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  • Meyer lemon tree problems

    Created by YG on


    About a month ago, I purchased a three-year-old Meyer Lemon tree (repotted it into a 5-gal container per vendor’s instructions). The problem I now have with this beautiful little tree is two-fold – overwatering and soil gnats.

    1) Overwatering and gnats. When I received this tree on November 9th (w/o the soil; in wood shavings), I repotted it immediately into a 5 gal plastic container (per vendor’s instructions) with several drainage holes on the bottom (I even made additional holes for easier drainage) using organic Miracle Gro soil. Incidentally, after I had repotted the tree, the vendor told me that my soil choice was not good as this type of organic soil tended to be rather dense and suggested adding some wood shavings (in which the tree was packed for delivery) to it, which I did. In hindsight, I should have added more of those. At that point I think I badly overwatered it (one of the accompanying leaflets suggested to water the repotted plant generously). I am sure I overdid it. Within a week or more, I started having problems – curling, cupping inwards and some yellowing and falling leaves and … scores of gnats.

    The gnats began appearing en mass on the surface and through the container’s bottom drainage holes about a while the top layer was completely dry and the soil was dry almost half way down the container depth (it is 10.5″ high). Realizing I was having a watering problem, I let the tree stand without water up until four days ago. I checked the soil and it was pretty dry on the surface and half way down. I was afraid the tree might dry out and die on me. So I watered it (almost a month after the first overwatering) in spite of the fact that I now had the gnat problem. Perhaps another mistake … Should I now stop watering it altogether until the soil again gets dry? The vendor said I should not repot it at this point as it would be stressful for the tree and advised to watch the moistness of the soil. But how long should I now wait before I water it again is a question.

    I am afraid the tree may die on me because of the above two problems and my inexperience.

    2) A secondary issue for me (at least at this point) is choosing a Meyer-Lemon-correct fertilizer. I read that Meyer Lemon should not be fertilized in autumn and winter. However, at some point I shall have to fertilize it. I have seen several fertilizers on the Web that seem to be beneficial for citrus trees, but I have real difficulty in deciding on the best type and N-P-K ratio. I saw two organic ones on the Web: one has a 7-4-2 composition, the other – 7-3-3. In terms of these ratios, which one, do you think, should have a better, kind of more ‘Meyer-Lemon-specific’ effect?

    Thanks in advance for your advice on this.

  • Author
  • #183846

    Eric Vinje


    Definitely slow down on the watering. I water mine only when the soil gets dry. I stick my finger all the way down to the knuckle, if I feel any moisture I hold off. I wouldn’t transplant it at this point, just make sure it is never sitting in water.You may also want to check your soils pH, as citrus trees prefer acid conditions.

    For the gnats, I would recommend a product we sell called go gnats or another product called SNS 203, both will control this issue for you. Both work as a soil drench to kill the gnat’s eggs.

    You’re right that you don’t need to fertilize in the fall or winter. In the spring I would recommend a fruit tree fertilizer from Dr. Earth. It is granular, and releases more slowly so you don’t have to worry about burning your plants.

    Good Luck


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