a few Lemon Tree leavesLemon tree losing leaves is a totally preventable and very easy to solve problem. In this article, we have asked lemon tree carers to give us their top reasons why this phenomenon occurs. Continue reading to find out how to save your plant from exfoliation as well.

Why Is Your Lemon Tree Losing Leaves?

A lemon tree might be losing its leaves due to poor maintenance, root rot or pests. It could also be suffering from exfoliation due to external stresses. In this section, find out exactly why your lemon tree might be losing its leaves.

– Low Temperatures: Below 50 degrees Fahrenheit 

Very often, lemon tree parents discover their plant losing all its leaves during winter. This is not a natural thing at all, and it means that your plant needs help.

Lemon trees are native to warmer regions, and the temperature range for their ideal growth is 77 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. They cannot tolerate temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit so at night or during winter when the temperature drops, make sure to bring your plant indoors and away from any open windows.

Also, keep your plant away from sources of cold drafts and blasts of air. In fact, placing them near sunny windows or a proper greenhouse is always ideal.

Take special care of young plants as these are more prone to frost damage than older ones that have developed some tolerance to cold over the course of their lifetime.

– Overwatering: The Less Water, the Better

We get it. You buy a new plant and think it needs to be watered every other hour. That’s just your way of showing your lemon plant some love. Read on to find out why this is not such a good idea.

Overwatering almost always leads to leaves falling off lemon tree. You will also notice that these fallen leaves appear mushy and swollen because of water retention. Remember that citrus plants like lemon will need less and less frequent watering as they grow and mature.

A newly planted tree might need watering every other day, but as it matures, restrict watering to only once per week. Lemon trees older than two years should be watered no more than once every two to three weeks.

If you are watering your tree more than this, you need to put a firm stop to it. You can also tell that your plant is being overwatered by checking the soil: unless it is completely dry at least halfway from the top, it is not ready for more water.

– Root Rot: A Terrible Fungal Infection

A lemon tree dropping leaves might be due to a fungal infection, and the most common one to affect citrus plants is the dreaded root rot. Here is how you can tell If your leaves are exfoliating due to this disease. 

A lemon tree suffering from root rot will develop brown, rot spots on its leaves before they fall off. These spots will also appear on the stem, and a faint smell of rot and decay will also be traceable. What causes root rot? The answer is simply overwatering and poor drainage.

To prevent this fungal infection, make sure you are not giving your plant more water than it actually needs. Your soil should be loose and well-draining, and there should also be a drainage hole of an adequate enough size at the bottom of your pot.

If your plant is, unfortunately, suffering from root rot, here is how to treat it: debride all the rotten parts of the plant, including the roots. Repot it in fresh soil and improve your irrigation habits. 

– Leaf Spot Disease

Leaf spot disease, also known as Alternaria, is another problem that could be responsible for your lemon tree dropping leaves. It is also a fungal infection and can lead to fruit drop and disease as well.

You will notice that the lemon tree leaves falling off will have black-colored veins on them. The lemons of the affected tree will also exhibit dark pits surrounded by rings of yellow color. 

As a preventative measure against Alternaria, keep your plants in a place where there is adequate air circulation and bright light. Treat your plant to a fungicide if it seems to be affected by this.

– Pests 

Pests love the dark, moist spaces on plants like the lower side of leaves or under sheaths of bark. They might be the ones responsible for your lemon tree leaves falling off, so make a habit of closely inspecting your plant every time you water it for any signs of pest infestations. Prune all old and dead leaves to get rid of potential hiding places for bugs.

Cleaning your plant with mild soap and water will get rid of the most common household bugs. You can also pick them off your plant using a cotton swab or tissue paper. Some people get rid of pests by spraying them with a pressurized water hose. In our experience, this can cause more damages than benefits and you should always refrain from doing such a thing.

Use an insecticide only when all else fails and your plant continues to lose leaves. Buy only a mild one because excessive use of insecticides is never a good idea.


What Else Could Be the Matter?

You have checked off the most common causes of a lemon tree losing its leaves. You are watering it regularly, constantly checking for fungal infections and pests, and yet your tree is still continuing to lose its leaves. Continue reading to find out some less often thought-of reasons behind this phenomenon.

– Not Enough Nutrients

Sometimes we come across complaints such as, “My lemon tree lost all leaves.” When this happens in spite of you taking care of your plant’s watering and drainage requirements, it is most often due to a lack of essential nutrients to the plant.

Perform a soil test to see what nutrients are missing from your plant’s diet. More often than not, lemon tree plants are prone to a nitrogen deficiency. Fertilize at least once a year with a good quality fertilizer rich in nitrogen. Also, make sure your soil has enough organic content that is enough to sustain your plant.

– Not Enough Sunlight

The lemon tree loves the sun and can tolerate even direct sunlight. Not giving your lemon tree enough sunlight might be the reason behind your lemon tree dying. This starts with a rapid exfoliation of leaves. Move your tree to a location where it receives at least eight hours of unobstructed light daily.

When kept indoors, keep it near a southern-facing window, which receive the most intense sunlight that is just perfect for your plant. If your area is short of natural sunlight, try investing in artificial grow lights for your lemon tree. Hang them above the plant and leave them on for at least ten hours each day.

– Not Enough Hardening

Hardening is the process of acclimatizing a plant to a different set of conditions than the ones it was raised with. Many times, lemon tree parents bring their plants outside from inside only to experience a most intense form of exfoliation. This happens because the plant was not ‘hardened’ before moving it outside.

Always expose your plant gradually to outside conditions such as intense sunlight and outdoor temperatures. You can do this by only keeping your plant outside for a few hours in the beginning then start increasing this time over the course of about two weeks. 

We find that plants that have been hardened tend to thrive when placed outdoors as compared to those that have not been hardened.

Lemon Tree Leaves

The Lemon Tree, or the Citrus limon plant, is a staple in almost all vegetable gardens all over the world. Not only does it produce delicious lemons for your kitchen, but its leaves can also be used for making herbal teas and a ton of other natural remedies. So when these leaves begin to fall off, it is always a cause for concern for the gardener.


Do potted lemon trees tend to lose more leaves?

Potted lemon trees may lose more leaves due to limited root space, inadequate drainage, or inconsistent watering.

Will egg shells help my lemon tree retain its leaves?

While egg shells provide calcium, they alone won’t ensure leaf retention in a lemon tree. Proper care and balanced nutrients are crucial.

Does an overfertilized lemon tree lose leaves?

Overfertilization can cause leaf drop in lemon trees. Maintaining a balanced fertilization regimen is important for leaf health.


Lemon Tree Leaves on Yellow BackgroundBefore you set out to treat the falling leaves on your lemon plant, let us go through the most pertinent points that you should remember.

  • Your lemon tree will experience leaf fall if it is exposed to a temperature colder than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Always keep them at a temperature range of 77 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • This plant should only be watered daily during the initial watering period. Afterward, stick to watering no more than once every two weeks. Overwatering will definitely lead to leaf fall.
  • Fungal infections like root rot and leaf spot disease are other common causes of leaf exfoliation in lemon trees.
  • Treat fungal infections by placing your plant in a sunny, open-spaced location. Spray with a fungicide till the issue is resolved.
  • A lemon tree dropping leaves might be due to pest infestation too. Remove all pests manually.
  • Perform a soil test to see if your plant is deficient in any nutrients, as this can also lead to leaf drop. Fertilize with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer at least once a year.
  • When moving your plant outside from indoors, start by keeping it outside for only a few hours until it is ready to be kept outdoors for a longer time.

Now that you know how even tiny maintenance errors can be responsible for the concerning leaf drop of your favorite lemon tree, why not start giving it the right time and effort that it needs? It only takes a few minutes each day!

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