Lemon Tree Yellow Leaves: Causes and How to Save It

The lemon tree is one of the most popular fruit trees to have in plots, gardens, and even in large pots, because it is not a tree too demanding in its care and its fruits are highly appreciated for their acid flavor and its properties for health and other uses. Learn all about lemon tree yellow leaves in this article.

However, it may happen that one day we find our lemon tree with yellow leaves. This can be due to several reasons and it is very important to learn to identify them and know how to respond to them in time. If you want to learn the answers to questions such as why lemon tree leaves turn yellow and how to cure a lemon tree with yellow leaves, join us in this article.

Yellow Leaves Due to Lack of Nitrogen

If your lemon tree shows chlorosis of the leaves, that is, yellowing due to lack of chlorophyll and this affects the older branches first and spreads to the younger ones, this is a case of chlorosis due to lack of nitrogen.

Nitrogen, or N, is one of the main nutrients for lemon trees. Without it, they cannot grow or develop properly and it is an especially essential nutrient for flowering plants and fruit trees.

Pay special attention to how chlorosis progresses, it is important to be able to identify it. It is only due to a lack of nitrogen if it appears first on the oldest leaves and progresses to the new ones, otherwise, it may be due to other causes.

You should remedy this problem by applying a specific citrus fertilizer to the lemon tree, or simply by adding organic fertilizer rich in nitrogen regularly, such as worm castings.

We recommend if you have a lemon tree with yellow leaves that you use this special fertilizer (Order it here).

EZ-gro Citrus Tree Fertilizer - Orange, Lemon, Lime, Mango, Avocado - Liquid Plant Food for Tropical Fruit Trees to Grow More Fruit - Garden-Growing Miracle Nutrients - 1 Qt / 32 fl oz / 946 mL
512 Reviews
EZ-gro Citrus Tree Fertilizer - Orange, Lemon, Lime, Mango, Avocado - Liquid Plant Food for Tropical Fruit Trees to Grow More Fruit - Garden-Growing Miracle Nutrients - 1 Qt / 32 fl oz / 946 mL
  • IDEAL FERTILIZER FOR CITRUS TREES: Specially formulated for a variety of tropical fruit trees. Perfect for lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, mango, and kumquat. Dwarf or large varieties, with or without seeds. Gives indoor & outdoor plants the nutrients they need to bear a larger quantity of abundant, healthy fruit.
  • CONCENTRATED LIQUID FERTILIZER: Our fertilizer supplies high-grade nutrients directly to the root. A powerful cocktail with all the nutritional content your plants need. For live plants in your farm or garden. Mix with water before applying to soil.
  • ENHANCED MICRONUTRIENT PACKAGE: Infused with a micronutrient package which delivers the optimal nutrition for plants in the citrus group. Added potassium, magnesium, and iron to improve common nutrient deficiencies in citrus trees.
lemon tree leaves

Yellow Leaves Due to Lack of Zinc

Contrary to what happens with nitrogen deficiency, if you have a lemon tree with yellow and wrinkled leaves and this starts in the new leaves and spreads to the old ones, it is probably a lack of zinc, another micronutrient that your plant needs.

This should also affect the new shoots, which will appear yellow and dwarfed on their newly formed leaves. Usually, the yellow color will affect only the spaces between the leaf veins, the latter retaining their common green color, although in very severe cases even the veins will turn yellow.

In the case of zinc deficiency, we will also see necrotic spots on the edges of the leaf, which will assure us that this is the problem.

If we have a lemon tree with yellow leaves due to a lack of Zinc we recommend this product (Order it here).

Cesco Solutions Zinc Sulfate Fertilizer Powder - 99% Pure Zinc Sulfate Monohydrate Powder – Pecan Tree Fertilizer - 35% Zn Concentration - Water-Soluble Formula - Resealable Pack(5 lbs)
  • ✅ GET A 99.9% PURE ZINC SULFATE POWDER with a max concentration of 35% zinc, which is highly soluble in water, ideal for use in all types of soils. Provide your plants with the zinc fertilizer they need to thrive.
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Yellow Leaves Due to Lack of Iron or Excess Humidity

In the case of iron deficiency, the yellowing will also affect the new leaves first and will spread to the older ones, although without necrosis spots or dwarfing. The clearest particularity of iron deficiency is that it starts in the veins and, when it is severe, the leaves will turn an almost white yellow, so much so that the veins of the leaf will be almost impossible to discern.

This problem can occur either because of a lack of iron in the soil, or because the irrigation has been excessive or the drainage very bad, and the roots, choked, are unable to absorb the element from the soil. It will be necessary to improve drainage, space watering, or apply the iron for the lemon tree in the fertilizer.

If we have the lemon tree with yellow leaves due to lack of iron will be very simple to solve it, we must apply iron chelate (Order it here).

Southern Ag Chelated Liquid Iron, 16 OZ
  • Size: 16 OZ
  • Corrects Iron deficiency in flowers, vegetables, shrubs and trees.
  • Use in lawns for a deep, rich green color.
lemon tree fruit

Yellow Leaves on Lemon Tree Due to Lack of Manganese

Unlike the nutrients mentioned above, manganese deficiency is identified in lemon trees with dry and yellow leaves because the yellowing does not occur throughout the entire leaf, but in an irregular, almost mottled, manner. In other words, we find yellow spots on lemon tree leaves.

Chlorosis appears on new shoots and progresses towards the old ones, but dwarfism does not appear. It is common for this to appear naturally to some degree in winter, and with the arrival of the warmer months, it disappears without problems. Only when there is a serious lack of this element will it be necessary to intervene.

If we have a lemon tree with yellow leaves due to a lack of manganese, we should solve it by applying a little manganese to the soil (Order it here).

Manganese Sulfate Monohydrate - 32% Mn - 1 Pound
  • MnSO4*H2O, CAS# 10034-96-5, 32% Mn
  • Remediates Mn-deficient soil
  • Used in fertilizers, glazes, dyes, along with a lot of other uses.

How To Save a Lemon Tree With Yellow Leaves

The treatment for yellow lemon tree leaves will depend entirely on which of the causes listed above we are facing. Most of them involve applying a suitable fertilizer to the tree to supply its nutrient needs. The fertilizer that we apply must be of quality as the ones we recommend here, and always preferably organic. We must always respect the dosage recommended by the manufacturer.

The case of lack of iron due to poor drainage is the most complicated when it comes to adult lemon trees since transplanting a large tree is practically unfeasible or very expensive. Do everything possible to improve soil drainage and avoid waterlogging the area at all costs, spacing watering if necessary. If the leaves of the lemon tree are yellowing and falling off even after you have done this, you probably need to assess that the cause is something other than what you thought it was and consider other methods.

lemon tree yellow leaves fruit

How To Prevent Yellow Leaves On Lemon Trees

Lemon tree diseases are much easier to prevent than to treat, especially in the case of those that depend on the soil. Here are some tips for preventing lemon tree yellow leaves and lemon tree diseases in general:

1- Be sure to locate your tree in an area with the best possible drainage and sunshine.

2- You can water the area well before planting and look to see where water puddles and where it does not. The spot where the water does not stagnate will be the best area.

3- Regarding nutrients, fertilize your fruit tree regularly and add organic matter to the soil in the warm months in the form of worm castings or compost.

You should also check our guide about Nutrient Deficiency in Plants.

lemon tree flower
About Henry Morgan

We are the Morgan family, Henry, and Morgan, both agronomists from the University of Michigan, where we met. We are experts in putting our hands in the soil and developing organic foods and improving production processes for decades. Likewise, we have worked for companies such as Mondelez International, BASF, Monsanto, etc. currently in our role as science writers for TheGardenStyle.com as well as advisors in promoting large scale food growing in urbanized areas. In this website, we share what we are most passionate about, gardening and farming. Enjoy and see real photos on our website.