Yellowing leaves on Meyer Lemon Tree

AprilAlliums(6b Coastal MA)August 27, 2012


I'm a long time lurker on the citrus forum and I've greatly benefited from all of your collective knowledge of citrus. I've been preparing all my citrus for the great move indoors (first 2 week in part sun, 2 week in partial shade). Right now I'm in my 2nd week of partial shade, and I just notice my meyer lemon has yellowing leaves on one branch. My Meyer lemon has about six cherry tomato size fruit on it, is in a 511 mix, and was last fertilized with Foliage pro about 2 months ago. Any help you can give would be appreciated

Here's a picture of one of the leaves ( all on the same branch have the same yellow coloration starting from the stem)

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Could we get a picture of the whole tree?

Minor discoloration of leaves on Meyers is usually the result of underfeeding. If the tree has fruit, is growing, maybe is blooming it will take nutrients from older leaves and put them into new leaves or fruit.

FYI, as a lurker, you should know by now that if you post pictures you get better answers.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 11:06PM
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my goto site,

looks like nitrogen deficiency, yellow vein chlorosis

Here is a link that might be useful: A Guide to Citrus Nutritional Deficiency and Toxicity Identification

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 3:10AM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

Last feeding of FP was 2 months ago. Mine get fed every week at half strength and sometimes that doesnt seem to be enough. since you are bringing it in and it wont be subjected to freezing Id say go ahead and fed it.


    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 8:34AM
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What kind of water do you use? I guess faucet since it's been a awfully dry summer for most?

When you say a 5.1.1 mix, exactly what is your mix made of?

Did you mix in lime when you made your mix and how much?

Why did you stop fertilizing it that long ago?

Have you considered there might be a pH problem too?

Depending on your answers will depend if we can help or what the root cause of your problem might be.


    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 9:56AM
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AprilAlliums(6b Coastal MA)

Thanks for your answers, and sorry for not posting the whole tree, I'm at work so I'll try and post a picture of the whole tree when time permits. I just use water from the hose, and my 511 mix is made of Zoo Med Reptile Bark Fir Bedding, perlite, and miracle gro peat moss. I actually never added garden lime to the mix, woops, so the ph and the lack of consistent fertilizer may be the problem? I honestly have been neglecting my tress, I've been very busy, and the most i do a week is to spray them with the hose twice a week (if it hasn't rained at least once during the week). So should I add lime to the soil? or should I re pot it in a new 511 mix?

thanks again for being so helpful!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 4:09PM
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AprilAlliums(6b Coastal MA)

Hello again,

Here are two pictures of the whole tree. All the yellow leaves had fallen off the tree when I went to take a picture. This tree among all my other citrus (owari satsuma, cara cara pink orange, persian lime, and oro blanco grapfruit) has been the most finicky. I received it as a birthday present from a family member who bought from Clifton's nursery through amazon. When it arrived the branches had been clipped and defoliated, and in my care its struggled to grow. I guess I screwed up the pH of the soil and underfed the plant.

Any suggestions as to rectifying my mistakes would be most appreciated! :)

Thanks again for all your help!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 8:06PM
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Be of good faith; the tree looks good. Take off those small fruits, as the tree will put its energy into them and it should be putting its energy into new leaves and branches.

Assuming you will be putting the tree inside for the Winter; and seeing that the tree is in a delicate situation, when you think it maybe a month away from going inside, move the tree from full sun to partial shade for 2 weeks; then to full shade for 2 weeks, then to indoors. Reverse this procedure when you put it out in the Spring and you should avoid the dramatic leaf drop that too many people experience. The Meyer is very sensitive to dramatic light changes and if subjected to them, it will drop all its leaves in an attempt to replace them with new leaves better suited to the new light conditions.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 8:45PM
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Hi April.....Your tree DOES look like it will be ok.

I am pulling for you. We know it needs more fertilizer for sure and as soon as possible, but how much lime you need if any, stumps me since you have been watering with faucet water for quite some time and that could of raised the pH of your soil already. If it did, then I would recommend vinegar, but we need to make sure your mix is not already to acidic from the lack of lime use.

Let me see if I can find some help in that regard,,,ok? It might take a day or two, but good help is on the way.

We know it's not from over watering since your mix looks great and very porous. Let's see.


    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 9:09PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I think the advice AA has received so far has been pretty good, and getting back on track with regular fertilizer applications should make a big difference. It's hard to say exactly what the worst nutritional deficiencies were; and frankly, if she gets back on track it's not too important at this point.

While the plants are growing well, you can use 2 tsp of 9-3-6 per gallon weekly. How you fertilize during the winter would largely depend on your light levels, temps, and especially your watering habits.


    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 10:35PM
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It's a Meyer... 9-3-6 or more simply 3-1-2 is just not good enough... unless you just want to grow pretty green plants. The "standard" for citrus is 5-1-3; the Meyer, at least when it is producing needs something more like 6-2-4.
In the early growth stages pure Nitrogen works quite well, as in urea 46-0-0, or Ammonium Sulfate 21-0-0. When the plant starts to make flowers and fruit, the P and K become much more important. In addition to the N, the mineral elements of Mg, Mn, Cu, S, Ca, Fe, and Zn are important; a regular application of foliar fert (Foliage Pro, Bayer Bayfolan Forte, etc) will take care of that issue.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 11:21PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

There is no difference (NPK) between 9-3-6 and 6-2-4, or 3:1:2 other than the grower's hand on the measuring spoon or the frequency with which the fertilizer is applied, and it's not the fertilizer's NPK %s that determines the amount of N the plant gets, again it's the hand of the grower.

9-3-6 is an excellent all-purpose fertilizer for virtually anything grown in containers. If the grower wants to supplement the N or K, he can easily do so by adding to the fertilizer solution small amounts of urea or ammonium nitrate for nitrogen, or KCl for potassium - very simple and it adds a great deal of versatility to grower's nutritional supplementation program should the grower wish to do any fine tuning. I don't, and I've posted hundreds & hundreds of perfectly healthy and productive plants on these forums.

By far, the most efficient pathway for getting nutrients into the plant is via roots, and the cuticular waxes in citrus leaves makes foliar 'feeding' relatively ineffective. Additionally, foliar feeding is most useful when the plant's growth rate is outpacing its ability to assimilate nutrients from the soil. That condition rarely occurs in container culture or when a program of regular applications of a complete fertilizer with all the essential nutrients plants normally take from the soil is in place.

You're fine with your 9-3-6, April. You just need to apply more frequently and possibly at a higher concentration.


    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 8:08AM
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You are right of course; been way toooo long since my last math class.

Maybe it was just a senior moment.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 2:20PM
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AprilAlliums(6b Coastal MA)

Thanks so much you guys, I removed the fruit from the tree (heart-wrenchingly) and fertilized the tree with foliage pro this morning. I plan on doing weekly feedings on half strength as many of you do. But I'm still worried as to the pH of my soil due to my mistake in not adding garden lime to my 511 mix. Would you suggest I add a teaspoon of lime to the soil or should I repot in an amended 511 mix?



    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 2:26PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Citrus prefer a slightly acidic soil, and plants in containers do better at about 1 whole number lower on the pH scale than plants in mineral soils, so I wouldn't worry too much about pH or even lime, as long as you're using the FP fertilizer. Citrus ARE fairly heavy Ca users, so it probably wouldn't hurt to add a little dolomitic lime & scratch it into the soil's surface if you'd feel better. Alternately, gypsum would be a good choice that won't affect pH notably, but if you use gypsum, you might need to add just a little Epsom salts to your fertilizer solution when you fertilize. When you decide what you want to do about the lime/Ca thing, a plan can be worked out. Easiest would be to add 1/4-1/2 tsp of lime per gallon of soil to your already potted plants.


    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 4:43PM
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Al my good friend, thank you for helping April out!

You are a resourceful person here and I am thankful for your kind act in coming to the aid of many here, especially when I feel like I am in a pickle. Sometimes I just loose my train of thought.

Again than you so much for all you do!

April, I hope Al was able to help you at this time. After all, it was him that patiently worked with me for years.


    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 9:26PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Al, my goodness. So glad to see you back. I am going to post up a question just for you. I have some ideas. I'd really like to hear your opinion on this. Please watch for my post!

Patty S.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 10:15PM
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