Help save my dwarf Meyer lemon tree!

Asked June 25, 2018, 11:56 AM EDT

After a nice initial bloom of new leaves, my older leaves are falling off. The newer leaves are starting to look bad to so I don't think it's just an age issue. Something similar happened two years ago and we lost the tree. I have tried safer soap and Neem oil several times. I can't see any small creatures but… It is a small tree (about 3 feet) maybe four years old. Attached please find photos. Many thanks, Bob Thompson

Washington County Oregon

10 Responses

Thank you for your question, Bob. A bit more information, and a photo of the entire plant would be helpful. Is it in a container? How often do you water and fertilize? Have you tested the pH of the soil? We’ll try to help with more info. Thanks!

Thank you for your questions. The plant is in a container. We water about once a week and there are holes in the bottom of the container. We have fertilized twice this spring with regular miracle grow. We have not tested the pH of the soil. Attached are a few more photos.


Thank you, Bob. I think there are two things going on. First, your plant appears to need a larger pot. They don’t like to be crowded. More importantly, Your plant needs more fertilizer than you’ve been giving it. That is what is causing the yellowing (chlorosis) and dropping of leaves. Here’s an article with information about this plant’s care: Hope this helps. Good luck!

Thanks for both bits of information. I almost bought a larger pot from Costco when it was on sale for a great price. Oh well.

Bob Thompson

Should I switch to miracle grow miracid instead of miracle grow fertilizer?

Any other specific suggestions?

Thanks, Bob. The problem with water soluble fertilizers is that they can get watered out of the soil so fast that the plant can’t absorb them. We recommend an organic (Mother Nature’s time release method) fertilizer. You don’t need anything acidic.

Dear Kristena-

The use of non-soluble fertilizer make sense to me in the long run. I am worried about my tree in the short run. If I use nonsoluble won’t it take a while for the nitrogen to be accessible to the plant. If I use something like miracle grow for the next couple weeks and gradually switch over would that be a better plan?

Thank you,

Bob Thompson

There’s a middle option: use some of the timr-release pellets, which will immediately release nitrogen, together with an organoc fertilizer. I think you’ll be doing all you can in both the long- and short-term.

Just to clarify. Do you mean a time release product like Osmocote?

In terms of nitrogen rich organic fertilizers do you mean something like just pure blood meal or some combination product. Are there particular organic brands that are known for quality?

Thank you very much.

Bob Thompson

Osmocote is probably the most available time release fertilizer, Bob. Compost is an organic time release fertilizer, since the tissue breaks down over time, returning nutrients to the soil to be re-used by the living plants. As to nitrogen rich, you’re going to have to read the labels. There are 3 numbers on the containers, like 10-10-10, for example. Thus means that the product has, by weight, 10% Nitrogen (first number: N), 10% Phosphorus (second number: P) and 10% Potassium (third number: K). Some organic—not chemically produced, made from organisms—fertilizers have only one of these three “macronutrients.” If all numbers are the same, it is considered a balanced fertilizer. You probably don’t need much if any of the second two, but 10 tp 15% N. Hope this helps!