The Lemon Tree
Lemon, Lime, grape fruit, Orange, tangerine and cumquats: the list of citrus family fruit may extend much longer. Citrus does not breed true from seed. Seedlings are slow to bear fruit. But seedlings are often more vigorous and longer lived than worked plants which may offset their slow development .The only sure way of breeding a selected orange from an orange or a lime from a lime is by clonal reproduction. By cutting branch or root or best of all by grafting the selected scion on to the rootstock. When you buy a cloned citrus tree from the nursery, make sure that the trees have not been in the container too long, as they may have become root bound and effected plants often fail to make satisfactory growth. The ideal tree is one to two years old from budding.
How to plant a lemon tree ?
Planting a citrus tree bought from a nursery
Make the planting hole shallow, but 30-50 cm wider than the container. Tip the tree from the ot or cut away the plastic bag, it came with. Gently tease out any roots which are pot bound. For planting depth, keep the bud union above the soil level of the planting spot. Gently pack damp, crumbly soil, to which some compost has been added, around the tree and water well. Mulch the soil with dry grass clippings, compost or leaf mould , but keep 5 – 7 cm away from the stem. An acceptable and simple way of applying fertiliser at planting is to use Dynamic Lifter pellets. Mix these well with the soil. Do not use powdered fertilisers at the planting as roots damage may occur. A few months after planting, spread powdered citrus food or dynamic lifter. This should only be done in the spring – summer- early autumn period. Do not over water the newly planted trees. A good drink every week is sufficient when the weather is dry.
Citrus needs a warm, rich , moist soil well aerated and never badly drained. Citruses are gross feeders and should be fed regularly with a complete fertiliser or special citrus food. This is applied around the outer edge of the foliage. Mature trees need 2kg per year spread over three applications in spring, summer and autumn. Start younger trees, with much less around 200g per year.
How to plant a lemon tree in a pot ?
Citrus adapt well to pot culture but must be kept well watered in the growing season and fed with organic fertilisers to prevent build-up of salts in the soil. They must be well aerated, well drained, but rich compost. Avoid plastic pots or give them extra perforation.
What to do when your citrus tree leaves turn yellow?
Yellowing of leaves of citrus trees is often due to magnesium deficiency, which can be remedied by applying Epsom salts.
Pruning a citrus tree
Citrus need little Pruning other than removing dead wood. They flower on current season’s growth. The picking of the fruit cut back to the nearest node with pruning shears. Citruses are prone to lemon tree borer so cut any infested parts back healthy wood.
Cabbages and Kings, the origin of fruit and vegetables by Jonathan Roberts
Bob Flowerdew’s complete Fruit Book
Plant Pruning A to Z, A practical guide , By John Muller
Yates Garden Guide
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