Transplanting a Lemon Tree

A lemon tree.
  • 2-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-100
What You'll Need
Pruning shears
Burlap or tarp

Growing your own lemon tree is a wonderful way to have fresh lemons in your home. Lemon trees like lots of sun and require shelter from the cold. The first location you chose for your tree might prove not to have the best characteristics for producing the best fruit. If so, there is no reason you cannot transplant your tree somewhere better.

Step 1 - Test the Soil

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Test the soil in the tree's current location and the location you want to move it to. The closer they are in soil type and pH, the less the chance of transplant shock. If the soils are different, supplement the soil at the new location with fertilizer and mineral supplements. Apply the supplements to a depth of 5 feet.

Step 2 - Know When to Transplant

Lemon trees are best transplanted while dormant. If putting out new leaves or growing fruit, the tree will be overstressed by the move and go into shock. Transplant your tree in the early spring or fall, after the tree has fallen dormant, but while the weather is still mild.

Step 3 - Prepare the Tree

Trim back the branches of the lemon tree by 1/3. This will give the roots less to support structurally and nutritionally. Water the tree well the night before transplanting.

Step 4 - Dig up the Tree

To ensure the bulk of the roots are maintained, provide a large root ball. The recommended size of the root ball is determined by the size of the tree. For every inch of diameter of your lemon tree's trunk, provide 9 to 12 inches of root ball diameter (side to side) and 6 inches in depth.

Once you have separated the root ball from the surrounding soil, provide a way to keep everything together during transportation. Burlap or a tarp can be slid under the tree and then wrapped around the root ball. It can also become a sliding surface to facilitate moving the tree.

Step 5 - Prepare the New Location

Dig a hole in the new location. The hole should be larger than the root ball and just as deep. Loosen the soil around the edges of the hole so that the tree roots can more easily expand when they begin growing anew.

Step 6 - Place the Tree

Place the lemon tree in the new hole. Center it and ensure the trunk is straight. Remove the root ball covering as you slide the tree into place. The trunk should be at the same level relative to the ground as it was before.

Fill the hole in stages, watering the soil well. This will remove air bubbles that could cause root rot as well as provide needed moisture to the tree.

Step 7 - Followup Care

Cover the soil with a layer of mulch to retain moisture, but keep it away from the trunk itself. Mulch too close to the trunk can cause rot. Provide an appropriate fertilizer to encourage root growth if you haven't already incorporated it into the soil.

Continue to water well on a regular basis after transplanting it. Lemon trees prefer a deep watering weekly to a little water every day.

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