Yellow leaves on citrus in pots is a common problem for citrus growers. There are plenty of reasons why this may happen, and all you have to do is determine the specific reason.Yellow Leaves on Citrus Trees in Pots

Fortunately, we are here to help you identify the possible causes of the problem of your citrus tree. We also include the solutions to assist you in determining what is causing the damage, so read on, and you will know each one in detail.

What Are Reasons for Yellow Leaves on Citrus Trees in Pots?

The reasons for having yellow leaves on citrus trees in pots are caused by being overwatered, having a lack of sunlight reaching it, and being infested by presets. Moreover, it can also be due to diseases or having nutritional deficiencies.

– Overwatering

Aside from drooping, your Meyer lemon tree leaves turning yellow is the most obvious symptom signifying that you are overwatering. Because of overwatering, your tree may be experiencing root rot or nutrient leaching.

The former happens when the pot you are using has poor drainage, leaving the soil with stagnant water for a long time. It attracts molds that target the roots and infects them until they decay. If you do not catch it as early as possible and are left untreated, the condition may create yellow leaves and threaten your tree’s life.

In nutrient leaching, on the other hand, your soil has good drainage. However, you are overwatering your plant, and the excess water carries the nutrients into the soil. This commonly occurs when you are using fertilizers. It results in your plant having reduced access to nutrients, which makes the leaves yellow.

– Lack of Sunlight

When your citrus tree does not receive the right amount of sunlight it needs, it will result in yellowing leaves. This occurs when your plant does not receive adequate sunlight to facilitate photosynthesis and produce chlorophyll that gives the healthy-looking green color of your tree leaves.Reasons of Yellow Leaves on Citrus Trees in Pots

If this continues sitting so for a long period of time, your tree will start to decline in health, which may increase the possibility of your plant having an infection due to pests and diseases. So when The question you start worrying and asking is, “Why are my citrus leaves turning yellow?” you should know that your potted plant is not receiving the proper amount of sun as it should.

– Pests Infestation

The common pests that infest citrus trees are aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies, which also cause your plant’s leaves to have yellow spots and overall weaken the plant. Aphids are tiny, soft-bodied, leaf-feeding insect pests that can be damaging to your tree, especially if their population grows.

Whiteflies are tiny winged insects that are closely related to aphids. Spider mites are tiny species that produce protective silk webs on tree leaves. These pests have several things in common. They would begin to suck the sap from the leaves and love heat and humidity. This occurs if your plants are infested by the common pests that create the sooty mold, for instance, and the leaves would weaken due to the mold.

– Diseases

Rather than having solid yellow leaves, you will identify that your Meyer lemon has tree diseases if it has yellow spots. Citrus greening is the most common and serious disease of citrus plants. This disease is a highly contagious one caused by very destructive bacteria. If you notice symptoms like fruit and leaf drop, stunted growth, mottling, and yellowing leaves in a particular portion of your citrus tree, then you can be positive that it is suffering citrus greening.

Another common disease your plant may be suffering is sooty mold and they would stop turning yellow. It is a fungal disease that appears to be a sticky substance that grows on the surface of the leaves called honeydew. This occurs if your plants are infested by the common pests that create sooty mold, such as the ones we have mentioned above.

– Nutrient Deficiency

The lemon tree yellow leaves nutrient deficiency happens when the tree carries nutrients to the younger leaves from the mature leaves. The nutrients that leave the mature foliage will result in discoloration or yellowing leaves. This lack of nutrients is caused by poor soil or nutrient leaching.

Meanwhile, your citrus tree might also be stressed by exposure to excessive nutrients. This results in the chemical burning of the roots or the yellowing of leaves. This is due to the overapplication of fertilizer, especially the fast-release chemical ones.

How To Recover Yellow Leaves on Citrus Trees in Pots?

To recover yellow leaves on citrus trees in pots, you must be watering your plant in an adequate way, and also provide the right amount of sun. Ensure to get rid of the pests, and treat the diseases, place in the right minerals it needs, and fertilize the plant propely.

– Adequate Watering

To avoid your citrus tree leaves turning yellow, regularly give your plant enough water. Remember to water when the top two to four inches of soil is dry. Make sure that you let the soil dry out between the times you water them. Doing this simple method prevents your plant from being underwatered or overwatered and prevents nutrient leaching from your potted lemon trees.

You also need to examine the pot and be cautious that it does not have poor drainage to avoid the bottom being wet all the time, which could lead to the rotting of the roots. You may use a pot with good drainage or add at least two inches of compost and four inches of mulch at the base of the tree to aid in increasing the soil’s drainage.

– Adequate Light

Receiving an adequate amount of sunlight is crucial to your tree’s growth. It is ideal that you place it in a location where it will receive sunlight for at least six hours of bright and direct sunlight every day. So, try moving your potted trees around to get the right amount of light it needs daily.Solutions to Yellow Leaves on Citrus Trees in Pots

You may also try pruning; it allows more sunlight to reach your tree by cutting its leaves overhead. Other options that will do your tree good are situating it in a south- or southwest-facing window, adding artificial light, or moving it into a greenhouse.

– Get Rid of Pests

You must aim to free the plant from pests just as you notice different signs of infestation. You may try to spray them off with a strong force of water using your garden hose to dislodge the eggs and larvae. You can also wipe the leaves off using a mix of a few drops of dish soap and water. Reapply every two to three days for two weeks.

Try using a mix of neem oil, dish soap, and water, and combine one teaspoon of neem oil and one tablespoon of dish soap with almost a liter of water. Transfer the solution to a spray bottle for easy application, and spray it on the surfaces and undersides of your tree leaves to kill the pests.

If all else fails and these pests return, you can use a handheld vacuum to gently and carefully remove them from the plant. Do this procedure every few days as a preventive measure. Another option is to get a companion plant like dill to attract ladybugs, which is a common predator of pests, especially aphids.

– Treat Diseases

For sooty mold disease, soak the affected section of your plant in a solution of one tablespoon of liquid detergent and one gallon of water. Leave it for a time period of 15 minutes, and after the time has passed, you can wash it off using a stream of water.

Do it often as you see molds on the surfaces of your plant to prevent the severe damage it can cause on the leaves. Unfortunately, the citrus greening disease has no cure. Once your tree is infected by this disease, it will greatly affect its survival.

– Place the Right Minerals

Lacking nutrients is a broad issue for citrus trees, but knowing which specific nutrient your plant lacks may help you address the issue. Make sure that you examine your plant closely, and notice the different issues it may be facing; this way, try to aim for the right solution to the problem. For instance, if the lemon tree has yellow blotches, then you must add a fertilizer right in with zinc, or if the lemon tree has dark green veins and yellow foliage, then it lacks iron.

Identify which of the descriptions it matches and consider having soil tests to know the nutrient profile of your soil. Your tree may not only suffer from lacking just one kind of nutrient, but it can also be a combination of nutrients. Also, keep in mind that your trees will be dormant when their soil is wet as the cold will not promote nutrient consumption.

Meanwhile, nutrient leaching can help your plant get better from having excessive nutrients. Provide a slow trickle of water for an hour to allow the water to deeply saturate the soil. In doing this, the excess nutrients will be able to move away from your plant’s roots.

The next time you apply fertilizer, use the slow-release and organic kind. You can use two inches of compost every one to two months as an alternative.

– Fertilize Well

Feed your potted citrus tree that has yellow leaves with specially blended fertilizer twice a year, once during the beginning time of spring and again in late summer. Together with this you must also make sure to water your plant thoroughly after every application.Details of Yellow Leaves on Citrus Trees in Pots

You may also give an adequate amount of nitrogen that is perfect for citrus trees. Choose a fertilizer with NPK like 6-3-3. It has double the nitrogen in proportion to phosphorus and potassium. Nitrogen is the primary nutrient your plant needs, along with the micronutrients that include iron, zinc, and manganese. This will treat your plant from having discolored foliage.

In addition to this, if you are feeling problematic about your lemon tree yellow leaves, Epsom salts are a great solution. Epsom salts will help you correct the magnesium deficiency that your plant might be experiencing that results in yellow leaves. Mix a solution of 30 grams or approximately two tablespoons of Epsom salts with one liter of water. Apply it to the soil around your tree.


The yellow leaves on potted citrus trees are a very common problem for growers. However, although plenty of possible causes might be affecting your plant, there are also plenty of solutions to fix those problems, so to recap:

  • Provide your lemon tree with an adequate amount of water regularly.
  • Ensure that your tree gets sufficient sunlight to meet its needs.
  • Watch out for pests, and do not underestimate them.
  • Look for symptoms, and treat diseases accordingly.
  • Make sure your tree receives the necessary nutrients.

Now that you know the problem your tree is suffering from, the yellowing leaves will be resolved in no time, you will have a beautiful tree that will continue to thrive and flourish.

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