Calamondin Leaves Falling Off: An In-Depth Look

The calamondin (Citrus microcarpa), often called calamansi or calamondin orange, is a popular citrus tree, especially in the warmer regions. It bears small, sour fruits resembling mini oranges and is often grown as an ornamental or culinary plant. Like other citrus trees, calamondins have their share of challenges, and one of the most frequently reported issues by gardeners is the phenomenon of calamondin leaves falling off. This article delves into the many reasons behind this and offers insights into proper care and prevention.

The dropping of calamondin leaves can be attributed to various factors ranging from environmental stressors to pests and diseases. Understanding the specific cause and implementing the right care practices can help maintain a healthy calamondin tree.

Why Do Calamondin Leaves Fall Off?

Calamondin trees, like other plants, shed their leaves as a natural process. However, excessive leaf drop can be a sign of stress or poor health. Determining the exact cause requires observing the plant, its environment, and any other accompanying symptoms.

1. Natural Leaf Drop

  • Just like many plants, calamondins will naturally lose older leaves to make way for newer growth. This is a standard process of rejuvenation. The older leaves at the lower part of the tree will yellow and drop off over time. If this is the sole symptom observed, it’s usually no cause for alarm.
  • Regular monitoring of the tree ensures early detection of any deviations from the natural leaf shedding process.
  • Generally, natural leaf drop will be periodic and not very pronounced. When paired with robust new growth, this is a sign of a healthy tree.

2. Watering Issues

  • One of the most common causes for calamondin leaves falling off is improper watering. Both overwatering and underwatering can put the tree under stress, leading to leaf drop.
  • Overwatered calamondin trees might show symptoms like yellowing of leaves, especially the younger ones, and a soggy base. Consistently wet soil can also invite fungal infections and root rot.
  • Underwatering, on the other hand, will lead to wilting and drooping leaves. The soil will be dry and crumbly. To prevent water-related issues, it’s essential to maintain a consistent watering schedule and ensure proper drainage.

3. Temperature and Humidity Stress

  • Calamondins prefer consistent temperatures and moderate humidity. Sudden temperature fluctuations can stress the tree, leading to leaf drop. Similarly, prolonged exposure to overly dry or extremely humid conditions can be detrimental.
  • Indoor calamondins are more susceptible to dry indoor air, especially during winter when heating systems are active. Regular misting or using a humidifier can help maintain optimal humidity levels.
  • If the tree is kept outdoors, it’s crucial to protect it from frost and excessively cold temperatures. Frost damage can lead to calamondin leaves falling off in significant numbers.

4. Pests and Diseases

  • Pests like spider mites, aphids, and scale insects can infest calamondin trees. These pests feed on the sap, weakening the plant and causing leaf drop.
  • Symptoms of pest infestation include discolored or speckled leaves, sticky residue (honeydew), and the presence of the pests themselves.
  • Regular inspections and treating the plant with insecticidal soaps or neem oil can help manage and prevent pest infestations.

5. Inadequate Nutrition

  • Calamondin trees require a balanced nutrient supply. A deficiency in essential nutrients can result in poor growth and increased leaf drop.
  • Yellowing leaves, especially between the veins, can be a sign of nutrient deficiency. Using a well-balanced citrus fertilizer as per the recommended schedule can remedy this situation.
  • Over-fertilization can also be harmful. It’s essential to follow label instructions and avoid the urge to overfeed in the hope of boosting growth.

6. Improper Pruning

  • While pruning can help shape the tree and remove dead or diseased branches, excessive or improper pruning can stress the tree and lead to excessive leaf drop.
  • Always use sharp and sterilized pruning tools to avoid causing unnecessary damage or introducing diseases.
  • Prune during the late winter or early spring, focusing on removing dead or weak branches and shaping the tree without removing too much foliage.

7. Pot Size and Repotting

  • A calamondin tree that’s outgrown its pot can become root-bound, affecting its overall health and leading to leaf drop.
  • Signs of a root-bound plant include stunted growth, drying out quickly despite regular watering, and roots growing out of the drainage holes.
  • It’s essential to choose the right pot size when repotting and ensure that the new soil provides ample nutrients and drainage.

8. Is the Tree Getting Enough Light?

  • Calamondin trees need plenty of sunlight to thrive. Insufficient light can lead to leggy growth and leaf drop.
  • If indoors, ensure the tree is placed near a bright window that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight. A grow light can supplement the natural light if required.
  • Outdoor trees should be planted in a location where they can receive ample sunlight without being overshadowed by taller structures or trees.

9. Physical Damage or Trauma

  • Physical damage, whether due to accidents, rough handling, or environmental factors like hail or strong winds, can lead to leaf drop.
  • It’s essential to protect the tree from strong winds, especially when it’s young. Using windbreaks or temporarily moving potted trees indoors can help.
  • Trees usually recover from physical trauma, but it’s crucial to monitor them for any signs of diseases at the injury sites.

10. How Can You Prevent Leaf Drop in the Future?

  • Consistency is the key. Keeping a regular watering schedule, providing adequate light, and protecting the tree from extreme conditions can prevent many causes of leaf drop.
  • Routine inspections for pests and diseases allow for early detection and treatment.
  • Educating oneself about the specific needs of calamondin trees and ensuring they are met can go a long way in maintaining a healthy, thriving tree.

Calamondin leaves falling off in winter

  • Winters can be particularly challenging for calamondin trees, especially if they are exposed to frost or extremely low temperatures. Frost damage can cause leaves to turn black or brown, eventually leading to them falling off.
  • Indoor calamondins might experience dry indoor air due to heating systems. This lack of humidity can cause leaves to dry out and drop.
  • It’s crucial to protect outdoor trees from frost using covers or by bringing potted trees indoors. For indoor calamondins, maintaining proper humidity levels using humidifiers or regular misting can mitigate the problem.

Calamondin leaves falling off in the fall

  • As with many trees, calamondins might shed some leaves in the fall as part of a natural cycle. This seasonal leaf drop is usually not a cause for concern unless it’s excessive.
  • With the onset of cooler temperatures, ensure that the tree is not exposed to sudden cold snaps, which can stress it and result in leaf drop.
  • Regular monitoring and understanding the tree’s natural cycle can help differentiate between regular seasonal drop and an underlying issue.

Calamondin leaves falling off in summer

  • Summers can pose challenges like excessive heat and prolonged dry spells. Prolonged exposure to intense sunlight can scorch the leaves, causing them to yellow and drop.
  • It’s essential to ensure that the calamondin tree gets adequate water during the hotter months. Mulching can help retain soil moisture and protect the roots from the intense heat.
  • If the tree is in a pot, consider moving it to a location where it gets filtered sunlight, especially during peak afternoon hours.

Calamondin leaves falling off after repotting

  • Repotting can be stressful for plants, including the calamondin. If not done correctly, the tree can experience transplant shock, leading to leaf drop.
  • Ensure that the new pot provides ample drainage and is filled with well-draining soil. Avoid disturbing the root ball excessively during the process.
  • After repotting, water the tree adequately and keep it in a shaded location for a few days before moving it to its regular spot. This allows the tree to recover from the stress of repotting.


Understanding the various factors that contribute to calamondin leaves falling off is crucial for any gardener looking to maintain a healthy tree. By addressing the root causes and implementing proactive care measures, it’s possible to ensure the well-being of your calamondin and enjoy its ornamental and culinary benefits for years to come.