Local gardening with Kat: Lemon tree very pretty - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views

Top left: Buddah’s Hand. Bottom right: Lemon Blossom. Right: Eureka lemons. Photos by Kat Pearson.


Ah, the backyard lemon tree (Citrus limon), found all over the suburbs in varying forms and levels of health.

These days, with smaller courtyards and even balcony gardens, many opt for a potted variety such as “Lots A Lemons”, which is a Meyer lemon (Citrus × meyeri) and technically a cross between a mandarin and a lemon – I’m not a purist though, so we’ll let that slide.

If you are lucky enough to have space for an in-ground specimen, you might have a Eureka (thick-skinned, long fruiting season) or a Lisbon (hardier tree but thorny and a relatively shorter fruiting season). Many are grafted to produce a smaller tree and a hardy root system. Should you not have looked after it, the rootstock may have taken over and you could even have a knobbly bush lemon!

Many a garden talkback radio program has discussed the “what’s wrong with my lemon tree” quandary. Google (or my website) should give you a variety of common problems and their fixes, but the key to avoiding most of them is having a healthy tree to start with. Luckily, caring for lemon trees (and most other citrus) is largely the same.

Citrus are big feeders, so fertilise regularly. I give mine a handful of organic chicken pellets once a month (ish – hey, I’m a busy girl!). They like free-draining soil (no wet feet please), but a deep soaking is greatly appreciated when it’s been dry. And as always, don’t forget to mulch! The dead variety, not living. Citrus has shallow roots and a weak constitution when faced with competition, so keep ground covers (including grass) out past the edge of the leaf canopy.

If a regular ol’ lemon tree is a little too ordinary for you, there are lots of others you could try – what about a Buddah’s hand (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis) or a variegated Eureka lemon or even a Japanese Yuzu (Citrus junos)?

If you’re interested in learning more about looking after your soil and growing healthy plants, I’m talking at the Redlands Organic Growers Inc (ROGI) meeting on the 13th June – come say ‘hello’!

I love gardening, and growing my own food and plants in general. I’ve been working on our current garden in subtropical Brisbane for the last five years but have been gardening for much longer in all sorts of places. I’m an ex-engineer, recently turned horticulturist (life’s too short not to work in something you love!). I grow edibles and ornamentals in an often wild, rambling jungle, filled with birds and bugs, including a handful of pet chooks and a dog (though to be honest you’re more likely to find him inside on the couch). Find out more at www.girlinthegreen.com.au.

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