By: Kristi Waterworth
Your lime leaves are curling and you have no idea where to start treating it. Have no fear, there are many innocent causes of leaf curl on lime trees. Learn what to look for and how to handle common lime tree leaf curl problems in this article.
Leaf Curl on Lime Trees
Our plants can bring us so much joy and calm, but when the leaves on your favorite lime tree start to curl up, your garden can become suddenly distressing and a source of worry. Lime tree leaf curl isn’t the most attractive thing to ever happen to your tree, but it’s not usually a major problem. There are several different reasons for curling leaves on lime trees, and we’ll explore each one so you can choose an appropriate remedy.
If your lime leaves are curling, it may seem like your plants are headed for disaster, but there are several easy-to-solve problems that could be causing this situation. It’s important to carefully examine your plant’s leaves with a magnifying glass before attempting to treat this condition so you know for certain you’re taking the right approach. Here are some common reasons for leaf curl on lime trees:
Normal behavior. It’s not uncommon for lime leaves to curl downward in the fall or winter. This isn’t a real problem unless the new growth also comes out curled. Watch and wait if you don’t see signs of pests or disease.
Improper watering. Over watering, under watering and heat stress can cause leaves to curl up or inward. The leaves may turn a dull green or dry out and crisp from the tip downward if the tree is being under watered. However, you shouldn’t leave a potted lime tree in standing water at all times either since the tree likes it a little bit dry. Instead, remember to water them deeply once or twice a week. Trees in the landscape can benefit from dedicated irrigation during dry periods only.
Plant parasites. Sap sucking and leaf mining parasites can cause curling leaves on lime trees, too. This is why close inspection is so vital; detecting actual insects can help determine the treatment. The signature of leaf miners is their wandering tunnels across the leaf’s surface. Other insects, like aphids, will be visible on the underside of the leaves; spider mites are much smaller and may not be immediately visible, but their fine silk threads are a dead giveaway.
Neem oil is an effective treatment against mites and scale insects, but aphids can easily be sprayed off the lime tree with a garden hose. Leaf miners are nothing to worry about unless they’re all over your tree. Older, hardened leaves won’t be affected.
Disease. Both bacterial and fungal diseases can cause lime tree leaf curl. Close inspection may reveal fungal spores or lesions beginning to form. Proper identification of the disease in question is vital, since the treatment can vary. Most fungal diseases can be defeated with a basic fungicide like a copper-based spray. It can also treat some surface-level bacterial diseases.
If you’re not certain which disease your plant is suffering from, you can consult your local university extension office. With fungal and bacterial diseases, often the trick is to make the lime tree less inviting by pruning liberally to increase air circulation within the plant’s deepest foliage.
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Read more about Lime Trees
Citrus Leaf Curl : Lemon Tree Leaf Problems
Learn about the causes of citrus leaf curl, specially in lemon leaf curling and turning yellow and its treatment and organic control methods that really work. The question is what causes citrus leaf curl, the curling may be upward or downward?
This year there was prolonged periods of high temperatures and rain so the tree suffered a few diseases. It developed curling of leaves (citrus leaves curling upward or curling downward) and their discoloration.
The picture on the left side shows my lemon tree leaf curling disease due to miner insect. Note the white lines and the white spots on the leaves, showing that the larvae has tunneled through leaf tissue.
Top 10 Questions About Lime Trees
Don’t let the thought of growing lime trees intimidate you. While they do have their share of problems, overall, growing a lime tree isn’t that difficult. That said, it does help to arm yourself with the right information for basic care as well as information for overcoming common issues along the way. Gardening Know How can help with this by answering those common questions that plaque us all. Here are the top questions about lime trees.
Lime trees grow well in containers. In climates with cold winters, planting them in containers and overwintering them indoors is essential. Dwarf varieties work best for container growing, but full sized trees will stay small and healthy with pruning. Plant your lime tree in a large container (15 gallons is ideal) with wheels on the bottom for easy moving. Make sure your container has plenty of drainage holes, and fill it with well-draining, neutral potting soil. Place your container in a sunny, south-facing location and bring it indoors when temperatures fall below freezing.
It’s frustrating to plant a fruit tree and get no fruit. There are a number of reasons for a lime tree not bearing fruit. This could be due to a lack of phosphorus, as fertilizers heavy in nitrogen but low in phosphorus will result in lots of leafy growth but no flowers or fruit. Heat is also important. Limes need warmer temperatures than other citrus trees in order to fruit. Water is crucial too. Overwatering and uneven watering can cause a lime tree to drop its blossoms. The problem may also be pruning. If you’ve pruned your tree to keep it compact, you may have accidentally removed this season’s buds.
On most plants, yellowing leaves are a sure sign of less than ideal conditions. If the leaves on your lime tree are turning yellow, a good guess is that you’re overwatering. Lime trees need lots of water to thrive, but they also need good drainage, especially those in containers. If the roots are allowed to sit in standing water, the leaves will turn yellow and maybe even drop. Yellowing leaves can also be a sign of stress brought about by a sudden change in temperature or light. The best way to keep a lime tree’s leaves green is to keep its environment stable.
Some fruit drop is perfectly normal for lime trees. Often, a tree will produce more flowers and fruit than it can support, and it will drop them over the course of the growing season in order to devote the available energy to the number of fruits it can maintain. If your tree seems to be losing a lot of fruit or showing other signs of distress, it could be due to uneven watering or pH imbalance. Maintain steady but well-draining watering habits and keep the soil at a neutral pH to ensure good fruit set.
Pruning lime trees isn’t essential, but plenty of gardeners like to do it to keep them shaped nicely and to increase airflow. The best time to prune a lime tree is autumn after the tree has stopped fruiting or early spring before new buds form. Damaged or weak branches should always be removed, since they might not be able to bear the weight of fruit. Cut back branches evenly throughout the tree to allow for good airflow and even sunlight throughout. This will help prevent disease and encourage faster ripening of fruit.
Curling lime leaves can be a sign of a few different problems. Pests of lime trees might be the number one source – aphids, mites and psyllids all suck the juices from leaves, which can cause them to curl. Check the underside of your leaves and spray with insecticide if you see any bugs. If no bugs are present, the problem might be not enough water. Increase your watering and add a few inches of mulch to help retain moisture. If water’s not the cause, it could be a potassium deficiency. Try feeding with a potassium-rich fertilizer.
There are quite a few pests that feed on lime trees. These include leaf miners, scale bugs, citrus mites and aphids. Often, they don’t appear in the spring because the winter has severely knocked back their numbers, so you’ll likely notice them being a problem later in the summer. A lot of pest problems can be avoided by keeping the area under your tree clear and pruning to allow for good air and light circulation. If you do have an infestation, try using neem oil and citrus sprays. If that fails, use a harsher chemical insecticide.
It’s a little known fact that limes actually turn yellow when they ripen! We always pick and eat limes when they’re green and technically not ‘ripe’ yet. Unlike a lot of fruits, they won’t continue to ripen after they’re picked, which is why you hardly ever see yellow limes. If your limes are turning yellow, it’s not a sign that anything bad has happened. It just means you’ve left them on the tree longer than you should have. About the same time they turn yellow, they start to wrinkle and become bitter and aren’t very good for eating.
Limes are picked when they’re still green, before they’re technically ‘ripe.’ So how can you tell a fruit is ripe when it doesn’t change color? You don’t want to wait until your limes turn yellow, but you do want them to turn a lighter shade of green. The lighter the lime, the more likely it is to be ready to pick. When you squeeze a lime that’s ready for harvest, it should give a little under your fingers – unripe limes are hard. If you’re unsure, pick a lime and cut it open. If it’s ripe, it should be very juicy inside. Unripe limes are much more solid.
Lime trees, like all citrus trees, are very heavy feeders. It’s best to fertilize a lime tree with a suitable citrus tree fertilizer every one to two months during spring and summer and every two to three months in fall and winter. After the tree is established at a few years of age, cut the feeding to half as regularly. Lime trees benefit from fertilizer that is a little bit nitrogen heavy, though phosphorus is key to flower and fruit production in the spring. You can fertilize a lime tree through soil amendments or a foliar spray.
We all have questions now and then, whether long-time gardeners or those just starting out. So if you have a gardening question, get a gardening answer. We’re always here to help.