Growing a lemon tree
The lemon tree produces acid pulp lemons, which are used as a condiment. It is also called Limon or citrus. To have good fruit, it is important to properly cultivate it. To do this you must know its preferences regarding substrate, temperature and watering. Under such conditions, the fruit tree can reach up to 10 feet high, producing beautiful and white scented flowers before the fruit harvest.
This small evergreen fruit tree is cultivated in the tropics and the Mediterranean. In France, the Riviera and Corsica offer suitable climatic conditions for the cultivation of the lemon tree. It is also a speciality of the Menton region. If it is not cultivated for its fruits, the lemon tree is also an ornamental plant that can be set up in a pot on the porch.
How to grow a lemon tree?
The cultivation of citrus begins with the choice of soil, whether it is grown in containers or in-ground. Although lemon trees do grow on rocky or calcareous land, know that, in general, they thrive on fresh and less acidic soils, provided they have an adequate drainage system capable of disposing of water surpluses.
The lemon appreciates full sun. Do not be afraid to put it in direct contact with sunlight. However, the tree does not like wind, as it can dry out its leaves. Also, be sure to isolate it, as it does not like surrounding plants. When the temperature falls below 40°F, the lemon tree ceases its growth, which is favourable for its future fruit.
Propagating the lemon tree is a two step process: first, sprouting the seedlings in a warm environment, followed by the grafting of a small two-year-old plant. This should allow for the asexual reproduction of the lemon tree. Note that shield budding (in May or August) is preferred over cleft grafting (in August or September).
Maintenance of a lemon tree
In winter it is advisable to bring your pots inside for the lemon to enjoy a mild temperature. Remember to remove weeds from around the plant, as the lemon tree hates competition. Do it by hand, and not with a spade, in order not to scratch the exposed parts of the roots.
For irrigation, prefer water containing neither limestone nor bleach. Watering should be stopped in June and July. Then, resume the water supplies in August. Thus, you’ll get a good blooming for the summer. Also, apply fertilizer every three weeks under the 1-1-2 NPK ratio. In spring and fall, bring in decomposed manure.
The lemon tree is very sensitive to spider mites and aphids. To get rid of them, spray the tree with insecticide every seven days. You must also observe your plant’s behaviour. Yellowing or downward-pointing leaves reveal an excess of water. When they face up, they signal the contrary. Blackened leaves indicate that the tree is cold while pale leaves suggest a lack of fertilizer.
On a relatively large lemon tree, limit pruning to some misdirected branches to air out the inside of the tree. Generally, pruning is based on the tree’s sturdiness. Prune frail trees lightly. By contrast, a robust tree can be thoroughly pruned. Warning: pruning must occur after harvest as lemons grow on the year’s wood.
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Published in Orchard by Alexander on 04 Jul 2011