Improved Meyer Lemon leaves yellowing/dropping - should I be concerned yet?

Discussion in 'Citrus' started by topshins, Nov 23, 2021.

  1. topshins

    topshins New Member

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    Hi there!

    As the title suggests, I'm hoping for some advice on how to approach recent leaves yellowing/dropping from an Improved Meyer Lemon tree I moved indoors about a month ago. I've been doing some research and am concerned I'm dealing with root rot/lack of drainage, as I believe my pot is too large and I likely planted in an undesirable medium (I'm a novice gardener, so assumed bigger pot was better for the tree and off the shelf soil would be best--silly me). For some background:
    • I purchased an Improved Meyer Lemon this spring and planted it in July in an 18" ceramic planter with a mix of Miracle Gro Cactus Palm and Citrus Potting Soil Mix, Red Cedar Mulch/Bark, and 5-5-2 fertilizer
    • After a successful summer outside with some pretty considerable growth, I moved the pot inside exactly a month ago on October 23rd
    • I'm a miser and our in-home temperature hovers around 60-70 degrees F (16-21 degrees C) and relative humidity has been hanging around 50% according to our thermostat
    • There have been a handful of leaves that have now dropped off, but nothing major. The leaves that have dropped have looked fairly green and healthy for the most part. Some leaves yellowing as well as noted in the pictures.
    • I dug down in the soil about 7.5cm and would say the soil is "moist". I didn't notice that it is overly wet, but only the top of the soil is remotely dry--it seems that having the large pot outdoors wasn't an issue since plenty of heat and sun helped water evaporate, but indoors the large pot is too much.
    • I have only watered lightly once since bringing the plant in, about 2 weeks ago before a slightly misting near the trunk I did today
    • I am using a GE BR30 bulb to supplement light
    • The plant is now just under 1 meter tall
    I'm considering re-potting in a smaller pot with better a better soil mix, but given I haven't lost too many leaves yet, I also don't want cause additional stress. Any thoughts on getting ahead of additional leaf loss/damage would be truly appreciated! If there are other details or photos that would be helpful for identifying potential issues, definitely let me know. Thanks so much!
     

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  2. Will B

    Will B Active Member

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    The yellowing leaves do not look too bad to me. Citrus often drop leaves when conditions change. However, from the photos I can see the root stock is trifoliate and it has sent up some shoots. The leaves look different. The trifoliate branches have leaves that come in threes. If you do not cut those branches off or control them in some way they will take over the plant and you will be left with a trifoliate orange instead of a Meyer Lemon.

    You may want to read through my "growing citrus" pages where I provide a lot of info on growing citrus and potential isses and treatments, including causes of leaf drop etc... While our climate is quite different than yours most of the content applies to growing citrus outdoors and indoors part of the year like you are doing: Growing Citrus on Vancouver Island | Aprici
     
  3. topshins

    topshins New Member

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    Wow Will, your site is truly a wealth of knowledge! Thank you for sharing.

    As an additional "wow", I had no idea those branches were not from the Meyer Lemon plant! I always thought the leaves looked different, but assumed that was something to do with how quickly they shot up this summer--another newbie assumption gone wrong. A few follow ups on both the pruning and my pot size/soil "troubles":
    1. Is there anything I should be aware of when cutting back the trifoliate branches? I read your section on pruning and am assuming I just need to remove the whole branch where it starts growing from the trunk, but not sure if I should wait until spring to keep disturbances at a minimum or take other steps to mitigate possible issues the pruning could cause.
    2. Given some of the commentary in your transplanting section around having the plant in a smaller pot than you might think is necessary, would you recommend re-potting either now or in the spring sometime? Maybe not at all even? I'm still concerned since my soil is moist even after not watering for a while, but maybe getting ahead of myself without too many leaves dropping yet.
      1. If I shouldn't re-pot at this point, should I just follow the general advice of "watch the citrus and water it heavily when it seems dry" and take action if I do notice any significant changes?
    Thank you again for your reply and help!
     
  4. Will B

    Will B Active Member

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    Nothing in particular to keep in mind for this and no need to wait until spring, but always follow some good pruning practices: use clean (preferably sterilized) cutting tools, cut at an angle (or vertical) to ensure water does not stay on the cut surface, let the cut surface dry quickly to avoid infections getting in.

    I would not repot now unless your pot does not have good drainage. Having good drainage holes so excess water can flow out of the pot is vital for citrus. The soil sounds ok to me. Make sure water can drain out the bottom properly.

    That is usually good watering advice, just be careful to not let it get bone dry as that creates other stresses and difficulties.
     
  5. topshins

    topshins New Member

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    Hey Will B--thanks again for the help and support here!

    I did want to check in for anyone having similar issues that might find these posts to note that I was able to finally prune trifoliate branches from my tree (though one of the cuts is fairly poor quality, unfortunately). I'm still seeing yellowing of leaves as noted in some of the attached images and have had some drop offs, but hoping things turn around. Will check in if there are additional updates.

    If anyone continues to have advice for how to keep this little tree happy through the winter, I'm all ears!
     

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  6. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    The old leaves are not going to green up. It's the new growth you want to pay attention to.
     
  7. topshins

    topshins New Member

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    Hi all! Thanks again for the help and advice a few months ago. I wanted to check in, as my tree has unfortunately continued to lose leaves over the last few months, and has particularly picked up as the tree has begun to bloom (pictures attached of the changes). I've read that losing some leaves is normal during bloom, but given how few I already have, it has me a bit worried. Should I be concerned here or is this par for the course?
     

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  8. Will B

    Will B Active Member

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    Blooms often precede new growth after stress. If things are ok with the plant the flower phase should be followed by new shoots that will grow new leaves. If you have not fertilized already I would suggest giving it a water soluble fertilizer high in nitrogen and micronutrients. Something like Miracle Gro which is available almost everywhere.

    When the tree is in a weak state all blooms and fruit should be removed so that the energy goes into new growth and the little tree has a better chance to recover.
     
  9. topshins

    topshins New Member

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    Thank you very much for the feedback Will!

    Would you recommend actively removing blooms on the tree right now so it can focus on new growth, or should I only do that if new shoots and leaves don't appear soon?
     
  10. Will B

    Will B Active Member

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    Yes, I would pick them off now. The sooner the flowers are picked off the less energy the plant will waste on those. Be careful not to pick off new leaf growth though. When they are tiny they can look a bit like flower buds.
     
  11. topshins

    topshins New Member

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    Thank you Will. Sad to see the blooms go (they smelled lovely and were a nice reminder spring is finally coming), but happy to do whatever I can to help this little tree. Some additional leaves have fallen and only a few remain, but I fertilized today with basic Miracle Gro and hope to see some improvement over the coming weeks. Appreciate your continued advice.
     

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