Advice on mini lemon tree

perfect_12August 19, 2006

I recieved a mini lemon 'tree' last xmas, which has been growing in a pot indoors. It is more of a vine than a tree, with one long branch which curls around on a frame.

When i recived it it was really healthy, with two full size lemons growing. After a while it appeares to be oozing a sticky substance, and had white bugs on it which we identified (from past posts here) as scale. We treated it with a bug killer recommended by the local garden centre, and washed it down, but they reappeared so we treated it again. This has caused all but two of the leaves to fall off - but thankfully the scale has now gone (we have also repotted it in the same container to ensure nothing living in the soil)

It has now started to grow new branches and leaves, do we leave it growing on the frame and allow branches to grow in all directions or do we need to limit the number of new branches growing? Sorry if this is a weird question, but neither myself or my partner are very green fingered! We also wondered whether it is possible to encourage it to grow like a 'tree' rather than a vine and if so how?

Thanks in advance for your responses.


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Its probably best to let it grow any way it chooses. In general citrus do not require pruning except if you want to maintain a particular shape. As they get larger, they generally form a nice rounded canopy on their own.

Particularly if this tree has had a rough time, just let it grow for a while. Make sure its in a free-draining potting mix, give it plenty of sunshine, and don't over water. That's about it.

Scale are a pain. I've had to deal with them in the past too. Unfortunately, there's no easy remedy. You can spray with an ultrafine oil or with insecticidal soap on a regular basis to keep them down though.

Good luck,

    Bookmark   August 19, 2006 at 3:11PM
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Becky, if it was my tree I'd stake the plant then tie to grow upwards. Of course this is your choice. I wonder why it's growing vine-like.
Keep an eye out for the scale..if possible, shower or hose trees down..this keeps bugs at bay, too..
ARe you saying you only have 2 leaves remaining? This is one reason I don't like using insecticides. I go strickly organic.
If you could keep this tree growing outside yr round, you could grow as an escaplier..spelling incorrect..the object is to grow on a trellis, the top spreads out as a vine. Toni

    Bookmark   August 19, 2006 at 3:54PM
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rickjames(9 Cali)

I have found that if the tree is small, that manual removal of scale is a safe and effective way of taking care of the problem (works for aphds and mealybug too, though those can just be washed off with a hose too). I have used a cotton swab and a cup of soapy water to just wipe them off if they are soft scale, or just a twig to snap them off if they are hardened. It really isn't very difficult, a couple of passes over a few days usually takes care of it, and I do take care to rinse the soap off when I done. It avoids the defoliation issues as well as pesticide exposures--my halfhearted attempt at organic approaches :)

I agree with Pelham's advice to leave the tree to just grow for now, since it has recently suffered insult. I would allow a young and small tree that can't live outside year-round to gather as much photosynthetic machinery (new leaves and branches) as possible as the colder and darker season approaches, though you certainly can train the branches however you'd like--espalier as Toni mentioned.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2006 at 12:04PM
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Thanks for your help and advice. I will keep more of an eye out for pests from now on. I had tried the cotton bud and water idea to get rid of the scale, but i think that i had left it too long as a daily washing (or showering) had almost no effect. I am hoping it won't get scale again, but next time i will certainly try the remedies suggested above.

The tree seems quite happy now with lots of new growth, so i thought i'd leave it outside until the weather get cooler and then it can come back in and live on the window sill again.

Toni, yes i really only do have two leaves left (unless we are counting the new growth in which case probarbly 10-15 although you do have to squint a bit! ;)

Re: staking the plant, do i just put garden canes in the pot and tie the long branch to it? I want to keep it as a min tree if possible as we do not have a garden. I can email pics if anyone is interested.

Thanks again,


    Bookmark   August 20, 2006 at 1:12PM
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Hi Becky

I don't know if you'll get this, but I received a mini lemon tree this Christmas - I must say it's looking good, and has about a dozen fruits on it in varying stages of ripeness - harvested the first one tonight, and it was very juicy!

Any subsequent experiences you have had would be appreciated! I grew an orange tree from a pip when I was much younger, and after 7 years it had grown to about 5 feet tall and was just about to fruit when we moved house. It was too big to take with us, and a house was subsequently built over the site of the greenhouse I had it in (planted in the ground).

I'm in Glasgow, Scotland, so might have to be a bit more careful about temperatures. Hope to hear from you.


    Bookmark   January 6, 2007 at 6:08PM
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Hi Jack. I have a small collection of citrus, and have found:

1) always try and keep them in a terracotta pot
2) keep them on the dry side, use rain water, and feed everytime you water
3) if you are not organic, use Ultimate Bug Killer if you have bugs!
4) use either a propietory citrus compost - or John Innes 2 with added vermiculite for potting on

Stand them outside in the summer - and don't worry if they drop their leaves - don't over-water them and they will grow back!

Here is a link that might be useful: RE: Advice on mini lemon tree

    Bookmark   March 5, 2007 at 3:00AM
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