Bonsai lemon trees make striking additions to backyards. These trees are prized for their petite and interesting stature as much for their edible, if tiny, fruit. Many lemon bonsai trees were purchased from mail order catalogues or local nurseries as "bare root" stock, which means you will receive little more than a trunk and root system. Plant your lemon then carefully prune it and train it over the years to achieve a successful bonsai fruit tree.
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Things you need
- 15-inch container
- Bypass shears
- Lopping shears
- Denatured alcohol
- Sphagnum moss
Inspect your bare root or container grown tree for signs of any damage or fungal infections. Leaf spots, mushy roots, tree discolouration and streaking on the bark will indicate signs of a fungal infection. Lift the base of the tree from the container to see if it is root bound (roots circulating the inside of the container). Avoid purchasing any root bound lemon trees.
Prune any damaged portions of the tree (including the roots) with a pair of lopping or bypass shears. Dip your pruning tool in a mixture of 70 per cent denatured alcohol and 30 per cent water in between cuts to prevent spreading a fungal infection.
Pick a 15-gallon container with 1/2-inch draining holes for your container. According to Erik A. Olsen, a writer for Bonsai Gardener, a 15-gallon container is an adequate size for starting a bonsai tree. Choose a container that will harmonise with the shape of the bonsai tree you plan to create.
Mix together one part clay, one part humus and one part sand. Pour the mixture into the container to within 1/3 of an inch of the top.
Place the lemon bonsai tree in the container and pack the soil around the base. Lift the bonsai tree into a stoppered sink, add water to the sink -- watering the pot from its base. When soil is fully saturated, empty the sink and allow excess water to drain. Set your pot on a saucer filled with gravel.
Put your lemon bonsai tree in a spot that receives at least six to eight hours of sunlight a day.
Prune your tree in the winter, following your plan to direct and limit the plant's growth. Remove any branches that are crossing each other or have sustained winter damage. Cut any new growth that looks different from the rest of the tree.
Tips and warnings
- Harvest your lemons by gently pulling up from the tree rather than yanking dwn.
- Avoid fertilising your bonsai tree at the time of planting to prevent root burn.
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