Lemon Trees - Most Versatile of All the Citrus Fruits
Lemon trees are the most acidic of all the citrus fruits. One of the lyrics of the lemon tree song refers to the acidic fruit. Peter, Paul, and Mary sang, “Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower so sweet, but the fruit of the poor lemon, is impossible to eat.” Those lyrics about the lemon citrus tree may not conjure up any memories except for folks over fifty years of age. Lemon trees were being grown in the world garden since at least 200 A. D. according to ancient sources mentioned the lemon plants.
The Spaniards are credited with introducing the lemon to the United States. Because lemons are evergreens and seem to be in a constant state of growth in the garden and lemon tree orchard, they are quite sensitive to cold. A warm climate garden may easily support lemon fruits, but the Midwest and northern winter confines this lovely, sweet smelling citrus tree to a container. The contianer needs to be moved inside in winter and freezing conditions. An excellent candidate for an indoor lemon trees is the juicy, popular Meyer lemon tree. The Meyer lemon is compact enough for urban balconies and limited garden spaces. The Meyer lemon will begin bearing large, juicy, thick peel fruits at an early age.
Garden grown lemon tree fruits are so very versatile. The lemon is used in restaurants as a garnish and placed on water glass and tea glasses for flavor. It is used in pies, fillings for pastries, and of course the cool flavored lemonade drink. Lemons are utilized daily, regardless of season, winter through summer. Squeeze a garden grown Meyer lemon, and enjoy the tangy taste of lemonade all year round.
Lemon juice is valued as a stain remover in the household. Lemon peel oil is used in furniture polish, soaps, and shampoos, and is a major ingredient for perfumes and colognes. Put lemon peels in the garbage disposal to deodorize the sink and drain area. The lemony smell will delight the olfactory senses.
The juicy lemon also is a reservoir for health benefits. The high vitamin C content of the lemon was used by sailors to prevent scurvy. Winter time travel in the Christopher Columbus era was very likely to have included the juicy lemon as part of the daily rations. Lemons also contain significant amounts of vitamin B, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and carbohydrates. Lemon oil, derived in part from the lemon peel, is purported to contain properties that are stimulating, anti-infection, astringent, antiseptic, disinfectant and anti-fungal.
Caring for lemon trees is very similar to other citrus trees. Pruning is required every year or every other year to keep them looking good. Citrus plants, other than lemon, can be pruned every other year and should be fine. Lemon trees, such as the Meyer lemon, grow fast and need to be pruned more frequently. Citrus trees should be inspected yearly for diseased and dead branches. Remove dead and diseased branches when they appear.
Growing a lemon tree is also similar to other citrus trees. If planted in the garden, place the tree in a warm, sunny, location with well drained soil. Water the tree deeply once every 7 to 10 days during the summer. Water the lemon tree less frequently during cooler weather or rainy weather. Fertilize every four to six weeks from early spring to late summer.
Lemon trees make excellent house plants where they can be enjoyed winter through summer. Provide a large enough container and use a potting soil that drains well. The soil needs to be kept moist and slightly acidic for best results. Lemon trees should be placed outside during warm weather to assist with pollination from insects.