Meyer Lemon Tree - Dropping Leaves & Blooms

Discussion in 'Citrus' started by Megan Angelini, Dec 24, 2018.

  1. Megan Angelini

    Megan Angelini New Member

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    I bought a Meyer Lemon tree online three months ago, after what felt like extensive online research I thought I'd be prepared to take care of this tree. She came looking very healthy and I planted her in a pot inside using citrus soil and citrus fertilizer from my local hardware store. Everything was going great, or so I thought! I found her a great sunny spot in my living room and she was full of leaves and seemed to be thriving! About a month ago she started showing DOZENS of blooms - probably nearly a hundred blooms, and again I thought things must be going well! I learned in my online research, I needed to pollinate the flowers with a brush, which I did every day. Soon after the blooms started opening up and I was pollinating them, the blooms started falling but so did the leaves!! Now it's been about a month of constant blooming and there are nearly no leaves or blooms left! I tried to be consistent with her watering making sure not to over water her, but there's a lot of conflicting information on the web about how much to water/fertilize during blooming - or if blooming is actually a sign of distress... I'm just looking for some help here to see if she's really in distress, or what else could be going on. I'd love some advice on how to revive her!

    Also - when taking these photos I noticed a few small centipede looking bugs in the top 1/2" or so of the soil.... (she's always been an indoor tree so I find this alarming on a few levels.) This could obviously have something to do with the leaf/bloom drop but I did only see a few... so who knows.
     

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  2. Will B

    Will B New Member

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    It is very common for citrus to drop many of their leaves when conditions change, particularly as we enter winter with light and humidity levels decreasing. Leaf drop by itself is not necessarily a sign of a real problem. If conditions are right then new growth will restore the leaf canopy before too long. The plant does not look too stressed to me, but it is probably worthwhile to examine the leaves very closely for pests. Some pests such as spider mites and scale can be quite hard to spot.

    The 'centipedes' in your photo look like millipedes to me. Those are not usually a problem for the plant as they usually just feed on detritus
     
  3. Megan Angelini

    Megan Angelini New Member

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    I spritz her with a waterbottle daily to try and help with the humidity... but I think you're right, now that I think about it she started dropping when we turned the heat on. Would you recommend a UV light to help make it through the winter?
     
  4. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Contributor 10 Years

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    Some thoughts and questions:
    • Meyer lemon flowers do not need to be hand-pollinated, although you may get higher yields by doing so. This variety of lemon will develop fruit without fertilization through a process known as parthenocarpy.
    • Citrus will bloom in response to stress, just as you suspect. I believe this to be the case with your tree, judging by the large number of leaves lost. It may be a case of winter leaf drop (WLD). You'll find more information on this issue by searching through the citrus forum.
    • The crawlies look like centipedes, millipedes have many more legs. It's not unusual to find a few of these in citrus containers at retail. They remain hidden for the most part. However you may want to take measures if they are there in large numbers. Millipedes & Centipedes - School IPM - USU Extension
    • It may be helpful to know the temperatures the tree is exposed to.
    • Which direction does the window face?
    • Is the tree exposed to any drafts, hot or cold?
    • Does the container have drainage holes?
     
  5. Will B

    Will B New Member

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    I don't think a UV light would be a good idea as UV light tends to cause burns. Regular sunshine is best, so if you have a sunny window that should be plenty... otherwise look for a decent LED light - efficient and cheap to run. If you want to get really fancy consider a full spectrum. I saw my local costco was selling some for pretty cheap, but frankly I would not bother. If you have a sunny window it should be fine. Dropping leaves in winter is not usually something I worry about with citrus, it is just making space for nice new growth ;-) If your home is really dry you may want to consider a humidifier. I have one in my home and keep it so that it is at least usually 40%... mostly for ourselves though. When air is too dry it tends to make a lot of static etc. The fact plants like it is just a bonus.

    By the way, I still think those are millipedes. Millipedes have two sets of legs per segment, which those seem to have. They are mostly harmless, though most bugs I find slightly alarming ;-)
     
  6. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    I know nothing about supplemental lighting, but would think that if you do add lights, it would be good to turn them off when the sun goes down, so that the plants still think it's winter. Someone who actually knows something about this is welcome to set me straight on this.
     
  7. Megan Angelini

    Megan Angelini New Member

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    Hi Everyone! Thanks for your responses!

    The temperature in my apartment is usually around 68 degrees. She's right next to the heater, but there's no drafts . The window is facing Southeast.

    The pot itself doesn't have drainage holes, but I put a interior drainage tray in the pot that allowed for about 6" at the bottom under the soil in the pot.
     
  8. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Contributor 10 Years

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    A quick look through past posts came up with a suggestion to keep the roots above 65F. Since your room temperature is close to that I suggest you try providing some additional heat to the container, perhaps by wrapping the container with a string of incandescent Christmas lights; don't over do it though. Have a look at the beginning of the following thread; you may get some ideas: Minimum overwintering requirementsfor citrus.

    I have some reservations about the tree being close to the heater. The effect of spritzing is temporary at best; I wouldn't bother.
     
  9. Lemon Lime Orange

    Lemon Lime Orange New Member

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    In nature, there is a symbiotic relationship between ground temperature and air temperature which regulates root temperature, leaf temperature, transpiration, and photosynthesis, and fertilizer in harmony. When you bring citrus indoors this relationship is very difficult to maintain. Leaves are often shed when there is a major temperature difference between the roots and leaves.

    Watering with 90F water helps warm the roots but it will only go so far and for a short period. If you are using cold tap water you will drop leaves every time you water.

    Meyer lemon will self pollinate and they will do so wonderfully all by themselves indoors without any help from insects. Just mist them with water. Using a paintbrush to transfer pollen from anthers to the stigmas will knock more off than you pollinate.

    I am currently growing in hot galvanized pails wrapped in germination heating pads and using strong artificial light. From your picture, it looks like you are using a heavy pot which will keep the roots very cold.

    Everything you have always wanted to know about citrus trees and overwintering them
     

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