Gayla Trail

Gayla Trail

Meyer Lemons Produces Fruit Year Round

Q: I recently purchased an 18″ tall potted Meyer lemon tree. It was loaded with buds and had four 3/4 inch lemons. I placed it in a screened porch that gets light most of the day. I fertilized it with an acid fertilizer and watered per instructions. Recently the lower leaves have yellowed and fallen off, the buds are falling off and the lemons are turning yellow. Can you please advise as to what to do to keep from losing this tree?

Thanks in advance.

ANSWER:

Congratulations on your new tree! Meyer lemons are the very best in my opinion, but they can be a little bit fussy in pots. A range of conditions can lead to immediate and rather startling leaf drop. I find it can take some adjustment before you hit on the right formula that meets their needs and gets things back on track.

All citrus trees grown in pots thrive on a balance of three things: bright light, consistent moisture and good drainage. The first thing that came to mind when you described your plant was the shift in growing conditions that plants experience when moved from a garden center to their new home. Citrus trees tend to be extra sensitive to that shift and what seems like a minor change in light intensity or the amount of humidity or water it receives can cause leaves and developing fruit to drop almost overnight.

Sunlight: Lemon trees need eight hours of direct sun per day. You can get away with six, especially during the winter off-season, but bright light is required for good fruit production. If the light coming through your porch screen is filtered, it may not be enough. Is there any chance that you can put the tree outside for the rest of the summer? My citrus trees have always flourished with this treatment. Regardless of what I thought they were getting inside, nothing beat those months outdoors. If you go this route I suggest placing it in a protected spot with partial shade for a few weeks so that the tree can adjust, and gradually moving it out into direct light.


Guide to Tree Fruits 12 photos

If the sunlight on your porch is truly as direct as the sun outside then you might want to consider the heat it receives. My south-facing porch is backed by a brick wall that absorbs heat during the day and releases it at night. Citrus trees love sunshine but they will drop their leaves if they get too hot, especially around the roots. For that reason black pots can be a poor choice, which is ironic since every fruit tree I have ever purchased came in one.

Watering: Water deeply, but infrequently. The soil should dry out slightly between waterings. Leaf drop can be caused by soggy soil and water that stagnates in the tray. So make sure to dump it out after a good, long soak. You’ll know it is time to water when the soil is dry a couple of inches down into the pot. Use your finger to check.

Soil: As I mentioned above, good drainage is absolutely key. A new plant straight from the garden shop should come potted up in an appropriate medium, but if you do decide to repot choose soil that is very well draining, yet nutrient-rich and slightly acidic.

To make your own mix: Add one part orchid bark to three parts potting soil. Try not to upgrade to a much larger pot immediately. Citrus trees have shallow, but far reaching roots and prefer being moved into slightly wider containers that aren’t significantly deeper than their current pot.

Garden authority Gayla Trail is the creator of YouGrowGirl.com.

16 Comments About this Article

  • GrandmaKnitter
    I have a new plant that has been very happy on my patio in full sun for 9hrs. a day. now that the nights are getting cooler, when should I bring it inside for the winter? what is the lowest temp it can take during the day, if I carry it back outside in the winter just during the day?

    Posted 1 year ago

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  • HGTVMallory
    GrandmaKnitter what kind of plant is it? Is it a meyer lemon tree?

    Posted 1 year ago

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  • Stephanie L. Ruff
    When is a good time to prune a Meyer Lemon tree? Mine is not a pretty shape and has one branch that is so long and awkward and droops as the fruit get's larger. Thanks for your information!

    Posted 1 year ago

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  • HGTVMallory
    Hi Stephanie! It looks like a similar question was answered over here, and springtime after all frost threat is gone is the best time to trim up your citrus: http://www.hgtvgardens.com/ask-and-share/fruits-discussions/when-do-you-prune-lemon-and-lime-trees-00000142-490a-d646-a962-c99acdf00000

    Posted 1 year ago

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  • Lea Whittington
    I got a beautiful five gallon Meyer in December. We are in Pasadena so I planted it outside in the front yard. It gets speckled light in the winter but full sun now. In March I noticed that the leaves were turning yellow and dropping so I fertilized regularly. Still dropping and no new growth. I am worried it isn't going to make it. The soil is pretty dense. And I have restricted water thinking that it is not draining well enough. Any suggestions would be very welcome!

    Posted 7 months ago

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  • Jessica Futrell
    We purchased a 15 gallon meyer lemon tree in March/April this year. Since we're in Florida (Panhandle) and have sandy soil we chose to plant it in our yard. It was/is full of fruit-all green. We've noticed in the last couple of weeks that the lemons now look pitted. Do we have a problem here?

    Posted 6 months ago

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  • Sean Rainey
    I have a improved meyer lemon tree and all the leaves have fallen off of it i have a picture but don't know how to share on here. Any help?

    Posted 6 months ago

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  • Robert Richards
    I have a four year old tree, that has been a problem after the first year. The tree is 28 inches tall, and looks great this year, but again lots of foliage, and this year there were a lot of blossoms. There is not even one fruit growing. The other fruits are doing fine in the yard. Two years ago i fought with the black mold, and ended up cutting it back to just stubs with no foliage. I thought it would die. It came back strong, with thorns though, and produced one lemon. That lemon was there for most of the year, and never did ripen. This year, after the flowers, i started having problems with the starting of the black mold. It is not serious yet, and i have been treating with Neem oil. I guess my big question is, why no fruit when there were abundent flowers? I have been vigilent with my fertilizing, and watering.

    Posted 4 months ago

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  • GrandmaKnitter
    I battled fungus gnats all winter on my Meyer Lemon Tree. Finally used a horticultural oil spray that got rid of them. Now it has been very happy outside on the patio with full sunshine all day. The leaves curled really bad in June. The nursery guy said it needed fertilizer and sold me these cubes which I put about five of them down in the soil around the pot. The leaves straightened out. Now my three lemons are nice and round, but are very slow in turning yellow. I have propped each lemon up with a forked stick, but I am afraid they won't turn yellow before winter sets in. Anything I can do to help this maturing along?

    Posted 4 months ago

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  • Pam Tryph
    Richard, your lemon is planted on a root stock that is different from the tree. You cut back the tree and now have growth from the root, hence the thorns...and no fruit. :(

    Posted 2 months ago

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