The Ponderosa Lemon Tree (botanical name Citrus x pyriformis) is a chance seedling derived from a hybrid of pomelo and citron first discovered in the 1880’s. Although initially believed to be a hybrid of lemon and citron, further analysis proved the variety to contain only pomelo and citron DNA. The Ponderosa Lemon was then named and launched for commercial purposes in the 1900?ÇÖs.
This lemon tree is a slow-growing, evergreen citrus tree with long, glossy leaves. When planted outdoors in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 to 11, the Ponderosa Lemon Tree can grow as tall as 24 feet. The tree can be kept smaller when planted in a pot indoors. Both the standard and dwarf Ponderosa Lemon Tree have a rounded top and medium-thick branches full of spines.
Like most lemon or lime trees,Ponderosa lemon trees are cold sensitive and frost tender when grown in areas colder than USDA planting zone 8. While potted trees can grow to fruit-bearing ages in colder areas, they need additional light during the cold season and protection from freezing by overwintering indoors.
These lemon citrus trees are often grown as ornamental plants for their beautiful white and purple-tinged flowers that grow simultaneously among yellow fruits and dark green leaves. Moreover, since the fruits and blooms are produced at the same time, you will be mesmerized by the sublime scent of the flowers mixed with the sweet scent of the lemons. This combination is rarely found in other fruit trees. Also, Ponderosa lemons can be kept on the tree for months without deteriorating and losing fruit quality.
Citrus Tree Care
Growing citrus trees can be fun and rewarding. Most are tolerant of different soil types, do not require elaborate pruning and is not time consuming. Do not get it wrong though, although tolerant of most growing conditions they still need proper care to grow healthy.
Soil Preference – Ponderosa lemon can be planted in any type of soil but does better when planted using a potting mix composed of peat moss, compost, perlite and potting soil of equal parts. Like dwarf lime trees, this lemon tree prefers soil with 5.5 to 6.5 pH level.
Planting in Pots – For those living in zones colder than zone 9, it is highly recommended that you grow your Ponderosa lemon tree in a pot. When using a pot to replant your newly bought lemon tree for sale, select a container that is a size bigger than the pot it arrived in. You may also want to consider using a clay pot with a lot of holes at the bottom since clay pots drain better and allow good aeration.
Fill the pot with about 1/3 of your soil mix then place the tree in the center. Fill the gaps with soil; fill the pot with soil up to an inch below the rim of the pot for easy watering and to avoid overspill.
Water the soil in and around the tree for the soil to settle to prevent air pockets from forming, then continue filling. Continue watering until water drains out of the holes at the bottom of the pot.
Watering – after planting make sure that the tree is watered thoroughly but not to the point where the soil is soggy since growing citrus trees do not like wet feet or standing water. For container grown citrus trees allow the top inch of the soil to dry before watering again. You can also purchase a cheap moisture meter device you can purchase from any local garden supply store. To provide additional humidity mist the leaves daily.
Cold Protection – the Ponderosa lemon tree prefer temperate climates and must be placed in an area with temperature between 80 to 90 degrees F or 26ºC to 32ºC to promote blooming and fruiting. During cold weather when the temperature drop below 50ºF or 10ºC bring the tree inside and place it in a bring room where the temperature is at about 65ºF or 18ºC during daytime. Nighttime temperature should be around 55-60ºF or 12-15ºC. You can move the tree back outside on your patio when the night temperatures are above 55ºF (12ºC). Let the tree acclimate by moving it outdoors during daytime and move it indoors during nighttime then begin moving the citrus tree into a more exposed sun exposed area as the day progresses.
Pruning – citrus trees for sale like dwarf lime tree and dwarf lemon tree are typically grafted to dwarf rootstocks to easily maintain them at a smaller and manageable size. However, you still need to prune them either to maintain their height of their productivity. For Ponderosa Lemon Tree, it needs to be pruned in the early spring before the budding season.
Fertilizing – Feed your citrus tree with citrus fertilizer twice a month during the growing season with 1/3 cup of 21-0-0 (ammonium sulfate) after new growth appears in April-May. During dormant months (fall and winter) you need to ease back feeding fertilizer for citrus trees to once a month.
Fruit & Harvesting
The fruit of Ponderosa lemon can grow as large as a grapefruit and look very much like a citron in that it has thick, bumpy and pale green-yellow rind. It is also obovoid in shape with a short neck at the stem end.
Now although the seedy fruit’s outside appearance is like that of citron the taste and juiciness is like a lemon; they have the same flavor and level of acidity. In so saying, you can use Ponderosa lemon in place of true lemon.
A Ponderosa fruit can weigh two up to four pounds each so one Ponderosa fruit is enough to make you a pitcher of lemonade or several lemon pies. One fruit can give you enough lemon zest and juice to flavor your fish, vegetable, chicken and dessert! You can also use the fruit to add a special touch to your evening cocktails or homemade brews.
Ponderosa Lemon Trees bears fruit all year round with the peak season in late spring or early summer. It usually takes about 6 to 9 months for the lemons to mature and be ready for harvest. You can start harvesting while the fruits are still slightly green but if you wait a tad longer you will get sweeter tasting lemons. Furthermore, Ponderosa lemons can be stored in the tree for months without losing quality so you need not feel rushed to harvest the fruits.
When planting in USDA regions 9 to 11 it is best to plant your Ponderosa lemon tree in October thru February for the roots to be established before the growing season begins. In colder regions, the fruit tree should be planted from March to April after all the danger of frost has passed.
Lemons are typically cold sensitive and Ponderosa Lemon trees are more so. Freezing temperatures can kill tender growth so the trees should be protected and taken indoors before a predicted frost hits your region. For additional protection you can drape a blanket or canvass over the tree and cover it up from top to bottom to ensure warm air is retained close to the tree. Remove the covers once the temp rises. Frost can also ruin fruits so it is best to pick them before winter arrives.
It is important that you prune the tree and remove dead or damaged limbs before the citrus trees active growing in spring to promote health and growth. Cut suckers that grow below the lowest limb of the trunk since they would only steal away the nutrients and water from the primary trunk of the tree.
Keep the area free of weeds to promote growth and prevent spread of diseases.
Pests and Diseases
Pests – Citrus trees like the Ponderosa Lemon Tree are attacked by various garden pests like aphids, mites and scales. The safest and easiest way to control these pests is by blasting them away with water using a garden hose. You can also use neem oil or other horticultural oils and insecticidal soap regularly to prevent or get rid of these pests. You can make use or predator insects that prey on these pests so the infestation may not need external control.
Diseases – Citrus stubborn disease, Alternaria and root rot diseases are usually transmitted by pests or caused by overwatering. In so saying, pest control, adequate fertilizing and good drainage will go a long way to protect your tree from diseases.
You may also use copper sulfate spray to protect your citrus tree from many opportunistic diseases and infections. It is also an effective control for diseases like bacterial leaf spot, botrytis and fireblight among many others. s
Is the Ponderosa Lemon Tree cold hardy?
Ponderosa Lemon Trees can be planted outdoors in USDA Zones 9 to 11. The trees can withstand temperatures as low as 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Are Ponderosa Lemons good for you?
Ponderosa Lemons contain Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, and many other nutrients. While it is typical to consume relatively small amounts of lemon flesh or lemon juice as compared to other citrus, each ounce of Ponderosa Lemon is packed with nutrition.
Does the Ponderosa Lemon Tree have thorns?
Yes. All lemon trees have some manner of thorns and the Ponderosa Lemon Tree is no exception. Use caution when picking.
Does the Ponderosa Lemon Tree grow a larger tree than other lemons?
Yes. The Ponderosa Lemon Tree is not only the largest lemon fruit, but also grows the largest lemon tree. A mature Ponderosa Lemon Tree can be as tall as 25 feet, and grow to a width of about 20 feet. The trees can be pruned to maintain a smaller size.
What makes a Ponderosa Lemon different than a normal lemon?
Ponderosa Lemons grow fruit that is much larger, and milder tasting than a Meyer or other lemon. The fruit can be as large as 2 pounds each, and they are not quite as sour as the lemons you may be used to.
What does a Ponderosa lemon look like?
Ponderosa lemon is less cold hardy than a true lemon. It bears medium to large fruit that have a thick and bumpy rind. The fruits are seedy, and while they look similar to a citron, they taste like a lemon.
Are Ponderosa lemons edible?
They are primarily grown ornamentally in warm climates because of the Ponderosa lemon tree’s small size and attractive growth, but the fruits they produce are edible and delicious.
How do you care for a Ponderosa lemon tree?
Water the dwarf Ponderosa lemon just enough to moisten the soil. Citrus trees do not like wet roots. Cover a shallow container with pebbles and enough water to cover them. Set the potted tree on them to provide additional humidity if growing Ponderosa lemon indoors.