Lemon trees are very attractive, having glossy leaves, fragrant flowers, and fruits you can use for your dishes. They also grow quickly, making them a favorite among gardeners, especially those who live in tropical and subtropical climates. However, there are a few issues you may come across with your lemon tree, such as poor leaf growth.
This can be of great worry to many gardeners, especially since this can cause damage or death if left untreated. Fortunately, there are ways to remedy it and improve the plant’s leaf growth. Read on as I show you how to promote leaf growth on lemon trees successfully.
How to Promote Leaf Growth on Lemon Trees
You have probably wondered why your lemon tree is growing well but without any leaves. Or, its leaves are droopy and falling. Why?
Citrus plants are evergreen but would drop leaves or not grow enough as expected for various reasons. Here are a few reasons why and what you can do to promote leaf growth further:
1. Cold Damage
Citrus trees, in general, don’t like the cold or freezing temperatures. While you can purchase hardier varieties, cold damage is a risk when the temperature drops to 28 degrees F and below for over four hours. This would cause lemon tree winter drop, causing leaves to droop and fall.
When the temperature drops to below 32 degrees F, you need to protect young trees that are younger than 5 years. Cover or move your plant to a protected area and water it, if possible, 48 hours before the freeze.
Furthermore, postpone pruning until spring comes along, as newly-pruned trees are more susceptible to cold damage. In the first place, it’s best to avoid pruning young lemon trees, which slows down the overall growth of your lemon tree.
2. Overwatering or Underwatering
If you notice that your lemon tree starts to drop leaves, another common reason is overwatering. When your lemon tree’s roots sit in water, they may end up with root rot, resulting in the tree dropping its leaves.
What you can do is mulch around your root area and minimize irrigation. Furthermore, plant your lemon tree in well-draining soil, keeping grass away from its base to prevent root rot and other issues.
Of course, the other reason is if your lemon tree lacks water. These trees have higher water requirements and without enough water, they would suffer from stunted growth and poor leaf growth. You may also notice the leaves drop, excessive leaf curling, brown leaf tips, dry and inflexible leaves, as well as any new growth dying.
That is why you need to monitor the soil and ensure that you water it enough when you see that the top inch of soil is dry. Furthermore, you’ll need to know when to water it, depending on the season. During the summer, you may need to water it every other day, while in the winter, you’ll have to water it only every 7-10 days.
3. Nutritional Deficiencies
There are 16 nutrients needed to help plants and trees grow well, and if they are deficient in any one of these nutrients, problems may arise, including leaf drops. If your lemon tree is depleted of nutrients such as iron, manganese, magnesium, nitrogen, and/or zinc would cause leaf drops, along with reduced size and production of fruit.
To help maintain a healthy lemon tree, fertilize your plant every 6 weeks if your tree is younger than 7 years old, using quality citrus fertilizer. Avoid using fertilizer tree spikes and do not feed lemon trees during the winter, since they don’t actively grow during this time. For adult trees, fertilize it often but in smaller amounts from October to February.
4. Lemon Leaf Diseases
There are lemon leaf diseases that result in poor leaf growth, such as yellowing, defoliation, dieback, as well as other symptoms. Here are the following lemon leaf diseases to watch out for:
- Alternaria leaf spots can cause yellow leaves and produce blackening leaf veins. You can remedy this by spraying copper fungicide every 2-4 weeks from April to June.
- Greasy spot fungus would appear as yellow spots on top sides of the leaves with brown blisters and a greasy appearance. Copper fungicide can help with this as well, spraying it once from May to June, then another time from July to August.
- Phytophthora is a soil-borne pathogen causing root rot or foot rot as it affects the leaves, causing dieback and leaf drop. You can eliminate this by improving soil drainage and irrigating your lemon tree first thing in the morning.
5. Pest Infestations
Various pests may cause poor leaf growth, such as the Asian citrus psyllid, which produces honeydew, leading to sooty mold. This causes leaf drop and damage. You can remedy this through the frequent application of oil spray.
Another issue would be citrus leaf miners, which are intrepid pests that attack lemon tree leaves. These aren’t noticeable to the naked eye and aren’t easy to control with chemicals since these pests burrow into the dens between the stem and leaves.
If this happens, then all infected areas of your lemon tree need to be removed and properly disposed of for pest management. You may also introduce a predatory wasp, which can help suppress leaf miners.
Wrapping It Up
Citrus trees like lemon trees are at risk of various problems which can risk poor leaf growth. Fortunately, there are ways you can help promote its leaf growth and revitalize its health with simple fixes. With proper care and maintenance, you can enjoy your lemon tree and its excellent harvest.
Hopefully, you learned how to promote leaf growth on trees properly. If you believe that your lemon tree is showing signs of poor leaf growth, do follow the tips I showed to remedy the situation. Good luck!