Yellow leaf help

Suzy11December 25, 2012

Hi HAPPY HOLIDAYS! I think that I may have a problem. My tree started to get lemons in Sept & now has babies & even is getting buds. The tree is now inside for winter near a sliding door so it gets light & is warm, it is also on a plant caddy so it is not on the floor. I am having some trouble figuring out a new watering routine. I now water every 3 on 4 days. The nursery said to keep it moist. Last week I began to get 3 yellowing leaves. When that happened in the past it meant too much water. The leaf at that time turned completely yellow & fell off. I changed the watering routine. That was in summer. I reduced water this time & the bottom 2 leaves fell off so I thought all was well but today I noticed that the yellow is moving up the tree. Any ideas? I got the tree in June & have never fertilized because I can see it in the pot.

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Its a meyer lemon

    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 7:45PM
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It's a Meyer... good for you, but admittedly a bit sensitive.

General rule, cooler roots, less water.
Meyer rule, it is difficult to over-fertilize; just keep the NPK ratio at 3-1-2 (I use 18-6-12).

Second Meyer rule, they are sensitive ... over water them, they will drop leaves; let them get too dry and then water them, they will drop leaves; significantly change the light conditions, they will drop leaves. The good news is, if you continue to give them the proper care, they will recover from all of these.
Last rule... for this forum... ALWAYS post a photo.

With a photo and a description of the problem, usually someone on this forum can give you a pretty good solution.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 10:16PM
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Thanks John :). Would you still like a photo? I will take one today. Leaves are dropping a little too. One leave curled. Do leaves change colors over the changing seasons like other trees?

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 1:43PM
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Citrus are evergreen and should be ever green if everything is okay.

I suspect your biggest problem with the Meyer is you moved directly from outside to inside. In the future move it from full sun to part sun for 2 weeks; part sun to full shade for 2 weeks; then indoors. Reverse in Spring to avoid the leaf drop.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 2:22PM
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Terrific! No I did not do that. Will the tree be ok?

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 4:18PM
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If you treat it well, it will recover; what is happening physiologically... to anthropomorphize it... is the tree is dropping the leaves to replace them with leaves better suited to the new light.

Have faith.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 6:12PM
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Sorry that I didn't get to you sooner John, we lost power. I sent pictures. The house is 70. The tree has been next to a glass sliding door in the kitchen. The soil had been cold so I did have some trouble determining when to water. Can yellow leaves mean both too much & to little water I think that I may have watered too much but my sister said maybe the tree needs more water.? Yesterday my mom moved it to the laundry room where it is near a window, maybe warmer and still on a caddy. How do you tell if a tree is cold and if it has enough light?
Today I noticed a yellowing lemon. I remembered what you said about a cluster of lemon and some would turn yellow and push each other off. Is that the problem? I think that I may have multiple things happening.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 9:32PM
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The other pictures didn't print

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 9:38PM
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Aaaaahhhh! Please stop moving your tree. As for the fruit, take it off, leaving no more than 3; it is a Meyer... if you leave it alone in the early years it will make too much fruit and the tree will "forget" to grow.

Yellow leaves have less to do with water than with food. At that size and with that many fruits, the tree will suck the life out of old leaves to put it into new leaves and fruit. Give it a chance, easy on the water indoors, light on the fertilizer till Spring, as much light as you can give it, and lots of prayers to the citrus gods.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 12:07AM
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Thanks very much for the great info! I will give it a try. I have one more question right now. The nurery said to watch out for Smuckers that grow between the trunk & soil. Get rid of them right away. I don't have any but I have found pointy sticks (sharp) growing out of the trunk. Are they new groth? I will send a picture.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 9:33AM
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Probably just spines; Meyers have a lot. Not to stress. Suckers will come out below the bud union; they will have a different shaped leaf; but at this point in the growth of the tree, you probably won't get any.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 1:25PM
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Thank you. Here is one. Is that what it is? What do you think of using watering balls or plant spikes when you go away? I haven't tried them especially with my tree because I worry about root rot. Also how would you heat a popup greenhouse? I cut off lemons today. The branch is much lighter

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 8:40PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

No, that's not a sucker (no relation to the Smucker folks!) That's a thorn. Lemons have thorns, even Meyer lemons. The younger your tree, the more pronounced the thorns can be. Suckers are branches that emanate from below the graft line, emanating from the rootstock, and not the scion (the cultivar that is grafted to the rootstock). If you see branches that start to grow from below the graft line, you will want to prune those off right away. And, not a fan of a water ball with citrus. I would have someone house sit, and water your plant if it is the soil is dried out, if they stick their finger in the soil.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 9:23PM
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Greetings and Happy New Year to you all. I'm grateful for these forums. I've grown Myer and Eureka lemons for many years here in the Boston area. I usually have good success from spring through summer when they are outdoors in full sun. I have a greenhouse and bring them in as late as I can. Naturally they would rather live in a warm climate year round and they freak out in early winter. I've learned to accept it but am always looking for ways to keep them happier. From what I've read here am I to understand that I should remove the fruit when I bring them in. The leaves yellow as you can see and they generally get angry until April or May when I return them to the patio. Thank you for your replies.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 8:10PM
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Thank you Patty. My sister reminded me today when I was watering that I have a unique problem. I think because I didn't transplant my tree as soon as I got it like my friend told me to. The water on one side runs out of the bottom of the pot as soon as I water the tree. That side is very dry. The other side does better with holding water so how or when would you water it since the two sides are different?

    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 9:24PM
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My lemon tree has a sprout of several leaves that are all yellow and on the underside of each leaf is a strange formation that looks like beads of sugar and is sticky. I have removed them with a soapy water. Does anyone know what this is?

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 8:00AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

you are correct that you have a soil mix problem.
Peat moss, a primary mix ingredient, becomes terribly hydrophobic when dry.
This can make re-wetting a serious hassle.

Slow, slow trickle watering, waiting, watering, waiting...can re-wet the soil.
Or you could "bottom water" by setting the pot in a sink, tub, or container of lukewarm
water and waiting until the mix becomes saturated.

That said....let me also mention that the roots in that superdry area of the soil
may already have died. If so, re-saturating that soil may lead to root-rot. At the least,
it could be that there are no roots left to subsequently use that moisture....

For indoor Winters, the importance of a proper potting mix can't be stressed enough.


    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 11:01AM
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Josh, thank you for that. I could not have said expressed the need for an open mix better than that and how important it is for indoor citrus.

Fantastic advice from so many here.

Patty, hello and hope all is well:-)

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 3:13PM
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Josh thank you very much for the great advice really great Advice Patty what do you mean by open mix? I have no idea what kind of soil It is it came from the Nursery.. I have a feeling it might be Miracle grow..

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 12:39PM
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It seems that your ? got overlooked by accident. Sorry about that.
What I would do is start a new thread on the site or on the pest one and ask the same ? with pics if that is possible. Then you will correct diagnosis and you might even Rhizo who has saved a many of my trees from being wrecked!


An open mix is one that drains freely of water and fertilizer salts deposits, allows good gas exchange amoung teh root zone, holds it's structure by breaking down ever so slowly, and allows you to water as often as you would like without fear of root rot.3
M.G does not have any of these properties and unfortunately causing the problems you are seeking help on.

In fact, M.G is the worst mix to use unless you plan on repotting every other month or so. As soon as any water touches that mix, it's decompose quickly time.


    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 1:30PM
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Thank you Mike I'll go take a picture right now. I am Going to get the tree transplanted as soon as possible. I spoke to a container plant expert here and he said April But I don't know It hAs lemons and a flower. Are yellow. Baby lemons just a thing of winter? I am watering the way josh suggested. It helped some. The tree looks good except for yellow babies which I guess will fall off.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 8:09PM
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I posted a new ? Thank you everyone for your terrific help. Please tell John Thank you very much :0

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 10:21PM
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