What Causes Citrus Bud Drop - Citrus Buds Are Disappearing

Citrus Buds
(Image credit: phanasitti)

Nothing holds more promise than a citrus tree full of buds – all that luscious fruit! But optimism may turn to dark disappointment if you see those citrus buds falling off.

When you see citrus bud drop, take a deep breath. It doesn’t necessarily mean that things are terribly wrong. It could mean that nature is doing its thing, but it may also mean that a change in cultural care might be indicated. Read on for the scoop on why citrus buds are disappearing.

Citrus Tree Losing Buds

If you aren’t new to citrus trees, you know that the fruit matures to a much larger size than a citrus bud. And a ripe orange, lemon or lime can be heavy, even dipping the branches with its weight. 

Mature citrus trees can produce as many as 100,000 blooms. Imagine what would happen if every single one of the hundreds of buds on your citrus tree turned into a heavy piece of fruit. 

Branches would break and baby would fall! 

Nature avoids that catastrophe by organizing a big citrus bud drop soon after the buds form. It’s called Post Bloom Drop and 80 to 90 percent of the buds fall. 

Citrus Buds Are Disappearing

Dropping citrus buds seems like a more painful phenomenon when the buds have developed into perfect little fruit. When you see your citrus tree losing buds that have developed, there must be something wrong, right? Sorry, wrong again.

If you have young citrus trees, the sad fact is that most of the little green fruits will drop. But that is normal and healthy. A citrus tree can’t support a crop of mature fruit until it develops a large root system and a canopy to provide it with energy. That only happens when the tree gets older. 

Citrus Buds Falling Off

Of course, sometimes the occurrence of citrus buds falling off is caused by improper cultural practices. One condition to keep your eyes out for is the wrong amount of water. Too much or too little water can cause dropping citrus buds. If leaves are falling too, think insufficient irrigation. 

You also want to be sure your tree has soil with excellent drainage. This is especially important (and easy to correct) when the citrus tree lives in a pot. A lot of people favor a soil mix called 5-1-1, which offers good drainage plus excellent air retention.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.