Kacey52
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Joined: Fri Feb 04, 2011 6:18 pm
Location: Michigan

lemon tree

Hi :) I recently (this past fall) acquired a lemon tree from a friend. He said it was 2 years old I believe. Anyway I have no idea how to care for it other then water, occasional fertilizer, and sun. I really don't know what else to do with it. It's currently in my bay window getting full sun and seems to like it there. I'm going to put it outside as soon as it's warm enough and I'm sure it won't fit back in the window in the fall (as it's already touching the top of the window) I'm thinking a grow light set up in my basement. So any advice on how to care for this tree would be greatly appreciated - what kind of fertilizer, how much water, sun, pruning, will it actually grow fruit, what kind of grow light?, that kind of stuff. I will try to post pictures of it soon.
Thanks so much :)
Kacey

shelleyinmichigan
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Location: Ossineke, Michigan

Is it an actual fruiting variety, like the dwarf trees you see in the catalogs?

I have a "lemon tree" I started from the seed of a grocery store lemon when I was 15 years old. When I bought my house I was finally given sole custody of it...........and it's 23 years old now.

My mom, the jokester, bought some of those fake lemons from a craft department and fashioned dark green hooks into them and hung them on the tree. One day when I was visiting she excitedly told me that my tree had fruited! And of course, I fell for it hook. line, and sinker :wink:

It will never set fruit, but it is tall and interesting to look at. And I found out an interesting characteristic of this specimen the hard way. A few very long, VERY sharp thorns!!!

Despite this surprising form of weaponry jutting from the stems, the leaves are a gorgeous shiny dark green, and when you rub them they release the most pleasant lemon scent. The leaves also make a spectacular tea, so it turned out to provide an actual culinary use :D
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applestar
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Kacey, I would prune the lemon this spring when you put it outside. It will put out new shoots -- let those shoots grow so the new leaves will nourish the tree, then prune as necessary again before bringing it inside. This way you'll be able to put it back in the bay window where it seems to be happy.

About this time of the year, mine starts growing new shoots. I let them grow for the most part, and trim them when I prune in spring. I do trim overly lanky growth and use them in cooking.

For fertilizer, I currently just give used coffee grounds dumped in the watering can, some worm compost tea, occasionally small amount of molasses dissolved in warm water, and actual earthworm in each container. During the summer, while outside, I also give ithem hydrolyzed fish fertilizer (Neptune) and AACT. The containers sit directly on the ground and earthworms move in from below. I'm thinking of getting Espoma Citrus-Tone, though, since I'm hoping the oldest of my citruses is reaching possible flowering age. I want to stick with organic fertilizer. Look for Citrus and Avocado fertilizers which will contain the proper macro and micro nutrient mix.

Shelley, I'm not sure why you said yours will never set fruit. It's not likely to flower unless it gets sufficient sun/supplemental light. But if it flowers, they may be pollinated by insects or you should be able to hand pollinate... at least in theory. How the fruit will taste is another story.

Your Mom!! :lol: She sounds like a fun person. :D

I use nail clippers to cut the sharp tips off of all my citruses. You can also just pinch off the tips of the thorns of new growth while they are still soft. The citrus leaves are good in Thai style soup as well. :wink:

shelleyinmichigan
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Joined: Sat Sep 11, 2010 3:45 pm
Location: Ossineke, Michigan

I was thinking because it's 23 years old and has never had a flower on it, that it probably won't set any fruit. When it was still at my folks' it was right in front of their kitchen window (west), so when the sun came over the house it got plenty of light. Even with the curtains closed, it was always brighter than bright in that room. Blinded me many times hahahaha

Now that I have it, in the winter it is parked in front of an east facing livingroom window. When the sun rises over the lake it has it's own personal viewing area.

I did a medium replacement it this past summer since the original soil looked very depleted and put it out on the screened in porch, on the southeast side of the house. It really seemed to like it there, and even when it got down to freezing it didn't have any effect on it! For a tropical it's pretty darned tough.

Regardless of whether it gives me babies or not, it's always amazing how it can 'come back to life' after losing practically all it's leaves. In fact, the one branch I was meaning to cut off but never got around to now has new leaves on it. Sneaky sneaky haha
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Kacey52
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Joined: Fri Feb 04, 2011 6:18 pm
Location: Michigan

Shelley,
This tree is grown from a grocery store lemon seed also :) Wow, 23yrs old that's awesome!! I hope you do get it to produce fruit for you. How tall is yours? That's hilarious about the fake lemons :lol:

That's a good idea about pruning it to keep it small enough to go back in the window. So do old leaves not provide as much nutrition to the tree? and exactly how where do I prune it? (sorry I don't know anything about this stuff, but I am really trying to learn) Wow, I didn't know you could use used coffee grounds for fertilizer!! Also very cool that the worms move right up into the pots!! So could I find the Citrus fertilizer at like a Home Depot? What age might I expect it to flower/fruit?

I took the tree outside so I could get a decent picture of it and as soon as I can get it from my phone to the computer I'll post it.
Thanks for all your help guys :)

shelleyinmichigan
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Joined: Sat Sep 11, 2010 3:45 pm
Location: Ossineke, Michigan

Attempting to post a picture here (pardon the clutter, that's the sewing corner of my livingroom.....I live there haha)

[img]https://i53.photobucket.com/albums/g66/shelleyn_2006/lemontree-1.jpg[/img]

I'd say it's about 8 foot tall, my ceilings are fairly low and I had to cut off a wily top branch so it would fit in my livingroom.
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applestar
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Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Here's a photo (not a very good one I'm afraid) of some of my citrus trees:
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/Image8271.jpg[/img]

I've been asking about citrus pruning methods in this thread:
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=183062#183062

As I mentioned in that thread:
" Some of my oldest citrus trees are starting to unfold larger and thinner, somewhat pleated leaves as opposed to smooth/flat thick leaves reminiscent of bay leaves that they started out with as seedling trees. "
I notice your tree's leaves are all pleated, shelley -- I'm assuming this is indicative of its maturity level.

Kacey52
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Posts: 17
Joined: Fri Feb 04, 2011 6:18 pm
Location: Michigan

Here's a picture of my lemon tree. The tree it's is 5ft tall and the pot is 10in


[img]https://i1093.photobucket.com/albums/i427/Kacey052/IMG_3070.jpg[/img]

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