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Can Citrus Fertilizer Cure Yellowing of Leaves

Discover how citrus fertilizer effectively combats yellow leaves, ensuring vibrant, healthy growth and abundant fruit production in citrus plants.

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Plants that are thriving have one thing in common– green, healthy leaves! If the leaves of your plants have started to lose their green color and are turning yellow, it may signal various issues. These issues may range from nutrient deficiency to over-watering. Some plants may have old leaves turn yellow, which is normal. 

But if your plant used to be a vibrant green, it may be time to consider the steps you can take to save them. Noticing yellow leaves in plants, you can be sure something is disrupting the plant’s chlorophyll, requiring an immediate response. Fortunately, this is preventable and treatable if caught early. Keep reading as we discuss leaf yellowing and how citrus tree fertilizer may help.

What Causes Yellowing of Leaves?

Yellowing of Leaves-Citrus Fertilizer

Citrus plants replace the old yellow leaves with new waxy ones. During the natural withering process, these yellow leaves are not overwhelming and are hard to spot. If you notice fresh new leaves have started to get yellow, then the plant may lack nitrogen, magnesium, and chlorophyll activity during photosynthesis. 

As citrus leaves require a high amount of nutrients to keep replacing old yellow leaves, they may go overboard when the nutrients are less in the soil, causing new leaves to become yellow as well. 

Here are some reasons the leaves may start to appear yellow. 

Low mineral content

When the nitrogen in the soil is less, the plant will not be able to absorb it, and the leaves will start to become yellow. Eventually, these leaves will drop from the plant. Even young shoots may get affected due to nitrogen deficiency and start to get yellow. This will also cause the plant growth to stop, resulting in scanty leaves overall. 

Iron deficiency may also cause the leaves to turn yellow and white. This is common in lemon in comparison to other citrus plants. Another deficiency that causes the tip of leaves to lose color is magnesium. The base of the leaves may remain green; however, the tips will signal this deficiency. In case of sulfur deficiency, the new leaves will turn yellow. 

The presence of nutrients is also connected. Low potassium in soil may make the iron content less accessible to the plant. So, a balanced nutrient fertilizer is essential for citrus plants. 

Lack of proper drainage

Too much or too little water can impact a plant’s health. If you supply too much water, the roots will suffocate due to lack of air. This leads to nutrient supply depletion to the plant. In case of less watering, the plant will suffer by not being able to draw nutrients from the soil, causing yellow leaves. 

The idea is to check the soil moisture and water accordingly. Rainfall will also decide the water requirements of the plant. Lack of organic matter can also impact the soil structure. It will affect drainage and soil structure, which will lead to water logging or drought-like conditions in the soil. 

Damaged roots

Root damage occurs when there may not be ample space for the roots to grow. They may also be constricted to deliver nutrients to other parts of the plant. If the soil is more compacted, the roots will not get enough oxygen and nutrients to nurture the plants. As a result of this, the leaves will turn yellow, and new ones may not grow well. 

If the lemon tree does not have new growth along with yellow leaves, it could be due to the swirling effect due to the small size of the pot or restricted soil. Moreover, If your plant roots have a rotting smell and are dark in color, it can indicate extreme moisture and disease. Healthy roots will appear yellow-white and will have a solid structure. 

Plant stress

If the plant is under stress due to inadequate light, the leaves will not be in the right conditions to grow. Citrus plants require 8-12 hours of sunlight daily to thrive. The deviation in sunlight may cause the plant to slow down the photosynthesis process. 

Any excessive foliage around the tree may add to the shade and not let citrus plants grow. Plus, changing directions of the sun throughout the year may also be the culprit here. 

Unsuitable soil pH

Unsuitable soil pH-Citrus Fertilizer

Soil pH can influence the nutrients available to the plants. Acidic plants work best at 4.5 to 6.0 pH. So. maintaining the soil pH is the key. Plants that are growing outdoors may not have the best pH soil, causing the leaves to become yellow. The weather outside, watering, rainfall, and other plants in the landscape can alter the soil pH. 

Even when ample nutrients are added to the soil with less or more than the required pH, the plant may not be able to take the required minerals. You may identify the soil pH with a simple soil test. After this, add fertilizers and change the soil if needed for the plants to thrive. 

Drop in temperature

If there is a sudden drop in the temperature, it can affect the citrus plants. Winters will cause the leaves to get patchy and yellow. The best idea is to wait to fertilize the trees in spring and skip it in winter even when the leaves are falling off. 


Citrus trees have shallow roots, which may put them in nutrient competition with other plants. If they are unable to derive the needed nutrients, the leaves may start to get yellow. 

Pest attack

Pests such as aphids, scale, and spider mites attack the sap and tend to feed on the leaves, causing loss in color and water. This can make the leaves go brown and yellow. 

Finding the Right Fertilizer for Citrus Trees

Here are different types of citrus fertilizers to choose from. You may pick them based on the tree’s needs and convenience of application. 

Spikes for potted trees

If you have potted plants, you can use fertilizer spikes to add potassium and phosphorus along with nitrogen. When using spikes, insert them in the ground 2-3 feet around the trees during the dormant season and water the area. Place the cap on the spike after hammering it into the ground. Also, go through the product instructions to understand the use and application better.

Fertilizer powders

These are go-to fertilizers for many as they contain all the micro and micronutrients needed for citrus trees’ growing season. You may choose organic fertilizer powders to avoid any chemicals in the soil and fruit. These are ideal if you have several citrus trees with yellow leaves. Apply the power fertilizers around the trees and then water thoroughly.

Liquid fertilizer

Fertilizer in liquid form is useful when the citrus plant is bearing fruits. These are easy to apply and can suffice the additional needs of the plant in the growing stage. Liquid fertilizers have nitrogen in them, along with potassium and phosphorus. You may also choose from spraying fertilizers on the foliage to add macronutrients to the tree. These include nutrients such as sulfur, zinc, iron, and magnesium. 

When using spray fertilizer, make sure you are wearing protective clothing. Try to do a light spray to cover the whole tree. Alter the spray according to the age of the tree, as younger ones need less fertilizer than mature ones. 

Slow-release citrus fertilizer

Slow-release fertilizers add the nutrients slowly to the soil. This way, it’s not overwhelming to the plants as well as the soil composition. Besides, these fertilizers do not need to be reapplied as they work without further intervention. 

Organic citrus fertilizer

Citrus Fertilizer-Organic citrus fertilizer

Organic fertilizers include fishbone meal, chicken manure, alfalfa, and feather meal. These are rich in sulfur, potash, manganese, nitrogen, iron, and phosphorus. The value of elements like iron and manganese may be in trace amounts, which can be beneficial for yellow leaves. Adding alfalfa is also good for microbial activity. 

When to apply the citrus fertilizer

During the active growth season of spring and summer, add fertilizers every 1-2 months. For fall and winter dormant months, you may add them once every 3-4 months. This can work great for young trees. If the tree is old, skip adding fertilizer during dormant months. You will have to consider the physical features of the tree to adjust the fertilizer dose. 

How to Salvage Citrus Plants with Yellow Leaves

Along with fertilizers, you may have to consider other aspects that affect the plant’s health. If there are lots of weeds in the soil, add mulch around the tree’s bases. This will prevent the weeds from growing closely. Mulch also improves the water retention of soil, so you won’t have to water frequently. 

To prevent pest attacks, you can use a water spray to remove insects. Add neem oil or a special pest-deterring blend to prevent insects from attacking the trees. 

Wrapping Up

Now you know what the possible cause of yellow leaves in citrus trees is and how to fix them. Providing the right soil, light conditions, and adequate fertilizers can help the citrus plants stay green and bloom with plenty of fruits each year. With the right blend of conditions, you get to enjoy the shiny green leaves of citrus trees. 

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