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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Potted Meyer Lemon Flower Drop

Q. You helped me before with my Meyer Lemon, so I hope you have an answer for this one.
My tree is in a huge pot. It is about 4 years old.
            Last Spring, it had massive flowers (yum) and a lot of little green buds followed. Then every single one of those buds turned black and dropped off.  Not one remained.
I want to figure out why and change what I am doing so this never happens again.
            The plant is fertilized with granular fertilizer 2x a year -- early spring and late summer. It gets moisture and hasn't dried out.  However the leaves could look more beautifully green.
Sometimes, some of them curl and are not quite bright green.
            I do not know if the two issues are related, but I sure hope you have a suggestion.

A. Sounds like you had post bloom fruit drop. Fruit drop can also occur during summer months and just before harvest. The usual reasons for post bloom fruit drop is usually some sort of stress.
            Four years is getting up there for being in the same pot without repotting. You might consider repotting and adding some new soil to the mix.
Meyer lemon flowers
            I know you said it had adequate water but if it went through just a few hours of drought during or just after pollination, fruit drop may occur. If we have some freezing weather during or just after flowering, that can cause the fruit to abort too.We had some on January 6 and 8 in parts of the valley.
            When watering, make sure about 20% of the water that you apply runs out the bottom of the container each time you water. This is important for flushing salts from the soil.
            Another possibility in containers is overheating them. If in direct sunlight and the outside of the container gets too hot and transmits this heat to the soil, this can cause stress and cause fruit drop.
            Proper fertilization is important. Over fertilizing fruit trees, excess nitrogen, can cause fruit drop. And finally less commonly some insects such as scale or mealybug infestations can cause fruit drop as well.
            What to do? Make sure your container, the soil volume, is big enough to handle wide swings in temperature and water. Monitor both closely. You might find a houseplant moisture meter to be helpful.
             Keep the outside of a plant container out of the hot sun. Double potting a container is  helpful to keep the soil temperature down. Watch for freezing temperatures at bloom time and cover the plant.
            Water the soil just before the heat of the day. Wet soil heats up more slowly than dry soil. If we have any frost during bloom it will affect fruit production.

1 comment:

  1. Fruit drop is disconcerting but inevitable. I wanted to respond to the issue of fertilization as a contributor. University recommendations are for fertilizer to be applied 3 times annually - on Valentines Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day. In our arid, hot climates any citrus planted in containers may need more frequent fertilizing (at low rates) during the hot summer months when they are watered more frequently. An even N-P-K or at least low nitrogen will help the tree focus on flowering and fruiting and not on new flushes of green growth that may attract aphids, leafminer and thrips.