What's wrong with this Meyer lemon?

lindsey5809(9)March 31, 2014

This plant bad gone through several transplants due to house construction.
I can't tell if the long branch is a sucker or not. There is just a spray of main branches from the bottom.
I've tried fertilizing, don't think it's over watered, but now it has TONS of buds and hardly any leaves...it seems stressed. Thoughts?

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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Of course it "seems stressed" :-) It looks like it's dying. I would say your poor Meyer lemon is suffering from severe transplant shock, and this shouldn't be surprising, as you've mentioned that it has been through "several transplants", as in more than a couple. Frankly, I'm surprised it's still alive. I would be sure to water appropriately, and continue to fertilize carefully. Be sure you fertilize with the appropriate amount of citrus fertilizer, but make sure you've watered, first, put down your product, then water it in. With this poor little tree, you would want to make sure you don't put down fertilizer when the tree is dry. Don't worry about any suckers for now, most likely it isn't a sucker, but was simply a water sprout. If you can see where the graft line is on the trunk (be sure you haven't buried it in this last transplant effort), all branches should be emanating from above the graft line (the scion, in your case, Improved Meyer lemon). If you can't find the graft line it may mean this tree is a seedling on its own roots, which is not uncommon for a Meyer lemon. The blossoming you're seeing is most likely a combination of being the time of year for citrus to bloom, as well as a tree that is extremely stressed, sensing its ultimate demise, and trying to fruit before it dies. So, let's see if you can revive this poor tree. Don't move it, again. It won't make it. Water, fertilize and patience are in order at this point.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 10:13AM
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Okay, I am going to try to help you; but there is much to do and much to understand. First Meyers donâÂÂt suffer transplants well; and multiple transplants even less. You have lost a lot of roots and kept too many limbs for the remaining roots to support; hence the leaf drop. If you treat the plant well, it will grow more roots, but not fast enough to push growth on so many limbs.
Here is a foto of a similar tree, transplanted by professionals to be the centerpiece of a new restaurant here in Guatemala.
The photo is âÂÂbeforeâ I attempted to rescue it.

Here is a foto of the same tree after emergency surgery.

Basically, you want to cut off all the cluster of little limbs at the base; then cut any limbs crossing the center. The long branches are watersprouts; cut them back to the level of the general canopy. Finaly prune out some of the smaller redundant branches to leave a structure that will be easier for the new roots to support. Give it a good shot of citrus fertilizer, donâÂÂt overwater it; and you have a good shot of recovery.

If you copy these photos to your photo gallery and enlarge them, you will get a better idea.

Good luck

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 3:04PM
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I hope my advice and photos helped. I would like to receive some follow up.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 1:26AM
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Thank you SO much Johnmerr and hoosierquilt. I am not a gardening novice normally but I have been pretty overwhelmed at this new house (I inherited this tree, which had already been moved prior to me planting it here). My other meyer is doing well.
I will make the appropriate prunings. The rootball is definitely small (I was surprised when I planted it). What you say makes sense. If I remember I will snap a photo after I work on it. Thank you again.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 12:01AM
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We do what we can. Advice is easy to give when you have experience; and it is free, so you can take it or leave it.
I have now 30,000 Meyers; and I have a giant file called "Practices, Policies, and Secrets"; the secrets are proprietary... not even Sunkist gets them; the policies are shared with all our associate growers; and the practices are shared with anyone who asks... it is our small contribution to the industry.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 12:07AM
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Wow John that's a significant grove! So next time I'm in the grocery store and I see Meyers, I'll wonder if they're yours...! :)

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 10:47AM
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