June 27, 2009 at 4:26 am #248602
I have a lemon tree about 4 feet high and about as wide and fairly bushy (with a lot of underripe lemons on it now) but its in a bad spot for me and it. I’m not sure how long its been there but at least a few years judging by the trunk diameter (about 8cms). I’m keen to move it as its hard to get water to and I’d like a native planting where it currently is. I”ve been gettting its new spot ready for a couple of months, digging, loosening soil a little bit of feeding etc but can someone tell me how hard I should prune it back and how far around the root ball should i try to dig it out? And is now a good time to move it? i expect I’ll lose at least a season’s lemons but they’ve all been dropping off anyway with the drought.
Thanks heaps for any tips,
tarnJune 27, 2009 at 11:44 am #418310
Cant help cos I have the same problem.
Good luck with shifting yours, smiles.
Cheers! :hug:June 28, 2009 at 3:42 am #418311
Hi tarn & darls,
The cooler months are a great time to move a lemon tree.
Transplant shock can be reduced by watering your lemon tree over a few days so that the plant is thoroughly hydrated prior to digging it up (this does make it heavier, but is worth it for reducing shock). A feed of seasol or similar would help, so that the tree has some nourishment while it is repairing it’s roots.
Lemons have a shallow root system, so you’ll probably need a wide [to the drip-line of the tree], root-ball, rather than an overly deep one (when you get most of the outside edges of the rootball up, it would probably help to get your hands under the rootball, to feel for & tease out any roots that you can rather than cutting them.
Make sure that your transplant hole is larger than the current rootball, and is dug out before you start on the lemon tree (the quicker you can get the rootball into the ground, the better – if there’s any delay cover/wrap in an old wet blanket/hession or similar and keep in the shade, but still work quickly – lemons suffer quite badly if their roots are exposed to the air for too long).
When you are are moving the tree, use a wheelbarrow to shift it – try not to use the rootball as leaverage (don’t roll the tree to it’s new home!) as this can cause crushing damage to the roots.
I wouldn’t trim the tree much, but I would take off all fruit and flowers so the tree can focus on repairing it’s root system (keep removing the flowers, until the tree looks like it’s established (watch the leaves – they’ll tell the story!).
Ummm … that’s about it, I think.
Except to say that one idea on transplanting citrus is to dig a trench (to about spade depth) around the tree at the dripline, effectively “pre-chopping” the roots, and then heavily feed the tree for a few months. This encourages the tree to form more roots in the area that will be dug up – I’ve never tried this, but if you have the time to do it, it sounds like a good method.
Cheers & good luck!June 28, 2009 at 9:07 am #418312
Thanks so much ma!!!
That is exactly the info I needed! I’m glad to know I don’t have to prune it back hard, just remove the fruits/flowers. And good to know they have a shallow root system. Our soil is very rocky and hard to dig but I have done my best. And seasol is just magic, isn’t it?
Cheers & thanks again,
tarnJune 28, 2009 at 9:27 am #418313
You’re very welcome tarn!
I’ve worked with Warrandyte soil, and yes … it’s not exactly the easiest to dig in!
One thing that I forgot … if the lemon is grown from a cutting, it will have mostly feeder roots (the little ones … these are the ones you are preserving by taking up the rootball with the dirt – they are very easily damaged), and can be levered out of the ground.
But, if it is a grafted or seed grown tree, it may have a “mother root” or tap root, which will be bigger and deeper than the feeder roots (it will be almost directly under the lemon, and you will be able to feel it when you get your hand under the root-ball, if it’s there.
So if it’s a grafted or seed-grown tree, the very last step (after creating the ball, but before the tree is taken from the ground) would be to loosen the soil directly under the tree as best as possible, then lifting the tree straight up (best chance of keeping the tap-root, if there is one). This job is the part that takes multiple people muscle! :p
Good luck & please do update to let us know how your lemon goes 😀June 28, 2009 at 1:23 pm #418314
Tarn and darls, Ma has given you lots of good advice, :tup: but can I just add one thing.
Before planting a tree (and this is most important if you are experiencing drought â€“ after digging the hole, fill it with water and leave it for an hour until it has drained away. (If it hasn’t drained away you need another spot for your citrus tree.) Then plant your tree and give it a light water to settle the soil around the roots.
If you don’t thoroughly water the planting hole before planting, what happens is you think you have given the tree a good drink at planting time but the water gets drawn away from the tree into the surrounding dry soil, and you wonder why several days after planting the leaves of your tree start to droop. 🙂June 29, 2009 at 12:51 am #418315
Great stuff here – thanks. Looks like I will have to leave it till this weekend – the tree’s quite big. I think it is citronelle lemon tree and its not in ‘demand’ by this household so I have two choice, cut down or transplant. As I love plants so I always prefer to give them another chance to prove themselves useful.. 😆
Let us know how you go with yours Tarn.
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