What Makes Lemon Tree Leaves Turn Yellow

Lemon tree leaves turning yellow is a common problem which can be a sign of many things. There are several factors that can cause yellowing in lemon tree leaves. A lack of sufficient nitrogen, a type of fertilizer, and a buildup of salts are among the most common. Other causes include over or underwatering, light deficiencies, and pest infestation. Understanding why a lemon tree’s leaves are yellowing can help to provide solutions to the problem.

Nitrogen deficiency is the most common reason for yellow leaves in lemon trees. Nitrogen is utilized by plants for many essential processes and functions, including photosynthesis and protein synthesis. When nitrogen levels become too low, a plant’s growth, especially that of its foliage, will be affected, resulting in yellowing leaves. To prevent this, a good nitrogen rich fertilizer should be used, preferably a slow-release one, as too much nitrogen can also cause yellowing leaves.

Another common cause of yellowing leaves is a buildup of salt in the soil. This buildup can cause chlorosis, a condition where leaves change color to yellow or white, often a result of mineral deficiencies. To solve this, leaching, a process of flushing out salts using water, can be done by watering the area thoroughly two or three times. As with nitrogen, overabundance of salts can also cause yellowing leaves.

Incorrect amounts of water can also result in yellow leaves. Too much water can lead to root-rot, which can adversely affect the leaves, making them turn yellow or brown. Conversely, too little water can lead to insufficient nutrient absorption, resulting in yellow leaves as well. It’s important to keep an eye on soil moisture levels and make sure to water the plant enough, but not too much.

Light deficiencies can lead to yellow leaves as well. Lemon trees require full sun for 6 to 7 hours a day. Lemon trees in shady spots may experience yellow leaves due to insufficient light exposure. To prevent this, make sure to place the lemon tree in a spot where it can get appropriate amounts of sunlight. Too much direct sunlight can also be a factor in lemon tree yellowing, so keep an eye on sun exposure levels.

Finally, pest infestation can also cause yellow leaves in a lemon tree. Pests such as aphids or spider mites feed on sap from the leaves. This can cause yellow spots or yellowing leaves. Insecticides can be used to control these pests, and it’s important to monitor the tree regularly for signs of infestation.

Treatment for Yellow Leaves

Treating yellow leaves in a lemon tree can take several steps depending on the cause. For nitrogen deficiency, applying a nitrogen rich fertilizer is a must. Leaching salt buildup by thoroughly watering the plant can help remove its possible effects. Appropriate amounts of water can go a long way in preventing yellowing leaves. Giving the lemon tree enough light will also be beneficial, while insecticide can help in the case of pest infestation.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors play a major role in lemon trees turning yellow. Overwatering, underwatering, inadequate light, and nutrient deficiencies are all serious threats to lemon tree health, leading to yellowing leaves if left untreated for too long. Temperature can be important as well, as lemon trees need consistent warmer temperatures to thrive. Lemon trees should be grown in temperatures between 40-90°F, and temperatures below 40°F can lead to yellow leaves.

Diagnosis and Prevention

When yellow leaves appear on a lemon tree, it is important to diagnose the cause as accurately as possible to ensure that the right preventative measures are taken. Visible signs of deficiency in leaves, particularly nitrogen, can give the cause away but it is always best to test soil and leaves when necessary. Taking simple preventative steps, such as regular fertilizing, keeping a consistent watering schedule, and providing adequate sunlight, can reduce the chances of yellowing leaves in lemon trees.

Common Resolutions

Once the cause of the yellowing leaves has been identified, resolving the problem is the next step. If nitrogen levels are too low, applying a nitrogen rich fertilizer and ensuring the soil is moist can help. To restore chlorosis caused by salt buildup, leaching with water can be used to flush out the harmful elements. Proper amounts of water and sunlight, as well as pest and disease control methods, can go a long way in resolving yellowing leaves in lemon trees.


Lemon tree leaves turning yellow is a common problem which can come from various sources. A lack of nitrogen, a buildup of salt, incorrect water amounts, light deficiencies, and pest infestation are all likely causes. Understanding the root cause is important in solving the yellowing leaves issue. Treatments may include applying nitrogen-rich fertilizer, leaching, making sure the tree gets enough water and light, as well as pest and disease control.

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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