Why are Citrus Tree Leaves Turning Yellow? Causes and Effective Solutions

5/5 - (24 votes)

Why Are Citrus Tree Leaves Turning Yellow

Citrus tree leaves turning yellow is a sight that often sends a shudder down the spine of every avid gardener. This change in color may be the harbinger of potential issues that warrant immediate attention.

As a symptom of various conditions, it presents a fascinating conundrum. Is it due to nutrient deficiencies, a disease, improper care, or something else entirely? The ambiguity grips us, beckoning us to delve deeper into this botanical mystery, peeling off each layer of yellowed leaf information one by one.

Why Are Citrus Tree Leaves Turning Yellow?

1. Nutrient deficiency

Description can cause chlorophyll breakdown, leading to yellowing of citrus tree leaves.
Solution Apply a balanced fertilizer to restore nutrient levels and maintain healthy citrus tree leaves.

Citrus trees require a specific set of nutrients to thrive, and when they lack any of these, it can manifest in yellowing leaves, a symptom often associated with nutrient deficiency. The tree needs primary nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as secondary nutrients like magnesium, calcium, and sulfur. In addition, trace elements such as iron, manganese, zinc, and copper are also vital.

Iron deficiency is a common cause of yellowing leaves in citrus trees. Low iron availability in the soil can lead to chlorosis, a condition in which leaves are unable to produce sufficient chlorophyll. As a result, leaves may turn yellow while the veins remain green.

High soil pH can cause zinc or manganese deficiency, leading to yellowing leaves. In alkaline soils, these trace elements become less bioavailable, meaning the roots cannot absorb them effectively. The leaves turn yellow, while the leaf veins usually stay green.

Nitrogen deficiency is another common cause. Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for leaf development and growth. Lack of it can cause the older leaves to turn yellow.

The good news is, these nutrient deficiencies can be rectified. Regularly testing soil for nutrient levels and pH can help maintain optimal soil conditions. If a deficiency is detected, especially of trace elements, consider using a specially formulated citrus fertilizer. It’s also important to maintain proper irrigation and drainage to prevent problems such as root rot that hinder nutrient absorption.

2. Overwatering

Description causes excess moisture, preventing roots from absorbing necessary nutrients, leading to yellowing leaves.
Solution Reduce watering and ensure proper drainage to prevent root rot and improve nutrient uptake.

Overwatering can result in yellowing leaves on citrus trees. This causes a deficiency of oxygen getting to the roots, in turn making the leaves to turn yellow. Furthermore, overwatering can lead to a buildup of certain salts and minerals in the soil, which can inhibit a plant’s ability to absorb nutrients effectively, contributing to chlorosis or yellowing of the leaves. When carried to an extreme, overwatering may even cause root rot and other diseases to develop.
Tag: Overwatering & Nutrient Absorption

To rectify this problem, practice a proper watering schedule. Citrus trees require deep, but infrequent watering. Allow the soil to dry out significantly between watering, and when you do water, do it thoroughly. A soil moisture meter can assist you to determine when it’s time to water. Depending on your climate and the size of your tree, watering once a week might suffice. By adjusting your watering practices, you can help to restore your citrus tree’s health and promote green, vibrant leaves. Additional steps you may consider are improving soil drainage and administering appropriate fertilizers. Tag: Proper Watering Schedule, Soil Drainage, Fertilizers

3. Pest infestation

Description Pest infestation causes citrus tree leaves to turn yellow due to damage to chlorophyll.
Solution Apply organic pest control to eliminate pests and promote healthy leaf growth.

Pest Infestation Impact on Citrus Trees
Citrus trees may experience yellowing leaves due to pest infestations. Specific pests, such as aphids, spider mites, and citrus leaf miners, could be responsible for this symptom. These pests suck the sap out of the leaves, causing them to yellow and often curl. If not controlled, the damage could lead to severe leaf drop, impacting overall tree health and fruit production.

Solutions to Pest Infestations
Consider integrated pest management strategies to combat these infestations. Regular monitoring can help identify pests early, allowing for quicker intervention. Introduce beneficial insects like ladybugs, which are natural predators of harmful pests. If necessary, use a horticultural oil or insecticidal soap to treat the affected tree. Regular pruning helps keep the tree healthy and less susceptible to infestations. Professional advice may be required for severe infestations.

4. Environmental stress (e.g. extreme temperatures)

Description Pest infestation causes citrus tree leaves to turn yellow due to damage to chlorophyll.
Solution Apply organic pest control to eliminate pests and promote healthy leaf growth.

Extreme temperatures can have a detrimental effect on citrus trees, leading to yellowing of the leaves. This is because citrus trees are sensitive and prefer a specific range of temperatures for optimal growth. During periods of hot or cold stress, the tree’s metabolic processes may be affected, with the resulting imbalance leading often to nutrient deficiencies that manifest as yellowing leaves.

To mitigate the issue, you should take appropriate measures to regulate the temperature around your citrus trees. For example, during hot summers, use shade cloths to protect trees from scorching sunlight. During cold winters, ensure trees are adequately protected with plant blankets or Christmas lights for added warmth. Also, make sure to water appropriately as both overwatering and underwatering can exacerbate stress. Appropriate fertilization can also help to correct any nutrient imbalances.

Why Are Citrus Tree Leaves Turning Yellow

5. Soil pH imbalance

Description Apply organic pest control to eliminate pests and promote healthy leaf growth.
Solution Adjust soil pH to restore balance and prevent yellowing of citrus tree leaves.

Citrus trees are sensitive to soil pH levels, and an imbalance can lead to yellowing leaves. This happens because when the pH level is too high or too low, it interferes with the tree’s ability to absorb essential nutrients from the soil, causing nutritional deficiencies that manifest as yellowing leaves.

To correct this problem, you’ll first need to test the soil pH. You can do this using a simple home soil pH testing kit from your local garden center. Citrus trees thrive best in slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 to 7.0. If the pH is either below or above this, the soil needs to be adjusted.

If your soil is too acidic (below 6.0), you can increase its pH by adding lime. Conversely, if your soil is too alkaline (above 7.0), you can decrease its pH by incorporating sulfur or a soil acidifier into the soil. It’s important to add these materials gradually, testing the pH frequently, as large changes in pH can be harmful to the tree. Over time, the soil pH level should stabilize, and the citrus tree’s ability to absorb nutrients should improve, leading to healthier, greener leaves.

6. Disease or infection

Description Citrus tree leaves turn yellow due to disease or infection affecting their physiological processes.
Solution Provide proper nutrition, such as iron or nitrogen, and ensure adequate sunlight and water for growth.

Yellowing leaves on a citrus tree could be a symptom of a disease or infection. Bacterial, fungal, and viral pathogens may cause a condition known as chlorosis, which results in yellow leaves. diseases such as citrus canker, greasy spot, or citrus greeningcan cause leaves to turn yellow and even fall off.

The tree’s immune system will be weakened by the disease, making it less able to deliver essential nutrients and water to its leaves. This disruption of nutrient and water distribution causes the leaves to become discolored and wilt.

To solve these issues, you first need to correctly identify the disease. This may require a professional diagnosis. Once the disease has been identified, specific treatments can be applied. Treatments may involve pruning infected parts of the tree, applying disease-specific sprays, or, in severe cases, removing the tree entirely to prevent the disease from spreading to other plants. In addition to this, improving general tree health with correct watering, fertilizing, and care practices can increase the tree’s resistance to disease.

7. Aging or natural leaf shedding

Description The specific reason for a leaf turning yellow is aging or natural leaf shedding.
Solution Increase nutrient intake to support new leaf growth and promote overall plant health.

One common reason why the leaves of your citrus tree might be turning yellow is due to a lack of proper nutrients, specifically nitrogen. Nitrogen deficiency usually presents as yellowing of the entire leaf, particularly on older, lower leaves. Without sufficient nitrogen, the leaves are unable to produce chlorophyll which gives them their green color and is crucial for photosynthesis, the process by which plants produce energy.

To address this issue, apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer to your citrus trees. You can use a slow-release fertilizer specially formulated for citrus trees, typically with a high first number in the N-P-K ratio (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium). It’s also important to water regularly since water boosts absorption of nitrogen from the soil. Complement these efforts with regular soil pH testing. Citrus trees prefer slightly acidic soil conditions (pH between 6.0-7.0), because certain nutrients, including nitrogen, are more available in this pH range. Correct soil pH can enhance nutrient uptake, helping the trees get the necessary nitrogen they need to remain healthy and green.