I have a couple of lemon trees (small plants really) in my garden. But they seem to grow at an awfully slow pace.They are about 2 years old & about 3/4 ft in height. I have seen pictures of lemon trees in pots with fruits & all (not bonsai). How can I promote growth & flowering ?
The answer seems to depend on the origin of the plants, what kind of lemon cultivar and the growing conditions.
- Lemons grown from seedlings are very slow to bear and will not necessarily bear lemons that can be used
- Commercially grown stock is very likely to have been grafted. Look for a difference in the trunk where the rootstock was joined to the top graft around 10 cm (~ 5 inches) above the ground if they have been planted properly. Grafted stock will bear fruit in as little as two to five years depending on conditions
- Like most citrus lemons will grow well in a wide variety of soil types except heavy clay or high caliche.
- Lemons are more sensitive to cold temperatures than other citrus. If you have frost or cold temperatures in your area this will lengthen the time until the tree is mature enough to fruit
- Site selection is important: South to South-east exposure, full sun, protected from strong winds and without competition from other trees/shrubs/perennials and turf grass. Citrus are shallow rooted so do not plant grass within 90 cm ( 3 feet) of the base of the trunk as it will compete for nutrients and water
- Mulch should always be kept at least 30 cm (1 foot) from the trunk to prevent foot rot
- Regular applications of fertilizer with nitrogen and potassium are necessary.Regular thin applications of compost or organic mulch help as well. A citrus fertilizer is often used as it supplies chelated micro nutrients like iron and manganese. See here for more details and a question of similar nature
- Regular watering in sufficient quantity to wet the entire root ball to a depth of 30 cm (1 foot) during the growing season is essential. Quantity of water will also depend on your soil type with sandy soil needing more than clay soil.
- Check for insect pests which retard growth. Most like to live on the underside or in the leaves. Brown bumps, white cottony puffs or small white grains like salt are common indicators of a problem.
- Potted citrus that are already setting fruit are probably grafted plants that are already two years old or more. There are a number of citrus cultivars (Ponderosa, Meyer) that are sold as "Lemons" that are actually related species that set fruit sooner. Potted plants often bear sooner but in lower quantity than those grown in soil.
citrus are a little different than most things, basically it relies on how many nodes are between your plant and the original base... so a grafted plant from a fruiting specimen will fruit while it is a tiny grafted twig...