LEMON TREE: prepare, plant, prune, maintain

The lemon tree, more than a "lemon" tree ...

A lemon can be more than the use sometimes given to it without considering it. Lemon is a real fruit, delicious when grown with passion. You probably know the Menton lemon, this superb "golden fruit", distinguished by an IGP (Protected Geographical Indication). It is the fruit, along with the garriguette strawberries, that best represents the south-east of France….
But do you know lemon from the Amalfi Coast, in Italy south of Naples, which also has an IGP, via the Syracuse lemon also in Italy and more precisely in the south of Sicily, even the Corsican lemon ? When I was little, I ate wonderful lemons and oranges from Morocco, with Morocco marked in yellow in a black lozange, but, with the help of large distribution, these superb oranges were mostly replaced by citrus fruits from Spain, and as often without throwing the stone Stone, of much inferior quality. Why ? I do not know how to answer this question because Spain is such a beautiful country. Productivity is often privileged over quality, this perhaps explains that.

Lemon is a citrus fruit, like orange, grapefruit, or even Japanese yuzu. It must be admitted, apart from the lemons of Menton (at the Italian forntière) the Italians are very strong in the culture of citrus fruits with superb fruits, more particularly when they are "raised" organically.

It is not always easy to find nice, good lemons. Indeed, do not expect to find it at your favorite trader, or even on the market, outside the markets of the south-east, where there, perhaps or surely, the famous lemons of Menton, but less sure those of cyracuse. or amalfi will adorn the stalls.

Good. But if you connected to I like-gardening, it is to know how to cultivate the lemon tree…. In particular the actions and more particularly the size of fruiting which will allow the best harvests. Let's go ?

Botanical name of lemon tree

• Citrus

Type of plant

• Plant: Perennial
• Production: Annual harvest or "4 seasons"
• Foliage: Persistent
• Type of plant: Not very hardy (-3 ° to - 7 ° C)
• Family: Rutaceae - rustaceae
• Harbor : Shrubby
• Exhibition: Sun
• Plantation: Spring
• Culture Zone: Mediterranean climate, oceanic and container culture.

Particularities of the lemon tree and health benefits

• Lemon (organic) is very good for health, it is an anti-oxidant, it is also purifying and strengthening.
• It is also rich in vitamin A, C, and potassium, calcium and phosphorus.
• Yuzu appreciates humidity especially during fruiting.

Advantage in the garden

• The lemon tree is easy to grow in Mediterranean regions and oceanic climate.
• Easy to grow in pots in colder regions.
• Citrus fruit interesting in cooking

A word from the amateur gardener:

The lemon tree is a not very hardy fruit tree. It suffers in the foliage from -3 ° C and at -7 ° C, frost damage on the tree can be irremediable. In regions that are a little cooler, favor pot cultivation, which also gives good results… You are not mistaken because the lemon tree is cultivated in more and more regions of France! Be careful, however, the Yuzu appreciates humidity especially during fruiting so be careful with watering.

What soil to plant a lemon tree?

• Neutral soil, it can be cultivated in all drained soils.
• The lemon tree is a tolerant fruit tree.
• In absolute terms, avoid calcareous soils.

What exhibition?

• Sunny.

When to plant the lemon tree

• Plant it in spring after periods of frost.
• But beware the cultivation in the ground of the lemon tree is reserved for the mediterranean outline, and more widely in the south of France.
Elsewhere, we will favor pot culture, to allow him to return to shelter once winter is announced.
• Choose a light shelter, frost-free, greenhouse type or better, orangery, see unheated but frost-free veranda.

A word from the amateur gardener:

A heated indoor room is not always a good place to store the lemon tree, in fact, the dry heat of the interiors hinders its development.

Preparing the soil before planting a lemon tree:

• To successfully grow lemon trees, it is essential to prepare the soil by amending it:
• In the fall, work the soil by adding mature compost mixed with wood ash.

How to cultivate the lemon tree?

Generally the cultivation in the ground of lemon trees and citrus fruits in general is limited to areas in the south-east, and / or near the ocean where the temperature rarely reaches negative temperatures.

Growing the lemon tree in the ground:

• Dig the earth 3 times the height and width of the lemon tree root ball.
• Amend the soil with mature compost and planting soil 1/3 of each.
• Place a draining bed, gravel or clay balls ...
• Scrape the peripheral roots to aerate the root ball.
• Soak the stump in a bucket of water for a few seconds before putting the lemon tree in place.
• Place, fill with the mixture and tamp with the foot.
• Water moderately.

Growing lemon trees in pots:

• Choose a very large pot, at least 60 cm (see more) in diameter and depth.
• Choose an earthen pot that allows the roots to breathe better.
• Add a draining bottom like gravel, a nice thickness 5 to 10 cm.
• The roots hate to "soak", prepare a rather rich and very draining substrate.
• Prepare a mixture of garden soil, planting soil, sand and compost (30/30/30/20%) well mixed. Pot to be taken into frost shelter every winter.

A word from the amateur gardener:

Maneuvering a large pot, filled with soil, with a fruit tree in it can be difficult. It even requires using the tools of a handsome devil. A smaller pot can be considered. But be aware that the fruit tree will quickly feel cramped and limit its growth as well as its fruitful capacity.

Caring for the lemon tree:

Watering the lemon tree:

• The lemon tree is a fruit tree from warm regions, and watering in classic climates is generally not necessary.
• In exceptional drought conditions, watering is necessary.

How do you know the signs of a lack of water in the lemon tree?

• The leaves soften and fall back "without force"

How to water?

• Favor measured and repeated watering rather than heavy watering.
• Pay attention to the quality of the water. In areas with calcareous soil, it is important to irrigate with rainwater.

A word from the amateur gardener:

Watering the lemon tree and growing in pots?

In pots, the lemon tree loses its water faster, due to evaporation from the pot, and the limited amount of soil.
Then water more regularly and in a little sweat, the roots should NEVER bathe.

Lemon tree fertilization:

• The lemon tree is a tree that requires good fertilization, especially in spring, but also throughout its growth. Every 2 or 3 months, it is important to incorporate mature compost at the base of the fruit tree.

How to fertilize?

• Scratch the soil with a claw, being careful not to damage the roots of the lemon tree.
• Spread a bed of compost at the foot of the tree.
• With the claw, mix the soil of the garden with the compost.
• You can water very lightly on this occasion.

Fruiting size:

When to prune the lemon tree?

• Pruning should be done outside the risk of frost and before flowering, this is the rule for all citrus fruits. In the case of lemon trees which can flower several times a year, it is then necessary to prune even if the flowers have already appeared.
• Usually in areas where lemon is grown, pruning begins around February-March.

How to prune it?

As with all fruit trees, we must try to keep the dimensions stable in height, because a fruit tree that is too high does not allow easy harvesting and even produces a lot of loss. Generally in the case of fruit trees the air and light must circulate, the rule is then to remove the interior secondary branches of the tree ... And in the case of a Citrus tree, it would be a mistake and it is necessary to favor a "balanced" size of the interior and exterior branches.
The size of the lemon tree is always important. Purchased already formed in the nursery, you will be attentive to the 3 or 4 carpenter branches that structure the tree and its future ramifications. Young subject, you will need to ensure pruning to produce this fruit size structure.

Prune the lemon tree in 3 steps as shown in the diagram below.

• It is necessary to start from the 4 identified carpenter branches.
• Trim them to 2/3 the first year of installation.

The following year ramifications will appear and grow ...

• Prune them: reduce new shoots about half in cutting just above a leaf.
The following year more ramifications will appear and grow again ... to produce the definitive fruiting form of your lemon tree.

A word from the amateur gardener:

Remember, pruning should be done outside of frost periods and just before very cold periods.
The secateurs must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before pruning.

Lemon tree harvest:

• Depending on the variety, the fruits of the lemon tree mature from October until January.
Or the harvest will take place all year long in the case of lime!

What varieties of lemon tree?

The "4 seasons" lemon:

The fruit tree produces very yellow and very juicy lemons, with a few pips, for about 8 months of the year, it is very productive and the harvest is done all year round.

Meyer lemon:

The fruits are yellow and distinguished by a very smooth skin tending to golden yellow, more orange. The fruits are very juicy and it is even possible to taste them with the skin on, the flavors are so sweet. Some say it's one of the best lemons in the world, but they probably aren't from Menton. The tree bears fruit for 8 months, with a very good yield and the harvest is done over the course of the year, from January to December ...

Lime tree:

Its limes give a juice which is most often abundant, without seeds, with very thin skin. Fruiting spans 8 to 12 months and the yield is poorer than yellow lemon trees. Harvesting is done in the long run all year round.

Lemon caviar:

This is the lemon everyone is talking about, at least in the culinary world ... It is a small lime whose pulp forms small pearls ideal to add to sauces or to your best dish recipes, for a "Explosion in the mouth" thanks to a lively and acid taste with light "grapefruit" flavors ... More than a lemon what!
The yield is good but lower than the lemon trees above, but its originality is undoubtedly there. The harvest is concentrated at the end and the beginning of the year from October and until February.

Discover the Yuzu:

Photo by Allentchangpicked on wikipedia.org under creative commons license CC-BY-SA-3.0

Quick sheet:


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Lemon tree: grow THE golden fruit!


The lemon tree is a fruit tree that reaches 3 to 4 meters in adult size. Provided the climatic issues are favorable to it, the lemon is a fairly easy fruit to grow. Fruiting pruning takes place in 3 years without the risk of frost and spring fertilization and particularly during the first 3 years of cultivation generally allow it a good yield in the orchard or garden.


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Lemon tree in a pot: 15 mistakes not to make to have beautiful citrus fruits

Growing lemon trees in pots can be very tricky. To have beautiful citrus fruits, here is what you should definitely not do!

In his garden, his terrace or on a small balcony, the potted lemon tree is all the rage. A true star of citrus, the lemon is generally easy to grow. But before harvesting this yellow fruit with multiple virtues, you must first successful planting and maintenance. Indeed, the culture of the lemon tree can be very delicate.

Species and varieties of lemon trees

Lemon trees suggested for the garden

Citrus limon 'Eureka' (syn. 'Of the Four Seasons')

  • Flowers: White flowering, pink on the reverse, very fragrant in March-April and August-September.
  • Fruits: Very juicy and fragrant fruit, used fresh or cooked, all year round.
  • Qualities: Very cultivated in California, Australia and South Africa. Beautiful, not very thorny tree.

  • Flowers: White flowering and pink buds in March-April and September-October.
  • Fruits: Small yellow fruit then orange when ripe, with fine skin, with a softer flavor than lemon. Maturity from November.
  • Qualities: Fits well in pots because it grows slowly. It is the most tolerant of cold. Tolerates -6В up to -9В ° C if not grafted.

  • Flowers: Fragrant flowers in March-April then August-September.
  • Fruits: Large, fairly soft fruits with thick skin. Ideal for candying.
  • Qualities: Withstands -5В or -6В В ° C.

  • Flowers: White flowering in summer and autumn.
  • Fruits: Acid green fruit close to lime, without pine trees, which falls and turns yellow.
  • Qualities: Hybrid between Citrus limon and tahiti lime (Citrus aurantifolia or latifolia). Gelif.

  • Flowers: Blossoming pinkish white, in March-April and August-September.
  • Fruits: Lemon with pink pulp, sometimes showing cream and green variegations before turning yellow.
  • Qualities: Green leaves variegated with cream. Young pink shoots. Tree of medium vigor. Withstands -4В В ° C.

Lemon trees for agriculture

  • Flowers: Very fragrant white flowering, in March-April and September.
  • Fruits: Very good fragrant and juicy lemons.
  • Qualities: Vigorous tree among the hardiest. Consume for juice and fresh fruit.

  • Flowers: Flowering fragrant white pink in March-April then September.
  • Fruits: Medium to large fruit, intense yellow, with tender pulp, harvested from February to July. Store until December.
  • Qualities: Most cultivated variety in Spain. Vigorous, sparse tree. Withstands -5В В ° C.

'Fino' (syn. 'Primofiori')

  • Flowers: White flowering from March to September.
  • Fruits: Medium fruit with thin skin, juicy, remaining on the branches for a long time. Maturity from December to March.
  • Qualities: Very cultivated in Spain with 'Verna' for its high yield. Not to be confused with 'Primo fiore' grown in Sicily.

Cultivation and maintenance of a potted lemon tree

With its beautiful foliage and fragrant bloom, the lemon tree has everything to brighten up interiors, especially since it offers juicy lemons all year round! Since it cannot stand frost, it is not possible to grow it in the ground in all regions of France. Opting for the cultivation of lemon trees in pots makes it possible to simplify wintering while decorating interiors and verandas.


Presentation of the lemon tree in a pot

The lemon tree takes its scientific name, Citrus limon , Latin citrus which originally referred to the citron tree, or Citrus medica .

Citrus limon has a glossy green evergreen foliage, more imposing than that of the orange tree which belongs to the same genus. Like all species of the Rutaceae family, the lemon tree has leaves that contain glands containing essential oils. Its white or pink flowers are very fragrant and only 1% of them bear fruit.

Lemon is botanically a berry, growing to 8-20cm in length and 5-12cm in diameter. Its zest also contains essential oil glands.

In pots, the lemon tree can reach 1 to 3 m high .

Did you know ? The lemon tree bears fruit almost throughout the year, especially in so-called "4-season" varieties, except during the summer months. The formation and ripening of the fruit is quite long since it takes almost a full year.

Species and varieties of potted lemon tree

Here are some species of lemon that are suitable for growing in pots:

- Citrus limon , or lemon tree of the 4 seasons, which is the most widespread variety. His lemon production spans eight months. The 'Meyer' variety is particularly suitable for container cultivation, as it grows slowly. The orange fruit has a milder flavor than a lemon.

- Citrus australasica , or lemon caviar, which is native to Australia. Its fruits are surprising with their elongated shape, their roughness and their color passing successively from green to yellow, sometimes to brown. Inside, the pulp consists of small, crisp yellow, green, orange or pink pearls, pleasantly scented. These have seduced the great chefs. Indeed, a dish embellished with lemon caviar is undeniably chic!

- Citrus limonia ‘Red Osbeck’, or lemon red lime Osbeck ’, with original tangy fruits, red-orange in color, used in the preparation of juice or lemonade.

Planting lemon trees in pots

Planting a lemon tree in a pot involves choosing a well-draining substrate , the shrub doesn't like its roots soaking in water.

So choose a pot or a tub with a hole in the bottom so that the water can drain away. Fill it with a thick layer of clay balls or gravel to promote good drainage. Cover with a mixture of special citrus potting soil. Set up your lemon tree then top up the amount of substrate so as not to cover the grafting point. This must indeed exceed. Finally pack everything then water generously.

Cultivation and maintenance of the lemon tree in pots

The maintenance of the lemon tree in a pot involves a regular watering in summer so that the shrub can grow optimally. During this period, when it will be placed outdoors in partial shade, do not wait for the soil to dry between two waterings. Conversely, do not leave stagnant water in the cup in order to preserve the roots.

An addition of fertilizer for lemon or special citrus fruit will ensure good fruiting of the shrub. This gesture should be repeated once a month during the summer.

After summer, watering the lemon tree should be less. The shrub will be placed sheltered from the cold, in a bright location. Its ideal temperature is understood between 8 and 12 ° C, so avoid keeping your lemon tree in rooms with high temperature. Prefer verandas or greenhouses that protect it from both frost and high temperatures, at least in winter.

A potting the lemon tree in pots improves the fruit harvest by providing new nutrients. It is advisable to repot the lemon tree in the spring, every 2 to 3 years.

Lemon tree pruning in a pot

The pruning of the lemon tree in a pot aims to control the growth of the shrub . Dead branches should be cut first and then the branches inside, so that the lemon tree can benefit from more light.

Pinch off the ends in the spring to ensure good branching and to maintain a compact habit.

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