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How do I prune and keep this Meyer lemon tree growing branches?

 
Jason Nece
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Hello, from Topeka, KS.  I am currently trying to keep healthy a meyer lemon tree which I purchased in March, 2016.  The issue I have is all of the others I have seen are very bush like and have a far more extensive branch system than the one I have. I am new to this and not sure what to do to keep my tree healthy.

I have attached a few images.  One shows a sprout coming out about 2' up from the soil.  The others are just tree shots.  Poor thing looks like the branch will break because of how heavy the fruit on the end is.  I am not sure if I should cut those off (or where to) so I just hold them up with some para cord.

Any help or direction would be greatly appreciated.  The tree gets morning sun and southern exposure under the balcony. 
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Jessica Padgham
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It may not be getting enough sun to grow to it's potential.  The more sun it gets the more it will be able to put out branches along the trunk.  South facing is a decent amount of sun but are there trees shading the area?  If that were my tree I would keep those branches propped up for now just to get the fruit.  I'd also see about getting it more sun if at all possible.  I do think though that citrus grows slowly.  That has been my experience with my lime tree.  Hopefully someone else can give you some advice on actual pruning.  I might consider pruning those branches back some after harvesting the fruit but then again they may get stronger as the tree grows.  Mostly when I look at the pictures I see a leggy plant that wants more sun.
 
Rebecca Norman
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I agree with Jessica, it looks like it might not be getting enough sun. Southern exposure is great for sun in winter when the sun is low, but in summer when the sun is high in the sky, a southern exposure is often shaded. Can you shift it outdoors for the summer? When the weather gets cold and you shift it back to its southern-exposed window, the sun might be low enough to hit it.
 
Jason Nece
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Thank you Rebecca and Jessica for your responses I truly appreciate the comments.  My lemon tree is currently under a balcony which does limit the amount of sun since the balcony faces east and the sun is above the house fairly early in the day as Rebecca mentioned.  So the search starts for ways to get light to my tree.  I will keep the fruit propped up with the hope of harvesting and then prune after as you mentioned Jessica.

The little shoot coming out (3rd image) of the side, is that the start of a branch or something else?  Yeah, I am this new to gardening and trees. 

Thanks again for your comments. 
 
wayne fajkus
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I always see Meyer lemons for sale with fruit on them. Because I notice them, this is probably why they want it fruited when they offer them. It sells fast!

While good for sales, it's not good for the tree.

At a minimum I'd remove all the fruit but a couple. Removing all would be preferred. Give the bulk of the tree a chance to grow before most of the nutrients go to the fruit.
 
wayne fajkus
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The side shoot will become a branch.  Remove it if you don't want it. One thing with low side shoots- there is a joint at bottom of trunk. It's the graft joint of tree to root. Only keep shoots above that joint. Anything below that is not Meyers lemon (or same variety of peach, or pecan, etc). It's whatever the root is. It's selected for disease control like root rot and is separate from the upper tree.
 
Marco Banks
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Meyer lemons are more bushy than Eureka lemons.  They don't get those aggressive long shoots that come up.  They grow more like an orange tree than a Eureka lemon.

Citrus are sun pigs.  Since your tree is in a pot, can you put it out somewhere where it will get all sunlight all day?  Citrus are also nitrogen pigs.  If you're not feeding it, you may want to do so.  Urine is a cheep and plant-accessable source of N.  Dilute it 5 to 1 at least, but you could water with that at least once a week --- you're plant will thank you.
 
Jessica Padgham
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Good to know about the nitrogen.  I should start doing that for my lime.
 
Jason Nece
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Marco and Wayne, thanks for the additional information.  I will be sure to feed it more.  Since I am on a second floor balcony I can not put it outside for more sun.  If I did take it down stairs it would be stolen within an hour for sure.  Nice area and all.  I may go buy some grow lights to give it additional sun light.  I imagine in the winter I will need the lights anyway when I bring the tree inside.  Thanks again, huge help.
 
wayne fajkus
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Mine comes inside during winter,  but winters are short. Maybe a week at a time at the window.
 
Justin Quay
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We've had ours for 3 years now and it was two years old when we bought it. We average 20-30 lemons a year off of it. Try to keep it pruned like a ball, it encourages small branch and flower production. I'd trim the two main branches back to maybe a foot from the wye. You can also try using a mirror to reflect more sunlight & heat on to it.
 
Casie Becker
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Something that might sound odd, but can greatly increase the available light is to put something reflective behind your lemon. A mirror, or even a big white poster board will help capture and redirect whatever light does shine on your balcony.
 
Lynne Smith
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I have a Meyers lemon tree too. I ordered it from Louisiana last year. Good company. It arrived great.
I used to live in Florida for many years. I had a Ponderosa lemon. Huge as a grapefruit! But I couldn't find one for sale so I got the meyers.
As one person said, do not let any branches start below the graft ( its the place down at the bottom that looks a little crooked. Because if you let a branch grow below, it will mess your tree up.
To prune, prune some branches..just a few. And not a hard prune or it will not flower and produce fruit the next year. I learned that the hard way on my grapefruit tree.
So, just prune the leggy long ones. Preferably after the fruit is done growing.  You don't need to shock it right now. Do it in steps. Next time, a few other branches until you get the shape you want.
Yes, you will need more light. I am in Arkansas now and have it sitting on my front porch. It gets about 6 hours at least, but don't let this heat get to your plant. It will stress it.
Fertilizer should be 2-2-2. Thats what the company said. And Jobes carries some of those. I prefer vigero myself. I used it in Florida.
Look online to see if you can order some.
Fertilize 3 times a year.
Your lemons are bigger than mine right now.
I had a huge amount of blooms and a lot were on the same branches. Some will have to come off since it is a little tree. Yours looks ok for now.
And yes that one picture is a new branch. If you want it growing in a good shape, make sure lower branches are pruned.
Make sure it has good drainage.
In florida it rained most every day. But in Kansas, it may be different.
Try to simulate the growing conditions in Florida.
When temperatures get down to the mid 50's, I bring mine in for the winter. You can put a grow light above it. Or a sunny window.
I also have a 12 year old neem tree I bought when it was  about 8 inches tall. It is now over 5 foot. I trim it too.
Just make sure it has good sunlight and not bone dry nor too wet.

There are gardens in Italy that have been growing oranges for hundreds of years in pots. Theirs were terra cotta pots (huge too ). They laid theirs down and covered them. ( you probably wouldn't get away with that. Considering how cold and all the snow you get up there. I would bring it in.
When I pollinate, I do it with a sable painbrush, small. And gently dab them in the centers.
Some people use Qtips. I don't because they are too big and it will knock off flowers...
You can buy some of the insulation boards that have the shiny foil color to reflect the light. Or, you can also use foil. To me the boards are easier.
Tying up your tree for now will help with the weight. I use pantyhose (knee highs if you can get away with it. Or I use twine and cushion it for the winds so it doesn't cut into the branches.
Need any more information, message me.
Don't the flowers smell so good? I love mine!
If I can get some pictures to load here I will show you the blossoms. And that was on every branch! But some had to go because of the weight.
I would cut the two lower ones now. And at least the two longer ones after the lemons are done. Each branch pruned will put out two or three.
And watch out for the bugs! I caught one having a feast on mine. So I am going to screen it in I think.
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lots of blooms
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after the blooms fell off
 
Lynne Smith
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Justin Quay wrote:We've had ours for 3 years now and it was two years old when we bought it. We average 20-30 lemons a year off of it. Try to keep it pruned like a ball, it encourages small branch and flower production. I'd trim the two main branches back to maybe a foot from the wye. You can also try using a mirror to reflect more sunlight & heat on to it.


Sorry Justin, I didn't see the part you wrote about the pruning.
But you are right.
Did you get a dwarf Meyer lemon tree? That's what mine is.
You had a lot of lemons!  Mine could not hold that much,  even though it had that many blooms probably.
I can hardly wait!
If you drink a glass of lemonade ( preferably with no sugar ) the lemon will make your body ph good. Most of our bodys are high on acidic side. Which makes us more prone to diseases of the body.
Great way to start the day. Sometimes I squeeze the lemons and put in a ice tray, when hard I put in a ziplock bag for later drinks or usage.
 
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