Why is my lime tree dropping leaves? | The best solutions to leaf drop

Lime trees will drop leaves if they lack water, if the weather changes rapidly, due to pest attack or if it lacks the range of nutrients it needs. Very hot weather or frosts can cause leaf drop in lime trees. The tree can be saved however if it is protected from frosts, is topped up with water and given a feed of pelleted chicken manure.

Lime tree leaf drop can be caused by a range of factors. This article will explore the top causes of lime tree leaf drop and what you can do to solve this problem.

Top reasons why a lime tree will drop leaves

Here are my top reasons why your lime tree might be dropping leaves and what you can do about it.

Not enough water

Lime trees that are thirsty and not getting enough water can drop their leaves. You will usually notice the leaves turning yellow and then brown and dropping to the ground.

Lime trees that dry out even on the surface will send less water to the tips of the leaves causing them to drop off.

If you see brown, dry leaves on the ground under the tree, a lack of water could be the cause. Stick your finger in the soil 2 inches below the surface and see if the tree ground is dry.

A healthy lime tree will have green leaves all the way to the ends.

Give your tree a deep water to make sure it meets the lower roots and repeat every 2-3 days for at least a week.

This will rehydrate your lime tree and help it to recover from drying out. Adding seaweed solution to your watering can will also help to improve the soil and root growth of the lime tree. This will help it to survive dry periods in the future.

Lime trees are quick to respond to good watering and in warm weather than can sprout new leaves within 2 weeks. New lime leaves will look small and usually a light green color. This is a sign that the tree is happy and it was likely that lack of water was the cause of the leaf drop.

This tree has new growth to the right of the lime.

Mulching will help to keep the water in the soil

An important way to make your lime tree has consistent water is to mulch underneath the leaf canopy. I like to use sugar cane or bark mulch under citrus as it holds water well and will reduce the surface evaporation.

Very hot weather or frosts

Extreme weather including frost or heat can cause the lime tree to suffer and drop its leaves. Frost damage can cause the tree to drop its leaves rapidly, particularly the new growth on young trees.

Very hot weather can also stress the plant which will hold back moisture from the leaf tips keeping it in the center of the plant. This can result in leaf damage and leaf drop.

The tree can definitely be saved from this point so don’t give up. For a tree with heat damage, give it a deep water and cover with a thick layer of mulch.

For frost damaged plants, leave the damaged leaves on until the frosts have passed. The damaged leaves can then be removed by trimming them off with sharp secateurs. Lime trees will quickly grow new leaves to replace the old once the weather warms.

Scale bugs and aphids

Scale bugs and aphids will suck the sap from your lime tree and cause the tree to suffer and eventually drop its leaves. Scale bugs will stick to the stems of the tree sucking the sap, releasing a sticky substance which can attract ants.

Scale bugs on lime tree stems

Scale bugs are easily treated with an eco-oil which can also be used to treat aphid attack.

To treat sap sucking pests like scale or aphids follow these simple steps.

  1. Wash the scale off with a hose, use a jet stream to remove extra bugs.
  2. Allow the tree to dry off naturally in the sun and wind.
  3. Spray the area with eco-oil which will help to treat the scale.
  4. Repeat the process of treating with eco-oil until the scale is completely gone.

Lack of soil nutrients

Lime trees will need to be fed with organic fertilizers in spring and Fall. They can struggle to grow well, develop new leaves and fruit if they do not have all of the nutrients they need.

The easy solution is to add pelleted chicken manure during the warmer months to support this growth. This will give the leaves enough nitrogen to grow, develop chlorophyll and photosynthesize. Topping up with liquid nitrogen fertilizer in Spring will also help them to grow rapidly.

I like to use fish emulsion mixed together with seaweed solution to improve the soil at the same time.

Will lime trees die if they lose their leaves?

Lime trees will not always die when they lose their leaves. They are a hardy plant and can recover if they are treated well. Take the first steps to identify the problem, look for pests, test the amount of moisture in the soil with your finger. Water it well if the soil is dry and top it up with mulch if it needs it.

Once pests have been treated and the plant is watered and given a small dose of nitrogen fertilizer it will spring back to life before your eyes. Top dress the tree with compost and add a few handfuls of pelleted chicken manure to keep it happy. This will give your tree a boost of nutrients to help it recover.

Why do lime trees lose their leaves?

Lime trees will lose their leaves if they get too dry, experience a rapid change in temperature, frost or pest attack. Treat the pest problem like scale or aphids with eco oil and then top dress the tree with compost.  Keep the tree well-watered and keep an eye on the leaves over the next few weeks.

Will lime tree leaves grow back?

Damaged lime tree leaves will not grow back but can be replaced with new leaves if the tree is healthy. Identify the issue first and fix the problem by either watering it more, less or treating the pest problem.  When the weather warms the tree will grow more leaves and freshen up the canopy.

Why is my lime tree dropping leaves? | Summary

Lime trees will drop leaves if they experience stress from a lack of water, extremely hot or cold weather or if they are getting attacked by pests. This can happen sometimes but can be fixed if the problem is identified quickly.  A lime tree that has the nutrients and water it needs will be more resistant to pests and cold weather snaps.

Organic fertilizers are my favorite way of looking after my citrus trees. I always use pelleted chicken manure and fish emulsion to keep them well fertilized and happy.

Happy gardening.