What a joy it is to look out your patio window and see a little lemon tree chock full of these bright yellow treats. And the blooms have a heavenly scent. The warm weather of Texas is perfect for growing lemon trees. But just like with any region where you grow citrus plants, you have to take steps to ensure the health of your tree if you want the harvest. One of the easiest ways to grow happy lemon trees and other citrus here is to plant them in containers. If the containers are on a base with rollers, you can even roll them into to garage or warmer area when there is the occasional freeze.
Those of you old enough might remember the song, “lemon tree, very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet … but the fruit of the poor lemon, impossible to eat …” But today you can find lemon trees with sweeter and juicier fruit than when that song was penned. Look for Meyer Lemon, which is a compact, almost thornless, small tree with an abundance of scented blooms and fruit. The fruit flesh is a light orange-yellow color. With a little searching, you can also find the Dwarf Meyer Lemon. The nurseries brag that it is grafted on Flying Dragon rootstock that makes it a much smaller 6-foot tree perfect for containers. The Iranian Lemon plant and the Variegated Meyer Lemon are other great options. The Variegated Spanish Pink Lemon (Citrus limonia) is one of the most beautiful citrus varieties. The foliage of this tree is variegated green and white.
The fruit is green and yellow striped with a pink interior. Pink lemonade, anyone?
No matter what the variety you choose, there are some basics that will keep your lemon tree productive. Plant into soil that is loamy with a generous amount of sand. The soil feeds the plant, and the sand helps it drain well. Be gentle with the roots and water every four days for the first month, then about once a week. Give your lovely lemon tree a location with a minimum of 8 hours of sun a day.
If you plant into a container, be sure to choose a large pot with good drainage holes. A slow-release fertilizer is a good idea. If you are interested in your tree growing larger, limit the amount of lemons the first year to six or so (5 gallon tree). It seems unimportant now, but in the fall when temperatures vary widely, protect your lemon tree with a blanket then a plastic cover when temperatures drop to 25 degrees. You will be rewarded with the sweet fragrance and the bright beauty of lemons in your own backyard.
Joette is an avid gardener and prides herself on staying up-to-date on the latest gardening activities and tips. To share your gardening news with Joette, call (409) 832-1400 or fax her at (409) 832-6222. Her e-mail is joreger [at] msn [dot] com.