You’re a new lemon tree owner and everything is going great- your tree is starting to grow new leaves, cute little buds are beginning to develop… but then suddenly you spot that a few of the leaves are starting to droop. If you’re an overly attentive lemon tree owner like me, you’re immediately concerned. You might be wondering “Is it getting enough sunlight?” “Am I watering it enough?” “Am I watering it too much?” All of these are valid concerns and could potentially cause leaf droop.
Leaf droop, especially if occasional and not chronic, is often not a cause for concern. However, sometimes leaf droop is an early indicator of a more serious problem. Luckily, if the only symptom your tree displays is leaf droop, then you are plenty early in catching the problem. If treated appropriately, your tree will recover quickly and easily.
Read on to find out more about why your lemon tree’s leaves are drooping, and what you should do about it.
Leaf droop is characterized by the abnormal sagging or downward bending of a plant’s foliage. If the leaves of your lemon tree are drooping, they may retain their deep green color but appear to be tired or limp, and lack their usual perky and upturned form.
Leaf droop on a lemon tree is usually one of the first signs of sudden stress. Stress can be caused by a variety of things, some of which are cause for concern, while some are generally benign. In either situation, the good news is that leaf droop is always an early indicator of stress, and that your lemon tree will easily and quickly recover if the correct action is taken. Because of this, there is no need to panic if your lemon tree’s leaves are suddenly drooping.
Continue reading to assess the possible reasons your lemon tree’s leaves may be drooping, and then take appropriate action to remedy the situation. Your lemon tree will be back to looking its perky, happy, healthy self in no time!
Temperature or Light Change
The leaves of lemon trees can droop when introduced to hot or cold temperatures, or a change in light. You might also find that it is the young leaves or new growth are especially expressive in their drooping. Often this is not cause for concern. Is your lemon tree positioned near a window that might be leaking cold gusts of air at night? Did you just put your lemon tree outside for the warmer season and as a result is it exposed to more direct sun or heat? These are totally normal causes for your lemon tree’s leaves to droop.
If you suspect your lemon tree’s leaves are drooping because of a change in temperature or light, this is normal, and it is not always necessary to take action. As long as your lemon tree isn’t being exposed to prolonged temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, or so much light or heat that its leaves begin to dry, brown, or scorch, then your lemon tree is just reacting to its environment and will recover once it adapts to or is relieved from the temporary stressor.
You will also want to make sure that your lemon tree’s leaves aren’t wilting due to a lack of light. Did you recently move your tree indoors from being outdoors for the summer? Did you recently move your lemon tree to another location in the house where it might not be receiving as much sunlight? Keep in mind that lemon trees need at least 6 hours of full sunlight to thrive. If you suspect that your lemon tree may not be receiving enough light, consider repositioning it near your brightest window. South-facing windows are ideal.
Sometimes leaf droop can be a symptom of underwatering. If it’s been a little while since you’ve last watered your lemon tree, and if the soil surrounding your lemon tree is dry when you stick your finger an inch or two deep into the soil, it probably time to give your lemon tree a deep watering. If your lemon tree’s leaves perk up after watering, then there is no reason to be concerned about any other ailment.
Be sure to not overcorrect and water your lemon tree too frequently, however, as this can also cause stress, and in extreme cases root rot and ultimately death.
Leaf droop can also be an early sign of overwatering.
Plants need pockets of air within the soil in order to intake and metabolize nutrients properly. If you are overwatering your lemon tree, where there would normally be tiny pockets of air interspersed throughout the dirt and root system, those spaces will remain waterlogged for a prolonged or indefinite amount of time. When a plant is being overwatered, the roots are not getting the access to the air they need. The plant’s metabolism will begin to slow, causing the leaves to droop.
Overwatering is typically only a problem for potted lemon trees, where the soil and root systems are confined within the limits of a container. If your lemon tree is planted in the ground outdoors, it is very unlikely that it is suffering from overwatering.
Good news is that leaf droop is usually an early sign of a waterlogged plant. If you take timely, corrective action, your lemon tree will recover with ease. If the overwatering is not corrected, your lemon tree’s roots will begin to decay, a condition called root rot. Once root rot has onset in a plant, it is unlikely that it will recover.
Make sure that you allow time between waterings for a combination of evaporation and plant water intake via the roots to occur. See this post for more information on how to figure out how frequently you should be watering your plant.
Also make sure that your lemon tree is potted in a vessel that allows for good drainage and is preferably made up of a material that is porous and breathable. See this post for tips on choosing the best pot for your lemon tree.
If your lemon tree’s leaves are drooping and looking a little sad, this may also be an early indicator that your tree is lacking important nutrients. This is also a more likely problem for potted lemon trees than it is for those planted in-ground. Keeping any plant potted means the plants roots have access to only as much nutrients as the soil in the pot contains. Eventually the lemon tree will use up all the available nutrients if they are not being replenished by regular fertilization.
If in addition to drooping, the leaves also display a difference in color, such as new growth that is significantly lighter green in comparison to older growth, or if the leaves are speckled with light green or even yellow, it is very likely your lemon tree is struggling for nutrients and could use a boost via fertilization.
Make sure to choose a fertilizer that is formulated specifically for citrus, and to only fertilize your lemon tree once every 4-6 weeks during active growth. See this post for more information on how, when, and what to use when fertilizing your lemon tree.