Ask a Question forum: ponderosa lemon tree tips

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Name: Kevin Benoit
New Brunswick, Canada (Zone 3b)
Sep 18, 2016 6:01 PM CST
Hi guys, this week I bought a beautiful panderoza lemon tree at my local nursery Smiling I will put it outside when sunny and warm + I have a nice sunny window for it. Do you guys have any tips for a beginner on special care of a citrus tree? ex (pot size, pruning, fertilization, etc)
Also, how far from blooming does it look to you guys?

I didn't have anywhere to shelter it the first night I had it and the temperature went down to 10C (50F). Since then some of the leaves are curled, when will the leaves uncurl?

here are the pictures

As always, thank you guys for the help :)

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Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Sep 18, 2016 6:37 PM CST
Hi Kevin, pretty plant you got. That's a pretty ambitious project for somebody in Canada to grow a lemon tree!

First thing I'll say is I would pot it up into at least a 3gal. pot right away. Be very careful with the surface roots (top of the soil) because they are pretty fine and easily torn. Lemons have a lot of feeder roots near the soil surface generally, so disturb them as little as possible. Use a good quality potting soil that is high in peat, and if you can, augment with some sterilized compost. I also add a handful of alfalfa pellets (horse food) to everything I pot up. It's a great soil amendment and seems to give newly potted plants a nice boost.

Second thing, (and we were just advising someone in Idaho the same thing) being as far north as you are, that lemon is not going to get enough daylight, let alone enough sun when your winter days get down to only about 6 hours of light. (I'm originally from Vancouver, BC right "up there" with you). Look into setting up a supplemental light system on a timer for your lemon (and other tropical plants will love it too). Just one grow light bulb isn't going to cut it for a tree. You will need a 4ft. fluorescent ballast set up with T6 daylight bulbs. A minimum of 10 hours total of good light per day will keep the leaves on your tree and keep them green. So if it's getting 4 hours of bright sunlight in the middle of the day in December, set up the lights to come on for 3 extra hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoon. Say 8am to 11am, and 3pm to 7pm.

Third thing, buy some fertilizer that is formulated specifically for citrus, because they have "special needs" as far as micronutrients go. It will very likely be in pelleted timed-release form and in a pot, I would use half of what the recommended amount is from March through the summer months (because your soil surface is not as great as if the plant was in the ground) and even less than that through the winter, depending upon how cool your house gets at night. Even with the supplemental light, the plant will slow down growing in the winter.

It should be years before you will need to prune that little tree. But (you're going to hate this) when it blooms the first time, go ahead and enjoy the lovely fragrant flowers but DO NOT let it set fruit its first year. Yes, when the little 'buttons' form after the blossoms drop, pinch them off. This will direct the plant's energy into growing roots and healthy new top growth for a year before it has to make a great big lemon for you. It's a huge sacrifice the first year but you'll be glad you did it in future.

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
[Last edited by dyzzypyxxy - Sep 19, 2016 9:31 AM (+)]
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Sep 18, 2016 7:40 PM CST
I agree with Elaine.

And would add that a 50 degree night will not hurt the lemon. In Central California (my home state), temps in the winter get below freezing without harming the lemons. I suspect it got just a little too dry - that's a pretty small pot its in. You will have to mail order citrus food. My daughter grows citrus in Reno in a temperate greenhouse (the heaters come on when the temperature hits 30F) with great success. They are all dwarf and I believe she has them all in 10 or 15 gallon pots. Most citrus don't produce until they are 5 or 6 years old. Some don't set fruit until their late teens. Smiling
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Name: Kevin Benoit
New Brunswick, Canada (Zone 3b)
Nov 13, 2016 7:05 PM CST
Little update for you guys, the tree is getting used to its new home, it grew a little and its first flower buds came out this week Smiling
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