Leaves falling off my Lemon tree

Discussion in 'Citrus' started by Carol Hill, Jan 9, 2008.

  1. Carol Hill

    Carol Hill Member

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    Hi Everyone
    For Christmas I was given a Limone Citrus Limon plant. I live in the UK

    I have the plant placed near the window (south facing). It is not really cold and it is not near a radiator. I did give it a small amount of water a week ago but that is all. It had three lemons on it (two fully ripe and one green). Last weekend I did pick the two ripe lemons.

    My reason for writing is that it is now losing most of its leaves which appear to be very helthy. This seems to have happened since I picked the lemons off. I am worried that it will die.

    How can I care for it? Do I water it? as the instructions say " water regularly from March to November". Does that mean I do not water it now until March? Where is the best place to place it. I do not have a conservatory. How do I know when to re-pot it?

    Please can you help me and tell me how to best look after it.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
     
  2. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

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    Hi Carol,
    Your tree is probably suffering from a common problem for beginners--Winter Leaf Drop (WLD) caused by exposure to direct sun indoors while the roots are cool (below 60F). There are many threads on the problem and solutions-- you can find them using the search function at the top of the page, but basically you have 2 options-- take it out of the sun or heat the roots.

    As for water, citrus do not need much water, especially in winter. It is best not to water unless the top 2-3 inches of soil is dry. Use a potting media that is fast draining with lots of air space.
     
  3. Carol Hill

    Carol Hill Member

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    Thank you. The tree is not really in sunlight. It is winter now and we are not having too much sun at present. I will move it though away from the window and as the top of the soil is very dry I will get a potting media and give a little bit of water to it. Thank you for your suggestions. C
     
  4. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    When you water a containerized citrus tree, water the tree well, until approximately 10 percent of the water applied, drains out the bottom holes. Then do no water the tree again until the top couple inches of the growth mix feels rather dry. If your going to be long term successful in growing a citrus tree in the UK, you will need a soil thermometer in order to be assured of the correct soil temperature, for the conditions this tree is growing in. - Millet
     
  5. Hannabelle

    Hannabelle Member

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    My tree is also loosing healthy leaves. Could someone confirm for me this is indeed the symptoms of Winter Leaf Drop. I'm a little confused because in a number of the other threads I found on the subject people have described leaves that have gone yellow or shrivelled before falling, whereas mine look entirely healthy (green and shiny) until they been lying around for a day or so after falling off.

    If this is indeed 'WLD' have I understood correctly that the solution is not to expose the tree to direct sunlight when the soil temperature is below around 14/15 C ?

    Thanks for your help
     
  6. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Generally during WLD the leaves that fall from the tree have a healthy green appearance. A tell tail sign common to WLD is normally only the blade of the leaf is abscised and the petiole (leaf stem) remains attached to the tree. When the foliage is directly placed in the sun's rays, the leaf surface temperature can exceed 100F (39C). If the container soil temperature is not in the range of 65F (18C), 70F (21C) is better, the roots are dormant, and cannot send moisture to the leaves to cool them. Therefore, in an effort to maintain a balance between the leaves and the roots, the tree drops it's leaves. What you need to do, is either raise the temperature of the soil, or move the tree out of the direct rays of the sun. Don't feel to badly, as this is a very common problem to new citrus owners. - Millet
     
  7. Carol Hill

    Carol Hill Member

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    Millet,

    Thanks for your advice. I live in a relatively small house that can be, in the winter, rather dark inside. Can I move my tree to an area that is rather dark until the summer? Or apart from trying to keep the leaves and soil at the same temperature - does it need light - albeit NOT sunlight? In may case, you are right, only the blade of the leaf is abscised and the leaf stem remains attached to the tree. So I am sure my tree's problem is WLD. Crumbs - I have never had a plant so difficult to look after. Carol
     
  8. Hannabelle

    Hannabelle Member

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    Also thanks from me Millet. My tree and Carol's appear to be suffering in exactly the same way at the hands of their poor beginner owners!

    My question is essentially the same, I could easily move my tree to somewhere away from a window for the next few months, but will it then suffer from lack of light? What steps do people usually take to warm up the soil? Mine is also an indoor tree and ambient temp in our apartment doesn't get below 16 C (60F) so we can't be that far off.

    Or would it be ok to leave it by the window when it's cloudy, or in the afternoons when I've checked the soil has warmed up but just not in direct sunlight in the mornings? Fortunately I work at home mostly so have time to do this, I'm just a bit nervous of moving plants around as I have a couple of Ficuses and they are _very_ sensitive about that sort of thing!
     
  9. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    To insure success you will need a soil thermometer. If the "soil" in the container is in the range of 65-70F (18-21C) your trees can receive as much light as possible. With good soil temperature and good light your trees will put forth better growth. Citrus like all other trees utilize light in the process of photosynthesis whereby the leaves manufactures food in the form of sugars. Citrus trees are rather low light trees. In their native China, citrus evolved as understory trees. Therefore, they do well in lower light situations. However, if you maintain a low light atmosphere during the winter months, you will have to gradually accustom them to the sun light when you put them outside next summer to avoid leaf burn. One of the famous castle in Italy, store their citrus trees each winter in the basement and they do well. Remember, trees in low light conditions, will require very little water. Do not water a citrus tree, until the top couple inches of the growth medium feels rather dry. Over watering a containerized citrus tree is the number one killer. The very best of luck to these trees. If I can be of any further assistance in the future please feel free to ask. Take care. - Millet
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2008
  10. Hannabelle

    Hannabelle Member

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    Thank you very much for your comprehensive advice Millet. My tree and I appreciate it!
     
  11. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

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    I have followed Millet's advice and watched my seedlings when they were outside with soil temps below 60. You could clearly see signs of wilting of young tender leaves shorthly after the sun came up. At that point, I would either move the pots indoors or spray leaves with water until the soil temp came up (sun would warm pots/soil outdoors fairly quick when the temp was close).

    This year, I had put them under a shade cloth to protect them from the scorching heat. When fall came and temps began to drop below 60, I kept close watch on the young tender growth (still under the shade cloth-- no wilting!). The beauty of theis system is that they get all the light they need for normal growth (they only need about 30% light), but since the sun comes through small holes that move across the leaf there is never enough heat built-up to cause damage. I leave them out now unless the night temp is suppose to drop below 40.

    I do not know that this will work indoors, as there are other factors that help cool the leaf outdoors (wind, humidity), but if you have a place where you could try it, it may be worthwhile. The other option is heating the roots--I did that last yr with a couple strings of small lights run between the pots-- you would be amazed at how much those small lights raised the soil temp.

    Skeet
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2008

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