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Lemon trees are the classic among tropical plants. The fast-growing plants transform your home garden into a Mediterranean oasis. The evergreen splendor also has its price: lemon trees are not frost hardy and have to move to a safe winter quarters before the temperatures drop in autumn. The age and size of the plants is irrelevant for this care measure. Frost damage to citrus trees should be taken seriously, as they can have a lasting impact on the plant.
detect frost damage
Citrus limon, the botanical name of the lemon tree, is a fascinating plant. The number of passionate lovers of Mediterranean plants is constantly increasing. A significant advantage in cultivation: In the warm summer, the tropical beauties have no objection to a place in the rock garden or on the warm balcony. Be careful in late summer or early autumn. The lemon tree does not tolerate cold or frost. In contrast to native plants, the citrus tree has no natural protective mechanism against the damp and cold climate in our latitudes.
Staying in the garden until the last moment in the garden can have negative consequences for the plant.
Frost damage to the plant shows up quickly:
- Leaves curl up and wither
- Flowers and fruits fall off
- Buds and young shoots die
How it looks inside the plant is difficult to judge. Immediately move the lemon tree to a sheltered location as soon as the above symptoms appear.
First aid measures
Older and large lemon trees can withstand temperatures around freezing for a short time without suffering significant damage. Young and small specimens tend to lose out here. If hardship has occurred so that shoots and leaves have frozen, you should consider the following tips.
- the room should be bright
- avoid a full sun location
- Temperatures between 6° - 12° C are optimal
- protect from cold
- Root ball must not dry out
- Avoid waterlogging
As tempting as it may seem, do not place the lemon tree in the immediate vicinity of active radiators. The Mediterranean plants love warmth. But in the winter quarters, the heating dries out the substrate quickly and also promotes the infestation of spider mites. The temptation is great to provide the citrus plant with all the amenities. Caution is advised here. The damage done by the frost only becomes apparent over time.
It is not advisable to immediately cut back the obviously affected parts of the plant. Because many commercially available citrus trees are grafted. These specimens form a wealth of flowers and fruits in the first few years of life. The downside: If you make the cut too deep, only the base will remain intact. This finishing base almost always consists of a different variety.
Getting around this problem requires patience. Don't cut back and wait. The lemon tree takes a long time to recover from frostbite. It can take several months before the first green shoot tips appear and new foliage is formed. Only then can you begin to generously remove the frozen parts of the plant. If there are no changes after about a year, then most likely the roots have completely frozen. The plant is dead.
Helpful maintenance measures
After the growth of new shoots and leaves, the damage caused by the frost can be clearly seen. You can remove dead plant parts with sharp rose scissors. It may be several months before the lemon tree shows its full splendor again and reliably forms flowers.
The following points promote the growth of the plants:
- pour with lime-free water
- fertilize from March to August
- Check regularly for pest infestation
Avoid factors that can damage the plant and affect its health. There is nothing wrong with spending time in the garden during the warm season. Gradually acclimate the trees to direct sunlight. Discoloration of the leaves at this stage is often a sign of burns. These can be avoided by placing the plants in a bright location, for example, or by shielding them from the strong midday sun with an umbrella. Due to the lack of frost hardiness, the plants have to be brought to safety as soon as the thermometer drops into the single digits.
The right wintering tactics
Citrus plants come from subtropical or tropical regions. Accordingly, the plants react sensitively to cold. Even wrapped in burlap, it's a matter of luck if the plants survive a harsh winter in the garden unscathed.
Take preventive measures to protect plants:
- the lemon tree needs a frost-proof room
- Ambient temperatures between 2° - 8° C are optimal
- do not fertilize in the cold season
The most important principle is: The lemon tree is dependent on an adequate water supply in the cold season. While outdoor plants freeze to death due to their lack of frost hardiness, a large number of citrus plants dry up in winter quarters. When fertilizing in the cold season, there is a special feature. Plants that spend their lives in the conservatory all year round can also tolerate a reduced supply of nutrients in winter.