Meyer lemon dropping healthy leaves...

gman68558(z10 So Cal)July 19, 2005

All of a sudden in the last week and a half or so, my Meyer lemon has dropped at least 25 or so healthy looking leaves. Nothing has changed in my routine - water twice a week, the soil appears to drain very well, and I've been fertilizing every 6 weeks with a citrus fertilizer (12-4-6 or something close). The tree is on it's second bloom, and has 50 or so fruits on it.

Here is a picture of the overall tree:

Here is a shot of some of the fruits:

Here is the one fruit that remains from the first bloom (and his days appear to be numbered):

And finally, a collection of some of the leaves that have dropped:

So, do I have anything to worry about? Is this normal?


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G-Man..the above pictures of your citrus look great..I believe when flushes grow, some leaves are bound to yellow and fall..If you haven't changed anything then I don't believe you have a problem..
If this continues, then something might be wrong..and it never hurts to check for pests, such as mites, mealy, scale, aphids...Otherwise your tree looks great..Toni

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 7:45PM
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Laaz(z8b SC)

To me it looks like you have a salt buildup in the soil. From the browning in the leaves, to the browning on the stem & back of the lemon. That lemon is about to fall as well. I would try leaching the soil thoroughly. How long has this plant been in the same soil ? Have you ever leached the soil before... All the leaves that have fallen, have fallen without the stems attached...

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 9:46PM
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gman68558(z10 So Cal)

Laaz, the tree has been in the same soil for about five months or so. I did leach the soil about a month ago, however I might not have used enough water.

I'm going to be picking up some CHC's in about a week to repot my three trees, so I guess I'll just let things go for right now. Is leaf drop without the stems a sign of salt buildup? It's been frustrating, because my trees have been blooming like crazy but dropping 99.9% of the fruits. I've got one golf ball sized Bearss lime, my Key lime is on it's third bloom and has dropped all fruits from the first two blooms, and the Meyer is on the second bloom with no fruits from the first bloom still on the tree. So far the fruits from the second bloom are looking pretty good but I was concerned about the leaf drop.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 9:57PM
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Laaz(z8b SC)

Leaves dropping without the stem is a sign of stress. Salt buildup can surley stress the trees.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 10:05PM
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I do think the tree definitely shows signs of having a problem. There are two symptoms that causes concern. It is correct that a healthy tree will normally drop older leaves about the time of a major blooming, or a major growth flush. However, normal leaf drop is only the older yellow aged leaves. The leaves that have dropped from this tree are quite green and are still healthy. A second, and greater CONCERN is, as far as I can assertain from the pictures, is that the leaves have not fallen in the normal abscission process. Normally the abscission of a leaf takes place where the petiole (stem) is attached to the branch. When a leaf falls because of normal abscission the entire leaf with the stem STILL attached to the leaf blade falls as a complete unit. "But under certain types of STRESS, separation occurs at the junction between the petiole and the leaf blade" (fm. Biology of Citrus) leaving the stem still attached to the branch and only the leaf blade falls. With out actually seeing the tree in person it is very difficult to be certain what is going on. As you live in California, it is possible that the tree can have some sort of a leaf disease, as I see two leaves with a browish cast. If it were my tree I would flush the soil with at least an amount of water equal to four times the volume of the container. Actually, the leaves do not show all that many symptoms of damage due to a high soluble salt content. Usually there is much more leaf burn and especially leaf TIP BURN when soluble salt symptoms show up. However, a good flush certainly will never hurt and can give a definite possibility of doing a lot of good. Keep an eye on the tree after you flush the container, if it is a leaf blight or leaf diease of some sort it should show up better in the next week or so. However, I think the problem is with the soil. You also might take the temperature of the soil and tell us what it is. Let us know how the tree does. Take care - Millet

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 10:28PM
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After I posted my advice, I see my friend Laaz (who is very knowledgeable concerning citrus) also posted what seems to be along the same lines about your tree as I. I did not know I was echoing Laaz, but am delighted we both agree. Take care to both of you- Millet

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 10:38PM
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One last thought, I do not think the apparent absicission of the yellowish fruitlet has anything to do with the problem that is going on. I believe it to be normal. - Millet

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 10:42PM
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Laaz(z8b SC)

Thanks Millet. I'm looking at the base of the fruit & stem behind it browning out. Yellowing & drop is normal, but none of my citrus have ever had this happen.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 10:47PM
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gman68558(z10 So Cal)

Well, the leaf drop is continuing. Here's a closeup of some of the new victims:

One thing is odd that I didn't mention before. Right next to the Meyer is a Key Lime - same location, same size pot, same potting soil, same watering and fertilizing schedule, and yet he has not dropped a leaf in recent memory.

I would think whatever is stressing the Meyer would do the same to him.

One thing I have noticed on the Meyer is that the fruits are growing like crazy. Could the tree be dropping leaves to concentrate all energy to the fruits, of which there are a lot?

Anyway, I'm still stumped. Hopefully this weekend I'll be picking up some CHC's and making the switch, which will at least eliminate the soil variable.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 8:51PM
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lilabner55(Houston Area)

As the others stated the overall health of your plant looks good. I have three large trees which are a little late in maturing this year due to weather. I expect to harvest over 60 to 100 lemons on each tree by December. My trees are in the ground and have a watering system. But like yours the fruit buds formed after flowering do have a large number of fall-offs. I actually examine each cluster and help break off any showing signs of yellowing so the plant will favor the healty ones sooner. This has worked well. My lemons were large orange sized last year but due to a very dry june the fruit are smaller this year but catching up. Defoliation of leaves seems to be more related to not adequate sun. But the Meyers lemon are awfully sensitive to shock caused by too much fertilizer and too little water. Leave curling is common for me caused by a very small spider which is easily handled by insecticide (but regularly)If i fgure out how to get the picture attached I will forward if!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2005 at 10:36PM
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schiang68(z6 MA)

I've had leaves acquire the pattern shown in your 7/21/05 photo, and they invariably fall off. Otherwise the tree seems healthy, since it puts out growth flushes regularly. For what it's worth, I think my problem is due to salt or pH problems, and I'm also awaiting CHCs to see if that will correct the situation.

(Digression-- the CHCs have been delayed, apparently due to someone at the company misspelling my address egregiously. I hope I get to see the culprit mailing label, since the rep said that a hyphen had been used in the word "Massachusetts"!)

    Bookmark   August 3, 2005 at 8:50AM
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I have a healthy Meyer's in a 16"x 24" pot. Inside during winter in Seattle. No blooms first year; 12 blooms 2nd year; 36 blooms this year and need to know how to harvest my happy lemon boys!!!!!!!!!!!! Cut or twist???? and when????? Can't wait for the sweet smelling blooms to fill my home!!!!!
Gracias- Lisa

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 2:12AM
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