Meyer lemon tree fruit drop

JulieWiedSeptember 23, 2011

I have a 5 year old Meyer lemon tree (potted) that has produced several lemons a year. This spring just before moving it outside I noticed that excess water in the drainage saucer was coffee colored. The tree produced an exceptional number of blooms but the lemons turned yellow and dropped almost immediately - we had an exceptionally rainy spring (Arkansas) and the plant stayed wet for awhile. The plant seems healthy and has plenty of new leaves. 2 weeks ago I noticed a new bloom but, again, the tiny lemon has dropped - this time after a dry summer with the tree receiving regular watering. Please help!!

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I think you definitely need to change your container and probably your potting medium... Meyers, like all citrus shed fruit that the tree cannot support.... Ask Meyermike on this site... he is the guru of container citrus... My trees (7,000) are in the ground and are much more forgiving.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 7:48PM
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Hi John! I hope you are feeling well lately:-)

Fruit drop can be linked to many different cause.

Citrus normally shed large numbers of fruitlets shortly after blossoming in the spring and at early fruit set (pea size). However, it is also common for a sudden drop of small fruit (20 mm diameter) to take place in the summer, when warmer weather places stress on the tree. The problem is particularly severe in young navel orange trees and may be related to lack of water at, or soon after, fruit set. Do you think any of this applies to you?

Also diseases and lack of nitrogen or trace elements may also be responsible.
Root rot can also be another stress. It can start with loss of little fruit then move onto leaves if not caught in time. First it start with the very fine roots then moves on. Also a mix can compact with time. Do you over water? Is the mix drying out in a rapid amount of time, or at least moist when it rains that much? How long has it been since you provided a full repot with a fresh porous mix?
Does this apply to you?

Also, fruit formation cycle when the fruit is less than about 1 inch in diameter can be an issue. It is common for a tree to drop some of its fruit during the growing season as part of the natural thinning process. If more fruit drop than normal is identified, this is often a sign that the tree is under stress, which could be caused by a late frost, a lack of water (or even too much water) or an inadequate supply of soil nutrient fertilizers. Do you fertilize on a regular basis with all the basic nutrients that citrus need? Do you flush your mix out regularly with fresh water and then fertilize again? Does this apply to you?

To help remedy excessive fruit drop or the undersized growth of the fruit ensure that the tree is properly fertilized every year early in the spring growing season and until fall, with a fertilizer specially formulated for citrus trees.

Many here can suggest great fertilizers that work well for them. For me Foliage Pro has been a G*d send.

Of course there could be other reasons, but this is a good head start for you to think about and work with


    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 8:44PM
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meyermike - I repotted my 5 year old tree two years ago and used a good quality potting soil which has definitely compacted - I have a moisture and PH gauge which is difficult to insert into the pot. Today's PH count is 7.0 and the gauge did indicate dryness. I have been watering it similarly to previous seasons when the tree sustained fruit to maturity but the water does seem to flow directly through the soil and gather in the saucer. You mentioned a porous mix - will you make some suggestions as to what type of media I should use? I have very rarely used MiracleGro on the tree and that's the only fertilizer it has ever received. Probably amazing that it has produced lemons at all! You mentioned Foliage Pro in your post - are there others you might suggest is I have trouble finding it? Thanks for your guidance - I'm really invested in this tree and hope to harvest lemons again.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 11:57AM
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I had a feeling it compacted. That is a sure sign of decline on just about any tree and sometimes it can take you by surprise and happen over time.
I would also look for pests since almost always the two are very much related.

If you want to go the easy organic route in lowering the pH solution you provide your trees, try 1 capful of vinegar per gallon of water. That should do the trick.

As for fertilizer, there are many recomendations on this, but I say to find one that closely relates to a plants need. I use a liquid fertilizer with micronutrients in a 12:4:8 NPK ratio, which MG does have. It's in a yellow bottle. Foliage Pro is a great choice too which is what I use.

You can either purchase a very porous mix, amend one, or make one. I make most of my own.
I use 1 part peat or Turface, 1 part perlite, and 5 parts of bark.
You can also purchase a good heavier mix which is primarily bark such as Fafard Mixes.

Any of these options or others will dramatically improve your growing skills and the vitality of your tree.
A mix that allows a frequent oxygen exchange is a must and this happens with a very porous mix.
Whenever roots are deprived of oxygen (O2) they soon begin to die, so a mix that will compact rapidly should be avoided.


    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 5:56PM
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I would definitely recommend that you use Foliage-Pro as Mike suggests. Ever since I followed Mike's suggestion to apply Foliage-Pro with white vinegar to my citrus, they have looked great and produced fruit. If you can't find Foliage-Pro at a local garden center, you can order it online, which is what I did.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 8:29PM
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This is a wonderful place for people like you... you have all the gurus working for you; and they don't charge you nothing. I have 7,000 Meyers in the ground... they are much more forgiving.... and in 6 years we plan to have 35,000.
If anyone has questions about field growing Meyers... they are soooooo much more docile when treated as a crop... I would be happy to help

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 12:49AM
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Could you repeat what the foliage pro and white vinegar ratio's are? I missed it the first go around.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 1:45PM
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I will sometimes use 1/4 strength at every watering per gallon depending on my situation.
Or sometimes I will use 1Tbs per gallon once weekly.

The vinegar is always the same. 1 bottle top capful of white vinegar per gallon at every watering when using tap water.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 3:25PM
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Thanks Mike,
I just brought my Meyer lemon in after just repotting. I have fifteen golf ball size or larger lemons on the tree.I had to repot because critters were taking up residency ( ants,a few worms) hope they ripen during the gloomy days of winter.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 5:39PM
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These post have hopefully given me a head way on my problem. My tree of 4 years (never been repotted) had tons of baby lemons which turned yellow and dropped off. I fertilize with Osmocote and every now and then with Miracle Grow. the local garden plant store told me to add iron which I did today before getting on this site. I am thinking that maybe I need to repot. Not sure how long I should wait before giving the iron a chance to see if that was my problem b4 repotting.. Love my lemon tree and it was so full of fruit earlier..

    Bookmark   June 1, 2013 at 4:26PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

You probably should start a new message thread, lbabylee, instead of resurrecting an old thread. But, to answer your question, your tree doesn't need iron, it most likely needs a larger pot! 4 years is a long time in the same pot. If you would post photos of your tree, it would help us significantly, to give you the correct advice. If you search the forum for "511 mix" or "gritty mix", you'll come up with a very nice container potting medium recipe. This will give you a well draining potting mix that your tree will do well with. The bagged potting soils you purchase out there are usually not well draining enough, and can end up suffocating the roots. Then, use a good citrus fertilizer and fertilize regularly. Forget the iron. If you use a good citrus fertilizer, like Dyna Gro Foliage Pro, you'll get ALL the micronutrients, not just iron. As well as the correct NPK ratio for citrus. This is the product most of us use with our container citrus.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2013 at 10:55PM
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