QUESTION: IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ME TO HAVE A LEMON TREE IN MY GARDEN, BUT I AM DEFINITELY DOING SOMETHING WRONG. IT DOESN'T MATTER WHERE I STAY (JHB, STRAND, HEIDELBERG) I KEEP STRUGGLING! ANY CITRUS I PLANT DOES THE SAME 1. CURLED LEAVES 2. SOME SORT OF CATERPILLAR LOVES THE LEAVES. I HAVE SPRAYED, WATERED, FERTILIZED ETC. HOW CAN I FINALLY HAVE A HEALTHY LEMON TREE?
Citrus trees will only thrive in frost free regions or in a sheltered/protected area in the home garden. Cold winds can be as damaging as frost so ensure your plants are sufficiently protected from these as well as hot winds that will dry out the leaves and the fruit. Citrus tree roots need more oxygen than that of most trees and therefore require a well drained light soil compared to that of a heavy clayey soil. Plants will grow equally well whether in acid or alkaline soil but will not thrive in brack (with high salt content) soils. If a young tree has not yet developed a full crown of foliage, then protect the branches with a whitewash.
Citrus trees need regular watering when they are flowering and setting fruit and when the fruit is developing (from July/August to March). In summer rainfall regions they must be given a good soaking every four weeks. In winter rainfall areas they must be watered during long dry spells in summer. They should never be allowed to dry out completely and it is advisable to cover the base with a thick layer of mulch to retain moisture.
Apply fertilizer in July, December and March. For young trees; start with 500g of 3:1:5 fertilizer at each application plus 75 g of magnesium sulphate (Epsom salts). You can gradually increase the amount (of 3:1:5) that the tree gets as it grows and eventually you should be giving the plant approximately 2 kg per application. Start spreading the fertilizer from about 15 cm away from the trunk to just beyond the drip line of the tree. Water in well after the application.
Citrus psylla is the most serious pest. To control this, spray the new leaves as soon as they appear with the characteristic little bumps. You could use Kombat for Aphids or Chlorpyrifos or Efekto’s Aphicide. Be sure to read the label for the safety period which will indicate how soon after the application it will be safe to harvest the fruit
Fruits should be harvested only once the skin has coloured well.