How to promote tree growth for young Meyer lemon tree

Discussion in 'Citrus' started by lemongirl07, May 28, 2007.

  1. lemongirl07

    lemongirl07 Member

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    I recently bought a potted meyer lemon tree from Walmart - about a month ago I think. I repotted it in a bigger pot, and it's been blooming like crazy. I'm not sure how old it is - it looks a little ridiculous because it's a skinny stick inside a huge pot, but its leaves and flowers look healthy.

    My question is - do I need to trim off the flowers and the tiny lemons it's producing to promote growth for the tree? It's such a skinny little tree. Should I not let it bear fruit this year? If not, do I "nip the flowers in the bud" or let them bloom?

    Thanks for your help. I'm excited to grow a healthy tree - just want to do what's best for it from the beginning.

    Oh - I live in Los Angeles and the tree is on my condo balcony - faces full west.
     
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  2. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

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    Be careful about putting your tree in a pot that is too big-- it makes it easy to overwater. Don't prune your tree-- ingeneral citrus trees do not like pruning.

    As for removing the fruit-- that is up to you-- if you want more growth out of your tree, by all means remove the fruit. If having a few fresh fruits is more important, then leave them on the tree but it will grow a little slower.

    Skeet
     
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  3. lemongirl07

    lemongirl07 Member

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    Thanks Skeet. I think I'll take off the fruit. Is there any special way to remove it? Right now, it is the size of a bean - should I take off just the fruit or the stem too?
     
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  4. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

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    I would just use scissors and cut the stem. As for the flowers, I don't think they will take that much energy from the tree, so just enjoy the fragrance.

    Fertilize once a month if you use granular fertilize, once every 3 months if you use slow release. Try to find a fertilizer with trace minerals --in not you will need to add them separately.

    Skeet
     
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  5. leapfrog

    leapfrog Active Member 10 Years

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    lemongirl: I bought my small Meyer lemon from a nursery last spring (April 2007) and it was covered with flower buds. I put it in the ground and let it do its thing. As you might expect, about half of the buds dropped, but he flowers that developed from what remained produced 30 or 35 lemons. I left about 2 dozen lemons on the tree, all of which ripened to a nice size. There was not much leaf growth last year a a result, but the plant wintered well.

    The tree is against the SW wall and gets full sun. It's in a Zone 9a micro-climate. I live in the PNW, and we just came through the coldest winter in ten years. The minimum temperature was -6C (+23F), but the tree was well protected.

    This spring it got a slow start, but by early May there was lots of new leaf growth starting but very little fruit. Now some of the new shoots are up to about 6 inches long and still getting longer, and there will be a significant number of new leaves this year. However, I only see 3 flower buds this spring.

    Here's a picture of the tree on May 31 of last year:

    [​IMG]

    ....and this morning:

    http://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h306/leapfrog_photos/Meyer Lemon/MeyerLemon-June22007002.jpg



    As I'm new to this, I don't know whether I should expect alternate years of leaf and fruit growth, or whether I need to keep the tree better protected in the early spring (February, March) to promote flower development. I fertilize the tree on a regular cycle with 24-8-16.

    Can anyone advise me on fruit vs. leaf growth? Should I expect alternate years of leaves and flowers if I don't do any trimming, or is it more likely dependent on temperature during the early spring?
     
  6. lemongirl07

    lemongirl07 Member

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    leapfrog - since i have pretty mild weather in LA, i'm not the best person to address your question. but i am curious to see what others say about alternate years of flowering and leaf growth...
     
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  7. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    It's just a guess but I'd say this behavior is more likely to be associated with a very young tree because of its limited energy stores. Last year, while there were three sizable lemons on it, my small tree produced little if any, new foliage. This makes sense since doing both would likely put undue strain on it. Some of the older leaves were shed throughout the year leaving it looking rather sparse. This spring I pruned it back to one main stem with a few short stubs; the end result was completely bare of leaves. Since then it has put on two flushes of growth and is looking rather decent.
     
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  8. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Alternate bearing is a problem to a number of fruit tree species, it has been reported in 11 different plant families including citrus. In citrus, alternate bearing is a recognized problem in mandarins, especially Dancy tangerines, and in Valencia oranges, Kinnow and Wilking mandarins, some Murrcots plus a few others. But alternate bearing is NOT a problem in Meyer Lemons. All buds (100 percent) produced by citrus trees, Meyer lemons encluded, are always vegetative buds and none are flower buds. It is only through a process called "differentiation" which is a modification of the bud tissues in structure and function whereby a vegetative bud in changed into a flower bud. If differentiation does not occur a citrus tree will only, and always, produce vegetative growth, and therefore will not bloom. For a vegetative citrus bud to differentiate into a flower bud, the tree must endure temperatures at or below 68F. Under normal conditions, sufficient flower bud induction should be achieved when total uninterrupted, accumulated hours of low temperatures exceed 850 hours below 68 degrees F. if the previous crop was heavy. If the pervious crop load was light, sufficient flower bud induction (differentiation) can occur after 750 hours of accumulated low temperatures. After the required cool period, a warm period of one to two weeks with maximum temperatures of 75F. to 80F. can trigger bloom. In the case of Leapfrog's Meyer lemon tree, the TOTAL accumulated hours must not have been attained because of two reasons. First, the tree was growing against a southern wall, but more importantly the tree was kept warm during the cold spells by the use of Christmas lights, and a protective tent. Had the tree achieved the accumulated hours of cool treatment it surely would have produced blooms. Therefore, the foliage buds remained foliage buds and did not differentiate into flower buds. Non blooming, or a very light bloom, is a common problem with citrus trees that are grown inside a warm home or office building. - Millet
     
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