How to care for lemon trees

Sensitive to frost, these beautiful trees thrive best in areas with mild winters. However, there are a few varieties which will grow in regions where the climate is slightly cooler and experience light occasional frost. Choose a variety of lemon tree recommended for and adapted to your particular area. Purchase a lemon tree with its maturity size in mind, because you don't want to buy one which will ultimately outgrow your chosen setting. A little extra frost protection can be provided by situating lemon trees under eaves or next to buildings.

Choose a warm, sunny western or southern exposure spot to plant your lemon tree. Make sure that the soil drains very well in this location.

Dig a hole about three feet in diameter. The depth should match the depth of the lemon tree's current container. Create a mound of soil in the centre of the hole for positioning the root ball. Situate the tree on the mound so that you burying the crown where the roots begin at the base of the tree's trunk and just a bit higher than its surrounding soil. This will allow for some settling, which can be expected of container-grown trees.

Refill the hole partially with soil, mixing in some compost if you wish. Add fertiliser at this time, also. Begin adding water to the hole a little at a time. Firm the soil as you alternately add soil and water to completely fill the hole. Mulch the area to a depth of two or three inches.

Water the lemon tree deeply each week or every 10 days during the summer. Young trees may require watering more often until they become established. When the weather turns cooler, water less.

Fertilise from February through August about every four to six weeks.

Prune lemon trees once every year or two. Trim back shoots that extend beyond the tree's general shape, and prune out any suckers growing directly out of the root stock. If the foliage is particularly thick, remove a few limbs from the centre of the tree. This will promote the circulation of air and light throughout the lemon tree's canopy. Don't remove more than a third of the growth at any one time.

Pick lemons when the fruit is completely ripe, and devoid of any hint of green colouring. Citrus does not ripen further once removed from the tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Lemon tree
  • Shovel
  • Fertilisers
  • Compost
  • Mulch
  • Pruning shears
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About the Author

A full-time writer since 2007, Axl J. Amistaadt is a DMS 2013 Outstanding Contributor Award recipient. He publishes online articles with major focus on pets, wildlife, gardening and fitness. He also covers parenting, juvenile science experiments, cooking and alternative/home remedies. Amistaadt has written book reviews for Work At Home Truth.