Saving Citrus! (Lemon Tree)

Hi all!

New to this forum, but I've come specifically for some experienced citrus help!

I inherited a lemon tree over the summer, it originally came to me wilted and the fruit was black, but our amazing summer nursed it back to life! I then followed advice online and brought it indoors once it was colder out.

However between October and now the tree has been dropping leaves, BUT in November it produced a few flowers, I've been keeping an eye on it and the leaves have always been a lovely green colour and the branches green. However over the last 2 weeks the leaves have just suddenly all dropped at a rapid rate. I'm now in a bit of a panic and wondered what I can do to encourage new ones to grow?

I water once every 4/5 days, I've kept him on my window sill, I have a winter feed that I was using once every 2 weeks, and then opened a new pot of the same stuff the day that I lost the first load of leaves suddenly, so I'm now worried to use that. I haven't been pruning as I was worried I'd put the tree under too much stress but today I chopped off 2 dead branches.

Anything else I'm missing?


I've attached a pic of it in the summer and another one I took just now so you can see just how many leaves have dropped in the last few weeks



Posts

  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICTPosts: 13,111
    1. Possibly over watering. Is the soil dry to the touch (not parched) when you water it or does it stick to your fingers? It shouldn’t.

    2. Possibly lack of light. Windowsills are not ideal. Light from one side only. Citrus trees like lots and lots of light. Light from all sides, light from above. For hours and hours. Greenhouse type light. Or an all glass conservatory.

    3. Possibly too warm. Human type comfort is too hot. They just need to be kept away from frosts.

    4. Maybe all of the above.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • Allotment BoyAllotment Boy North London Posts: 1,519
    I agree with all of the above, it may have just reacted to the sudden change in temperature or be in a draught. The other thing to check for is scale insect, they are quite prone to attacks from them. The good news is as long as the branches stay green you will probably get a fresh crop of leaves in the spring.
    AB Still learning
    "As the days grow longer the cold grows stronger"
  • rachelkinsman94rachelkinsman94 Posts: 3
    pansyface said:
    1. Possibly over watering. Is the soil dry to the touch (not parched) when you water it or does it stick to your fingers? It shouldn’t.

    2. Possibly lack of light. Windowsills are not ideal. Light from one side only. Citrus trees like lots and lots of light. Light from all sides, light from above. For hours and hours. Greenhouse type light. Or an all glass conservatory.

    3. Possibly too warm. Human type comfort is too hot. They just need to be kept away from frosts.

    4. Maybe all of the above.
    Thanks! I think over watering may be a big cause as the top soil is dry but just moving it about and then the soil is still damp!
    also lack of light, my room in my flat is north facing so light is an issue and thats why I put it on the sill.
    I agree with all of the above, it may have just reacted to the sudden change in temperature or be in a draught. The other thing to check for is scale insect, they are quite prone to attacks from them. The good news is as long as the branches stay green you will probably get a fresh crop of leaves in the spring.
    I just googled 'Scaled insects' and it definitely has a lot of these lumps (google image below)! How would you suggest I got rid of them? is it best to find a spray or just remove by hand?




    Also I've done a lot of research about the temperatures they cope with, do you think it's best to keep it indoors for now? or move it into my greenhouse? - the greenhouse I have is only a basic polytunnel type one so I can't heat it, but I have lined it inside with bubble wrap for a little extra warmth.

    Thanks for your replies! :)
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICTPosts: 13,111
    Definitely the greenhouse. Keep it in there whenever the temperature stays above about eight degrees C. If it gets colder, put it indoors, but definitely the greenhouse is the place for it for 99% of the time. They don’t need heat. They just don’t need frost.

    Scale insects. Well, if you are planning on growing and eating lemons a spray is not a good idea. I find the best answer is to wet a lot of cottonwool balls, fold them one at a time around the stems and then drag them up and down the stems, squashing the scale insects as you go. They also hide under the leaves andyou can squash those with a thumb nail. They are tenacious and very fecund little b******s and you will have to repeat this many times on an almost daily basis for several weeks. But you will win.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • CopernicusCopernicus Posts: 2
    I agree with the advice above but I have also noticed that the pot is very small. You may need to repot (next size up) using free-draining compost designed for citrus.  Bags of light and not too much warmth.  Invest in a moisture meter if you don't have one (less than £10)
  • rachelkinsman94rachelkinsman94 Posts: 3
    pansyface said:
    Definitely the greenhouse. Keep it in there whenever the temperature stays above about eight degrees C. If it gets colder, put it indoors, but definitely the greenhouse is the place for it for 99% of the time. They don’t need heat. They just don’t need frost.

    Scale insects. Well, if you are planning on growing and eating lemons a spray is not a good idea. I find the best answer is to wet a lot of cottonwool balls, fold them one at a time around the stems and then drag them up and down the stems, squashing the scale insects as you go. They also hide under the leaves andyou can squash those with a thumb nail. They are tenacious and very fecund little b******s and you will have to repeat this many times on an almost daily basis for several weeks. But you will win.
    Perfect! I spent about 45minutes today with about 15 cotton balls! There were hundreds, especially in the little 'v' branch areas, so I'll try and keep on top of that! I didn't realise they were bugs, it sounds stupid but I thought the tree was just creating bark or something - I'm VERY new to this! So thank you for the advice!

    I agree with the advice above but I have also noticed that the pot is very small. You may need to repot (next size up) using free-draining compost designed for citrus.  Bags of light and not too much warmth.  Invest in a moisture meter if you don't have one (less than £10)
    So I repotted when I given the plant as the roots began to grow out the bottom, how often should I be repotting? 

    Thanks all! this have been really helpful :)
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICTPosts: 13,111
    Good, well wait till the roots come out of the bottom of the pot again and then go up one size more. John Innes number three compost is what you want to use.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 10,974
    Paint methylated spirit on the scale bugs. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 
    Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose. 
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