Repotting the Lemon Tree

My dwarf meyer lemon tree came with the instructions to repot annually.  This being the tree’s third spring with us, we are on our third pot.  The pot is big this time!  One more size up and I’ll have to hire movers to haul the thing in and out of the house for me.

I’ve reported on this lemon tree before:  When life hands you one lemon…  and suffice to say the lemon tree and I have had our ups and downs.

But I’ve been looking forward to this annual tradition of repotting.  For one, I wanted to put them lemon tree in a more attractive pot.  I found a very nice brick red pot at my favorite gardening store, Stein Gardens and Gifts.  It’s a Wisconsin chain, so you won’t find them elsewhere.  But if you do come to Wisconsin it’s worth checking out.

My lemon tree has suffered from a few issues.  For one, it sets blooms but then they all fall off and I am left with no lemons.  I’m not sure why this happens, but I’ve heard that this is a problem for many indoor lemon tree growers.  The other problem is that it sheds it leaves a few times a year.  I’m not sure it can get the energy it needs from the sun with so few leaves to soak it in. 

To address the blossom problem I’ve decided to beef up the tree’s food supply.  As I put potting mix into the new pot, I added several cups of organic fruit fertilizer.  I am hoping that this will strengthen stem development because it seems that the stems supporting the blossoms just wimp out and break.

Just so you all know, this is my non-scientific totally untested solution to this problem.  As I’ve said before I work more on a “feel” basis.  I have no idea if this will work or not.   But after months of watching blossoms fall off my plant, it seems like the right thing to do.

As for the leaves, all I can hope is that the weather around here warms up and the tree can go back outside.  I know how this tree feels–cooped up in this house all winter getting a fraction of the sunlight it needs or desires.  I understand wanting to just sadly drop your leaves and look pathetic.  And it does look pathetic.  I’ve been taking it outside when weather permits.  I’m hoping soon it can just stay out there.  Especially since this new pot is so heavy!

I used an organic fertilizer in conjunction with some “moisture plus” potting mix.

I used Dr. Earth organic fruit fertilizer.

I blended the fertilizer with some fresh potting mix to fill the new pot, leaving some room for the lemon trees root system.

When I took the tree out of its current container I noticed a lack of large roots.  There was a system of smaller roots, but as I moved the plant out of the pot many of them broke free of the tree.  I hope I did not cause too much stress to the tree.  I tried to be gentle!

Perhaps the new pot, fertilizer and potting mix will invigorate the root system.

My son waters in the lemon tree.

My new pot is a few inches wider in diameter than the old one.

This new brick red pot is certainly an upgrade!

Something that bothers me about my lemon tree is a lack of a central trunk.  Maybe this is normal?  Leave a comment if you know anything about this.

I’m hopeful that the blossoms that are on the tree now will turn into lemons, at least a few of them!  They will certainly benefit from being outside where the bees can help them along, the sun can warm them and the breeze can make them strong.  The new pot with its healthier blend of potting mix should certainly be a help as well.  And now that the tree has more room to grow, it can support more fruit. 

Im cheering these blossoms on!

Well, little lemon tree… it’s up to you now!

Looking happier already, the lemon tree is getting settled into its new home.


With any luck well have some lemons in a few months. (Here is our lemon "crop" of 2010.)


11 responses to “Repotting the Lemon Tree

  1. ….truly loved this entry 🙂
    You can surely say you have done all that you could for this little lemon tree.
    I will look forward to a lemon meringue pie!

  2. Hi i have troble with my lemon trees too.

  3. Pingback: Lemon Tree Update | Angela's Gracious Garden

  4. I also have an indoor lemon tree in PA. It stays inside all winter in a Southeast window getting a lot of light. It grows much during the winter. Then in the spring I put it outside until fall. You should not water it until your finger can be inserted 1″ into the soil and it feels dry to touch…this is when it needs watered. If you over-water it the leaves will fall off and the roots will rot. I never let standing water in the drip tray. I have been watching my tree get a nice strong trunk and branches, as it is about 4 or 5 years old. I read that it takes about this long to bear fruit…anxiously awaiting. Not even a bloom yet. Needs repotted, probably don’t do this enough. Will try the fertilizer, I never tried this yet. Check out this website:

  5. Pingback: Lemon Tree Blooms for 2012 | Angela's Gracious Garden

  6. Why are you encouraging this poor little tree to fruit? Pinch the blossoms off so it can concentrate its energy on growing a strong frame, then allow it to fruit – it will be better prepared and give you many more lemons!

    • It’s been two years since I wrote this post and I’m happy to report my tree has grown a much better structure, with lots of big healthy leaves and a sturdier stem. No lemons though! Now that you mention pinching the blossoms off it seems so obvious that I should have done that, but I had never read that before, certainly not in the instructions that came with the tree and nowhere on the internet. I know to do that with blueberries. Never occurred to me to do it with the lemon tree. Hopefully someone will read your comment and benefit.

  7. I have two lemon trees I bought online 5 years ago. One had a lot of lemons, constantly blooming and another never had a single flower. Every time I move it outside, it loses all leaves.I think a tree has more reaction on climate / temperature change then on watering. I never try to pinch flowers, a tree will drop whatever they don’t need.

    • Interesting! I’ll try to post a photo of my lemon tree soon. It has many lemons now. They certainly do drop flowers, that is for sure. One thing I’ve done differently this year was to take it outside during the winter on sunny, warmer days. I think that has helped so it doesn’t have a period of shock when it goes out for the first time in the spring.

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