Meyer Lemon Tree: So very unhappy, any thoughts?

Discussion in 'Fruit and Nut Trees' started by jelsert, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. jelsert

    jelsert Member

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    Atlanta, GA - USA
    Hi, UBC Forum Members,

    I'm hoping that you guys might be able to give me a few pointers for getting my Meyer Lemon Tree, "Liz" (named after Liz Lemon from 30 Rock), back to thriving.

    I purchased Liz about 4 months ago, in early September 2012 and repotted her into a large concrete pot (~20 gallons) with a ~1 in layer of stones and sand bottom and rest filled with the mix recommended by the nursery (Fafard 52C Coir Mix). For the first two months, Liz did just fine being watered every few days and even yielded 3 good sized, tasty lemons.

    Now, however, something seems to be wrong. After a period of irregular watering (once a week maybe) due to traveling, a large portion of her leaves a have steadily yellowed, shriveled up, and fallen off. Others seem to have a cigarette sized burn mark, while some others seem 'cracked,' and leaves that still have a healthy color are cupping.

    Liz is back to being watered (~0.3 gallon) every other day, and I'm using alternating this watering with feedings of Fox Farm Tiger Bloom (2-8-4). I'm also misting Liz almost everyday with plain water. She sits in the corner the room, two walls of which are floor to ceiling windows that face south and east, so she's getting plenty of sunlight. Temperatures in the house are warm (~65-75).

    With all this care, I can't seem to affect any change in her condition. I've included a few pictures. If anyone can suggest something that I might try to improve her condition, I'd be very eager to hear the advice.

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  2. DavidGInNewWest

    DavidGInNewWest Member

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    Bowen Island, BC
    Hi, jelsert. Nice name for your tree!

    I think the Meyer Lemon expertise left a while back. Your plant does look unhappy. Have you checked for mites and scale? If you see wispy threads in the branches, you have mites, and they'll kill your plant eventually. Scale looks like little bumps that squish - they live on the top and bottom of leaves, and on the branches; they splat when you squish them with a finger nail. I put some horticultural oil and water in a spry-bottle and go over the plant a few times per year (the ratio is typically 50 parts water to 1 part oil, but check the documentation).

    Your fertilizer is not quite right, and that can leave salt in the soil; Meyer Lemon trees are really sensitive to salt. That said, salt buildup manifests as black tips of the leaves. The solution is to flush the soil of your plant a volume of water that is a couple of times the volume of the pot.

    25-5-15 (or 5-1-3) is the proper NPK. I've never found that in a local store, and so I fertilize with coffee grounds, compost, and the liquid that collects at the bottom of my worm composter. My lemon trees are not as lush as those fertilized with the industrial chemicals, however.

    I did a search on the burn-marks on your leaves, and found this:

    "What has happened to the tree's leaves is a condition called Mesophyll collapse. It generally occurs when there is a sudden change in the soil moisture status combined with low atmospheric humidity, (bringing your tree indoors). Any destruction of surface roots, which can be caused by transplanting, when moisture is deficient may contribute to this condition. The problem for your tree is most probably not serious, and the plant should be OK"

    The poster was someone named Millet, who seemed to know everything about Meyer Lemons.

    BTW, I only water once ever week or two - I put the pot in the sink, and let the water run for a minute or two until water drips from the bottom of the pot

    As long as there is not huge leaf-drop, I would wait to see what summer brings.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2013

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