Dwarf Meyer Lemon tree (suckers)

T0WERINGSeptember 25, 2012

I planted this meyer Lemon tree a few years ago. I want to take care of my tree better. I've placed a photo for anyone to look at, that can tell me if the branches shown in the photo are in fact a sucker branch. the big one moving off the right I think may be one. It is a big branch. Should I remove it? Please be detailed in explaining to me. I don't want to cut the wrong branch. I'm also a new user on this webage. Also, I have a few branches that have thornes on them should I remove those branches as well?

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Hi towering! I'm new here as well. I actually just got my first meyer lemon which is my first plant that isn't a low light indoors plant =)

Anyways others will post on here soon with much better answers.

I can't see a mark on it from a graft, was this grown on a different rootstock? That's the one way to tell if it needs to be cut off is if it's below that "scar". As far as thorns go I have many on mine but I've heard it's just a younger trees way of defending itself. These thorns aren't a problem and you can just leave them or I've read if they bother you it's not a problem to remove them.

Also it looks like a few weeds are growing around it. As meyer lemons aren't good competitors for nutrients you will probably want to get rid of those around the tree as far as the drip line and do some preventative measures to avoid having other things growing around the tree.

As I said though I'm very new to this also so it'd be a good idea to wait for someone more experienced to comment before making any big decisions =)

Welcome to these forums!

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 4:43PM
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i also can not see a graft line. could you post a pic of the other side, and one of the entire tree.

are the leaves the same or different than the other branches?

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 7:04PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Same, here. I can't see the graft/scion union. Meyers do tend to grow like bushes, so it's not unusual to see low branches like you're seeing. If you can get a closer photo of the trunk, and identify the graft union for us, then we can tell if all branches are emanating from above the graft union and are Meyer lemon branches, or if one or more have sprouted from below the graft union, and are coming from the rootstock and need to be removed. Houston made the suggestion to check the leaves to try to determine scion from rootstock, but often Yuma Ponderosa lemon is used for rootstock for the Meyer, so the leaves may not be trifoliate leaves (unless this tree is grafted to some sort of trifoliate rootstock, which is probably less likely).

Patty S.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 8:59PM
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Here is a photo of the other side.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 1:05AM
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I still don't see an obvious graft union. You asked to be detailed in responses but you weren't as detailed with a description as you could be. The more details you give the more you get back.

Are you sure it was grafted? If it wasn't then these aren't a problem as far as I know. As said above these are bushes more than trees. I think Meyer lemons can be grown from seed or rooting which would mean its fine. Where did you get it? If it is grafted then your help may be needed to identify where the graft union is.

So if it's on its own roots it's up to you how you want it to look. Tree or bushy!

Another thing that might help is are those two other branches producing Meyer lemons? Is the big one in the middle? You didn't say anything about the leaves of the other branches.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 1:51PM
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Nic1, thank you for your questions. I don't see an obvious union either. We did buy this from Home Depot or Lowes so it was store bought in a pot. Also, all of the branches are producing Meyer lemons including the one in the middle. The 2 branches that shoot of to the left and right do produce really big leaves, and thornes noticeably bigger than the other branches. The concern is we only have about 10 meyer lemons on the tree. In the past we had 40 or 50 meyer lemons. the whole reason I posted a photo was to ask if any of the brances on the bottom trunk were sucker branches that I took to long to decide to cut.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 2:24PM
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I dug the root up a little to see if there was a graft line elsewhere. I honestly never feed anything but water to the Lemon tree. Do you think the surrounding bushes are stilling nutrients? I can't relocate it either. Should I just take a 2 inch PVC pipe and put holes in it and stuff in the the ground near the trunk to get water deeper in the ground? and what should I feed it? All of your support and answers are so greatful thank you to everyone.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 2:30PM
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If all branches are producing meyer lemons then they're good.

I think your problem is if all you're feeding it is water then that is a hungry tree! Many here talk about foliage pro by dyna gro as a fantastic fertilizer. It has the correct NPK ratio and all the micro nutrients that your tree needs I think. I think I read on a post that you can order it off of Amazon.

As far as the bushes surrounding it from what I've seen about in ground meyers is just remove weeds and such from the soil up to the drip line. Then lay down some mulch.

Also the whole picture of the tree I can't tell if the leaves are yellow or if that's the sun. If yellow that is a sign of a nutrient deficiency i think (I'm not sure what specifically, someone else here could probably tell you) so that shows how hungry your tree is!

Once again though, I'm extremely new at this so don't take everything I say as fact! This is just my best guess.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 3:52PM
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jkom51(Z9 CA/Sunset 17)

I think the photo in your 14:24 post clearly shows serious fertilizing deficiencies by the look of the leaves with green veins but yellow surface. Very few Meyers live their full lifespan because people don't feed and water them properly.

To say they are born hungry is putting it mildly! And that must be the smoothest graft line I've ever seen on a Meyer, I'm impressed. I find it hard to believe it was grown commercially from seed, because Meyer seed isn't very viable. The reproduction success rate appears to be approximately -99.9%, based on my own limited experience, LOL (we have had three of them in-ground for the last 10-15 yrs and one is a genuine Meyer seedling).

Improved Meyers are a bush, so even when grafted to dwarf tree stock they grow out and around before they grow up. Meyers can form leaves, flowers, buds, and fruit all at the same time (almost continuously, especially as they age) so feeding them adequately is essential for continued success.

Citrus fertilizer on a regular schedule is a necessity (as is iron, in either granular or liquid form). But yours is so starved you might want to also help it with a few feedings of properly diluted liquid fish fertilizer, as well. I'd space them out, maybe a 3-gallon bucket of water with the fish fertilizer added, once every three weeks until the rains start in earnest.

Even if you save your Meyer, you will NOT get a good crop this winter, or at least at the start of the harvest season. My trees already have a large number of small green lemons formed, which will take a couple of months to ripen.

Be patient and when you feed regularly, don't add twice as much thinking it will work twice as fast. Doesn't work that way! Follow the instructions and if you're in Southern CA, keep an eye out for the dreaded Huanglongbing or HLB, previously known as Citrus Greening, disease. Google Images will show you what the leaves/insects look like; there is no cure.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 6:13PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

You are leaving stubs on each of those pruned branches. NOT good. All cuts should be made just outside the branch collar, which is a slightly enlarged area where the branch is attached to the main stem. It reminds some people of a knuckle on your hand where your fingers are attached to the palm. Cut outside that knuckle....not leaving a stub, but also not cutting flush with the trunk. ALL of the 'healing over' cells are located in that branch collar. If you leave a stub, you've opened the tree up to disease invasion.

Please, no more digging around the roots. I'd cover the soil/soot system with about 3 inches of mulch...not piled up against the trunk but in a wide area around the root system.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 10:33PM
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Thank you to everyone that responded. Your advice and comments have helped me a lot. I am buying mulch, food, and cutting the stubs back to just above the knuckle. Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 10:52PM
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no need to drown your tree. they don't like wet feet. the mulch will help. just water once a week, for a few minutes. the roots aren't super deep.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 12:52AM
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jkom51(Z9 CA/Sunset 17)

>>e roots aren't super deep.>>

Incorrect. The tap root is actually substantial on citrus. I know from sad experience, having damaged the taproot on my lime tree while transplanting it to a new site. I almost lost it; it's taken over a year to recover.

houstontexas123 has a very good point, however. I failed to ask the most important question: WHAT IS YOUR SOIL LIKE? If it drains well, then watering is not a problem and mulching will help conserve (NorthernCA) water, lol. But if your soil is unamended clay, then watering will create more problems than it can solve (when carrying fertilizer to the root system).

If you don't know, dig a hole nearby about 1' deep and fill it with water. If it drains reaaaallllly slowly, you've got clay and need to fix that drainage issue. Clay in CA is often the greasy, sticky adobe kind; not even a billion earthworms will ever turn it into good light soil.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 2:18PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Correction - FEEDER roots are not very deep. About the first 18 inches of soil contain the feeder roots and they exist at the edge of the dripline and a bit beyond (edge of leaf canopy). And jkmom is right, know your soil. For me here in Vista, CA on DG, I have to water more frequently The notion of "deep watering" is now passe with citrus. You want to water to a depth of about 18 to 24" to get to the feeder roots, but no need to water deeper. If you are on clay, you'll want to plant your citrus (and avocados, which tolerate wet feet even less well than citrus) on mounds to improve drainage. Better to do that, then try "amend" clay. All you'll end up with is a very nice bowl of great soil sitting in a clay bathtub which will eventually drown your citrus. If you Google "citrus in clay soil" you'll find lots of directions on how to plant citrus in a mound. UC Davis extension has info on this for sure.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 1:10PM
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