Lemons are a popular citrus fruit for making lemonade, using in recipes and dripping on your seafood. Many cultivars of true lemons exist; the trees average between 10 and 20 feet tall. The branches on the trees are thorny, the flowers lightly fragrant. Lemon trees are the most cold-sensitive of the citrus crops, and don’t grow well in windy conditions. The hybrid Meyer Lemon may be an alternative in certain areas, as it grows in cooler conditions and is smaller, making it a a possibility as a container tree.
Choose an area with full sun and good drainage. Dig a hole twice the diameter and the same depth of the container the tree is currently in. Carefully remove the tree from the container and gently rinse off most of the growing medium around the roots.
Place the tree in the planting hole and cover the roots with soil. Water the soil thoroughly to settle it around the roots and continue to fill the hole so the soil is at the same level as the surrounding ground. Tamp the soil down firmly around the tree.
Construct a watering ring with garden soil in a 2-foot diameter around the trunk of the newly planted tree. Make the ring about 6 inches high. Fill the ring with water and allow it to slowly seep into the ground. This will direct the water right to the root system.
Fill the water ring every 3 days for the first two weeks, and once a week for the rest of the growing season, unless there has been sufficient rainfall. Irrigate the tree every 10 days to 2 weeks in the subsequent growing seasons if there has been no rain.
Wrap the trunk with heavy-duty aluminum foil to 18 inches high. Crimp both ends of the foil and squeeze the foil tightly onto the trunk. This will protect the tree from herbicide and sun damage and keep water sprouts from growing beneath the graft line.
Use a contact herbicide in a 2- to 3-foot diameter around the base of the tree. This area needs to be kept weed-free, as lemon trees do not compete well with the weeds for water and nutrition.
Apply a citrus tree fertilizer once you start to see new growth on the tree after planting in the spring. A second application can be done in summer and a third in the fall. Follow manufacturer’s directions on the amount to use, based on the size and age of the tree.
Cover the tree with a blanket or commercial cover that protects the tree from freezing temperatures if you live in an area that receives frosts. If a severe cold spell is predicted, you may want to erect a frame around the tree, cover with plastic and even place a light bulb inside to keep the tree from freezing.