Lemon tree fruit drop

Asked March 15, 2019, 1:33 PM EDT

Dear Expert, I am a brand new citrus grower running into problems with a Meyer Lemon tree. I purchased my tree about a month ago from a reputable nursery and it was healthy with plenty of flowers and some fruit set. However, over the past few weeks my tree has steadily lost nearly all of it's fruit. Once the flower starts to dry I can see the small green fruit emerge. Within a week, I notice a clear sticky substance at the base of the fruit and a week or more later, the fruit detaches from the stem. This is not limited to fruits on one branch, the entire tree is effected. There's no clear evidence of bugs on the plant and the sticky substance is only located on the fruits themselves. I know that the plant received an ISD treatment in January. Please help! Lemon Newbie

Baltimore Maryland

1 Response


It is normal for Meyer lemon trees to go through a period of shock after moving into a new location. A lot of leaves can drop and the plant will recover. Just be sure not to over water it in hopes that the leaves will stop dropping.

The fruit will drop off at a very small stage if the flowers are not pollinated. If the plants are outside during flowering, they will be pollinated naturally by insects. Inside the home, you can pollinate them by hand with a cotton swab. Gently rub one end of the swab around each newly opened flower. You will see yellow pollen on the tip of the swab. The flowers are pollinated by transferring the pollen from flower to flower with the cotton swab. There is a sticky substance naturally at the tip of the female part of the flower (stigma).

My Meyer lemon has a lot of sticky residue on the leaves this time of year. Scale insects exude honeydew. Scale are very hard to see. I remove as many as possible by gently rubbing the upper and lower mid veins of the leaves with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. Scale are controlled naturally by beneficial predators when outside.

I don't know what the treatment is you referred to above. But I would not advise using a systemic pesticide as it can kill beneficial insects.

BTW, it takes many months for the lemons to mature. Be patient!