The lemon is one of the easiest species of fruit-bearing indoor trees to propagate. But, tempted by the ease of growing lemons from pips or cuttings, flower growers often make the main mistake - they expect quick results. Lemons are the most capricious of indoor citrus plants. It takes many years to wait until fruiting, and growth problems are the first reaction of the plant to any blunder with conditions or care. And to understand why the lemon does not grow is not always easy, because you need to analyze literally all the nuances of cultivation.
Colorful, filling the house with an inimitable aromatic cloud, bringing a delicious harvest, attractive all year round, room lemons are not accidentally so loved. They respond to proper care with even more ornamental greenery and an abundance of flowers and fruits. But they are also more sensitive to deviations from these conditions than their counterparts.
If the blessed climate of their usual southern countries is not created for lemons, success will not be achieved. The lemon is a subtropical star that requires a cool dormancy period, access to fresh air, and consistency. Without ideal care and optimal conditions, problems with the lemon cannot be avoided.
The most common of these are stopping or slowing growth, disruption of the growth rate of twigs and leaves, accompanied by other symptoms as well. Consider the causes that can lead to problems with the growth of lemons. They are worth checking one by one if your lemon grown from seed or cuttings does not grow.
Read also our material Growing a lemon tree at home.
1. Violation of the dormancy period or lack thereof
Lemon growth stoppage, sometimes abrupt after a vigorous period of development, with shedding of some or all leaves, is most often associated with violation of the rules of overwintering. Lemon requires a dormant period in the cool - from the ideal 7-10 degrees to at least 15-16 degrees.
In addition, during this period it needs increased lighting to compensate for the winter reduction of daylight hours, reduced watering to light substrate moisture and a complete stop of nutrition. Both heat and too much watering and winter feeding all together or separately lead to growth problems.
2. Improper transplanting or soil
The lemon requires transplanting only when it is needed - after the plant has filled the ground lump with roots. Transplanting without need or no transplanting when the roots have nowhere to develop is equally unfavorable.
Lemon should choose containers with large drainage holes corresponding to the volume of the rhizome, with an increase of a few centimeters each time - deep and wide enough, but not too spacious or cramped.
Lemons cannot tolerate deep planting: in seedlings, the root neck should not be deepened, leaving it in line with the soil to avoid the risk of rotting. After planting the plant is watered carefully, allowing it to adapt in coolness, soft light and very high humidity - and only then transferred to its usual place.
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Very often poor quality substrate or mistakes in its selection leads to the fact that the lemon does not grow. Lemon prefers peat-free, loose, nutritious, breathable earth mixtures on leaf, sod soil, inert additives and sand - special multi-component substrates for citrus or caddisfruit. For them it is obligatory to add to the soil loosening agents - coarse sand, vermiculite, perlite, coconut fiber, etc.
3. Over-watering and rot
If it is not a matter of wintering or soil, when lemons grow poorly, you should suspect dampness and its consequences. In spring and summer, water lemons abundantly but not excessively - letting the top layer of soil dry out and avoiding drought. In winter, watering is reduced, maintaining a slight stable humidity and drying out the soil more.
Inappropriate watering, insufficient drainage, compacted soil, stagnant water - and the roots begin to develop rot. To diagnose it, check the condition of the substrate, the humidity in the middle layer, the presence of signs of mold and sourness on top of the soil and in the trays.
You can gently remove the plant with the root ball and examine the roots outside and the soil, checking if everything is okay. If the disturbance is not systemic, you can try drying the soil. But if there is an unpleasant smell, traces of mold or rot, an emergency transplant is the only thing that can save the lemon. The substrate should be removed completely, the roots should be inspected, removing damaged areas and treating the cuts. Transplanting is carried out in a new clean substrate.
Sometimes problems with growth can also cause incorrect (uneven) watering, which is carried out from one side of the pot.
4. Abrupt changes in conditions
The lemon, as, indeed, all other citrus fruits, reacts extremely poorly to changes in temperature, lighting, degree of substrate moisture, draughts - towards the deterioration of any of the indicators. A plant that is quickly transferred to radically different conditions drops its leaves, bears fruit poorly and slows growth. Thus lemons, especially young ones, often react even to turning in relation to the light source.
Lemons should be given time to adapt to intermediate conditions. Thus to improvement of conditions - increase of illumination, stabilization of temperatures - a lemon gets used quickly and reacts to them vigorously and positively.
Frequently to the fact that a lemon grows badly, the constant fluctuations of temperature of an earth clod - overheating or overcooling from air, contact with surfaces or watering with cold water in any season.
5. Lack of light
Lemons require bright light and long daylight hours (increase lighting in fall and winter, keeping it familiar). With insufficient light, placement of lemons not on a window sill or on the northern window and without extra light, plants stretch out, lose leaves and change colors. But above all, they stop growing.
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6. Improper water
Lemons are painfully responsive to watering with hard, insufficiently soft and cold water. The water temperature should always be a few degrees higher than the room temperature. And it is better to use melted, rain or filtered water for this citrus fruit.
7. Too dry air
The lemon likes normal, but not extremely dry air. It is very important for it to spray or take other measures to avoid humidity levels falling below 45%. If the stopping of growth is accompanied by the shedding of leaves, it is better to create greenhouse conditions for the lemon - install a hood or a mini greenhouse.
8. Inappropriate feeding
Lemons need nutritious soil. Feed them only during active growth, every 2-3 weeks, with special or universal fertilizers in alternation with organic fertilizers.
If problems with the growth of shoots and new leaves are accompanied by deformation and discoloration of the leaves, spots, yellowing or turning yellow, it is worth checking whether there is a lack or an excess of nutrients or some macro-and microelements. By analyzing whether or not the nutrients match the developmental stage and individual preferences of the lemon, you can quickly adjust the procedures and fertilizer composition. And the accompanying signs will reveal exactly what substances the plant is lacking.
Read also our article Proper nutrition of houseplants.
9. Too much flowering
Many new lemon varieties with early fruiting tend to bloom wildly, but most often the plant simply does not have enough resources to ripen all the fruit that has set - the trees drop their leaves, stunt their growth, form small fruits (and they do not ripen well). Fruiting needs to be regulated by partially cutting off unopened buds.
10. Continuous control of pests and diseases
Regular inspection of leaves and soil, shoots and buds can prevent serious problems. Scabies, aphids, spider mites, rusts, and rot require detection as early as possible. The more infested a plant is, the more growth is impaired.
If signs of infestation are detected, isolate the plants immediately and start fighting with fungicides or insecticides.
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