I have had a small sprout of lemon tree (Eureka lemon, if I trust the label) for a few months, and for the past two it has been looking weak and sick.

In particular, it's not making new leaves (although it did grow a little) and the three existing ones appear sick and dry, with spots on them (see picture). At first, there was also some web-looking white fluff on them, although it seems to have stopped (for a while, I assumed a spider was building its web on the sprout).

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I have tried using water enriched with nutrients (this one) for the past month, but it did not seem to improve.

What should I do — any idea?

I can try to get better photos if these ones are of too poor quality: my cellphone is sort of a shame in that regard.

  • 2
    Hi Clement! I've seen you around the network and just wanted to thank you for dropping in here with your plant question. I hope you get the answers you need to help it grow well! Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 0:27
  • I roamed around the house looking for my glasses and when I came back with them the photo's were still blurry. LOL :-) Welcome to the site!
    – Citizen
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 3:05
  • The math is clearer! Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 4:18
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Why did my lime tree stop growing?
    – kevinskio
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 10:57
  • I don't think it's a dupe, this tree is barely a seedling, whereas the proposed dupe is clearly a few years old. I have several citrus trees in the just past seedling stage and citrus tends to stay there a while, then they pop and start growing. However this one looks like it had a problem.
    – Escoce
    Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 17:19

2 Answers 2


It looks in your photos as if you have it in a small cup with no drainage. I would surmise from that & the condition of the leaves that it is over-watered and probably suffering from root rot.

Replant it into a container with drainage holes with a rich, well draining potting soil. Keep the soil damp but not soggy and give it some time.

enter image description here

  • Would you suggest inspecting the roots and cutting rotted roots off? Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 0:16
  • Sounds like an excellent suggestion, Graham!
    – renesis
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 0:43
  • I replanted it in a bigger pot with drainage holes and using new soil: after a few days, my tree still looks a bit feeble, but has started growing a new leaf. So I gather it's getting better!
    – Clement C.
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 15:03
  • @GrahamChiu the only problem I can see with this suggestion to mess with the roots is that at this stage citrus often only still have one single tap root. If the root were rotting the tree will die. You generally don't want to start messing with citrus roots until they've started branching out or the single taproot has found the bottom and is spinning around the bottom of the pot.
    – Escoce
    Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 17:23
  • Hmm, interesting point Escoce.
    – renesis
    Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 17:49

The dark green veins and light green leaf material also indicate an Iron/Manganese deficiency which is very common with citrus grown on alkaline soils.

See here for more detail. Repotting with new soil, more light, more drainage and a touch of acid or citrus fertilizer should fix all the symptoms.

  • 1
    Getting some specialty citrus potting soil would probably do the trick too. I use the Miracle Grow Palm / Citrus mix myself.
    – renesis
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 23:40
  • Thanks - I bought some special "potting mix," so far it looks promising (in its new pot and soil, the sprout is growing a tiny new leaf).
    – Clement C.
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 0:07

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