Why Is My Lemon Tree Dropping Small Lemons?

Why Is My Lemon Tree Dropping Small Lemons?

Last updated on November 5th, 2021

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Lemons trees are not hard to grow, in fact, as long as the soil is slightly acidic, has enough nitrogen, and the weather is not too cold, they will thrive fantastically.

Once your tree begins producing fruits, lemon trees don’t need much maintenance. They will produce lemons whether they are indoors or outdoors with little effort; however, what do you do when you notice baby lemons falling off your tree?

There are varied causes that can cause this and it is good to find the specific reason to avoid overlooking problems that might be lurking. I have highlighted some of the most common reasons baby lemons fall off and tips on how to deal with issues.

Natural causes in summer that cause dropping fruit

It is important to take note of the timing the baby lemons drop because it might just be the season. As spring ends and summer begins, lemon trees start shedding unwanted weight to make room for the matured fruits to thrive. The tree releases small lemons, often the size of marbles to relieve the fruits’ weight on the trees. This is perfectly normal and does not signify any health issues. Some gardeners even choose to do this manually on many fruit trees so that they get better larger fruit.

You cannot prevent the trees dropping the small fruits in summer; it’s the tree’s own way of preserving more flavourful and sizeable fruits for you to harvest. Don’t panic when you see your tree drop baby lemons in summer, there will still be plenty more fruit to enjoy.

High temperatures can also caurse lemon trees to start dropping fruit

While lemon trees do not thrive in cold weather, they also do not do very well in hot weather. The temperature fluctuations may confuse the tree’s fruiting pattern thus causing a premature fall. High temperatures are only suitable when the fruit starts to ripen and intensify in flavour. Ensure your tree is protected from drastic temperature especially when new fruits just set in.

If you own potted lemon trees, you can do this by placing them indoors where the temperature is constant especially in winter. If you cannot move the tree, ensure that it gets enough water to mitigate some of the damage experienced by critical temperature changes. If you grow them in a greenhouse, the extreme heat on hot days can also cause the same problem so it may be better to move them outdoors for the summer.

Pests sucking sap from the branches can sometimes caurse baby lemons to fall

A white aphid on a lemon tree which can lead to fruit dropping
A white aphid on a lemon tree

We love lemon trees and so do pests such as spider mites, thrips, scales, and aphids. These insects slowly suck sap and other nutrients from the leaves and young stems. Although the damage is not immediate, over time, the pests weaken the plant causing discoloured or wilting leaves that eventually drop. These insects, for example, scales, produce honeydew that attracts other insects such as ants that consume the sweet mixture that can even lead to mould.

A pest-infested tree will not have enough resources to hang on to its fruits. Together with the leaves, you might find baby lemons dropping prematurely. Look closely at your lemon tree to identify if there are underlying pests causing damage because they always leave some evidence behind. Once you find the specific pests, using insecticides to manage the infection will help the tree recover and be able to produce matured fruits. Just make sure you use fruit friendly pesticides if you eat the lemons.

Pruning at the wrong time of year can also caurse baby lemons to drop

Plants whether deciduous, evergreen, or perennials need pruning once in a while to get rid of dead or diseased sections or to maintain a healthy bushy plant. Pruning accordingly helps the tree maintain its appearance and overall health while promoting the growth of abundant fruits. Lemon trees require pruning in spring when frost damage is no longer a risk and the plant can recover faster.

Severe pruning will stress out the tree and in an effort to recover, will drop the small fruits. When the tree is recovered, you will get to see a healthy tree that hangs on to its fruits until they are ready for harvest.

Bacterial infections such as citus canker could be the problem

Citrus Canker on lemon tree
Citrus canker lemon on the tree.

Affecting the young leaves of the tree first, citrus canker finds its way into the leaves through the stomata or any wounds created by pests. This disease is brought about by Xanthomonas axonopodis, a bacterium that affects the tree’s vigour over time. If left untreated, citrus canker causes both fruits and leaves to drop prematurely.

The infection can spread fast especially if it is windy or you get a period of heavy rain; thus, it is good to deal with the infection as soon as you notice it. Citrus canker is hard to miss because it disfigures the leaves, stems, and fruits with raised brown lesions with a surrounding yellow halo. Older lesions usually become cork-like, which is not appealing to the eyes.

This infection is highly contagious and hard to manage; therefore, prevention is better than cure. Many lemon tree owners use copper-based fungicides as a preventative measure. Copper-based fungicides penetrate the plant to help fight any fungal or bacterial infections before they invade the plant.

Not enough water can caurse lemons to drop fruit early

Lemon trees need adequate water to thrive and sustain their fruit. If water levels are low due to little rainfall, it is up to you to ensure the plant gets enough water. Lemon trees will drop baby lemons prematurely to save the leaves because leaves are important in collecting sunshine to make food. Watering the tree and using mulch will help in conserving moisture that is necessary for the plant’s overall health.

Final Conclusion

As you can see, baby lemons dropping prematurely can be prevented as long as you find what the problem is on time. It is crucial for you to monitor your lemon trees and find solutions to the problem before you lose your whole harvest.

Remember, seeing a few lemons drop in the summer is perfectly normal, but you should be wary if the tree keeps dropping fruit unnecessarily.

Read next: When to pick gooseberries for cooking and to eat fresh


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