How to revive a Meyer lemon tree that isn’t growing well

Last updated on March 30th, 2022

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If you are growing a Meyer lemon tree and aren’t sure why it isn’t performing well, you are not alone. Many people work hard on compost composition, plant location, and pot decisions when growing citrus lemon trees. Then all that effort seems to be taken away when the tree starts to show signs of sickness, but more commonly dropping all its leaves, leaving nothing but bare stems. Whether you are a first-time grower or have years of experience, rest assured this happens from time to time. 

Below are a few ways you can revive a Meyer lemon tree that isn’t growing well:

Tip 1: Provide ideal growing conditions

Let’s assume your lemon tree has no leaves or very few. The first thing to do is scrape back a little bark from the stem and see if it is green underneath. If it’s green you have a chance, however, if it’s brown then you might not be able to revive it. 

First off, never leave a lemon tree sitting in standing water in a tray or saucer. The soil should be moist but allow the surface of the compost to dry out before watering again. Use a pot saucer to collect the water but empty the water from the saucer. Finally, Meyer lemon trees prefer plenty of light and a warm room, but don’t place them on a windowsill with a radiator underneath because they will not like being exposed to the rising heat from below.

Tip 2: Time Your Pruning Habits

It is imperative that you prune the lemon tree at the right time in order to get it to grow correctly. Each year, you should prune in early spring, during which time you remove any dead or diseased branches, as well as crisscrossed branches. Don’t skip this, or do it at the wrong time because it can lead to an unhealthy lemon tree. 

Tip 3: Remove Weeds

Whether your tree is growing in the ground or (more commonly in the UK) in a pot, you can still experience problems with weeds. You need to regularly check for weeds and remove them, especially if your lemon tree is young. Younger trees have smaller canopies and this means more light gets through to the soil below, and that means weeds have a higher chance of surviving. 

Occasionally looking for weeds and removing them won’t cut it. Allowing weeds to grow too much, unchecked, will remove vital nutrients from your lemon tree. For most people growing them in pots though, this probably won’t be much of an issue.

Tip 4: Winter Care

It is essential you protect your lemon tree against frost damage. Citrus trees are naturally found in warmer climates, so you want to bring yours indoors during the winter to keep them healthy. If you absolutely can’t, cover it with horticultural fleece and wrap the pot in bubble wrap or lagging. Now, assuming it was already damaged, don’t rush to chop off those cold damaged bits; save that process until the following spring when your annual pruning takes place. And remember, it still needs water though, sporadically, in the winter. 

These four tips will help you revive your sick or unhealthy-looking lemon tree in no time. Remember, it might take a few months for the tree to come back if, for example, if the damage was winter weather or you didn’t provide the best growing conditions and its dropped all its leaves, but come spring you will see the tree start to look much more healthy.

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Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at

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