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Plant Diseases/Meyer Lemon

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Question
I have this young Lemon Tree, which has 6 lemons on it and they are beautiful, but recently I saw that the leaves curled and also bitten on some of the leaves. Then one day I found a 2 inch long, grey slimy animal that looked like a butterfly coming out of a cocoon. I took it off, but I wonder if there are more, have not seen any more, but since there is fruit on, can one spray with something or just use soap or alcohol and what kind of alcohol ratio does one use? Thank you for your answer, Kerstin

Answer
Dear Kerstin, I am wondering if the grey slimy animal is a slug.  I hate slugs and you definitely don't want them wandering around on your plants.  I prefer to salt those individually.  They are rarely seen in large numbers, but to be on the safe side, pick up and remove any fallen plant debris around your lemon.  As far as the leaves curling and a few leaves bitten, a very wise old man who used to be the head of the local fruit and nut committee, as well as an expert grafter had this advice.  Lemon trees and other citrus often have some very curled leaves.  For the most part, they will not affect the tree or the fruit production.  You might want to look under the curled area to see if you have any aphids on the leaf.  For aphids, you can spray the entire tree (especially the underside of leaves) with NEEM, an organic ingredient that will kill insects, fungus, and mites.  Spray until the leaves are dripping.  However, sometimes the leaves will just curl and there is nothing really wrong with them.  If you don't see aphids, don't worry.  Also, if you just have a few bitten leaves (which perhaps could be from the slugs, or could be from a few passing grasshoppers) I wouldn't worry about that too much either.  Good fruit on a lemon tree pretty much assures you that the tree is in a good state of health.  So spray with NEEM if you see bugs, remove any plant debris around the tree, and otherwise, your tree should be fine.  Also, one other thing, if you happen to see black sooty areas on the leaves which can be rubbed off, you can spray the tree with a lightweight horticultural oil which will dry up the soot and it will flake off.  This is often present whenever you have aphids or scale on a plant. I admit, I was skeptical about the leaf curling advice at first, but it does seem to be a good rule of thumb. You absolutely want to stay organic when you have well developed fruit on the tree, so I prefer to stick with NEEM, Spinosad, and horticultural oil as insect and disease prevention.  I hope this information helps, but be sure to write back if you have further questions.  Good luck, Melissa  

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Melissa Johnston

Expertise

Plant diseases, landscaping, tropical plants, roses, herbs, plant care, grafting, horticulture, plant identification, anything about plants I can likely answer.

Experience

35 years experience in various plant businesses, 1984 Certified Texas Master Gardener.

Organizations
Master Gardener Association of Texas charter member

Publications
none as of yet, but I have a plant q&a book I am in process of submitting.

Education/Credentials
Magna cum laude graduate of Texas A&M, 1978

Awards and Honors
Plant growing awards, highest grade for Texas Master Gardener graduates.

Past/Present Clients
Past member of Allexperts.com and was very highly rated. Owned landscape company in the past, Almost Paradise, and was very successful despite little equipment, no help, and no advertising. Lived well for two years until 9/11.

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