The Q&A Archives: ponderosa lemon tree

Question: I've recently purchased a Ponderosa Lemon tree and was unable to get any care instructions from the nursery. As you can see I live in zone 5 so I know keeping it oudoors in the winter is out of the question. Can you recomend how to care for the tree? What should it be planted in and how and when to prune it before bringing it in. I'm also wondering if there is anything special to do to keep it producing fruit all year. Any information you can give me regaurding the tree would be wonderfull. I would like to keep it as healthy and happy as possible. Do you by any chance know what it the coldest temp. it will tolerate? That will help me to decide where to place it in my house in the winter. Thank you very much for any advise you can give!!!

Answer: Citrus are subtropical plants, and grow more or less all the time in subtropical regions. Most grow in flushes followed by periods of several weeks in which the plants rest. Most indoor environments are warm enough to keep citrus growing nearly all the time. In fact, it is not unusual for citrus trees to bear three or four crops a year.

Grow citrus in a soil mixture of equal parts loam, peat moss, and sand. When watering the plant, soak it thoroughly and then allow the top inch of soil to become somewhat dry before watering again.

Citrus trees are heavy feeders and should be fertilized once a month with a chelated mix of manganese, iron and zinc (most multipurpose fertilizers contain these minerals. Citrus trees also love humidity. You can add moisture to the air with a humidifier, by misting the plants frequently, or by placing them in a tray filled with pebbles with water added to the top of the pebbles.

Don't be surprised if your citrus sheds a lot of immature fruit after blooming. Like many fruits, citrus produce many more fruits than the plants can support. So there is nothing much to worry about if your plant drops surplus fruit, provided it is otherwise healthy. To help increase the number of fruit-bearing blossoms on your tree, you can transfer pollen from blossom to blossom with a small paintbrush.

During the warm summer months, your tree will benefit from being outdoors. Be sure to expose it to the brighter sunlight gradually, by placing it outdoors in a shady spot for a few days before moving it into direct sunlight. As your tree grows larger, you might consider placing it on a decorative platform with casters to make moving it easier.

You can take your tree outdoors when daytime temperatures are about 65F and leave it outdoors until nighttime temperatures begin to dip into the high 50's. When taking your tree back indoors, be sure to gradually acclimate it as above.

Best wishes with your new tree!

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