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What Are the Causes of a Lemon Tree Drying Up?

lemon tree image by Dennis Carrigan from

The key to successful citrus production is plenty of moisture to trees and plants. Lemon trees require a humid environment and frequent watering for the highest fruit yields. Trees without enough water produce fewer and smaller fruits than healthier trees. Trees utilize water to carry nutrients through the system to grow and produce blooms and bear fruit. A lemon tree that is drying up can quickly die due to the lack of nutrients flowing throughout it.

Planting Too Closely

Gardeners may plant lemon trees close to one another to maximize orchard space and number of trees. The lemon trees must then compete with one another for water and nutrients. As a result, the lemon trees will need more frequent irrigation to flourish and to remain healthy. Use the lemon tree's average mature height to determine planting distance. For example, if the average height is 6 feet, plant the trees 6 feet apart.

Improper Mulching

Organic mulch provides a barrier over soil to prevent water evaporation. Additional nutrients seep into the soil below from mulch. Lemon trees have a shallow root system. They are unable to obtain moisture from deep in the soil or from a main taproot. Improper mulching leads to soil moisture evaporation and a dried-out lemon tree. Apply a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch at the base of lemon trees extending outward to each tree’s drip line.

Improper Watering Methods

One sign that a lemon tree is receiving too little water is leaf loss. Trees lose their leaves shortly after watering if previously left in dry soil. Irrigate to ensure that the trees consistently receive sufficient water. Arizona College of Agriculture recommends building an irrigation ditch around the base of each lemon tree that is as wide as the tree’s canopy. Citrus trees use an estimated 17 gallons to 135 gallons of water daily. Lemon trees use more water than other citrus trees. Trees growing in summer months and in warmer climates require additional water.

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