What’s Eating My Lemon Tree

It is frustrating when your lemon tree is not producing the delicious fruits you have been expecting. The first question a homeowner has when the lemons are not growing is “what is eating my lemon tree?” The good news is that there are several possible causes, but the bad news is that diagnosing the issue can take a bit of detective work to determine the exact cause.

One of the common culprits of stunted growth on a lemon tree is caterpillars. The larvae of moths and butterflies will eat the leaves and can even bore into the branches and trunks. Taking a closer look at your tree may reveal webs and nests of caterpillars. If identified, they can be removed with pruning shears.

Insect pests such as aphids, scale, mealybug, thrips, and whitefly can also damage a lemon tree. The damage may appear as discoloring or a sticky residue on the foliage. Their elimination usually involves using an insecticidal solution to get rid of them.

Fungus and bacterial pathogens are also possible culprits that target lemon trees. Fungal diseases, for example, can be caused due to excessive humidity or poor soil drainage. Symptoms of the problem can be spotted by looking for yellow spots or shot holes in the leaves. If a fungal infection is identified, applying a fungicide can help resolve the problem.

Fertilizer and water are two essential requirements for a healthy lemon tree. If these two components are not properly provided, potted lemon trees will not be able to grow and may even die. The soil pH of your lemon tree should also be monitored regularly to make sure it is not too acidic or alkaline.

Finally, if all of the above troubleshooting has not helped your lemon tree to grow better, it is possible that the issue could be related to the root system. The root system can become damaged due to changes in the environment, heavy chemical use, or pests. To check the roots, you can carefully dig up the tree and inspect them.


The nutrient requirements of a healthy lemon tree are essential for growth and fruit production. If the soil does not have enough nutrients, a lemon tree will not be able to produce good quality fruit. Good fertilizing practices can prevent nutrient deficiencies. fertilizer must be applied regularly during the growing season, with a balanced fertilizer such as an 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 NPK ratio.

Furthermore, pH balance of the soil is important for adequate nutrient availability. pH of 6.0 to 7.0 is considered to be the ideal range for citrus trees. If the pH of the soil is too high or low, nutrient deficiencies and other problems can occur.

It is also important to ensure that the soil contains enough organic material such as compost or well-aged manure. Regularly adding organic material to the soil can improve the overall health of the tree and allow it to absorb the necessary nutrients.

Lastly, if you live in an area with salty water, it is important to use non-saline irrigation methods. This will help reduce any damage caused by salt accumulation in the soil over time.


Weather, especially extreme temperatures, can have a major impact on the health of a lemon tree. Most citrus trees thrive best in temperatures between 60 and 95 degrees F. Very cold temperatures can cause plant death, and very hot weather can cause stress and dehydration. To protect your lemon tree from extremes, you can use shade cloth when it is particularly hot or windy, or additional landscaping like shrubs and trees to provide shelter from cold snaps.

Irrigation is also an important component of weather protection. By providing regular, deep watering, you can help protect your lemon tree from dehydration and die-back. Regular watering should soak the tree’s entire root system, to a depth of at least 12 inches.

High winds can also damage lemon tree foliage, making it hard for them to produce fruit. Protective fences can help protect the tree from strong winds, as well as providing shelter from other elements. If you live in a windy area, it is important to take extra care of your lemon tree to ensure the best possible fruit production.

Finally, if your area experiences heavy rain or hail, you can use a physical barrier to protect your lemon tree. A rain or hail cover can be placed over the top of the tree and secured with stakes to protect it from heavy rainfall.


In addition to insects and pests, certain diseases can also affect a lemon tree’s health. Common citrus diseases include citrus canker, orange scab, and citrus rust mite. Symptoms of these diseases can manifest as leaf spots, discolored fruit, or dead branches.

If any of these diseases are present, controlling them should be a priority. To do this, it is important to understand the cause of the disease. This can require soil and foliage testing, as well as evaluating the climate and environmental conditions the tree is growing in.

Once the cause of the disease has been identified, a preventative approach can be taken. This may include adjusting the tree’s location and environmental conditions, as well as using specific products to control the pests or diseases that may be present.

It is also a good idea to regularly inspect your lemon tree for signs of disease. Early recognition and treatment can make all the difference in protecting the health of your tree.

Lastly, if the disease is too severe, professional help may be needed in order to save the tree. A licensed arborist can help identify the cause of the disease, as well as provide treatment options to help get the tree back on track.


Proper pruning of a lemon tree can help it stay healthy and productive. Pruning helps to maintain the size of a tree and can even stimulate the growth of new branches and fruit.

When pruning a lemon tree, the goal is to balance the canopy and maintain a nice shape. To do this, you can remove dead, diseased, or damaged branches and thin out overcrowded areas. You can also use selective pruning to control the size and shape of the tree.

It is important to avoid pruning during the growing season, as this will encourage late-season growth that could be damaged by cold temperatures. Homeowners should prune their trees in the late fall or early winter, when the tree is dormant.

It is also important to make sure the pruning cuts heal properly. To do this, you can use pruning paint or tar, which will help protect the cuts from pests and diseases and help ensure that new growth is healthy and vigorous.

Finally, when pruning your lemon tree, it is important to always use sharp tools. Dull blades can cause more damage to the tree than a clean cut.

Avian Disease

Avian diseases can also be a cause of poor growth in a lemon tree. These diseases originate from birds that carry the disease and spread it to the tree. Symptoms of avian diseases can include yellowing or bronzing of the leaves, leaf spots, and distorted or deformed fruit.

To prevent the spread of avian diseases, it is important to keep the area around the lemon tree free of bird feeders and other sources of food for birds. If birds are seen roosting in the tree, it is important to take action to discourage them from doing so.

It is also a good idea to use netting to protect the lemon tree from birds. The net should be placed around the tree, at least two feet away from the trunk. This will help discourage birds from roosting in the tree while also protecting the fruit from damage.

Finally, if you suspect your lemon tree may be infected with an avian disease, it is important to contact a professional arborist to diagnose the problem. Avian diseases can be difficult to treat, and a professional arborist will be able to identify the best course of action.

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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