Lemon Tree Care: How to Deal with Falling Leaves

Lemon trees are small evergreen trees that belong to flowering plants. Their fruits have several purposes, from culinary to cleaning uses, so having a lemon tree in your yard can be very beneficial. 

Growing a lemon tree seems simple enough, but even if it were tough, the benefits outweigh the stress.

So, when you notice that your tree is suddenly dropping leaves, it is understandable to be scared. 

Lemon trees drop leaves for various reasons, from environmental stress to human errors, but how do we know the cause and how to fix it? Let’s find out.

Is It Normal for Lemon Trees to Lose a Lot Of Leaves?

Lemon Tree Leaves

Lemon Trees are evergreen trees, so they do not lose a lot of leaves, even in the winter when other trees do. 

However, like other plants, they do drop leaves every once in a while due to the natural process of older leaves falling to conserve more energy for the new ones.

If your lemon tree is losing more leaves than expected, it is due to something stressing it.

What Is Making My Lemon Leaves Fall? How Can I Save My Plant?

Here’s what could be causing your lemon tree to lose its leaves and what you can do to fix it.


If you notice that your lemon tree leaves are curling, turning brown, and falling, underwatering might be the reason for this.

Not giving your plant enough water would lead to dehydration. When dehydration occurs, the lemon trees cannot keep themselves cool, and the plant cannot keep up with maintenance, so the tree’s leaves curl up, brown, and drop.

The leaf’s curling is the plant’s last-ditch attempt to retain moisture.

Fortunately, watering the tree before the leaves turn brown can make a full recovery. 

To solve this problem of underwatering, soak your plant thoroughly and water to as much as 2 feet deep. This way, the water would reach the deep roots.

Let the soil dry out a bit before you water it again to keep it moist. If your lemon tree’s soil dries out too quickly, apply compost and some mulch to it to increase its water-holding capacity.

If your plant’s leaves have already turned brown, don’t panic. Lemon trees are pretty stubborn, so they can still recover. Just maintain the effort you are making.


Too much water is detrimental to a plant’s health because the excess moisture prevents the roots from taking in nutrients from the soil. 

Many times, overwatering is the reason why lemon trees drop their leaves. If the soil is wet for too long, it can promote the growth of fungi, causing root rot and other problems.

Symptoms of an overwatered lemon tree include yellowing and falling leaves and the soil smelling damp often.

If your lemon tree is overwatered, and you are sure the soil is not the problem, hold off on water for a while. 

Then rearrange your watering schedule only to provide your plant a drink when the top inches of the soil are dry. Also, the older a tree gets, the less water it needs.

If root rot has already set in, trim the bad parts of the plant and repot. 

Poor Drainage

Even if you are watering your lemon tree correctly, issues can still arise if the soil has poor drainage.

Poorly draining soil retains too much water, and, as we’ve mentioned above, excess moisture in the soil causes root rot to set in.

For your lemon tree that has poorly draining soil, if you planted it in a pot, you can transplant it to a larger pot filled with fresh potting soil. Make sure there are drainage holes at the bottom too.

If your lemon tree is planted outdoors, you can transplant it to an area with better draining soil or apply compost every 1 to 2 months. The compost will help improve the soil over time. 

Improper Nutrients

Too much or too little nutrients both have a negative impact on the lemon tree, and here is how.

Excess nutrients caused by overfertilizing would burn the plant’s roots, resulting in dropping leaves and stunted growth.

Lemon trees are heavy feeders and require some essential nutrients, so a lack would stress your plant, resulting in leaf drop, stunted growth, and reduction in size and production of fruits. 

These issues can be resolved by fertilizing your lemon tree using compost or chemical fertilizers

Lack of Light

Another issue that causes leaf drops in lemon trees is the lack of sunlight. They need to get a decent amount of the sun to flourish, so they are sensitive to changes in light intensity.

Light issues are more familiar with indoor plants because they can be too shady. Lemon trees require more than 6 hours of light daily.

To fix insufficient light problems, place your indoor plant close to a window with excellent sunlight access. You can supplement your plant with some artificial plant light.

For an outdoor tree, place it somewhere it can access the full sun for hours.

Temperature Shock

Lemon trees have a particular temperature requirement of at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit, but some varieties can survive at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Anyways, lemon trees should be kept within a range of 32 degrees Fahrenheit to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Extreme heat can cause sunburn, wilting and dropping of the leaves, and reduced fruit production. 

Exposure to extreme cold can damage the plant, causing leaf drops during the winter. This damage is more severe to young plants.

To combat this problem, bring your potted plant inside during the colder season and cover it up as protection.

In the sweltering season, like summer, you may need to increase your watering because the soil may dry faster.

Pests and Diseases

Lemon Tree Leaves Infected With Leaf Miner
Lemon Tree Leaves Infected With Leaf Miner

Lemon trees are susceptible to pests and diseases. Several insects attack the plant and the fruits, sucking the juice and tree sap, causing tree damage and increasing the number of leaves dropping.

These pests’ attack leaves the tree too weak to defend itself, so an increase in the infection likelihood occurs. Common lemon tree pests include aphids, leaf miners, scale, and mealybugs. 

Bacterial and fungal infections that cause the dropping of leaves are phytophthora (root rot), greasy spot fungus, and Alternaria leaf spot.

To get rid of pests, you can spray your plants with water or neem oil or, better yet, introduce natural predators of these insects like ladybugs or wasps. 

This can be achieved by planting companion plants such as parsley, dill, and coriander.

Spraying your plant with a copper fungicide should help you eliminate the leaf spot and greasy spot diseases. The best solution for root rot is repotting, as mentioned above.

How Can I Revive My Lemon Tree That Has Lost a Lot of Leaves?

Now that you have done your research and applied remedies based on your findings, here are tips to take to maintain the health of your plant and revive it:

  1. Mist your lemon trees regularly with water to help keep the moisture levels up and with neem oil to prevent a return of pests and fungal growth on your plant.
  1. Ensure your plant has adequate light exposure.
  1. Maintain a constant temperature with minimal, unnoticeable changes if there must be changes at all.
  1. Fertilize regularly and adequately to keep up with its nutritional requirements to encourage growth and promote regeneration.
  1. Use well-draining, nutrient-rich soil or potting mix.
  1. Implement a proper watering schedule. 

Given proper care and enough time, your lemon tree will be back to total health, regenerate new foliage, and produce fruits for your enjoyment. 

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