How to transplant a lemon tree in Southern Africa
There may be many reasons for a Citrus or lemon tree to be moved or transplanted. Your lemon tree might have got too large for its container or possibly it was planted in the wrong spot. Maybe you’re redesigning the garden or the lemon tree has simply got too big for its old spot. Transplanting lemon trees is a very delicate task and should be handled with care, follow these 6 steps to transplant a lemon tree and get the best results.
Step 1: Select the right spot to transplant your lemon or Citrus tree.
Lemon trees and Citrus in general prefer a sunny spot with good air movement and a fertile well drained soil. Pick a spot which allows for at least 6 hours of direct sun a day. Make sure there is adequate space for the tree to mature.
Accurate size measurements as well as soil conditions, light, water and other requirements are available on the plant page of lemon trees and Citrus species listed in the PlantInfo database. (Simply search the plant name you are interested in.)
Step 2: Prepare the planting hole
Prepare the new planting hole before removing the plant to be transplanted.
Measure the distance from the base of the lemon tree to the drip line (The outer edge of the foliage canopy).
Using this measurement as a radius measure and mark a circle to be dug up in the new location. Dig the transplant hole slightly larger than the circle and estimate the depth depending on the size of the lemon tree.
If you re transplanting your Lemon or Citrus tree over a large distance test and match the soil from the two locations. Make sure the pH level is as similar as possible. This will minimise transplant shock. Many plants in the PlantInfo database provide the optimal pH level so be sure to search the type of lemon or Citrus tree you plan to transplant.
Step 3: Preparing for transplant
Before transplanting water the lemon tree well (preferable a day before transplanting).
If your lemon tree is bearing fruit, remove the fruit from your lemon or Citrus tree to the compost heap or fruit bowl. This will not only make the tree lighter when moving it, but it will redirect vital nutrients and energy to the roots and recovery of the plant rather than fruit production.
When transplanting larger lemon trees remove the top third of growth, this will minimise both physical and nutritional strain on the injured root ball once the lemon tree is transplanted.
Step 4: Digging up the lemon or Citrus tree
Using a shovel dig circumference around the tree along the drip line. Be sure to dig as nice and deep to ensure you form as large root ball as possible.
Carefully remove the Lemon tree making sure to keep the root ball intact. Do this by gently rocking the lemon tree from side to side whilst sliding a tarp, burlap, strong plastic or other relevant material underneath the root ball. Now fold the four corners of the material to the base of the lemon tree and gently tie down the root ball.
Carefully move the lemon tree the previously prepared transplant hole.
Step 5: Planting the Lemon tree in its new location.
Make sure the transplant hole is slightly larger and the same depth as the root ball of your lemon tree. Add some compost and bone meal to the bottom and loosen the sides of the transplant hole.
Gently position the lemon tree in the centre of the transplant hole and make sure the root ball is level with the surrounding soil. Delicately remove the material around the root ball.
Mix the soil removed from the transplant hole with compost or organic matter to a ratio of 1:1 or (50/50) ad a good dose of bone meal and fill this mixture in around the root ball of your lemon tree remember to keep the pH as similar as possible to that of the original location.
Firm the soil in around the root ball making sure to eliminate any air pockets. Form a ridge around the base of the lemon tree to help dam water around the root ball keep the size of the rim relevant to the size of the lemon tree.
Water the lemon tree well after transplanting.
Step 6: Care after transplanting a lemon tree
Continue to water deeply at least once a week (if transplanting during Autumn be careful not to overwater during winter and water early in the morning rather than later in the day)
Once the first new growth appears on tour newly transplanted lemon tree, fertilise with a balanced fertiliser and water well after fertilising.
Remove all flowers and thus fruit from the lemon tree for at least the first year after transplanting. This will encourage a strong and healthy recovery after the shock of transplanting.