Meyer Lemon...Pruning Apocalypse?

LuftbertJuly 22, 2012

I am a citrus newbie.

We have had this Meyer lemon tree in San Francisco for around 7 or 8 years. As you may know, we don't really have seasons. The tree was always prolific. A year or 2 ago I gave it a relatively heavy pruning to reduce bulk (who knew!?). I also had a stage (can't recall if it was before or after the pruning) when I plucked around half the the blossoms, on advice that it would reduce the number of lemons and increase the size. It has basically stopped producing. It produced some small, narrow lemons for a while. Now, there are some blossoms and some green lemon nubs that don't seem to go anywhere. It is healthy and putting on bulk, but no fruit. I understand the pruning could have been a mistake. I have never seriously fertilized it, but the soil is good and I have always casually fertilized it (e.g., aquarium water, left over ash, etc.) What to do?

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What to do is fertilize it!! The color looks good; but it should get a good balanced citrus fertilizer 3 times per year, applied according to the label at the dripline of the tree. Then you will get fruits, not just a pretty green plant. Pruning is not a problem; you can prune it how you like for shape, or just leave it alone.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 2:57PM
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Thank you. I am happy to do that, and it may well be the answer. But I don't get how it never needed fertilizer before, but now apparently it does. Makes me suspect that is not the cause of the change. But no point in hypothesizing and not fertilizing..... Thanks again

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 4:08PM
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Well, I am not sure if the same holds true for ground plants as potted ones, but I would think so.

Withhold the nitrogen like I do, or cut back and then you should get more than just green leaves. You'll get both if the pH is correct and a balance of nutrients is available.. You see, before it wasn't fertilized at all and I'll bet it didn't look that green then either. Much more yellow loaded with fruit? usually abandoned ignored fruit trees, or under fertilized ones will always give fruit with a lack luster color of foliage.

John is saying to use a well balanced fertilizer, one that doesn't provides the right amount of nitrogen for green foliage, while at the same time provides nutrients for good fruit development. I think he could give you an idea of what I mean since his trees seem to look good all the while provide wonderful fruit.

Good luck


    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 6:51PM
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Correction! Sheesh, it must be the

WRONG "John is saying to use a well balanced fertilizer, one that doesn't provides the right"

CORRECTION: John is saying to use a well balanced fertilizer, one that DOES provide the right amount of nutrients.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 6:56PM
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Using the word apocalypse in this case is not appropriate. Your tree looks fantastic. The only mistake you have made is doing such a heavy pruning. Other than that, I wouldn't change anything. Have a bit of patience. The tree is responding to your heavy pruning by several strong growth spurts. The fruit will return in time. In the meantime enjoy the beautiful green leaves of your gorgeous tree.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 11:03PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Agree with brettay. You've pruned off all the fruiting part of the branch, then really sealed the deal by removing the blossoms (whoever told you to do that, stop listening to them.) Yes, fertilizing with a good citrus fertilizer with micros on a regular basis is important, but it was the severe pruning, then the second blossom removal that has caused your tree to not produce fruit. Allow it to recover. It will come around, it appears to be in very good health. We tend to fertilize 3 to 4 times a year here in California, starting in February through October. I often give my Meyer an extra dose, as they are such prolific fruit producers (should have left the blossoms on), that they really need a bit more fertilizer than my other citrus.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 5:02PM
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jkom51(Z9 CA/Sunset 17)

It's hard to tell - the photo is very contrasty - but your leaves look both a bit light and seem to indicate they're thirsty. Citrus leaves tend to fold upwards when the plant isn't getting enough water.

Your Meyer is reaching the mature stage. Citrus are heavy feeders, and Meyers are heaviest of all because they're bred to be so prolific. It doesn't matter how good your soil was to start with, by now the tree is starting to exhaust it out to the dripline.

It's pretty amazing how citrus will hang on even when the soil is so exhausted. I've seen Meyers with leaves so chlorotic yellow the entire plant looks like an exotic variety of bright chartreuse leaves. However, the lack of proper fertilizing reduces harvest and shortens the lifespan of the tree. Most don't live the 70+ years that Meyers are capable of.

Your Meyer will do much better with regular doses of citrus fertilizer, liquid iron (I find it works MUCH better than iron granules), and either liquid kelp or liquid fish emulsion.

If you must prune, prune gently after a harvest. The older Meyers get, the more often they'll give you lemons to harvest during the year, although the biggest crop will always be late spring.


Here is a link that might be useful: Oakland hills Meyers

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 12:40AM
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