Q: I have Meyer lemon tree that needs to be moved because it now has a tree has gradually shaded it. Can it be transplanted?
Q: I have Meyer lemon tree that needs to be moved because it now has a tree has gradually shaded it. As a result, it has gradually leaned, grasping for the maximum sun it can get; it only produces fruit in years of maximum sun and less rain. Question: can this tree be transplanted? If answer is yes, then 1) When?, 2) With what precautions?, 3) How much pruning? 4) What fertilization at time of transplant? Thank you again for your assistance.
A: You have seen the results of a true experiment on this plant’s need for full sun. It can be transplanted and as you can see it will produce better if given full sun exposure. The best time to transplant citrus is in the spring. Get as much of the root ball as possible, dig the hole wider than deep and add nothing to the hole. Set the plant in the ground slightly (1/2-1 inch) higher than it grew in the ground. Re-fill the hole around the plant about 1/3 to 1/2 full, then water and gently tamp the soil thoroughly to remove air pockets. Allow the water to settle, fill the hole 2/3 full of soil, re-water and tamp again. Finish filling the hole and pack the soil firmly around the tree. Form a water basin around the tree at least 3-4 inches high and 30 inches in diameter. Do not put mulch over the root ball. Water 3 times a week for 2 weeks, and then taper off gradually to once a week during periods of little or no rainfall. The basin should stay in place until the tree is well established. Avoid pruning the tree prior to transplanting (this would apply to any tree or shrub); you want to encourage the tree to put its energy into growing roots. Pruning citrus should not be necessary except to shape the trees or remove water sprouts or suckers. Do not leave stubs as they may be attacked by rotting organisms which could damage the tree. Fertilization could be done in June and then again in the fall between Oct. and November. The recommended 3 applications per year can be made in January – February, May – June and October – November although timing is not especially critical. Good luck.