What you need to know about Lemon Trees


When you listen to any of those garden question and answer sessions, it seems the lemon tree always tops the ‘most asked about’ list. But it’s not because lemons are all that troublesome. It’s because they’re so widely grown that almost everyone has one in their yard – hence, lots of questions!

While we associate lemons with sunny Mediterranean gardens, in reality it’s thought that this popular fruit tree originated somewhere in India. But it was so long ago the origins are somewhat lost and not all that important. What is critical is choosing the right variety for your area.

Popular lemons:

Eureka produces fruit almost year round in warm areas. The fruit is virtually seedless and has a thin skin. However, as lemons go, Eureka isn’t particularly cold tolerant. Villa Franca is a relative of Eureka that does better in inland areas, as well as in the subtropics.

Lisbon develops into a large, prickly tree that produces a heavy winter crop. It is very hardy and more tolerant than Eureka to both cold and heat.

Meyer (pictured) is a small grower that is thought to be a cross between a lemon and an orange. Its small size means it’s suited to pot culture and its cold tolerance sees it used widely in frosty areas. Lots A Lemons is a dwarf form of Meyer. In order to guarantee perfect drainage, Lots A Lemons should be grown in a pot.

Choosing the spot

Lemons trees need sun and good drainage. Anything less is a compromise. If the soil is heavy, you can build a raised bed, dig in organic matter and gypsum or, safer still, choose a small lemon variety that can be grown in a pot. Most of the popular lemons are available on a dwarfing rootstock called Flying Dragon that restricts their size by about half. Potted lemons should be grown in a good quality mix (such as Yates Premium) and moved into larger containers as they develop.

Lemons planted out into the ground don’t like competition, so remove any grass from the base and keep the root area mulched with a light organic mulch. Don’t let the mulch touch the trunk of the plant because this could encourage rotting in the stem.

Feed lemons at least twice a year with a good fertiliser such as Dynamic Lifter PLUS Fruit Food. An annual treatment with a small amount of trace element mix is also a good idea.

Controlling common problems:


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