The Q&A Archives: Need help with growing Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree

Question: I received two Dwarf Improved Lemon Trees from my son who purchased them at a Home Depot in Mission Viejo, Ca. I live in Northern Arizona in Zone 6/7. I know I need to plant these citrus trees in containers because of our winters. What I don't know is what size container is needed, what fertilizer, potting soil I should use. I need any information available in order to grow these citrus trees. They are in their original 3-1/2 gal. containers. I would appreciate any help you can give me. My nearest Home Depot is in Prescott, Az which is 100 miles away, so whatever I need, is it available in my store?

Answer: When potting up any plant, go just to the next size container with drainage holes. The goal is to give the roots more room to grow, but it doesn't help to put a small rootball into a much larger space, as it's difficult to maintain appropriate soil moisture and the roots can dry out. Use a potting soil for containers, which has some combination of perlite, vermiculite and/or pumice to promote drainage. Grown in a pot, your tree will require regular watering and fertilizing. Try to find a fertilizer formulated especially for citrus and follow package instructions. If not available, use an all-purpose fertilizer, such as 10-10-10. Or use a slow-release product so you won't have to feed as often. Be careful not to overfertilize and burn the roots, especially as we're heading into the heat of summer. You may want to reduce the recommended amount by half, just to be on the safe side, while your citrus establish.

Try to keep the root ball intact when transplanting, but if roots have circled around themselves, you need to gently pull them apart and spread them out into the new soil. If it's really root bound, you may need to cut through them with a sharp knife. Otherwise, they'll just continue to wrap around and eventually the plant will die. The root ball should be planted at the same level as in the old pot (in other words, not deeper or higher). Keep the soil consistently moist, but not wet, for the next month or two to help prevent transplant shock, especially during the heat of summer. I hope this info helps!

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