Why is My Citrus Tree Dying?

Citrus trees are beautiful plants that can add a touch of tropical flair to your garden. But as much as we love these trees, they can be quite delicate. There are many reasons why your citrus tree might be dying, from pests to diseases to improper care. This article will give you a step-by-step guide on how to diagnose the issue and possibly save your citrus tree.

Step One: Check the Soil

The first step in figuring out why your citrus tree might be dying is to check the soil. Citrus trees prefer well-draining soil that is slightly acidic, with a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5. If your soil is too alkaline, the tree may not be able to absorb nutrients, leading to yellow leaves and poor fruit production. You can use a soil test kit to check the pH and adjust the soil accordingly.

Step Two: Inspect the Leaves

If your soil is fine, the next step is to inspect the leaves. Yellow leaves with green veins indicate a lack of iron, which is essential for chlorophyll production. The leaves may also be pale and shrivelled, which is a sign of water stress. If the leaves are dropping off, it could be a result of pests or diseases. Inspect them closely, and look for any signs of infestation.

Step Three: Look for Pests

Pests are a common issue with citrus trees, and they can cause significant damage. Look for signs of spider mites, aphids, or scale insects. These pests can suck the sap from the tree, leading to yellow leaves, stunted growth, and poor fruit production. You can treat them with insecticidal soap or neem oil, which are both safe and effective.

Step Four: Identify Diseases

Diseases such as citrus canker, greening, and black spot can cause your citrus tree to die. Citrus canker is the most common disease affecting citrus trees, and it causes yellow spots on the leaves and fruit. Greening causes the fruit to become small and bitter, and the leaves to turn yellow. Black spot causes dark, sunken spots on the fruit and leaves. If you suspect that your tree is affected by a disease, take a sample to a local nursery or extension service for diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

Step Five: Ensure Proper Care

Proper care is essential for the health and well-being of your citrus tree. Water your tree regularly, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged. Fertilise your tree with a citrus-specific fertiliser, and make sure you're not over-fertilising. Prune your tree in the spring to remove dead or damaged wood and to promote new growth. Finally, protect your tree from extreme temperatures by covering it during cold snaps.


Caring for citrus trees can be challenging, but by following these steps, you can diagnose the issue and potentially save your tree. Always make sure to properly care for your tree, and keep an eye out for pests and diseases. With some TLC and attention, your citrus tree can thrive in the UK climate.