How to Care for your Lemon Tree in the UK
Lets dive into how to care for your lemon tree. But first, if you don't have one yet (or are on a budget and want another one) then head here to discover how to grow a lemon tree from a pip
Feeding and watering Lemon Trees
Your tree will need consistent and regular watering. If the container is allowed to dry out, the leaves of the lemon tree will fall off.
Water well in summer, preferably using rainwater. But reduce watering in winter - overwatering in winter is one of the commonest issues with lemon trees. So in winter, allow the surface to partially dry out each time before watering. Water thoroughly with tepid water and then leave excess to drain away from the roots.
Lemon trees are hungry so need regular feeding throughout the year. Use a slow release fertiliser to ensure a consistent supply of nutrients. You can get specific citrus foods. The summer food is high in nitrogen and should be used from late March to October. There is a winter feed too which can be used for the rest of the year.
The last piece of the jigsaw for lemon tree growing is humidity. Lemon trees need humidity to ensure pollination. So you should provide this for them especially if your tree is positioned somewhere where you have central heating. Increase the humidity by standing the pot on a large saucer or tray filled with moist gravel. Keep the water level below the gravel though so you aren't waterlogging the roots. Mist the plant regularly throughout winter.
Training and pruning Lemon Trees
Citrus require only minimal pruning. During the summer, pinch back the tips of the most vigorous growth, using the thumb and forefinger.
If the branches become overcrowded then they can be thinned toward the end of winter. If a reshape is needed then cut back by up to two thirds to encourage bushy growth.
Pruning Mature Lemon Trees
If you have bought a tree, watch out for shoots from below the graft on the main stem. Remove these shoots immediately.
Mature plants may also produce other unwanted, fast-growing shoots called ‘water shoots’. These can be trimmed back if they appear near the branch tips or removed if they appear at the bottom or middle of the plant.
Citrus plants that are 1m (3ft) tall should be allowed to carry no more than 15 - 20 lemons. If it looks like more than this are forming then thin out the fruits.
Where to place your Lemon Tree
Lemon trees need plenty of sunlight, so place your potted tree near a sunny window that receives at least 10 hours of sunlight daily.
If you wish to move your lemon tree outside in summer then find a sheltered sunny position from mid-June until late September. Temperatures must be high though. Even in summer keep a Fleece Jacket handy in case of sudden cold nights.
A minimum winter night temperature of 10°C (50°F) is needed. Temperatures lower than this will at best inhibit flowering and at worst, kill our plant.
If you grow a lemon tre then mealybug, scale insects and aphids can all affect it. These can be treated by introducing biological controls like ladybirds but with a single small lemon tree, washing them off gently with soapy water should work as well. As with most pests, keeping an eye on your plant and acting quickly will prevent any major infestations.
Pick your lemons as soon as they appear large and yellow. Enjoy!
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