How to Keep a Lemon Tree Healthy


Pouring a lot of time and energy into growing a lemon tree only for it to become stunted and unhealthy can be quite heartbreaking. This situation can be easily avoided however.

To grow and maintain a healthy lemon tree you should focus on making sure the tree is receiving enough sunlight and water. You will also need to be sure that you are mulching, fertilizing and preventing the tree from receiving sun damage. Avoiding the use of aggressive fertilizers is also recommended.

Sunlight

One of the main contributing factors for the achievement of a healthy lemon tree is  sunlight. Sunlight is the lemon tree’s biggest energy source. Therefore, if you’re planning on planting a lemon tree make sure to plant it in area where it will receive as much sunlight as possible. If you live in a cooler climate you should also so think about having the tree positioned in warm location as well.  Having it next to a warm wall that receives a lot of sunlight during the cooler part of the year may be a good place for a lemon tree in a colder region.

Pruning

A little bit of pruning can go a long way when trying to optimize the health of your lemon tree. Look out for deadwood. Are there particular branches and twigs on your tree that don’t produce leaves or fruit? If so, then it would be wise to remove them. Not only will this let a bit more light into other parts of the tree, but it also improves air circulation. Air circulation can in turn reduce the amount of disease and pests within your lemon tree. So, if your looking for something to do with limited time in order to improve the tree’s health, then consider pruning.

Mulching

Mulching is an important component of growing a lemon tree. It provides a lot of functions and is crucial in supporting the health of your tree. Mulch is a material that can be made up of many different substances. Most  commonly these substances include:  straw, twigs, grass clippings, wood chips and leaves.  The mulch should be spread out over the surface of the ground below the canopy of the tree. Preferably, the thickness of the mulch layer should be no more than three inches.  If any thicker then it may cut off air to the ground and prevent the roots of the tree receiving crucial oxygen.  Thick mulch may also prevent water from seeping down into the ground and to the roots of your lemon tree.

Some of the benefits of mulching include protection  of the roots against extreme weather, both hot and  cold. It can also prevent nutrients from being washed away from under the tree.  Another great benefit of mulching is that it kills the existing vegetation on the ground’s surface which are competing for nutrients with your lemon tree. When the mulch begins to break down it can provide a lot of nutritional value for the lemon tree. Additionally, if you were to apply manure under your lemon tree the mulch would prevent it from burning the roots of your tree. 

Mulching  could result in stem rot if placed up against the bark and trunk of the tree.  Mulch has the ability to retain moisture, so when it rubs off against the bark of the tree it could result in bark rotting. This could in turn cause serious problems for the tree, including the inability of it  to properly absorb water and nutrients. Therefore, it is advisable that the mulch remain at least two or three inches away from the base of the tree . 

Whitewashing

As stated earlier lemon trees love sunlight, however too much sunlight can have some negative effects on the health of the tree. Exposed bark, which isn’t shaded by branches, may be susceptible to severe sunburn in hot climates. If you are worried about tree sunburn or if you had some burning issues in the past and you want to prevent a recurrence in the future, then there is a quick fix that can be a solution to your problem. 

Whitewashing is the process of painting parts of your tree white so it reflects the sunshine and prevents it from burning.  There are commercial whitewashing products that are dedicated for plant sunburn prevention. Many of these products won’t be harmful to your tree. The whitewashing is to cover over the most important parts of your tree that are exposed. This would include the main trunk of the tree and large important branches. In the northern hemisphere it will be the south side of the tree that will need the most protection. The opposite is true in the southern hemisphere. 

Whitewashing is a simple procedure to carry out and makes a lot of sense logically. Just think about the amount people in hot climates that wear white or light colored clothes because it cools them down. The same science is behind the whitewashing of trees.

There are some multi-purpose white washing products that contain properties that prevents disease and pests from infecting your tree. Therefore, these specific  whitewashing products in question can be applied on particularly vulnerable parts of your  tree, including areas that have been cut and also open tree wounds.

Watering

Significant watering should take place in the flowering and fruit onset phases of your lemon tree. If there is limited watering of your plants during these periods then the lemon tree may begin acting as if it is in drought. This could result in your tree conserving energy and withholding fruit production. 

Another important suggestion for healthy fruit production is to water your tree right before harvest. This will result in the increased likelihood of healthy and moist fruit being produced. 

Not only is watering important for efficient and healthy fruit production, but for the overall health of the tree.  Water is needed by the tree to absorb nutrients from the ground. Fruit dropping may be a sign of your tree not receiving enough water. If this occurs it is recommended to check the moisture levels of the ground. You can check the moisture levels of the tree’s roots by using a water meter that you stick into the ground.


Avoid aggressive pesticides. 

Harsh pesticides have the potential of doing more harm than good by killing off helpful, pollinating insects that actually aid in your tree’s health.  Ways to avoid the use of certain pesticides  includes removing some harmful insects off the lemon tree by hand. For example, citrus bugs can be picked off by hands and killed. 

Gall wasps can be another headache for lemon tree growers. Instead of using tough chemicals and spraying the nests of the wasps, why not just prune off the twig or part of the branch that they are on. 

Fertilizing

It is common knowledge that lemon trees need a lot of nutrients. It is due to the mineral rich locations that citrus fruits evolved in. For lemon trees during spring and summer fertilizing can be done once every 4 to 8 weeks. During fall and winter this can be spaced out to 8 to 12 weeks. When the tree is more established there is little need to fertilize during autumn/winter period. Additionally, when the tree is in this older period of existence fertilizing during the spring/summer period can be reduced to every 8 to 12 weeks. 

Lemon trees need a load of nutrients. Some macro-nutrients include nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. These macro-nutrients can be applied to the ground in the form of fertilizer product mixes that you can purchase commercially. Oftentimes, this fertilizer contains micro-nutrients as well, however it could be wise to consider purchasing micro-nutrient mixes separately instead. Micro-nutrients can  get lost in the ground or mulch if they’re applied the under the tree. You could instead consider spraying these micro-nutrients on the leaves of the trees. Some of these micro-nutrient mixes include ingredients should as  water soluble magnesium, zinc and iron. All of which promote the health of your tree.

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