Ask a Question forum: Help with my lemon tree!

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New York
Berniecharli
Jul 9, 2017 11:48 AM CST
I recently obtained a mature lemon tree that's several years old. I would like to get it to bloom. I bought citrus fertilizer and when I tried to put it in the soil I noticed that there's roots on top of the soil. I attached images. I assume they're roots. The person who had it before obviously neglected it and the soil is packed in so tight, I can't even water it. The water just rolls off the top. There are multiple stems that are deeply rooted in the pot. Should I put it in a new pot? Can I even get it to bloom? Btw, I live in New York. Please help me, I don't understand why the roots are on top of the soil. What should I do?
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
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porkpal
Jul 9, 2017 12:58 PM CST
Your picture didn't make it, but it certainly sounds like you need to repot the tree into a larger container.
Porkpal
New York
Berniecharli
Jul 10, 2017 9:06 AM CST

Thumb of 2017-07-10/Berniecharli/7c25ba

Maybe you are right. Maybe the tree grew so big that it doesn't fit in the pot?
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
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dyzzypyxxy
Jul 10, 2017 9:25 AM CST
Hi Bernie and welcome Welcome! Citrus do grow a lot of their feeder roots right up near the soil's surface so that's not a big worry. But they probably should be covered with at least a thin layer of soil. Maybe some of the top layer of soil was lost in the moving of the plant?

As porkpal said, it looks to me as if you need to re-pot that baby into a bigger pot. But if you can't get any water to absorb, I think I'd be inclined to soak it well first, to re-hydrate the root ball. Can you set it in your kitchen sink, shower or bathtub? Or take it outside and water it with the hose repeatedly until the soil gets evenly moist. Old potting soil can solidify into a brick-like state and then it really does resist re-wetting as you're seeing. But you don't want to tear any of those surface feeder roots, so be gentle and just keep soaking it patiently. Use warm water if you can, and hose the leaves at the same time. Lemons love humidity.

Once you have re-hydrated, re-potted and are seeing some new growth, that's the time to give it some citrus fertilizer, but start with only about half strength i.e. half of what is recommended on the package. You don't want to fertilize a stressed plant, and also it's possible that the new potting soil you give it will have some fertilizer in it as well, (usually not much).

Then get it (gradually) into as much good sunlight as you can so it will bloom. Sun and warmth are what will make it happy enough to bloom. You say you are in New York, but are you in an apartment in the city or out where you have a yard or patio? You can certainly grow your lemon outdoors in the summertime there, and just bring it into your house (sunniest window you have) once the night temperatures get down below about 50deg. for the winters.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
New York
Berniecharli
Jul 10, 2017 9:37 AM CST
Thank you I have some questions. How do I get it out of this pot? The soil is so tight in there I can't even get the tree out. And there are multiple stalks, should I only have one? And the pot it's in now is huge, what should I move it to?
Thumb of 2017-07-10/Berniecharli/d0c439


Thumb of 2017-07-10/Berniecharli/924ef7

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
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dyzzypyxxy
Jul 10, 2017 9:53 AM CST
It looks like there is another pot inside the blue one, is that right? Lift that one out, then turn the whole plant on it's side and press gently on the pot, rolling it around until you've loosened the root ball from the pot. It should just slide right out.

If the larger blue pot has drainage holes, you could just buy some quality potting soil and pot the plant up into that blue pot. Drainage is an absolute must! If it doesn't have drainage holes, either drill some, or buy another pot *with holes* larger than the inner one the plants are in.

Yes, you do seem to have multiple plants in there, too. Aargh. The person who had it before may have started them from seed or something. If it were mine, I would cut the smallest stems off right at the soil line, and just grow the larger ones. It will never make fruit for you with that many plants in one pot. But trying to tear them apart and pot them up separately would very likely kill them all. You may have to be satisfied with growing a nice plant with beautiful fragrant flowers.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
New York
Berniecharli
Jul 10, 2017 10:56 AM CST
Thank you I'm gonna do what you said and transplant it to the blue pot. And then I will soak the roots and then I will cut down some of the stalks and only go with the big stalk. Thank you so much for your advice.
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
Image
dyzzypyxxy
Jul 10, 2017 3:20 PM CST
Um, Bernie, I'd soak the root ball when you have it out of the old pot. Otherwise you'll never get the old potting soil moistened again, and the tree may die on you. Got a large bucket or something? Also be sure to moisten the new potting soil before you put it in the blue pot.

After you re-pot, keep the tree in the shade for a week or so then gradually move it out into the sun. It will have a little bit of transplant shock for sure and needs some time to re-acclimate.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

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