Let’s talk lemon tree care. We want you to be comfortable with the upkeep needed for your lemon trees, including watering and pruning them. It is also important to know where to grow them and where not to even try.
Lemon trees are rumored to have originated from India and came to America by way of Europe. The average lemon tree will grow to be up to 30 feet tall when they are healthy. The lemon tree’s leaves are oval shaped with little pointed spikes protruding out that are very small and sharp.
The branches are very thorny when compared to other fruit trees. The lemon, or fruit of the lemon tree as it is known, is actually a berry technically speaking. It has a yellow peel and can be from two and a half to four inches in length. It is egg shaped for lack of a better comparison.
Some lemons have lots of seeds in them and some are nearly seedless. The amount of seeds a lemon has depends greatly on the variety or species of the lemon tree it grows upon.
Armstrong lemons are a good example of a lemon variety with little or no seeds in them, making them a preferred type of lemon. Armstrong lemons are considered seedless lemons, but you may find an occasional seed in them regardless.
Lemon trees are one of the most sensitive citrus trees to temperature. They will not grow in colder climates at all. Florida is the type of climate they like. If you get much further north in the United States, they will not grow well or they will not grow at all depending on how far north you go.
Caring for a Lemon Tree
While your lemon tree is just starting out, you want to water it heavily every seven to ten days. Keep your budding lemon tree in a warm and sunny place. If you are in an area that is subject to mild frosts, you may be able to get some protection from frost by planting it close to a house or even under an eave. You should fertilize the tree every four to six weeks when first starting out, from February until August.
If your climate is warm enough and without major frosts, then your lemon tree should make it to full size and be producing lemons in no time! Once you have a full size tree, you need to trim and prune it regularly to keep it healthy.
You can do pruning once a year if you like, if not, at least every other year will normally suffice. You can cut back up to one third of the new growth. It is recommended that you shape the tree in a manner that makes the fruit easier to reach and pick.
It is very important to protect your lemon trees from any frost. There are lots of tricks you will hear, but the main thing to do is just keep them covered if a frost is called for or you know the temperature is going to drop to 30 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Plastic paint tarps will do the job nicely in most cases. Make sure you drape the light weight tarps over the very top of the trees. A step ladder may be needed if your trees are particularly tall.
Wait to pick your lemons until they have the proper color and size. If they are still a little bit greenish colored, then they still have some time left before they are ripened enough to use for lemonade, pies and other lemon treats. Be patient and wait until the lemons are a nice bright yellow color.
They should be fairly plump and juicy too. If they look small, then they probably are not ready yet. The size and shape of the lemons will vary according to the trees growing conditions. So, the lemons you grow in Virginia may not be as big as lemons grown in southern Florida because of the climate difference.
Lemon trees are a bit tricky to grow and need regular maintenance. If you are in a climate that stays very warm most of the time and never freezes you may be able to grow them. If you are in Florida, you are in luck. If you are in Georgia or above you may have problems growing lemons as they are very sensitive to cold weather and will not thrive unless in constant heat and sunshine.
Lemons are great for such things as lemonade and lemon pie. Other uses for lemons include lemon extract, lemon meringue and lemon wedges as garnish to many entrées in cooking. Also, a little known fact about lemons is that their juice makes a great disinfectant. That and it’s naturally strong scent are what make the use of lemon juice popular in many cleaning agents you use around the house most likely.