Lemon is a small evergreen plant believed to be native to Asia. Later on it arrived in the North America from Europe and has been cultivated in the region since then. It is an easy to grow tree that belongs to the citrus family and it is ideally suited to a small garden. At maturity, they can grow up to a height of between 20 to 30 feet and just like any other member of its family its twigs are often thorny. It does well when grown in the ground in warm climate but can also be grown in large containers (in both cold & warm climates).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meyer_lemon – Wikipedia
http://www.thetreecenter.com/fruit-trees/citrus-trees/ – The Tree Center
The leaves are elliptical in shape & are finely serrated. They are dark green on the upper surface and light green on the lower surface. Its flowers are white and have some purplish undersides. Its fruit is yellow in color and that is used throughout the world. The fruit has seeds although there are some varieties (like Armstrong) which are seedless. This fruit has a sour taste (because it is 5-6% citric acid) and this makes it an essential ingredient in foods & drinks like lemonade.
There are several varieties of lemon trees and they include;
- Eureka-this is considered a true lemon and it is the most popular commercial variety. It often grows up to 20 feet tall. It grows abundantly and is all year-round. It is also available to domestic customers as a plant.
- Lisbon-also considered true lemon and it is more resistant to cold weather.
- Meyer-(not a true lemon) is the widely known available lemon for home gardeners. Its fruits resemble those of an orange and do not have the strong lemon flavors like true lemons. It is more cold tolerant than true lemons and it is naturally dwarf (and mostly grown in containers).
- Ponderosa lemon- This is a citron-lemon hybrid that produces very large, thick-skinned fruits that have strong lemon flavor.
- Sorrento (also called Femmillo St Teresa) – this is native to Italy and is traditionally used to make limoncello. Its fruit’s zest is rich in lemon oils.
Lemon juice, zest & rind are used in many foods and drinks. Lemon juice for instance is used to make soft drinks, lemonade, cocktails, added to pancakes (in the UK). It is also used in marinades for fish and meat and also as a short term preservative on certain foods that often turn brown once they have been sliced (e.g. apples, avocadoes & bananas).
Lemon juice & rind are used to make lemon liqueur & marmalade while zest is used to add flavor to puddings, baked goods, rice and many other dishes.
- It is used as a cleaning agent
- It is used for medicinal purposes (mostly because of its antibacterial properties).
- They were used as the primary commercial source of citric acid and sometimes in educational science experiments as an acid among others
Lemon tree growing in the home landscape
Lemon trees grow well in moist, well-drained soils and plenty of sunshine. They should be planted 15 to 25 feet apart but the dwarf varieties can be planted 8 to 12 feet. If you are planting them in a container, the container should have drainage holes and be filled with moistened potting soil.
In the home landscape, lemon trees should be planted in full sun, away from buildings & other trees and the spacing should be at least 15 to 25 feet. Note that, planting them close to structures or other trees may not produce much fruit because of shading.
Once they have been planted, they should be watered constantly and fertilized as well. Incase they are infested with pests (e.g. aphids), they should be sprayed with insecticide soap and with horticulture oil to control insects.
Lemon trees often produce fruits when they are about 3 years old. After blooming, most fruits mature at about 4 months and they should be picked when their skin color is completely yellow but before its skin wrinkles (a sign of over maturity).
Check out our article about fast growing trees for your area.