There could be few things more convenient than a lemon tree growing right on your doorstep, producing delicious, vitamin-packed fruit every winter to stave off coughs and colds. Modern cultivars bear prolific fruit on trees small enough to spend their entire life in a pot, so even gardeners restricted to a courtyard or balcony need not be denied their own nutritious, home-grown fruit.
To pot or not to pot?
While lemon trees are quite hardy, growing them (or any plant) in a pot presents its own set of challenges. Pots heat up quicker in the sun, as well as cool off quicker in excessive cold. This makes potted plants more susceptible to heat and cold stress than those growing in garden beds. Because they are more susceptible to dry-out they need more regular watering which results in the leaching of nutrients from the potting mix. This means they usually need more fertiliser as well.
The right potting medium
It is advisable to always use a potting mix of the highest quality such as Searles Peat 80 Plus. This potting mix has excellent capacity to absorb and hold water and nutrients and its generous peat content is an excellent natural insulator against heat and cold. Guaranteed to feed plants for up to 12 months, it assures healthy plants without the need to frequently fertilise and repot your tree. Using Searles Peat 80 Plus, a potted lemon tree can be an easy care plant.
Plain or glazed terracotta pots can bring an authentic Mediterranean look to potted citrus. Keep them meticulously trimmed in a topiary shape for a stylish, ‘tuscan’ look. Terracotta pots are also relatively good insulators and will help protect the tree’s roots against intense heat and cold.
The beauty of dwarf trees
In smaller gardens with an existing tree, citrus can be happily pruned to stay within size restraints. Severe pruning however, can cost the following season’s fruit, so it may be worthwhile to remove the tree and replace it with a dwarf variety.Part 2: How to grow Potted Lemon Trees Recipe: Creamy Lemon Tart