Lemon trees thrive in warm temperatures, bloom, and fruit in favorable conditions so winter lemon care is key if the temperatures are very low.
Cold weather as low as 29°F might not exterminate a healthy tree but rather inflict damage if it keeps cold for more than 30 minutes.
Lemons trees are susceptible to frost conditions. If you do not give enough care to your tree during the winter season to protect it, the seasonal damage might strike it.
How to care for the lemon tree during the winter
Indoor winter lemon care
1. Acclimate the container lemon tree
Before the weather conditions change to the winter season, you need to support your lemon tree to adapt to the soon coming environmental changes and ensure winter lemon care.
Before moving it inside for the winter, give it a month before the cold weather and leave it under sunlight in the morning. Put the tree in the shade for the afternoons for at least two weeks. Please leave it in a complete shade for the remaining two weeks, so it gets adapted to the cold weather.
2. Check for pests during winter lemon care
Before taking a lemon tree plant indoors, you must thoroughly kill any pests by spraying the plant as another way of ensuring winter lemon care.
Use insecticides soap to treat your lemon tree and leave no signs of insects that might take advantage of the winter season’s indoor tree.
After spraying the tree, please leave it to dry before bringing it inside.
3. Move the tree to the house for winter lemon care
After making sure your lemon tree is ready for the environmental changes and no more signs of pests, when providing winter lemon care, take your container tree to the most relaxed room in your house. The place needs a temperature between 55°F and 65°F.
The lemon tree will also need bright natural light to stay healthy. If you place the pot with your tree at the southern facing window, it’s best for the plant because it needs at least eight bright light hours every day.
4. Place the pot in a container of granite
During winter lemon care, you need to place the tree in the extra container to help it get excess humidity since it’s indoors during the winter if the air is dry. Add some water to the granite but do not let the lemon tree pot bottom sit in the water.
5. Water the lemon tree
Your indoor lemon tree needs enough water during the winter season to make sure it does not dry out up to 2 to 3 inches deep.
Once you check the soils and are not moist, water them and not get very wet.
6. Feed the lemon tree
Feeding a lemon tree means adding fertilizers and giving it nutrients to keep it healthy, bloom, and bear fruits.
You can add fertilizers rich in nitrogen, iron, potassium, and manganese at least once a month throughout the winter season. Use a spray horse to coat all surfaces of the tree well.
7. Wash the lemon tree leaves
Your indoor lemon tree needs a lot of protection and care during the winter. Get a damp cloth and clean the leaves’ surfaces to remove any dirt and pests, eggs, or infestations.
It would be best to go ahead and treat the plant occasionally with the insecticide soap while it’s indoors.
8. Prune the lemon tree
Much as your lemon tree is indoor and it’s the winter season, it would help if you prune off any dead, weak, diseased, and crossing branches and remove them to give the tree new growth.
Ensure to use sharp and clean pruning shears to cut any undesired limbs off your tree. Removing these stems will help the indoor tree get enough light and allow air circulation.
Please note that an indoor lemon tree requires minimal pruning, so avoid many overcutting branches that might kill your tree.
Outdoor winter lemon care
Caring for the outdoor lemon tree during the winter is as follows;
1. Pick all ripe fruits
Before the frost hits your area, it’s best to remove all ready lemons from the tree because they will not survive the freezing temperatures. Any temperature below 30°F will ruin the lemons apart from Eureka and Lisbon lemons, which can stand the cold.
2. Water the tree
During the winter season, you need to water your lemon tree to protect the roots from any damage when they over dry. You need to prepare the tree for the cold conditions and keep it healthy by not letting it get water stress.
Water young plants once a week at least an inch deep if there is no rain. For mature trees, water one to two inches deep weekly to keep the soils moist.
3. Feed mature lemon trees with fertilizers
Ripe lemons need nutrients to bloom and produce fruits so you need to fertilize the tree when its mature. If a lemon tree is below two years, try not to fertilize it during the winter season. Young lemon trees are more helpless to any conditions during the cold season.
4. Insulate the lemon tree for winter lemon care
During the winter, wrap the tree trunk with several cardboard layers to protect it from frost. Cover the tree trunk from below the main branches to the surface.
Add duct tape to the cardboard to secure it and leave the lemon tree like that until your area is frost-free.
5. Provide artificial warmth to the tree
Use small string lights during the winter season to keep the lemon tree warm. Tie them through the tree’s branches before the frost comes, and your outdoor tree will stay warm throughout.
6. Watch for pests
Please make sure you look out for any signs of insects and spray them as soon as possible before making a massive attack on the lemon tree in the winter.
Use a garden horse and then tree the tee with the insecticide soap as required.
7. Out of intense pruning
It’s best to prune in early spring when new growth ensues for outdoor lemon trees than in winter when it is in dormancy.
Unless there are diseased branches that might infect other stems, avoid removing winter-damaged limbs until it’s the spring season.
It’s easy to prune during the spring because you can assess the damage and what branches need pruning due to the spring flush.
Protect the lemon tree from frost
Lemon trees go into dormancy when the temperature goes very low. The tree will hardly produce blooms or bear fruits during the cold season because of its damage.
There are two types of frost, which include Radiation frost, which occurs on cold nights when the air is clear and dry, and Advective frost, where a mass of cold air displaces warm air at the earth’s surface.
Frost affects a lemon tree when ice crystals form in the plant cells, making the water unavailable to the plant tissues. This process disrupts fluids from moving.
If you do not protect your tree from this frost, the tree dies, and it’s the young trees that get the effects of ice mostly. The fruits dry out and eventually break due to the freezing temperatures below 20°F.
When the temperatures become low for more than 30 minutes and longer, you will need to protect the lemon tree from the frost’s damage.
Winter lemon care in the UK
Once you master the critical issues of caring for a lemon tree in winter, it will be easy to know what to do.
Issues such as over and under watering, temperature changes, and lack of sunlight and nutrients affect lemon tree growth in the winter.
Keep your lemon tree in a conducive area where it can access light and water it appropriately.
Feed the tree with fertilizers every month during the winter season from October to March.
When a tree has enough nutrients, it will make it through the winter season and steady growth.
A tree with proper care will hardly experience yellow leaves and leaf drop even during the winter season.
Protecting the lemon tree and fruits
1. Avoid planting the tree in frost-sensitive areas
Lemons are frost sensitive, so do not produce your tree on lower grounds where the cold air will find it.
Plant your tree near a wall or at the southwest side of your house, and it will absorb reflected heat during the day hence getting less damage during the frost period.
2. Proper watering
A tree receiving enough water will get less damage due to the frost because it’s healthy. Before the winter season, ensure you frequently water the lemon tree to avoid drying out and make it water stress-free.
3. Applying fertilizers
When a lemon tree is still under its early stages of growth, it requires continuous best fertilizers to feed it with nutrients to become healthy and healthy.
Prune the tree during the spring and early summer to help the new leakage have more time to mature before the cold weather sets in your area.
By the time the frost comes, your tree will enjoy the full canopy, which will protect its fruits in the freezing temperatures.
1. Wrap the tree trunk
When protecting a lemon tree from frost, you need to wrap the tree’s trunk and branches with insulating materials. These include cardboard, fiberglass, palm fronds, corn stalks hence protecting the tree from the extreme cold weather.
2. Clear the ground
Make sure the environment is clean and clear away any weeds and debris. If the soil has a lot of mulch, it will hardly radiate more mud, so avoid mulching during winter seasons.
3. Use lamps for outdoor trees
When you predict frost weather conditions, place a lamp or small string lights into the lemon tree branches. Doing this is to generate heat for the tree and reduce the frost damage.
4. Keep the soils moist
Run a sprinkler slowly in the night, and the heat will go off the ground hence protecting the lemon tree from the freezing temperatures.
5. Use a fan
Suppose you are growing lemon trees for commercial purposes on a large scale. In that case, you might consider using fans, which will mix the layers of warm and cold air, hence raising temperatures at the surface.
Lemon tree care
Lemon trees are easy to care for, even if you do not live in warm environments. You need to understand the conditions in which lemons can thrive, know when to bring the outside or inside.
After a lemon tree makes 2 to three years with proper care, you will harvest fruits every year during its growth.
Here is how to care for a lemon tree:
1. Choose an ideal environment
Lemon trees need warm temperatures, not below 50°F, so you need to bring them indoors if the weather is cold outside.
For dry weather conditions, you can use humidifiers when the tree is indoors. If it’s outdoors, you can keep the tree under a shade from the afternoon sun. Make sure the tree gets at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily.
Try to keep your tree from radiators or any other heat sources if your tree is indoors.
2. Choose well-draining soils and pot
The pot where you plant a young lemon tree needs holes to allow proper drainage when you water the plant. Use light loamy soils which will always drain the water and not stay muddy.
3. Fertilize the soils
While caring for a lemon tree, you need to fertilize the ground and be careful not to disturb the roots. Add fertilizers every one to two months in the spring and summer.
If it’s in the winter season, fertilize every two to three months. A fertilizer specifically for citrus trees is ideal. Your tree will have enough nutrients to produce fruits, blooms, and keep healthy.
A lemon tree needs enough water to thrive. Water the tree at least once every week and avoid leaving the soil to dry out as the leaves will fall entirely off.
Make sure to use the deep watering method, but as soon as you realize the water is beginning to come to the top of the pot, you stop. Your tree shouldn’t sit in a lot of water.
5. Pick ready lemons off the tree
When lemons get ripe and ready for harvesting, it’s best to remove them and not let them overgrow from the tree.
If you love sour lemons, pick the ones who are still green and are about 3 inches. Ripe lemons are yellowish and sweet, so you can choose which option is best for you.
6. Prune the lemon tree
Pruning is useful if you are caring for your lemon tree. The best time to cut back a lemon tree is after harvest before the new buds start blooming.
Early spring is the ideal time for pruning a lemon tree. Cut off any undesired branches to rejuvenate your tree, and make sure you use clean and sharp pruning tools.
7. Take care of any pests and diseases
If you prune lemon trees, it’s one way of curbing the problem of pests and diseases. However, sometimes the tree needs insecticide and spraying to kill all the insects and infections.
Lemon tree care will keep your tree healthy and fresh if you put the factors above into practice.
Lemon tree fertilizer
Lemon trees need fertilizers to thrive and have a healthy and long lifespan.
While caring for these trees, you need to know the right combination of nutrients your tree needs, and it will give you what you expect from it; lemons for lemonade.
A lemon tree fertilizer requires three main micronutrients, which are nitrogen (N), then phosphorus (P), and potassium(K), known as NPK in short. Nitrogen takes the higher portion during the mix, and the ratio has to be 2:1:1.
Besides the above nutrients, add minerals such as manganese, zinc, and iron for the tree to have enough nutrients and stay healthy.
The micronutrients have the following purposes to the lemon tree;
- Nitrogen is responsible for the growth of leaves on a lemon tree.
- Phosphorus is responsible for root growth, flower and fruit development.
- Potassium helps the general function of the lemon tree plant to perform correctly.
Apply fertilizers every one to two months in the spring and early summer when the tree is actively growing. If it’s the winter season, you can add fertilizers at least once every two to three months.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have a container lemon tree, you can prepare it for the environmental changes a month before the winter and take it inside when the winter comes.
Apart from Lisbon and Eureka lemons, which have a thick crust, the rest of the lemon varieties do not adhere to the low temperature as low as 23°F hence getting damaged. Mature lemons can also inflict damage from winter seasons, give proper care as per this article, and the tree will be safe.
When temperatures drop below 40°F, you need to bring your container lemon trees inside to protect It from freezing temperatures. Unless you grow your lemon tree in the US Department of Agriculture growing zones 9 to 11, then you can leave it outside.
Lemon trees lose their leaves during the winter season due to improper care, such as lack of watering, nutritional deficiencies, and diseases. When a lemon tree gets a lot of water, and it’s the winter season, the roots rot, affecting the entire tree. If you do not fertilize and spray any infestations, then the lemon tree will have problems leading to loss of leaves in the winter
When temperatures drop below 28°F, it’s the lowest temperature that a lemon tree cannot withstand. It naturally doesn’t like freezing weather conditions. The leaves get damaged due to much cold, which will kill the tree.