Although lemon trees are among the most straightforward indoor fruit trees to cultivate, many novice gardeners commonly expect too much too soon.
When grown inside, lemon trees are the fussiest of all citrus trees. It takes many years for the plant to bear fruit, and if something goes wrong with the environment or care, it first has growth problems.
It can be complicated to figure out why the lemon won’t grow; doing so requires deep diving into a wide range of growing details.
It’s no surprise that indoor lemon trees are so popular; they’re eye-catching all year long, produce a tasty harvest, and fill the home with a distinctive aroma.
If you give them the attention they need, they’ll reward you with an abundance of flowers and fruiting plants in addition to their impressive display of ornamentation.
But they are also more sensitive than their peers to deviations from these care rules.
There is the only chance of success if you create a habitual southern climate for lemons. The lemon tree, a subtropical star, needs a remarkable dormancy period, plenty of air, and regular watering.
You can only prevent lemon issues if you give the lemons the best possible care and keep the environment just right.
The most common is a cessation or slowing of growth, disrupting the usual twig and leaf development rate. First, let’s investigate what could be going wrong to prevent your lemons from growing correctly.
If a lemon tree you grew from a cutting or seed is not flourishing, you should examine each of these factors.
1. A Breach of The Dormancy Period or Its Absence
Most of the time, not following the rules for overwintering causes a lemon tree to stop growing and lose some or all of its leaves. This can happen after a period of rapid growth.
For the lemon, dormancy means a period of cool weather, ideally between 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit but at least 59 degrees.
During this time, it also needs more light to make up for the shorter days of winter, less watering so that the substrate is only slightly damp, and no food at all.
Problems with growth can be caused by heat, too much watering, feeding in the winter, or all three.
2. Improper transplanting or Wrong Soil
Transplanting a lemon tree is unnecessary until the plant’s root system has wholly filled the soil ball. Not transplanting when the roots have nowhere to go is just as bad as transplanting when they do.
For lemons, it’s best to choose containers with large drainage holes the same size as the root ball and get bigger by a few inches each time. The holes should be deep and wide but not too big or too small.
Lemons can’t be planted deep, so don’t bury the seedlings’ root necks. Instead, leave them on the soil’s surface, so they don’t rot.
After the plant is put in the ground, it is carefully watered and given time to get used to the cool, soft light and very high humidity. Only then is it moved to its usual spot.
Most of the time, the lemon doesn’t grow because the soil needs to be better or the wrong kind was chosen.
Citrus trees and houseplants benefit from a specialized, all-purpose soil mixture that is peat-free, loose, nutrient-rich, and airy rather than leafy, turf-like soil, additives, or sand.
Therefore, it is essential to amend the soil with soil-loosening materials such as coarse sand, vermiculite, perlite, coconut fiber, etc., for these plants.
3. Overwatering and Rotting
If lemons don’t grow well, and it’s not because of the winter or the soil, you should look for signs of dampness and the problems it can cause.
You should water lemon trees heavily in the spring and summer, but you should also let the top layer of soil dry out to prevent drought.
In the winter, you should water less, keeping the humidity steady but low and allowing the soil to dry out more.
If you don’t have a water right, the soil doesn’t drain well, it’s packed down, or water doesn’t move, and the roots start to rot.
To figure out what’s wrong with the substrate, look for signs of mold and pungency smell on the top of the soil and in the trays.
Carefully pull the plant out by the root ball and check the shallow roots and soil to ensure everything is healthy. Let the soil dry out if the problems aren’t systemic.
But if the lemon has a foul smell or signs of mold or rot, the only thing that can save it is an emergency transplant.
Before looking at the roots, you must remove any broken parts and all the soil around the root system. Then it’s time to repot your plant into a fresh batch of soil.
There may be a problem with growth due to improper (uneven) watering on either side of the pot.
4. Sudden Environmental Changes
Like other citrus fruits, lemon has an adverse reaction to shifts in temperature, light, substrate moisture, and draughts.
If you suddenly move a plant to an entirely new environment, you can expect it to lose leaves, produce poor fruit, and significantly slow its growth.
This is a typical response of lemons, especially young ones, when they are rotated about a light source.
Allow lemons some time to adjust to the new environment. Conversely, the lemon adapts quickly to better conditions (more light, more stable temperatures) and shows solid and positive responses.
Overheating or overcooling from the air, exposure to surfaces, or watering with cold water any time of the year can stunt lemon growth.
5. A Lack of Light
Lemons require light and long daylight hours (In the fall and winter, the lighting is increased to keep it regular).
Place lemons anywhere besides a window sill or a northern window; they will droop, lose leaves, and change colors if they don’t get enough light. Even more significantly, their rate of growth slows to a stop.
6. Incorrect Water
Lemons are painfully sensitive to water that is too hard, too soft, or too cold. Therefore, the water temperature should always be a few degrees above room temperature.
Remember that melted, rain or filtered water works best for this citrus.
7. Excessively Dry Air
Lemon likes normal, but not overly dry, air. Therefore, it is essential to spray or do something else to keep the humidity below 45%.
For best results, install a hood or a small glasshouse to simulate glasshouse conditions for the lemon if its growth has slowed and it has begun to lose leaves.
8. Improper Fertilization
It is essential to have healthy soil when growing lemons. It would help if you fed during active growth, every 2-3 weeks, with particular or universal fertilizers in combination with organic fertilizers.
If problems with the growth of shoots and new leaves are accompanied by changes in the shape and color of the leaves, such as spots, paleness, or yellowing, it may be a sign that the plant isn’t getting enough or too much of certain nutrients.
Look for signs that are common to all plants. Then, you can quickly modify the fertilizer treatment and composition by determining if it suits the growth stage and the lemon’s specific preferences.
Furthermore, the symptoms will specify which nutrients the plant is lacking.
9. Excessive Blooming
Many recently developed lemon varieties have an overabundance of flowers for their early fruiting stage. Still, the plant usually needs more energy to ripen all the fruit that has been set fully.
The trees lose their leaves, grow slowly, and make small fruits (and they do not ripen well). It would be best to control the fruiting by partially snipping the unopened buds.
10. Constant Pest And Disease Control
Regularly inspecting the leaves, soil, new growth, and buds can help avoid significant issues.
Early detection is crucial for preventing severe damage from diseases and pests like scabs, aphids, spider mites, rust, and rot. The more a plant is infested, the slower it grows.
If you see signs of an infestation, you should separate the plants immediately and start using fungicides or insecticides to fight the problem.