How to help my lemon tree? over/under watered??

nihalMarch 14, 2009


I have just returned from a 10 day vacation to find that my previously healthy lemon tree is doing very poorly; the leaves are all pale and droopy, and the few fruit growths are tiny, as if they were dwarfed lemons. it has grown some flowers but even they fall off without blossoming.

This year it has rained VERY heavily, more than usual, and my guess is the tree has suffered from the excess (it is potted). The weather over the past few days has become very warm, almost summer like. The soil is fairly humid but not soaking.

How would I go about drying out the soil? Should I fertilize the tree (which would require watering it)? If so, should I make the earth more or less acidic?

I live in Morocco so we don't have any of the specialized products available in the US : I DO have some special citrus fertilizer, but to alter the soil PH I would need to use vinegar or equivalent. Home stuff.

Any ideas on how to save it? It's an otherwise lovely tree....

thank you

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How big is your tree? How big is the pot?
Drooping leaves is a sign of lack of water reaching the leaves. This can be due to dry soil, or root damage which can be caused by overwatering. So you have to work out which it is.
Are you absolutely sure that the soil is damp throughout? Sometimes a full leaf canopy prevents much rain reaching the soil surface, even after heavy rain. So the top layer may be damp but the rest bone dry. It can be difficult to wet certain dry soils - water just flows through without wetting. Dig down a bit to check. This is easy to remedy - just stand pot in water for several hours.
If the problem is root-rot due to overwatering you have a worse problem. You could try re-potting in drier free-draining compost while cutting off any rotten roots. The leaf canopy should be reduced at the same time by pruning as the damaged roots can't support so much. You could try treating soil with the French fungicide Aliete. And prevent further water reaching the surface until it dries. Or you could just hope it improves as summer approaches.
Fertilising won't do any good until you have sorted the drooping leaves.
Also check for any root-eating pests.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 3:25PM
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