How To Save A Dying Lemon Tree

When it comes to gardening and lemon trees, understanding and recognizing the signs of a dying lemon tree is the first step to restoring and rescuing it essentially. Lemon trees are a popular garden choice that can provide fruits, ornamental foliage, and beautiful blooms; if properly cared for and maintained. Knowing how to save a dying lemon tree and taking a few steps to restore health is easy with the right knowledge and preparation. Here’s a guide to help you save a dying lemon tree.

Eliminate Stressors

Stress on your lemon tree, either from over-fertilization, drought, or lack of sunlight, can lead to major deficiencies and citrus decline. To ensure your lemon tree’s health, start by eliminating the stressors and providing it with the right environment. Move it to a more suitable place with ample sunlight, fresh air, and ample space for its root system to thrive and get adequate water. Fertilize it with liquid fertilizers no more than twice a month in summer, while avoiding the roots and taking soil pH into account.

Check For Disease

Check for disease signs, such as insect pests or fungal pathogens. Lemon tree pests, such as mealybugs, scales, spider mites, and thrips could be quickly killing your lemon tree and would need to be addressed immediately. Start by inspecting your lemon tree for signs of disease, and if any exist, apply specific pesticide sprays and insecticides.

Prune Properly

Too much or too little pruning can make your lemon tree unhealthy, affecting its structure and overall health. Pruning is essential to maintain a healthy structure for your plants, allowing for better air circulation, more sunlight circulation, and reducing the risk of disease. When pruning your lemon tree, start by removing weak or dead branches, then move on to thinning out congested areas that block the light, remembering to make clean, angled cuts that help minimize damage.

Fertilize Carefully

Lemon trees need plenty of nutrients to stay healthy, and those can come from a variety of sources, like organic compost or liquid fertilizers. Keep in mind that fertilizer should be applied once or twice a year, and no more than that to avoid over-fertilization. Keep in mind too that fertilizers vary and are often marked only for use with specific types of citrus, so read the label before doing anything.

Provide Adequate Water

Water is essential to any plants health, but it’s especially important for lemon trees. Make sure your lemon tree gets enough water so its soil stays moist, but not often and not too much. The frequency of watering should be determined by soil texture, texture, and the weather. As a rule of thumb, the soil should always be slightly moist during spring and summer, and slightly dry during fall and winter.

Increase Sunlight & Air Circulation

Your lemon tree needs plenty of sunlight and fresh air to stay healthy. Try to position it in a place with at least 5-6 hours of sunlight daily to ensure proper fruit production. Good air circulation is also essential, so make sure there is enough space between plants to encourage better air circulation. Pruning the canopy and removing dead branches will help increase airflow.

Watch For Pests

Pest infestations, such as fungus and other insects, can be lethal to your lemon tree and are often overlooked. Pay special attention to your lemon tree for signs of mites, scales, and other insects, such as aphids, whiteflies, and caterpillars. When spotted, a beneficial insect like ladybugs or predatory mites should be released to get rid of them. You can also spray your plant with horticultural oil to control the spread of disease.

Manage Nutrient Levels

Nutrient deficiencies can leave your lemon tree weak and more susceptible to attack by pests and diseases. Check soil pH levels and supplement as needed, however also make sure to keep it away from extremes by balancing pH with products like lime or sulfur. Monitor nitrogen levels and apply a micronutrient mix to give your tree all of the necessary nutrients to reach its full potential.


Mulching your lemon tree is important to retain moisture in the soil and provide nutrients. Mulching with organic materials, such as wood chips or coarse-textured compost, will help reduce soil evaporation and help promote healthy growth. Besides that, mulch acts as an effective deterrent for weeds, as well as provides insulation for the tree’s root system. Make sure to monitor the mulch throughout the year, adding and removing it as needed.

Pest & Disease Control

When it comes to keeping your lemon tree healthy, pest and disease control is an essential part of the process. To prevent diseases and pests, start by checking for signs of fungal pathogens and insect problems. Inspect the tree’s leaves, flower buds, and fruit for signs of disease or pest damage. If any signs are noticed, make sure to address them immediately with the right pest and disease control technique. In certain cases, you may need to introduce beneficial insects or spray your tree with commercial insecticides or fungicides.

Water Wisely

Your lemon tree requires a steady supply of moisture but too much or too little can prove fatal. Understand how your specific lemon tree type and its environment require a specific amount of water to survive. Avoid over-watering as this can lead to root rot and other fungal problems that can weaken your tree. A water-wise strategy will ensure your tree always has a steady supply of water, even during drought periods.

Blossom Pruning & Root Pruning

Root pruning and blossom pruning are essential parts of lemon tree maintenance. Root pruning should be done every three years and will help increase the amount of oxygen around the tree’s roots and even out the soil’s nutrient levels. Blossom pruning will help reduce fruits and allow the tree to direct its energy to new shoots and stems.

Foliar Feeding

Foliar feeding is a practice that involves spray or misting a nutrient-rich solution onto a plant’s foliage. This practice can help a lemon tree get all of the necessary nutrients and trace elements, like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. A foliar feed can be given once or twice monthly, depending on the health and development of the tree, using a combination of organic and compound-based fertilizers.

Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance is key to keeping your lemon tree healthy and productive. Make sure to periodically check your tree for pests and diseases, ensure it receives adequate water and sunlight, and prune and fertilize when necessary. Try not to miss regular maintenance, as it is essential to prevent your tree from becoming damaged or weakened by disease or pests.

Gordon Wesson is an environmentalist and author who lives in the Pacific Northwest. He has been writing for many years about topics related to trees, the environment, and sustainability. In particular, he is passionate about educating people on the importance of living in harmony with the environment and preserving natural spaces. He often speaks at conferences and events around the country to share his knowledge with others. His dedication to protecting our planet makes him one of the leading voices in his field today.

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