Why Does My Lemon Tree Drop Its Fruit

The problem of fruit dropping from lemon trees is a common one that has puzzled many gardeners. There are several possible explanations for this, some of which are related to the growth and development of the tree, and some due to environmental or other external factors. In this article, we look at some of the most likely causes of fruit drop in lemon trees, and discuss ways of managing the problem successfully.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Nutrient deficiencies, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, can cause lemon tree fruit to drop prematurely. This is because these nutrients are essential for the proper growth and development of the tree, and if they are lacking, the fruit production will suffer. To ensure adequate nutrient levels, soil testing should be conducted to assess the current state of the soil, with subsequent fertilizer applications used to address any existing deficiencies.

Insufficient Water

Another potential cause of lemon tree fruit drop is inadequate watering. Lemon trees require regular watering in order for them to produce quality fruit, and if the tree is not getting enough water, it may drop its fruit prematurely. To ensure the tree gets adequate water, it should be watered regularly and deeply. Also, mulch should be applied around the base of the tree to conserve water and protect the roots from the hot sun.

Pest Damage

Pests, such as aphids and mealybugs, can feed on the developing fruit, causing it to drop prematurely. To address this, regular pest control measures, such as horticultural oils, should be used to keep the pests away and protect the tree. Alternatively, some gardeners have had success using natural pest control methods, such as introducing beneficial predators, to keep the pest population under control.

Frost Damage

Frost can damage fruit on lemon trees, causing them to drop prematurely. To prevent frost damage, gardeners should ensure the tree is protected from the cold weather, either by providing frost protection blankets or by covering the tree with fabric netting. Also, avoiding pruning the tree too early in the summer, as this can make it more susceptible to frost.

Environmental Stress

Environmental stress can also be a contributing factor to premature fruit drop in lemon trees. These stresses can include intense heat and cold, drought, or extreme fluctuations in temperature. To help reduce the impact of environmental stress on the tree, it should be planted in the best site possible, sheltered from the elements, and provided with adequate shade and moisture.

Photoperiodic Drop

The photoperiodic drop is a natural phenomenon which causes trees to drop their mature fruit in order to reduce the load on the tree in order to prepare it for the cooler months ahead. This is especially common in lemon trees, and while it can be disheartening, it is an inevitable part of the lemon tree’s seasonal life cycle. The best way to manage this is to ensure the tree is in good health by providing it with adequate soil nutrition and water, as this may help reduce the severity of the photoperiodic drop.

Hormone Imbalances

Hormone imbalances can also result in premature fruit drop in lemon trees. Abnormalities in the tree’s hormonal levels can cause the tree to drop its fruit before it has fully ripened, and this can be attributed to a number of different factors, including nutrient deficiency, inadequate pruning, root stress, or disease. If a hormone imbalance is suspected, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced professional to ensure the problem is addressed promptly and effectively.


High levels of humidity can cause premature fruit drop in lemon trees, as higher humidity levels can lead to fungal disease and insect infestations. To help prevent this, it is important to ensure the tree is planted in an area that has good air circulation, and that protective measures, such as netting, are in place to keep humidity levels in check.

Fruit Quality

Finally, the quality of the tree’s fruit also plays a role in whether lemon fruits will drop prematurely. Trees produce fruits of varying sizes and levels of sweetness, and it is possible that fruits of poor quality may be dropped earlier than fruits of good quality. To help reduce the chances of this happening, it is important to keep the tree healthy and well-maintained, by providing it with adequate light, water, and nutrition. It is also beneficial to prune out over-ripe or diseased fruits regularly.


Certain fungal and bacterial diseases can also cause lemon trees to drop their fruits prematurely. These diseases can be caused by poor drainage, excessive moisture, inadequate sunlight, or other environmental factors. If a disease is suspected, it is important to seek the advice of a professional to ensure the problem is correctly diagnosed and managed. Additionally, preventative measures, such as cleaning up fallen fruit and debris regularly, can help to reduce the risk of disease.

Weather Conditions

Finally, weather conditions can also cause fruit drop in lemon trees, particularly when there are large swings in temperature or high winds. During these times, it is important to cover the tree with frost and wind protection to provide it with some shelter. Additionally, it is beneficial to water the tree deeply and apply mulch around the base to keep the root zone cool in the summer and warm in the winter.


Pruning can also help to reduce the impact of fruit dropping in lemon trees. Pruning encourages the tree to produce larger, more flavorful fruits, and removing diseased branches and dead or diseased fruits can help reduce disease spread and the risk of premature fruit drop. It is important not to prune too early in the summer, as this can increase the tree’s susceptibility to frost damage. Additionally, pruning too much may cause the tree to produce fewer fruits.

Soil Conditions

Soil conditions can also affect lemon tree fruit drop. Soil that is too wet or too dry can cause root injury and poor fruit development, resulting in premature fruit drop. Additionally, poor soil fertility can lead to nutrient deficiencies, which can in turn cause abnormal leaf growth and fruit drop. To ensure healthy soil conditions, regular soil tests should be conducted to assess the current status of the soil, with subsequent fertilizer applications used to enhance soil fertility levels.

Pest Predators

The presence of pest predators may also contribute to lemon tree fruit drop, particularly if the tree is not adequately protected. For example, birds, such as crows, can feed on the developing fruit, causing them to drop prematurely. To protect the tree from these pests, bird netting can be used, as well as introducing natural predators, such as spiders and predatory wasps, to keep the pest population under 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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