When lemon plant blossom drop, it is a heartbreaking experience for the farmer. Blossoms equal to fruit, so if you’re losing flowers, you may worry that you will not have enough fruit when harvest season comes.
Lemon blossom drop, also known as lemon abortion and a decision, is a loss of blossoms from a lemon tree.
They’re several reasons why a lemon tree could lose blossoms. Often, loss of blooms is a natural process; lemon trees produce more flowers than necessary.
It is a distinct evolutionary advantage for trees to produce more flowers than necessary to increase fruiting chances and later on propagation. The plant doesn’t need many flowers, so it is typical for plants to self-prune and eliminates excess blossoms.
Sometimes though, blossom drop is not natural, and it’s caused by factors that the farmer needs to address. The leading causes of unnatural blossom drop are disease and pest infestation, irrigation and watering inconsistencies, and nutritional.
What is blossom-drop?
Blossom drop is a disorder in plants that results in falling off of flowers. Most often than not, the flower loss is preceded by yellowing the pedicel.
Blossom drop is often caused by environmental stresses like fluctuating temperatures, rainfall (irrigation) patterns, pests, disease infestation, and nutritional factors.
Natural lemon blossom drop.
The main reason why plants produce flowers in the first place is to produce fruits, which can later be dispersed and develop into another plant. In short, the goal is propagation.
Losing blossoms in a way is contrary to the goal of blossom formation. Still, because the tree produces more flowers than necessary, many of the plant’s energy is wasted.
It goes without saying that maintaining all those flowers requires energy and nutrients, which would have been saved for other parts of the plant. In a bid to serve nutrients to more viable blooms, a plant tends to lose pots and shoots that they do unnecessary.
Naturally, lemons lose about 80% of all its blossoms per blooming season. As mentioned above, lemon trees produce way more flowers than necessary to increase fruit development and later propagation.
If a plant has many flowers, it means that a lot of the plant’s energy and nutrients go into maintaining and developing floral parts. This sometimes happens even at the expense of foliage and fruit development.
In a bid to save more energy for other productive parts of the plant like leaves, sometimes a lemon tree will shed its leaves.
The plant must produce fruit when fruit maturity is guaranteed; if environmental conditions are unfavorable, fruit maturation probability reduces. The tree responds by dropping the blossoms. There is no reason to grow fruit, which won’t survive.
The most common natural causes of lemon blossom drop
The plant is reserving nutrients for foliage and fruit development.
Sometimes blossoms will fall off because they are not the lemon plant’s priority at the time of abscission. Occasionally plants sacrifice certain parts of a plant for the greater good of a tree.
While flowers are the womb of the plant, leaves are the powerhouse. The lemon tree will always prioritize foliage development over flower development, especially in periods of food shortage.
If the plant already has a few fruits during seasons of fruiting, the fruits will be prioritized at the blossoms’ expense, which the tree will trade-off.
1. Shortage of nutrients in the soil, especially potassium and calcium
Plant blossoms are healthiest in seasons of sufficient supply of nutrients. Suppose there is a lack of nutrients in the soil. In that case, the tree may respond by aborting to avoid wastage of energy in flowering and fruiting if there won’t be enough nutrients to support the entire process.
While it is essential to fertilize often with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, a farmer should not forget the trace elements. Micronutrients of potassium and calcium are relevant for flowers and later fruit formation, respectively.
Suppose a plant doesn’t have enough food resources. In that case, it goes into starvation mode, which is to lose all unnecessary shoots and concentrate the remaining energy on survival. It is, in a way, a kind of plant hibernation.
2. Insufficient and inconsistent watering
Flower formation and development is a water-intensive activity. A gardener needs to water more frequently and with more water volume to satisfy the increased need for water during blooming.
Suppose a lemon plant does not receive enough water, especially during the blooming season. In that case, the young flowers will dry, die, and eventually fall off. Unless it is a dead branch, all other parts of a plant that die naturally drop off.
Inconsistent watering results in blossom fall because it could shock the plant. You need to water lemon trees sufficiently but periodically. It is essential for a farmer to always water just before the soil dries out.
If a farmer waits too long to irrigate even though the lemon needs water, watering after the soil has completely dried will shock the plants.
Inconsistent watering is a threat to blossoms because it means that lemon will undergo periods of water stress followed by periods of availability. The shift between lack of water to too much water all over a sudden is what shocks the lemon plants and results in leaf, fruit, and blossom drop.
Lemons prefer to grow in a uniform amount of soil-water, not too wet and not too dry. Somewhere in the ‘Goldilocks’ zone, just right.
3. The flower was not pollinated.
If blossoms were not pollinated, keeping those flowers is a waste of energy because they will not develop in any fruit anyway. It is usual for lemon tree plants to shed unpollinated flowers before fruition.
4. Stress and shock to the plant
Environmental, nutritional, water or any other source of pressure and stress to a plant can result in enough shock to the plant to cause blossom drop.
Abnormal lemon blossom drop.
Sometimes, lemon blossoms fall off due to unnatural factors, including stress from disease attacks and pest infestation.
Scale insects and other sap-feeding pests can result in malnutrition, which, as stated above, can cause plants to lose blossoms because they’re not getting enough nutrients.
Fungal diseases like botrytis and also heavy bacterial spot pressure can also cause flowers to abort.
To avoid abnormal blossom drop, a farmer can help by hand fertilizing, watering regularly, controlling temperature, and keeping disease and pest attacks at bay.
It is tricky to predict the time it takes for lemons to appear after flowering. The period between flowering and fruiting depends on many factors, including soil fertility, ambient temperature, soil moisture, to mention but a few.
But on average, it takes anywhere between 4 to 12 months for lemons to appear after flowering.
When a lemon tree flowers, the flowers develop, then if that flower is lucky, it is pollinated. After pollination, fruiting is initiated, and the flower develops into a fruit. The fruit grows and matures.
But not all flowers are that lucky; the bulk of flowers remain unpollinated and drop off.
You can prevent citrus fruit from dropping using the following tips.
Fertilize before blooming
Control pests and diseases
When you experience lemon tree blossom drop, don’t despair use the tips above and you will be good to go.