The Q&A Archives: Dying Lemon Tree

Question: I was given a lemon tree this summer as a gift. I cherish it and absolutely love the idea of having one of these beautiful specimens in my home. My problem is I live in New England, and obviously do not get the kind of sun that lemons need year round, even in the summer it is borderline. I have a sun lamp for him but it does not seem to be too beneficial. Do you have any tips on how to make my lemon grow? It is still a sapling, about 4 years old and doesn't have any buds, and it has about 10 leaves.

Answer: In cold winter areas citrus trees can be grown indoors from September through April and then taken outdoors a placed in a sunny spot. Indoors, citrus trees need average warmth, freedom from drafts, ample water, and well draining soil. A sun lamp is not a good source of light for your tree because of the excessive heat it generates. Your tree will be much happier if you supplement natural light with fluorescent or gro-lites especially made for plants. Turn the light on for 12-14 hours each day and turn it off at night. Citrus trees need ample moisture, so water often enough to keep the soil moist but not soggy, and feed in the spring and summer months with a diluted liquid fertilizer, especially if the leaves are yellowish instead of glossy deep green. Your tree should perk up once it becomes used to its indoor winter - outdoor summer ritual. This spring you should notice new leaf buds. Citrus usually sets flowers in the summer, so you probably won't see any until then.

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