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Why Are Lemon Trees Curling? We’ll See!

Why Are Lemon Trees Curling? We’ll See!

Lemon trees belong to the Rutaceae family, a species comprising of small evergreen trees.

The trees are native to Asia, predominantly found in the northeast of India.

Lemon trees bear lemon, a light-yellow fruit with an acidic taste used for culinary and cleaning purposes worldwide.

The leaves are used in making tea and cooked meat and seafood preparation while its oil is sometimes used in aromatherapy.

But, if you find your lemon tree leaves curling, better investigate the cause behind it.


Why are lemon trees curling?

When the leaves of the lemon tree curl, they curl upwards, wilt or wrinkle. The curling is a result of disease, temperature extremes (too hot or cold), over or underwatering or infestation by insects.


Reasons why lemon trees curl



Fungal, bacterial, and viral diseases are the common type of diseases causing leaf curls.

Mel secco, a fungal disease, leads to wilting of leaves, and in fallen leaves, the midrib may be discolored to red.

The disease is prevalent in the citrus-growing areas of the Mediterranean.

Bacterial canker (blast) is a bacterial disease characterized by rapidly expanding black lesions on leaf petioles, twig and branch cankers, and blackening of leaves.

These are most severe on tree leaves exposed to the wind.

Tristeza is a viral disease whose symptoms include dropping of leaves, chlorotic leaves, and brittle twigs.


Temperature extremes

Weather changes contribute to the stress experienced by lemon trees, hence leaves curling.

Drastic changes in temperatures such as too much heat reduce plant photosynthetic and transpiration efficiencies making the leaves curl in an effort to retain water.

Tree leaves would also curl as a result of too much cold.

When temperatures drop below teens, leaves shrivel and turn brownish-green in defense against moisture loss.


Over or underwatering

As much as water is essential for plants’ survival, too much or way much less of it leads to the curling of leaves.

Leaves curling downwards and dropping from the stem to the tip are an indication of too much watering.

This is most common in soils in lemon trees growing in soils with high water retention.

Underwatering leads to plant dehydration. The leaves curl in an attempt to conserve the little water available.


Insect infestation

They include aphids and citrus leaf miner.

Aphids transmit tristeza virus. Their infestation is characterized by curled leaves covered in a sticky substance.

Leaf miners attack at an early stage when the leaves are flushing. Their effects on leaves are characterized by curled and distorted leaves.


Lemon tree curl remedies

Good news! Leaf curl in lemon trees can be reversed in the following ways.


Pruning, quarantine, and fungicides

Fungal attacks by the Mell Sacco are managed by pruning the shoots and branches of the infected tree as soon as possible.

While planting trees in a new location, one should make sure they use clean planting materials to avoid contamination.

Spraying the tree with copper fungicide protects it from the disease. Copper fungicide spraying also applies to bacterial infection.

Viral infections are treated by quarantine procedures preventing the disease from spreading into disease-free areas.


Growing lemons in appropriate temperatures

The best temperature for growing lemons is between 77 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

Any extreme high or low temperature will result in leaf curl.


Ideal watering methods

For newly planted lemon trees, water them every day of the first week followed by once or twice a month for two months.

In dry periods, water new lemons every five days and every seven to fourteen days for mature lemon trees to avoid leaf curling due to water stress.


Insecticides and water sprout removal

Apply insecticides to young trees. Do this with care to avoid retarded growth.

Another method is the removal of water sprouts from trees and pruning live branches more than once a year to facilitate the growth of new flushes.


Frequently Asked Questions about Why Lemon Trees Are Curling


How do you plant lemon trees in pots?

When starting, a 16-inch pot (40 cm) will suffice. For larger growing varieties, repot into bigger containers after two years then repeat the same after three years.


How do you prune lemon trees?

Cut at a 5 degrees angle taking care not to damage the stalk. Also, removing suckers and water sprouts is essential while pruning for it ensures the suckers do not suck nutrients for your tree.


When’s the best time to prune lemon trees?

It depends on the climate and the age of the lemon tree. Most people prune during spring or autumn. As for the age, young lemons are not pruned to encourage fruit-bearing. Much older lemon is pruned to encourage the shape and mature lemons are pruned once or twice a year after every harvest.


What’s the best tool for pruning lemons trees?

Depending on the size and age of your lemon tree, pruning shears or hand-held saw will do the work. Make sure to put on protective gloves and disinfect your tool before pruning.


How long does it take lemon trees to reach their full height?

Generally, lemon trees two to three years to reach their maximum height. However, this varies from plant variety.


Where is it best to plant a lemon tree?

Lemon trees need the sun and to bear fruit, they need maximum exposure. Therefore, a spot with at least six hours of sun exposure per day will do best.


Should flower from lemon trees be removed?

Only for young lemon trees so they can develop a good root system and branch structure during their first years of development.



Lemon trees should be taken care of to attain maximum yield. They should be protected from unsuitable weather conditions such as frost.

Growing them near the house aids in protecting them at their early stages. As much as lemon trees tolerate a range of soils, most of them thrive in well-drained, slightly acidic soils.

In addition to all the above, can be grown indoors which makes them a great house plant provided they are grown in well-drained soil and adequate space for growth.

The expected height for indoor-grown lemon trees is three to five feet.

All in all, as long as lemon trees are provided with their basic needs, leaf curling won’t be an issue.