Lemon tree in winter – the 5 most common pests and diseases

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:15 pm

How to rid your lemon tree of pests!

Because lemon trees need a lot of sun and temperatures above 3 degrees in winter, it is difficult to create the right growing conditions for them in our latitudes. As a result, the plants can be weakened and uninvited guests can sneak in. However, if you check on them regularly, you can prevent diseases and pests or detect them early in an emergency.

The right care

Lemon tree in winter - the 5 most common pests and diseases

When it gets colder outside and the plant goes into winter break, scale insects and co. have an easy time of it. Therefore, it is important to care for the lemon tree and all other exotics (e.g. the olive) properly, so that they remain as robust as possible. In this way, you can avoid heavy infestation from the outset.

It’s also best to take a look at how to properly overwinter your lemon tree. By the way, the wintering of the olive is somewhat different from that of our citrus trees.

Keep in mind that the darker your lemon tree is in the winter, the brighter it should be and the less water it should receive.

Lemon tree in winter - the 5 most common pests and diseases
A cool but bright place is perfect for wintering citrus trees

Wintering lemon tree: eliminate care errors.

Often lemon trees get yellow leaves in winter; they are a sign that the little tree does not like the climate in its location. Check the soil: if it is too wet, there could be waterlogging and, in the worst case, you may have to take the tree out of the ground.

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But it can also be the other way around, because too dry substrate, as well as too dry and warm air, do not get the lemon tree. However, by regular spraying or a humidifier (also bowls with water on the heater or next to the plants) you can easily remedy the situation. Too much lime can also turn the leaves yellow. So use only low-lime water (e.g. rainwater) for watering, because the lemon and its relatives love sandy and acidic soils.

If your lemon tree is already old and only the lower leaves are yellow, you don’t have to worry, because it is just a sign of age. By shedding the old foliage, the little trees have more energy for the new shoots. Another clear sign that your lemon tree is too dry is curled, withered leaves. As a therapy, the root ball needs to soak well with water once, and you can simply cut away dead twigs and branches.

The 5 most common bad guys

Care mistakes usually do not remain long without a following, because they attract these 5 bugs and diseases almost magically and especially often:

  • Aphids
  • Scale insects
  • Spider mites
  • mealybugs
  • Fungal diseases

Above all, air that is too warm and too dry is like an invitation for aphids and consorts to make themselves comfortable on your lemon tree in winter. In addition to aphids, the most common uninvited guests include scale, mealybugs or mealybugs, and spider mites.

Lemon tree in winter - the 5 most common pests and diseases
In our cover photo, the aphids are sitting on the stem of the citrus plant, here on the undersides of the leaves

  1. aphids

Aphids can be of different colors (green, black, red or yellow) and are usually found on the stems and undersides of leaves. If there are also ants around, you know for sure that aphids are hiding somewhere in your lemon tree.

  1. scale insects
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You can recognize scale insects by their brownish shield, under which the insects and their offspring hide and suck the leaves of the lemon trees. Sticky drops on the leaves, the pests’ excretions known as “honeydew,” are also an indication.

  1. spider mites

Silvery, gray spots and whitish webs covering the leaves and shoots are among the symptoms of spider mites. They also gradually suck the leaves.

  1. mealybugs and mealybugs

Woolly and smear aphids also have a predilection for the foliage of our lemon trees. Their bodies are covered with a white to grayish layer of wool, or wax, and they crawl around on the leaves, which is why you can easily spot them.

  1. fungal diseases

Fungal diseases can also occur as a result of improper care. You can recognize them by the fact that individual parts of the plant dry up or even die. The only thing that can help here is to reach for the shears and, in extreme cases, a biological fungicide.

Sooty mold, a fungal disease that is visible in the form of a black coating on the leaves, is more common. It is a side effect of louse infestations and usually forms on their excretions. To get rid of it, you need to eliminate the cause (the aphids) and thoroughly wash the fungus itself from the leaves.

Lemon tree in winter - the 5 most common pests and diseases
Oval scale insects also sit on the stems and leaves of plants

Overwintering lemon tree: How to keep your lemon healthy

For mild infestations of aphids, it is often enough to spray the leaves regularly with low-lime water and wipe off the crawlers. A piece of absorbent cotton soaked in an alcohol solution can be used to eliminate spittlebugs and scale insects. Never oil or a solution of water and soft soap also works very well. A decoction of nettles, garlic or field horsetail is a good and ecological way to control aphids. You can also repel spider mites with neem oil. In addition, you should regularly check for slugs and snails and, if necessary, collect them and put them outside.

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Prevention: The best defense against pests and diseases

Let’s go back to the beginning. The better the site conditions are for your lemon tree in the winter, the less chance you have of being hit by pests and diseases. Ambient air that is too warm and dry is the biggest risk factor for infestation. A balance of sun, water and temperature, on the other hand, is the best means of prevention. Proper watering and fertilizing, especially in the cold season, is also the basis for healthy and resistant lemon trees.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.