guess that with some spikes you run the risk of introducing too much of an osmotic load on the roots, as well as irregular fertilizer availability. Personally, I'd wait for the tree to show some recovery and new growth before you add more fertilizer.

Some feel that it's best to remove flowers from new trees for the first few years to encourage vegetative and root growth, but I generally don't adhere to that--not enough patience :) It's not like if you *don't* remove the flowers that you will kill the tree or anything. As far as whether this season is a loss--well, technically Keys are everbearing but that will depend on climate. If your tree is demonstrating such stress I wouldn't count on getting fruit for a while anyway.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 4:27PM
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