my lemon seedling is dropping leaves. please help!

semajeApril 20, 2011

I grew this from a seed a little over a year ago, not sure what type of lemon it was though. It seems to be very healthy looking, leaf wise, that is. But all of sudden, starting a week ago, its been dropping leaves from the bottom up. Obviously because of my zone, I have it inside for the winter under an artificial plant light. I had it in a terrarium where its decently humid, and in there it took off. It outgrew it actually. So I ended up moving it out of the terrarium, so then it was just under a plant light in my room temperature room, it wasnt really growing to much at all here. I just recently moved it to its location which you can see if the picture. It gets a nice amount of sunlight there, so hopefully I'll see some results. ANYWAY, it is loosing one of its few leaves a day. I am getting very concerned. I checked all the leaves and they seem fine, but then all of a sudden one just drops. I believe I am watering enough. So any suggestions on what to do or expect? Is it supposed to do this? It is starting to get that barky appearance on the stem from the bottom up.

Also, shown in the first picture, the top growth is very funky. Why is this like this? Should I trim it off? Im guessing its from inadequte light. Thank you so much.

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It is possible that you have a few issues to resolve going on at the same time.

One problem causes another.

If your plant has gone through a shock of somehow, if the roots are staying wet too long which can be slowly causing it's decline and or some other cultural practice not recieved well by the tree, in its weaken state, it will be attractive to spider mites which seems to be a serious problem from the looks of the way your green leaves are cupping. They are notorious at this time of the year and hard to see by our naked eye, in fact almost impossible.

Please check for mites very closely with a magnifying glass since they can catch you of guard by the time they are bad and cause massive leaf loss. Even if you don't see any, I would spray those leafs ASAP with a pest control or wash them off with water for safe keepers, rubbing the remaining leaves between your fingers while doing so.

Also, you may want to correct the other issues and even check the roots to see if they are tight and bright in color.

That is just a start.

How come you are not leaving them outdoors at this time, since it seems warm enough to bring your magnolia tree into bloom and they can handle cooler nights, even into teh 40's?

You can slowly introduce them and gradually move them into full sun. Having them outside will alleviate at least the pest issue almost immediately, and give the tree a better fighting chance until you address the root issues if there are any.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 4:29PM
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itrus trees, both in the groound and in containers, are not actually bothered with over watering. What actually causes the problem is not the water, it is the lack of oxygen in the root zone. It is a general rule in the nursery business to transplant the tree after a year, into a larger container. Depending on what type of potting soil you used, a sufficient amount of compaction can occurred in a years time to reduce the porosity in the mix, thus reducing the root zone oxygen level. When this happened, watering fills up all the pours driving out what oxygen is left. Without enough oxygen, the root system cannot function properly. In fact when the soil oxygen level is eliminated, a root zone cannot even absorb water. Without a doubt, the problem is in the container. Slip the tree out of the container, and examine the root system. If you find that the roots have already touched the sides of the container and have started to circle around, it time to transplant. Also look for compaction. For containerized citrus tree, 90 percent of a trees problems is always in the root zone. I doubt that light has anything to do with the leaf drop. Citrus are low level plants. Citrus maximizes photosynthesis at 650 PAR. 650 PAR is only about 1/3 full sunlight. A citrus tree is incapable of using light levels above 650 PAR. Looking at the pictures of the trees leaves, I don't think it has spider mites. The curled leaves are one of the symptoms of low root zone oxygen.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 6:59PM
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thanks so much you two. as of today (thursday the 21st) more leaves have fallen. now there are the one big lower one and few top leaves. as well as those spindly things at the top.

Meyermike, so you think I can get it outside now huh? maybe bring it in at night atleast? also, will its leaf back out, or is it toast? what is with the weird growth at the top?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 9:09PM
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Absolutley ! Mine have been in and out for the past 3 weeks, way before my Magnolia opened up and it is still just starting to. It was 38 degrees last night which tells you that I still get very cold temps.

I would put your tree out at day, and bring it in at night if you know temps are going to be below the 50's at night, until you get your tree acclimated to the outdoors for the next couple of weeks.

I would wash all those leaves off, take no chances, since no one can ever be sure you do not have mites excpet you yourself, unless you examine the leaves as I suggested and even then you could miss them.

But to me, that is a classic sign of mite damage since I am very familiar with these critters and how they affect my trees, just like yours.
Your leaves also look speckled which is another sign.

This is what I have learned from my trees over the years.

Too much water being held in the soil causes leaves to YELLOW, first symptom, and then drop. It seems to me you are loosing green leaves, no?

You can loose green leaves that easily fall taht are fully green and hydrated, NOT DEHYDRATED from the leaf sten, where it meets with leaf and or with the trunk, if your leaves suffered a shock from a lack of water beyond wilt.

If the leaves to your tree are slowly loosing firmness, to the point when you bend them and they do not snap, then your roots are not taking up moisture over time and sometimes they will be hard to pull off of trunk.

This is due to the inability of your tree to take up moisture either from poor temps, salts in your mix, extremely poor soil, rotted roots and so on.

Sucking pests can also cause render citrus leaves not rigid.
Poor root function can cause leaf distortion as can pests, extreme change in enviroment, too much fertilizer, too much of a certain nutrient and not enough, ect..

My first form of action would be to put it outside, check for pest and treat as if you have them if you can't, and look at the root zone as suggested my Silica.

Good luck and please don't wait..:-)

If your branches and trunk are still green, then you have a great chance of keeping those trees alive if you try some of our suggestions here. I have a tree that has been bare since last fall, but still fully alive.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 8:34AM
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Thank you so much for taking the time to write all that. Really, thank you. You have with out a doubt gotten my hopes up.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 11:14PM
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Now all of a sudden, in the areas where the leaves generally were, a lack of healthy green vegetation is gone, and instead an almost (eaten away?) looking brown and black spot, as you can see in the pictures below. Is this something to worry about? I do have it outside now, and as you can also see, there are hardly any leaves left on it.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 8:34PM
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