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Lemon tree over-fertilised

I have a problem with my meyer lemon tree. It recently dropped all its leaves. I suspect I may have over-fertilised it. The leaves didn't change colour before dropping. Do you think I am correct in my diagnosis, and can I expect it to recover?


Yes, more than likely you have been too kind — little and often is the best way to feed plants. Leaves dropping suddenly are a sign of stress — the plant's mechanism of coping.

If the leaf drop is sudden and there have been no other symptoms, like yellowing or wilting, the best thing to do is put the hose or sprinkler around the tree for at least half an hour (hopefully you do not have water restrictions). Watering will leach out the excess fertiliser and dilute it.

The good news is that the tree will more than likely recover as long as you were not too heavy handed with the fertiliser.

The other possibility is lack of water. Deep watering twice a week is preferable to light sprinklings. Mulching around the plant will keep the roots cool and moist through the summer months and help retain soil moisture.

UnitecAdvice by Dr Dan Blanchon from Unitec's Diploma in Sustainable Horticulture and Bachelor of Resource Management.

Reproduced with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous website of  TVNZ News

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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Last updated: June 27, 2005