Lemon tree care is pretty easy. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area warm enough to grow citrus, do it! Citrus is a delicious and laid back addition to your food forest or backyard.
If you live in a colder area, you can still grow a lemon tree, just put it in a pot and move it indoors when the weather gets cold. Meyer lemons can be very happy in a pot.
Lemon was always something I wished I had grown at our Oregon homestead, but I never had a chance to purchase one. I was super ecstatic when I found out there were two citrus trees already growing at our new home in San Antonio!
Lemon Tree Care (And Other Citrus!)
Plant your lemon tree in a sunny well drained area. They don’t like standing water! When it’s first getting established, water a few times a week.
Once it’s a year or two old, water your lemon tree every week or two unless it rains. A layer of bark mulch, and an understory planting of beneficial plants such as comfrey, chives, or borage will help retain water and discourage pests.
Citrus trees require a lot of nutrition, so make sure to spread compost or fertilizer under your tree to keep it happy and well fed.
Ants can damage your lemon tree. If you have fire ants, keep them under control.
How To Prune Citrus Trees
Lemon trees and other citrus trees don’t need much pruning. Take of any dead, damaged or diseased wood. You can prune any branches that stick out or don’t appeal to you visually, but otherwise, they don’t need much pruning.
You can reinvigorate an older citrus tree with a severe cut back, however it may take two years for it to bear fruit again.
Citrus can be pruned into pretty much any shape you would like. For more info on pruning, check out Pruning Made Easy by Lewis Hill.
Harvesting Your Lemon Tree
You can leave the fruit on your citrus tree for weeks. It will stop ripening once you take it off the tree, however. Make sure you don’t let heavy fruit damage the limbs. Also, a frost will damage any fruit still on the tree.
Lemon Tree Care In Cold Weather
Lemons and most citrus trees will get frost damage at temperatures under 30 degrees Fahrenheit. If your lemon tree is in a pot, move it to a protected location before any frost hits. It’s a good idea to let it acclimatize a little at a time before any big temperature changes such as going indoors or back out again.
If your lemon tree is outside and can’t be moved in, you can protect it in place. Hanging Christmas lights in your citrus trees will help raise their temperature. You can also wrap the trunk in several layers of cardboard (secure with duct tape). Another option is to put blankets over your tree at night.
Just make sure to remove all your winter protection from your trees once it warms up! I totally meant to get out there and move the Christmas lights out of my citrus, but it’s been several months, and I still haven’t done it. At this point the lights are probably damaged and need to be replaced. Whoops.
Lemons and other citrus are very easy trees to grow, and they produce such delicious fruit! Plant a few, even if you need to keep it in a pot!
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