What is going on with my lemon tree?

So this is my lemon tree:


 It's been doing this for years. Producing a few leaves, but nothing else. What exactly is going on here?

Does anyone have any advice to wake it up a bit?


Thank you image


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,619

    How frequently is it repotted?  Does it ever go outside?

    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
  • BookertooBookertoo Posts: 1,306

    Does it get fed with citrus feed?  Does it get more light than we can see here?  So much depends where you live.  It is possible to grow lemons in this country, but it is hard work, and they do need alot of attention and care.  It is always a god idea to think where plants originate when trying to grow them, and see how closely you can replicate those conditions.  Sadly with the best will in the world, hot sunshine for several months in the summer is not usually given to us here!

  • philippa smith2philippa smith2 Posts: 6,168

    I currently have 2 citrus trees (Lemon 4 seasons and Medica).  I purchased the Lemon in 1990 and grew the Medica from a cutting in 2002.  I have had good harvests from both - mainly in France and Spain admittedly but also here in the UK.

    To be honest, although there are "dwarf" varieties available these days, these trees are never really happy as house plants.  If you are lucky enough to have a large conservatory or greenhouse citrus will do  well given the right treatment although Red spider mite can be a problem growing them under glass.

    I have found the best way to keep them is outside in your garden for the majority of the year and then into an unheated G/H if the weather is severe during the winter.  Even a garage or shed will do if it is not in there for a prolonged period.

    Depending on the size of the tree, (and where you live of course ) they will overwinter outside if they are sufficiently protected. If mature enough they can take a certain amount of frost damage - they may look a little dejected come Spring but pruning back damaged growth will usually sort that out. 

    Looking at the size of your tree, I would suggest that you re pot using  a citrus compost and gradually acclimatise it to the outside once the weather improves (tho when that is likely to happen is open to debate image).  It can then live outside until you decide how to overwinter.  Same thing next year until you are happy with the state of your tree.

    There are specialised Citrus feeds - one for Spring/Summer use and another for Autumn/Winter.

    With luck and some TLC, your tree will begin to look a lot better.  Hope so anywayimage

  • ClaringtonClarington Posts: 4,892

    I have two dwarf orange trees that sit on the windowsill in the bedroom. They have as much sun as you can get in Yorkshire and I've noticed seem to appreciate the heat from the radiator as they're both green and bushy and one is producing the most beautiful of flowers.

    In June one of them suffered a massive citrus feed overdose when one of the little drop feeders I'd been happily buying from Homebase decided to empty itself in the space of not many hours. The reason I'm telling you this is because all of the leafs dropped off over the following week except for two and it looked just like yours. It stayed like this for a month as I tried to work out what best to do. Each time it perked up I would water it only to flood it with feed and any new leafs would drop off again. Could this be happening to yours and why it hasn't perked up with the seasons?

    I went to a garden centre and brought special citrus compost and repotted the plant in a pot several sizes up having first knocked off as much of the old soil as possible to remove the contaminated soil (I also ended up buying another dwarf orange tree for £1 as they'd over watered it and its leafs had also dropped off).

    I've no idea how often you water yours or whether you use citrus feeds or not (mine only get watered when the leafs start to curl slightly (about once a week) as they both suffered a period of over watering which they did not appreciate and I'm currently only even them a half dose of feed every three months) but giving it some new soil, finding the warmest sunniest place in the house or conservatory and perhaps trimming down any dead wood would certainly be a good start.

    One thing I noticed with my orange trees which might be true of citrus in general is that they don't seem to do much for a long time so it might be wise not to expect to see changes in a month. BUT - once they do get going they go crazy!!


    I'll try and find out some photographs of my little tree and how it changed if you like.

  • philippa smith2philippa smith2 Posts: 6,168

    Clarington - your Dwarf oranges sound good and I do so agree about the flowers - the scent is a knockoutimage 

    What variety are yours and can you obtain useable fruit keeping them in the house ?

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 11,220

    I would give it a hard prune to get rid of the straggly bits. Then repot into citrus compost in a larger pot. water with rainwater wherever possible. Put it outside in a sunny position from late may until late September. When you bring it in, keep it away from radiators and give it as much light as possible. A frost free conservatory would be the best place to overwinter.

    It's not a mess, it's a nature reserve.
  • ClaringtonClarington Posts: 4,892

    Phillippa I've had little oranges off both of them (one has produced lots of buds after I delicately tried to fertilise them with a paint brush which I'm hoping will turn into oranges) but I'm afraid I lost the labels as to what varieties they are (they're both ever so slightly different) so I have never eaten any just kept them as decoration.

    One was flowering over Christmas and I was so upset that I missed the best of its display! (Because of the rough year they had I kept them over a radiator to try and boost their growth rather than let them hibernate. Fortunately our radiators don't pump out too much heat as to over stimulate them as we're tight fisted!)

    Fidget you've just reminded me - I was told always to water them with rain water that had been allowed to sit in the room for half an hour so it was the same temperature as the soil. I've no idea if this makes a difference but I've always done it!

  • philippa smith2philippa smith2 Posts: 6,168

    Clarington.......I liked the tightfisted comment.......join the club image. Although I know Yorkshiremen (women) hold the world record for watching their pennies image 

    I don't know what rootstock the dwarf trees are based on............technology has moved on since I bought my trees.

    You shouldn't need to fertilise them...........as far as I know they will do the biz themselves.  Most citrus flower and fruit together throughout the year - so you can have developing fruit, ripening fruit and flowers all at the same time throughout the year.  Rainwater is always best for Citrus.............as to bringing it up to ambient temperature...........always a good idea for any indoor plants.  If you water straight from your rain butt, it is similar to you sitting in the sun and then going for a really cold shower.........brr.............


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