Selecting and Planting Your Communal Lemon Tree
Here are a few simple tips to get your site off to a cracking start. If you would like to download a copy of this fact sheet to share with your neighbours, a printable file is available via the the link at the bottom of the page.
Selecting Your tree
When you are at the nursery choosing a lemon tree, it may be very tempting to select a tree, which has lots of flowers or fruit. In fact, it is far better to find a tree with good structure, healthy, glossy leaves or fresh shoots than one with flowers or fruit. Flowers and fruit on trees in pots may be a sign of stress. It could be a lack of nutrients, water or a lack of available space in the pot. Plants that are in stress will produce flowers and fruit in a last ditch attempt to reproduce in case the plant dies.
If you buy a tree that has fruit on it, make sure you remove the fruit from the tree before you pant it. While it might bruise your ego, your tree will thank you for it in the long run.
Always remove any fruit from your tree before planting!
Dial Before You Dig!
Remember you only get electrocuted once! It doesn’t matter where you are digging – there are a multitude of potential services that may be running below your feet. Before you touch the soil please: Dial Before You Dig – 1100 or visit 1100.com.au.
Preparing Your Site
We strongly advise that you take a long-term approach to planning your communal space. Your plants will grow faster and with better health if you prepare your soil well before you buy your plants!
You can improve your planting site by breaking up the soil to approximately a spades depth and adding a good amount of compost, blood & bone, well rotted manure and turning it all in. Sheep or cow manure would be ideal for this. You can cover the site with old straw and let the earthworms do their work.
Planting Your Tree
Citrus are shallow rooted trees, which is why they don’t like sharing their root space with other plants. You need a large shallow hole. You should prepare a hole that is at least 1.5 times the depth of your pot and 2-3 times as wide. I wouldn’t hesitate to prepare a hole that is 1m2 regardless of the size of the tree. I want to give my plants the best start to life so I prepare my soil not just for planting, but for the first few years growth. Incorporate some more compost into the soil and perhaps some well rotted chicken manure.
When you are ready to plant, back fill the hole with half of the soil. Add a handful or two of charcoal and then place your tree on top. Your
tree should be sitting a little higher than ground level. Now mound the remaining soil up around the roots and pat it down. Mounding the soil up will assist with drainage.
Secure your tree with a couple of 50mm x 50mm stakes either side of your tree and place 2 pieces of hessian tape around the stem and each stake. This will keep the tree safe from strong winds and will help the roots to establish.
Looking After Your Citrus
It’s best to use organic based fertilisers as opposed to synthetic based fertilisers. Your aim should be to feed the soil as well as provide valuable nutrients for your plants.
As a rule of thumb, apply one handful of fertiliser per m2 each season. Before you apply any fertiliser, wet the soil as this will make the ground more porous and will allow the nutrients to get deeper down into the feed zone. Once you’ve applied the fertiliser, water it in as this will wash the smaller particles down into those pores meaning that your tree can access those nutrients much more quickly.
If, when you feed your citrus, you sprinkle the fertiliser away from the trunk, you will encourage the roots to spread wider. This will give the tree a better chance of capturing more nutrients.
And yes it is absolutely true – urine is beneficial to the health of citrus trees. Of course, what you do with that information is entirely up to you!
You will need to water your citrus once a week throughout the year, increasing the frequency of watering during hotter and dryer periods. Remember: if your soil doesn’t contain sufficient water your plants will not be able to access nutrients in the soil.