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Anyone Growing Lemons in Containers?

 
Posts: 22
Location: Central Texas, Edwards Plateau
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I got a Meyer Lemon in March of this year and I am trying unsuccessfully to get it to produce some lemons. I've repotted it, bought citrus-specific potting soil, fertilized it, moved it around the yard, ignored it for a while, and most recently planted a cover crop of peas and oats around it because it seems like it can't get enough nitrogen (leaves that start to yellow at the tip and spread to the trunk.) Oh, yeah, at one point a few months ago, it had some scale insects that attracted ants and I think the ants damaged the root ball.

So...anyone else trying to do this? Any tips? Permission to give up?

Thanks in advance!
 
pollinator
Posts: 4328
Location: Anjou ,France
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Might help folks if you say where you are
David
 
A. M. Watters
Posts: 22
Location: Central Texas, Edwards Plateau
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Sorry, it's in my side bar, but I should have been more clear. I'm in central Texas, USA zone 8b.
 
pollinator
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Location: northern northern california
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it take a few years (3-7+ years) before fruit trees will produce. lemons do tend to be a bit quicker, and it may not take too many years to get fruit. your tree is probably just vegetating and not yet ready to fruit. give it some time. it sheds it leaves and grows new ones from time to time....so i wouldnt fret about the yellow leaves.

and yes.... i am growing lemons, and starting some oranges, in containers in zone 8. i was also growing a big lemon tree in the ground but in an atrium/glass covered porch type area....at my last place on the coast, in a cold (lukewarm actually) zone 9.

the young lemons trees i have are getting too cold right now as winter comes! been wanting to work out some small glass covered area for the tender plants i have including these. but they are inching along somehow, unfortunately though being eaten by deer! this was surprising...i wouldnt think they would go for lemon leaves, but i think they like to try any plant thats new to them.
 
Posts: 10
Location: Michigan
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Age is the most important factor in fruit production in citrus trees. Other than that, make sure you're letting the plant have plenty of time between waterings and give it as much sunlight as possible. I've grown many plants in containers before I got my valencia orange tree over a year ago, and it amazes me how little water it actually wants. Almost like a cactus.
 
pollinator
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Got any biochar in the container? That might help with nutrient availability if it's looking like something is missing.

I've got three citrus trees that were planted in 2010, and one is bearing this year. I think these 3 blood oranges are the most expensive ever when you factor in all the expense and care that has gone into them. Maybe next year will be the year that the kumquat and the lemon really get going.
 
A. M. Watters
Posts: 22
Location: Central Texas, Edwards Plateau
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It was my understanding when I purchased it that it was already a couple of years old. It had 12+ baby lemons and lots of blossoms when it came home with me. My mom and a neighbor both bought trees from the same place and at the same time as mine and theirs are thriving. Over-watering may be part of the issue currently- we've had lots of rain this fall and the tree is currently not under the roof overhang. NormallyI wait until the leaves begin to droop before watering.
Thanks for the suggestions - I'll pull him back under the roof and move him to a more southern exposure to see if that helps. I've been bio-char curious, so maybe I'll start experimenting with it on this tree.
 
Posts: 47
Location: SE Pennsylvania, USA
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I've got an Improved Meyer Lemon that I've been growing in a container for about 8 years here in Zone 6 Pennsylvania. Mine fruits once per year, normally in winter (so I get to play bumblebee). They can skip a year blooming if there is a heavy fruit set (which for a small tree, 12 is heavy). This happened to me this past year, but I finally have some buds developing that hopefully will open by Christmas.

Since you only got it in March, you just need to be patient. New plants can take a year to bloom normally, and citrus can be fickle from my limited experience (it took 5 or 6 years for me to get fruit). Since it sounds like you're digging it up repeatedly, that will prevent it from growing well since it is constantly in a state of transplant shock.

As far as watering, if you see leaves drooping you've waited too long. Drought stress will prevent the development of flower and leaf buds.
 
gardener
Posts: 899
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7B/8A
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A. M. Watters wrote:I got a Meyer Lemon in March of this year and I am trying unsuccessfully to get it to produce some lemons. I've repotted it, bought citrus-specific potting soil, fertilized it, moved it around the yard, ignored it for a while, and most recently planted a cover crop of peas and oats around it because it seems like it can't get enough nitrogen (leaves that start to yellow at the tip and spread to the trunk.) Oh, yeah, at one point a few months ago, it had some scale insects that attracted ants and I think the ants damaged the root ball.

So...anyone else trying to do this? Any tips? Permission to give up?

Thanks in advance!



First, is your Meyer lemon grafted or is it a seedling tree? A grafted tree will fruit much sooner. My Meyer already had fruit on it when I bought it a few years ago and it
blooms and sets fruit once a year or so.
Even if it is a seedling tree though, Meyer lemons are somewhat precocious and will fruit earlier than many if not most citrus varieties.

If you suspect rootball damage, then check it out. Pull the tree out, and check how the roots look and smell.
If anything looks or smells funny, then massage all the dirt out, wash the root ball out completely with a hose and get rid of any dead or diseased
roots. If there is a lot of dead roots, then cut of an equal amount of branches from the top of the tree to balance it out.
Repot the tree in some good citrus soil that drains well.

Don't worry, citrus trees are pretty resilient to being repotted so it won't hurt it to be "naked" for a while.

The average commercial potting soil will have enough nitrogen to keep the leaves from turning yellow, so I suspect something is keeping the
plant from absorbing the nutrients.

I personally grow Meyer lemons, calamondins in pots and have two Satsuma mandarin trees planted in the ground in my greenhouse. I also have numerous
young kumquat trees, some citrangequat trees , unknown mandarins,etc.

 
Posts: 65
Location: Zone 9B Santa Rosa, CA
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I have potted Meyer Lemon, Sweet Lime and Buddha's hand. All were about 24" tall when I got them. I've only gotten two fruits off the Buddha's hand, but the lemon and lime have both grown well. The lemon is 4' and the lime is 5 1/2' (I trimmed the lime back because that's as tall as I want it.

I'm getting lemons right now (20+) My friend with an in ground Meyer lemon starts getting fruit in late November. I got limes in March.

My trick for tender leaves and frosty mornings is to string mini outdoor Christmas lights in the trees. We run them at night. They provide just enough heat to keep the leaves from getting frost damaged. We get down into the 20's during Feb.

Julie
 
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A. M. Watters wrote:I got a Meyer Lemon in March of this year and I am trying unsuccessfully to get it to produce some lemons. I've repotted it, bought citrus-specific potting soil, fertilized it, moved it around the yard, ignored it for a while, and most recently planted a cover crop of peas and oats around it because it seems like it can't get enough nitrogen (leaves that start to yellow at the tip and spread to the trunk.) Oh, yeah, at one point a few months ago, it had some scale insects that attracted ants and I think the ants damaged the root ball.

So...anyone else trying to do this? Any tips? Permission to give up?

Thanks in advance!

Hello! A. M. Watters, I just harvested my Meyer Lemons and have started New cuttings that will be healthy trees that take root over the winter outside in containers. if you would like to see more go here -> http://ellewayne.com/how-to-grow-the-juiciest-meyer-lemons/
I would like to tell you more after you see my post if it interests you, just let me know. Good luck to you! Elle
DSC00963.JPG
Meyer Lemons November 2013
Meyer Lemons November 2013
 
Posts: 35
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Does the New Zealand lemonade tree count as a lemon tree.  If so I have one in ground entering its 3 winter.
I have a 3 year old Newzealand lemonade on US897 rootsock in an 8 gallon pot
My 2 year old New Zezlznd lemonade on Seville sour rootstock in a 7 gallon bucket
IMG_0230.JPG
New Zealand lemonade on C35 rootstock in ground outside has 30 lemons.
New Zealand lemonade on C35 rootstock in ground outside has 30 lemons.
IMG_0177.JPG
New Zealand lemonade on US897 rootstock has 1 lemon
New Zealand lemonade on US897 rootstock has 1 lemon
IMG_0222.JPG
New Zealand lemonade on seville sour root stock has 3 lemons
New Zealand lemonade on seville sour root stock has 3 lemons
 
Posts: 21
Location: East Tennessee, zone 7A-ish
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When our indoor lemon and lime trees started losing a lot of leaves, the research I found said possible causes were BOTH too little water or too much water, which was extremely frustrating to say the least!

I started measuring how much water I give them, and also instituted 'water Wednesdays' - a specific day to water. As long as the watering is pretty regular, the trees don't drop a lot of leaves.

They're about 7 years old and were little 6 inch in cardboard tubes tourist souvenirs when we got them.

The lemon has been giving us about a lemon a year for 4 years. This year we've just harvested one, and the tree has 3 others in various stages. The lime tree has set some tiny little fruit, but never kept them past that stage.

I don't think they get as much sunlight as they really need, but until we have a greenhouse, it's the best we can do.
 
Cris Bessette
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Posts: 899
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7B/8A
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Tammy Farraway wrote:When our indoor lemon and lime trees started losing a lot of leaves, the research I found said possible causes were BOTH too little water or too much water, which was extremely frustrating to say the least!





The best rule of thumb I've found to insure that pretty much any potted plant or tree receives the right amount of water:

1.  Water the plant fully so that it so that water is coming out the bottom.
2.  DON'T water again until the top inch of soil feels dry.   Go to Step 1.

This rules out variations in pot types (plastic pots take longer to dry than clay) or variations in the water usage of different plants.
This also helps to prevent rotten roots from standing water in the bottom of the pot.

Watering on a set schedule doesn't make allowances for temperature or humidity, for instance watering every Wednesday in the heat of the summer might be just right,
but in the winter and inside, the plants usage of water will be less and you may end up with too much water and root rot.

BTW loss of leaves in citrus is normal when moved from indoors to outdoors or vice versa. The change in sunlight and length of sunlight triggers
this and is normal.  Once the trees stabilize they will regrow leaves.
 
Tammy Farraway
Posts: 21
Location: East Tennessee, zone 7A-ish
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Prior to getting these citrus, I watered my houseplants like you suggest. The lemon and lime didn't respond well, so I changed how I watered them. They live indoors year round in the same spot, so pretty stable environment. YMMV.
 
Cris Bessette
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Tammy Farraway wrote:Prior to getting these citrus, I watered my houseplants like you suggest. The lemon and lime didn't respond well, so I changed how I watered them. They live indoors year round in the same spot, so pretty stable environment. YMMV.




It's a good idea to check the root balls once or twice a year regardless how you water to be sure the roots are in good condition.
I have had about 20 potted citrus plants and I lost a number of them to root rot because of watering more than they needed.
 
pollinator
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Tammy Farraway wrote:They're about 7 years old [...]
The lemon has been giving us about a lemon a year for 4 years. This year we've just harvested one, and the tree has 3 others in various stages. The lime tree has set some tiny little fruit, but never kept them past that stage.



Do you bring them outside during summer?


I want to get some citrus, but not if I'm only going to get a dozen fruit a year.
 
Tammy Farraway
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Location: East Tennessee, zone 7A-ish
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Jamin Grey wrote:

Tammy Farraway wrote:They're about 7 years old [...]
The lemon has been giving us about a lemon a year for 4 years. This year we've just harvested one, and the tree has 3 others in various stages. The lime tree has set some tiny little fruit, but never kept them past that stage.



Do you bring them outside during summer?


I want to get some citrus, but not if I'm only going to get a dozen fruit a year.



We do not put them out in the summer - mostly because of the potential of bringing pests into my kitchen. The trees live at our kitchen table, which sits next to the windows that get the best sunlight.

We have a porch that wraps around 3 sides of the house as well as limited windows, so it is what it is. Eventually, the trees are either going into a greenhouse or a sun room at the front of the new house. In the meantime, I get some experience caring for citrus, and the novelty factor of a few home-grown lemons.

Also, like I said, they were tourist souvenirs, so likely weren't the best quality. I'm actually rather astounded that 2 of the 3 trees we bought survived. The one that died was pretty much DOA; it never leafed out.
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