indoor Meyer leaf drop i'm new please HELP!

Discussion in 'Citrus' started by lindseyedavis@comcast.net, Nov 13, 2006.

  1. lindseyedavis@comcast.net

    lindseyedavis@comcast.net Member

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    hi there,
    much to my chagrin, one of my two meyer lemon trees is very sad. i only have a balcony with limited deck space and so one meyer is outside and doing very well. i live in northern california and it's fine.
    i received another meyer as a gift this august and i must say the tree never looked great. it was very tall (3-4 feet already) and the leaves were pale green-not yellow, but not dark and shiny. no blossoms or lemons anywhere. it finally got replanted into only a slightly larger terra cotta pot and brought inside (from the sidewalk, i couldn't leave it outside). it has been fertilized once in the 3 months i've had it with a special citrus fertilizer stick. i'm having two problems:
    1. many leaves curling upwards, which seems to have stopped having given it a thorough watering.
    2. MAIN PROBLEM: crazy leaf drop, they just fall when my hand grazes them. they are not turning color or even curling, they seem to have dropped initially from the lower branches and it's the uppers. the tree has lost 50% of its leaves in the past week since coming inside about 10 days ago.
    i'm desperate! my tree receives plenty of sun, i think, but our house is quite dry/drafty and can get down to about 60 or a little cooler overnight. i just started misting the leaves daily. i can't imagine root rot as the tree seemed to have not gotten enough water, thus the curling upwards. i also have quite a mess of what i think are fruit flies-any tips to get rid of those guys would be helpful.
    i've read many of your posts and cannot diagnose my problem. thank you in advance for any advice.
     
  2. lindseyedavis@comcast.net

    lindseyedavis@comcast.net Member

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    i should add that the leaves drop with the stem remaining intact on the branch, which from previous posts seems to indicate that the roots are too cold? however, this is odd since the plant is now indoors and did ok outside with colder temps. it is only after i brought it in that it started losing leaves.
    unfortunately our heating system is through floor vents. i have a space heater. anyway, this might not even be the problem, but at this point i am looking at losing every leaf!
     
  3. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    I'm no expert but here are some possibilities:
    1. The tree was not gradually acclimatized to the indoor environment.
    2. Relative humidity is too low. I believe levels below 40% for an extended period would be detrimental. Low levels are often associated with central heating. Try to position the tree away from the vents as the drafts have a drying effect.
    3. The roots are still cold (below 13C/55F) when the tree's foliage is exposed to the sun. Under these circumstances the roots cannot provide moisture to the leaves for cooling and the deficit causes the leaves to shed. Note that soil temperature can be below ambient room temperature.
    The small flies may actually be fungus gnats. If so, they can be controlled by reducing watering so as to allow the top of the soil to dry between applications. Sticky insect strips (the yellow ones) can be used as traps.
     
  4. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

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    Based on what I have read hear and on other forums, your problem is probably cold roots (below 55). If the leaves is not exposed to sunlight, the cold roots will not matter-- although there will be no growth during this time. The problem according to Millet is that when the roots are below 55 they are dormant and when the sun shines on the leaves, they overheat since the roots cannot supply water for cooling. I have read post from people that say they put their trees in the basement for the winter and they just go dormant--no leaf loss.

    Skeet
     
  5. lindseyedavis@comcast.net

    lindseyedavis@comcast.net Member

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    which might be best, then...

    thanks for the posts. i had started to suspect cold roots as well. the leaves are exposed to sun and the clay pot does get very cold. i have slowed the leaf drop to only one or two per day by continuing to mist the leaves a lot and run a gentle space heater around the base twice a day.

    which do you think would be best for this plant: to keep it indoors and continue this maintenace (which is a pain, but i want an indoor meyer!) or to try to squish it outside somewhere on my small deck or front door where the roots and leaves will stay the same temp like the other tree? this is a new tree and i am not interested in letting it go dormant for a whole season. i want some lemons! =) would it be better to repot it into something that doesn't stay so cold as the clay does if i keep it inside? thanks.
     
  6. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Some growers choose to warm the roots by wrapping incandescent Christmas lights around their containers. The number of turns depends on the size and wattage of the bulbs and the ambient temperature. Repotting when the tree is already stressed doesn't sound like a good idea. Alternatively, as skeeterbug alluded to, allow the roots to go cold but move the tree to a location where it will get less light.
     
  7. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

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    Like junglekeeper says, I have seen several post on using the xmas lights--one that even said the small lights were enough. You can use a meat thermometer to check the soil temp--64 would be good. I would also suggest the pot change you mentioned. Clay pots are not preferred by many for citrus, although some do like them.
     
  8. lindseyedavis@comcast.net

    lindseyedavis@comcast.net Member

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    update on my indoor Meyer-leaf drop

    well, my leaf drop is most definitely cold roots. one sunny day and the blinds left open (which is my energy-efficient way to warm my house!) causes massive leaf drop, even if i run the space heater at the roots off and on.
    all this misting and space heating and watching the leaves drop is stressing me out! i think i need to move the tree either outdoors (where i have little space) or to a new spot in the house away from the sun. i DO have tons of christmas lights lying around, and if i try those, can i keep the tree (leaves only reach) in the sun? at this point my poor tree has only a dozen or so leaves left, but there are already new buds forming. it wants to live and be pretty!

    1. can i keep the tree in a place where it doesn't get sunlight this winter and keep it inside?
    2. or is christmas lights + sunny window a better solution, or
    3. find a spot outside and hope that a deer doesn't get hungry (do deer eat citrus?) i live in northern california where outdoor meyers do ok, i was just hoping for an indoor one.

    several of my leaves are sporting very new brown edges. who knows what this is, i am pretty frustrated with this tree!
     
  9. C.Dragonworks

    C.Dragonworks Active Member

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    Re: update on my indoor Meyer-leaf drop

    Get on a greenhouse supply page and try to find a heating mat...this paired with good light should help with the leaves.... Putting it in the dark will not help Citrus do not go dormant.... Cat
     
  10. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

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    Re: update on my indoor Meyer-leaf drop

    If you can heat your roots to mid 60's, then by all means give it sun-- you will get some growth during the winter. If not-- get it out of the sun and let it chill out for the winter and save the remaining leaves for spring.

    I have about 15 seedlings in pots-- I put them in my shop at night--no lights and not much sunlight in the day. When I have warm days above 60, I put them out in the sun-- cold days they stay in the shop. I have only had one leaf drop, but I am still getting growth.

    Skeet
     
  11. lindseyedavis@comcast.net

    lindseyedavis@comcast.net Member

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    Re: update on my indoor Meyer-leaf drop

    ok, THANK you skeet and other friends for your advice! i have wrapped the tree with lights and am keeping it near the window because new buds (leaves? blooms?) are forming and growing where all these other leaves have dropped. it is a skeleton-like tree!
    very interesting about keeping your seedlings in a shop with little light and then out into the sun. reminds me that it is a unique problem in the plant world to have only half the plant receive sun!
    i will let you know if i am able to keep my remaining leaves. i don't have a timer for the christmas lights, should i just leave them on in the evenings, or how many hours? not sure how fast roots cool, but i do not work at home so i would have to leave them off during the workday.
     
  12. BabyBlue11371

    BabyBlue11371 Active Member

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    Re: update on my indoor Meyer-leaf drop

    as you probably have your house heat on a thermostat that keeps it at a set temp 24/7 and that is set lower I'd keep the bottom heat on 24/7.
    since wrapping the pot with lights have you used a meat thermometer to check the soil temp?


    Gina *BabyBlue*
     
  13. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

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    Re: update on my indoor Meyer-leaf drop

    I agree with Gina-- leave them on. I don't know how fast the soil will cool, but if the roots cool during the time the leaves get sun the leaves will die. It may be possible to turn them off at night when there is no sun, but make sure the soil warms up before the sun get to the leaves.

    My seedlings have been inside for the past 2 days--it has finally warmed up enough to put them out today.
     
  14. lindseyedavis@comcast.net

    lindseyedavis@comcast.net Member

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    i have tested the soil with my christmas lights on and it hovers in the low 60s. i wish i could afford to heat my house really warm! but anyway-the funny (or sad) thing is that my tree has only 2 leaves left. i have been keeping it out of the sun for the most part, *but* it has a TON of little pale white/green buds-i have to assume they'll end up being flowers, since the tree hasn't flowered yet (i got it in august), but that will be so weird: a tree with no leaves and many flowers. has anyone ever seen such a thing?
    i suppose it could be new leaf growth, but it looks like little white buds. i need to get a picture.
     
  15. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

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    Citrus trees need stress to initiate flowering. That stress is normally provided by cold (<60) or drought. In any case your tree should be fine eventhough it has no leaves. If your roots are above 60 you can expose it to sunlight-- you will probably get a good bloom and growth flush indoors.

    Skeet
     
  16. lindseyedavis@comcast.net

    lindseyedavis@comcast.net Member

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    update on indoor Meyer-brown branch tips

    skeet, junglekeeper, and other friends:

    my indoor meyer lemon lost all of it's leaves due to what we think was cold roots. the roots are now kept in the low 60s by the Christmas light technique and the tree has been getting sun. there are a LOT of new blossoms because, now that all the leaves are gone, i can see how many branches there are! many-and many more than my outdoor meyer. this tree seems to grow mostly "up"-was like that when i received it as a gift this august. my other tree grows more "out". anyway, some of these up branches are very short, and it seems that after the leaf loss a branch is either growing blossoms or turning brown at the tips and looking like it's dying.
    do you recommend any pruning for citrus? should i trim these brown tips or even a growth off a branch since there are so many?
    this will be a ridiculous looking tree: no leaves and many blooms! and now brown branch tips.
     
  17. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

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    Re: update on indoor Meyer-brown branch tips

    The profuse bloom set is due to the stress that it went through (cold or drought can do that). You should have a nice fragrence in the house when they bloom, but the tree will probably drop any fruit it can't support. The weight of the fruit will cause the limbs to droop as they develop. As for pruning, I would wait until you see what is live after it starts to regrow. In general, citrus trees will shape themselves and pruning only retards fruit production, but trimming a few small limbs for a indoor tree that has already started to fruit will not matter that much.

    Skeet
     
  18. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Re: update on indoor Meyer-brown branch tips

    I thought I was experiencing déjà vu when I came upon this thread. Lindsey, the almost identical post you made yesterday in late November was also answered by skeet. That thread was merged with the first one you started.

    Anyway, your mention of prolific blooms reminded me of the thread Kaffir Lime tree questions.... | UBC Botanical Garden Forums. It may make interesting reading.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2015
  19. lindseyedavis@comcast.net

    lindseyedavis@comcast.net Member

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    something funny is happening with my posts. i think i thought i started a new thread, but then my last post came up under this one. oh well.
    stress blooms...that is definitely what they are. there is no fruit to remove-only bare branches and these budding blooms. you're not suggesting i thin the blossoms?
    i will hope for new leaf growth and try to not overwater-a big no-no, i know.
    junglekeeper, thanks for the link to the key lime thread. lots of information! i will have to reread. i hope i don't have to repot, which is where 82stang ended up going.

    i'm not sure what will tell me that my tree has stabilized from its move indoors and losing all its leaves-if anyone knows what i should be hoping for next, i am ready to look for it!
    my tree is entirely bare, save the thorns and stems the dropped leaves left behind, and now with many budding blossoms, and quite a few branches turning brown at the tips.
    i am sorry to depress you all, when i describe this tree it sounds pretty sad! =) thanks so much for all your help. lindsey
     
  20. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Lindsey, you're not imagining things. I took the liberty of asking the moderator to merge the threads as they they all pertain to the same subject. It makes it easier for new readers of the thread to follow the progress. I hope you don't mind.

    I would be inclined to remove the blooms but I do not have experience to back up my hunch. At this point I would look for a cessation of the dieback as a sign of improvement. Have you checked the room's relative humidity with a hygrometer? I had an orange tree that exhibited the same symptoms but without the subsequent flowering. I can't say for sure it was caused by low humidity but it has not had a relapse since being moved to a room with higher levels.
     
  21. lindseyedavis@comcast.net

    lindseyedavis@comcast.net Member

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    ok, that's fine about a merged thread!
    i haven't checked the humidity, but i am sure it is dry. unfortunately, that is something i really can't do much about. i wish there was room in the bathroom so the shower could help.
    as for looking for any cessation in the dieback, there's not much to go on since everything is gone. i suppose some of the branches could stop turning brown. i am going to leave the blooms on for now. i read another post from skeeterbug that makes me think they don't take a lot of energy and right now the tree doesn't have much going for it anyway.
    my next option i think will be moving the plant upstairs, where perhaps its warmer and gets a little less sunlight so the christmas lights won't be so essential. and then my last choice would be to move it outside during a warm spell to adjust and leaving it there. it is extremely heavy in its clay pot and to move it i need to ask for help, so i'm hoping that i'll see some new leaf shoots or something encouraging soon.
     
  22. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

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    The browning of the branches is what I would use as an indicator for now. And when the new growth starts you can trim off the brown branches. I'm sure it will come back --just don't overwater.

    Skeet
     
  23. dv002i

    dv002i Member

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    I was having similar problems with leaf drop on my meyer lemon tree. I feared water log in the soil and repotted with a mixture of CHC three weeks ago. Today it is has started blooming and has signs of new leaf growth. My question is, should I start fertalizing now that it's started growing or will this cause too much stress to the plant that is recovering from having dropped half it's leaves?
     
  24. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

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    Did you mix fertilizer into your CHC potting mix? If not you can go ahead and add fertilizer now that new growth has started, I would recommend a slow release fertilizer, I think Osmocote has one that is close to the 5-1-3 NPK ratio that is best for citrus.

    Skeet
     
  25. dv002i

    dv002i Member

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    Thanks for the reply! No, I did not add any fertalizer when I repotted. I thought that if the plant was stressed encouraging growth would stress it more (am I completly wrong here, I think I heard that somewhere?). Is slow release better than a liquid additive to the water?
     

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