20 yr old dwarf Meyer lemon problems (pix)

soozJuly 23, 2010

Our little dwarf Meyer lemon tree has been a workhorse and flourishing for a good many years. We get lemons almost year round.

Lately, for the past month, our lemons look like this. Some of the leaves are yellow, and we have no pests that we can see on the leaves or the undersides. What could be the problem???? Is it dying after 20 years??? Thanks for any input!

Sooz

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destin_gardener(8-B/9-A)

Do you have any pictures of the tree itself? That might help us figure it out.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 9:42PM
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sooz

Here is a photo of the tree itself. Thank for any help!!!
Sooz

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 10:02PM
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destin_gardener(8-B/9-A)

Has it always looked like that? It doesn't look like it has been fed, not much growth on it. Did it suffer any drought or freeze damage? What is the soil like? Is it getting enough to drink as well?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 12:19AM
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sooz

Hubby has a drip-ooze soaker type hose around it and gives it water once or twice a week (he's not here right now to ask, sorry).

It does fill out a lot more than what you see. The soil was clay, which we dug out (a wide and deep area) 20 years ago and mixed with other soil and amendments and nutrients. Hubby uses those "stakes" for citrus food, and has also used some Miracle Gro. No recent drought or freeze damage, although we did have an uncommon superhot spell for 3 days recently.

Any idea as to what's wrong with the lemons? Some are perfect, but some are like in the photo.

What's the normal life span for dwarf Meyer lemon trees?

TIA for any help,
Sooz

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 12:35AM
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destin_gardener(8-B/9-A)

Those may just have been harvested late, (they look kind of dried up, or old). Lemons tend to be long lived, even the Meyer. I'm more concerned about the overall health of the tree than what the lemons it is currently producing look like. You might try feeding it some additional high nitrogen fertilizer, and a little more water; doing some pruning to promote new growth wouldn't hurt either.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 8:45AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I agree with Destin's recommendations.
Water, fertilizer, and pruning when it begins to bounce back.
I would avoid the fertilizer spikes. I've never seen them do good, but I've known them to cause harm.
Deep, slow soaking, once a week (maybe twice during the hottest part of summer).

Josh

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 11:53AM
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sooz

Thank you both for your very helpful suggestions!!
Smiles,
Sooz

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 8:24PM
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ashleysf(9 San Jose,CA)

Please avoid the fert spikes. I use the Vigoro brand citrus fertilizer from Home Depot with very good results. I also dump used coffee grounds and leftover coffee onto my Meyer Lemon and Clementine orange that is in-ground and they seem to love it.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 10:21PM
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sooz

Thanks for the recommendation, Ashley!
Sooz

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 2:54AM
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subtropix

You might also want to remove all the other plants(weeds?) growing under the drip line of the tree as they may be competing for available moisture. I'd be tempted to continue to amend the soil by adding some organic matter into your soil (humus, etc.) Be careful not to cultivate deeply into the soil as citrus roots are near the surface. Then I'd mulch the area beneath the tree. (Note you don't want the mulch up against the tree nor do you want to dramatically increase the soil level) As suggested above, you can prune back to strong growth and might consider increasing your watering (when you do water--water deeply). I usually feed with a fertilizer for acid-loving plants. You may just have a really hot and arid microclimate for in that particular area of your yard. tGood luck!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 8:15AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I plant Alysum, peppermint, garlic, et cetera, below many of my fruit trees.
You might want to pull the plants away from the trunk by a foot or so, however.

Josh

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 1:45PM
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sooz

Thank you for the extra added information! I'll be busy in the yard this weekend, for sure! :O)
Sooz

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 2:28PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Have fun in the yard!

Just for fun, here's a pic of the plants growing beneath my dwarf Nectarine.
This was earlier in the season, of course.

Josh

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 3:08PM
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chemfreetree

Hate to be a contrarian here, but I have the same tree and have seen those symptoms before. If it is thin on leaves and you have some yellowing, that is an indication that it is getting too much water. Consequently, the fruit quality is affected.
I assume you planted the tree when it was significantly smaller and that you dug out the hole twice as deep and twice as wide as the root ball. Having grown over many years, the roots may have reached into the clay layers which hold water very well and may be causing root rot.

At this point I would suggest just leave it alone and dont water it for several months.

If you are ambitious and must do something, 2-4' near the tree auger down as deep as even 4 feet to check the moisture level. Make sure to go slow as to not break any pipes. If you find that it is muddy down to that level, you will need to find a way to drain that area.
But I believe the best course is to just leave it alone... no more watering .

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 4:49PM
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