Ponderosa lemon tree care

Ponderosa Lemon

Get Extremely Large Harvests of Super-Sized Lemons

You’ll Have Grapefruit-Size Lemons All Year Long

The Ponderosa Lemon is a tropical hybrid that produces jumbo-sized lemons. A cross between the citron and the traditional lemon, Ponderosa Lemons reach the size of grapefruits, each one weighing 1 to 2 pounds!

Peak season is late spring / early summer, although, this magnificent tree produces lemons year-round. Planted outside, your tree will reach a height up to 24 feet for those living in zones 9-11. If you reside outside of those zones, you can grow these lemons indoors. Your tree will do well in a container set in front of a sunny window. Just imagine an ample supply of lemons whenever you want them! You’ll have pounds of giant fruit ready to be picked all year long.

You’ll Never Want Another Grocery Store Lemon

The sweet flavor of this lemon will make all your food taste better. You’ll get a lot of juice from each giant lemon, adding more flavor to main courses. Ponderosa Lemons are thick-skinned and their bumpy rind is great for making lemon zest. You’ll also never be without lemon flavoring for cooked vegetables, chicken, and fish! They’re great to have on hand to add that special touch to evening cocktails as well.

Your lemon desserts will taste fresher, as will your frozen treats. You’ll always have enough lemons to make gourmet lemonade by the pitchers-full. (If you’ve never tried lemonade from a Ponderosa, prepare to be delighted!)

Each Ponderosa Lemon is also full of Calcium, Fiber, Iron, Vitamin C, and essential Antioxidants. With lots of home-grown lemons at your beckon, start looking forward to more, flavorful, vitamin-rich dishes.

Enhance Your Property with a Tropical Display of Flowers and Fruit

The Ponderosa Lemon possesses a very uncommon trait. It bears fruit and flowers simultaneously. It’s hard to find a showier accent plant when you consider the beautiful white blooming flowers that are tinged with purple – alongside bright yellow lemons. Ponderosa Lemons remain on the tree for many months without deteriorating, so you won’t feel rushed to pick them. You’ll always be able to see lemons on your tree.

A Clever Way to Reinvent Your Living Space.

The Ponderosa Lemon is an excellent indoor grower because it is not fussy about soil type, doesn’t mind extensive pruning, and does well in containers. Your adaptable, tropical companion will travel seamlessly from the patio to indoors. The blooms are very fragrant, and since the Ponderosa Lemon blooms and produces fruit at the same time, you’ll get a tantalizing mix of fragrances. The sublime scent of its flowers blends with the sweetness of the lemons to release a fresh, floral aroma like no other fruit tree.

Order Now to get Ponderosa Lemons the very first season.

Planting & Care

Seasonal, Location, and Exposure Considerations:
The Ponderosa Lemon, a hybrid of a lemon and a citron, has minimal cold tolerance. Of all the citrus, Lemons are the least hardy against cold. Limit outside culture to only Zones 9-11. They are most successfully grown in California, Texas, and Florida.

Soil Preferences
Your Ponderosa is very tolerant of poor soil, but they require good drainage. Their preferred pH range is 5.5-6.5. Organic matter provided by mulches and compost help retain moisture for your Lemon tree, and in the process of breaking down, give it a steady supply of the major nutrients.

Planting and Care – Container Grown or in Pots
In all zones colder than Zone 9, plan to grow your Ponderosa Lemon indoors. Select a container that is one size larger than the container it came in. Clay pots are recommended as they help drain the pot better, and allow for good air exchange within the pot. Your new potting mix should primarily contain a drainage aggregate and some organic matter. A good mix would contain equal parts of perlite, vermiculite, peat, and sterilized potting soil. Adding in some well matured compost as a portion of the peat component would have good results, though not necessary.

The top of the soil surface should be about an inch below the lip of the container so as to prevent overspill and enable even watering.

Fill your pot about 1/3 with your new soil mix, and set your tree so that the soil level in the container you bought is about an inch below the top lip of the pot. Water the soil in and around the tree to settle it around the roots, then continue filling. Water thoroughly and evenly after planting, but do not saturate the soil to a point where it is ‘soggy’.

In future waterings, wait until the surface of the soil is dried out to about an inch or two to the touch. You may find that your container Lemon Tree may require frequent waterings, as many as 1-2 times per day. During the heat of the summer, allow the surface of the soil to dry out before watering. In the winter, the surface soil will not dry out as readily. Never allow your Lemon to be rooted in soggy soil.

Your Ponderosa also needs humidity. One way to provide this is to have your container set inside a tray or larger (but shallow) container and cover the bottom of the tray with clean pebbles or small washed stone. Then set your container Lemon on top of the pebbles. Add water to the tray to almost cover the stone. Do not allow the Lemon Tree container to sit in water.

Use a liquid fertilizer specifically formulated for Citrus. When the tree is actively growing, feed according to label, twice monthly. In the winter, cut back fertilizer to once a month. Follow dilution recommendations closely.

Your indoor Ponderosa should be pruned before new growth initiates in the early spring. Always use clean and sharp tools. Remove crossing branches, and aim for an open, strong canopy to allow for good air circulation. Make your branch cuts all the way back to the originating shoot. To control overall growth, you can snip the tips of canopy growth by several inches once your tree is established and in the desired form. Remove low growing shoots below the lowest primary branches. You can remove damaged or dead shoots anytime during the year. You can also snip off erratic, long, or undesirable tips as you see them.

Once sustained temperatures drop below 50oF, bring your Ponderosa indoors. Choose a brightly lit room, keeping it near a sunny window, and away from drafts. Ideal indoor temperatures for indoor citrus is around 65F during the day; and night time temperatures about 55-60F.

When returning your Ponderosa in the spring, do so in a manner to acclimate it slowly over a week or two. Do not begin this process until night time temperatures are consistently above 55F. When first taking out, place in a warm, but shady spot during the day; and then bring it inside for several days. Then expose to bright morning sun, moving to a shady area in the afternoon, then leave it outside for the next few days. After this point, you can give it the desired full sun location.

Lemon trees love humidity. Mist the leaves with a water spray daily, especially in warm dry indoor conditions and the heat of summer.

Hand pollination of your Ponderosa is necessary to bear fruit. Use a small paint brush and rub the pollen within the flower to pollinate.

Planting and Care – Outdoor Growing in the Garden
Air circulation is important for Ponderosa Lemon. Choose sites that are at least 25-30 feet from any structures or other trees. A location allowing protection from colder winds (north) is best. Full sun, all day, is ideal.

Remove all weeds, trash, sod, etc to a 2’ diameter around the area where you are planting the tree.

Your hole should be the same depth and twice the width of the pot in which the tree came. Gently lift the tree out of the container, and use a gentle stream of water to rinse away the soil covering the outer roots of the ball.

Backfill the hole about halfway with your soil mix. Fill the hole with water and allow it to leach through, filling air spaces around and under the roots. Once drained, finish filling, water again thoroughly, and top off with soil, mounding the soil slightly around the base of the trunk and pack the last fill of soil well. Form a moat of about 3” high, and 8” wide at a circumference of about 2’ away from the tree.

Fill your moat right after planting, and then again at 3 day intervals for the first two weeks of establishment. In time, the moat will work its way into the soil. After the first couple weeks, water weekly.

Mulch well with an organic mulch. Spread your mulch out to the dripline of the tree, at a depth of 3-4”, but keep the mulch about 12” away from the trunk of the tree to discourage disease, insects, and small rodents from damaging the base. Renovate your mulch each spring. Shallowly working in the mulch layer closest to the soil that has begun to rot down provides some organic matter, then apply your new mulch over it.

See guidelines above for watering indoor Ponderosa. For outdoor plantings, water to an imaginary line about 12” past the dripline, all the way into the trunk. Soak thoroughly, evenly, slowly, and deeply. Salts are not good for the roots, and watering thoroughly helps leach them out of the rooting zone. Maintain a ‘moist’ soil, but do not allow it to become soggy. New plantings need frequent watering, every 2-3 days usually for the first 4-6 weeks. After that point, you can water every 3-6 days depending on the ‘feel’ of the soil. In the Tree’s first year, you should anticipate watering 2-3 times weekly, then dropping back to every week or two in the fall and winter. Water less frequently when rain events provide good water. In its second year, your intervals will drop to 1-2 per week in the summer, and 2-3 weeks in the winter. Add a week of interval once the trees are 3 years and older. These are guidelines. Let your weather and the ‘feel’ of the soil be your guide.

Though not terribly high maintenance regarding fertility, your Ponderosa will give you a nice response when you fertilize the newly planted tree with about 1/3 cup of 21-0-0 (ammonium sulfate) after new growth appears in April-May. Scatter the fertilizer evenly through the rooting zone of the tree out to the dripline and water it in thoroughly. Repeat this application once between August-September. Do not over fertilize.

In the second and later years, apply fertilizer in January through February; April through May; and August through September (3 times per year). In the second year, use 2 cups per year of 21-0-0 evenly divided among the three application. In the third through the seven or eight year old tree, increase to 4 cups spread across the three applications per year.

Weed, Insects, and Diseases
Keep the area free of weeds at all times, weeding manually. Aphids and scale insects are the most common insect pests for “Ponderosa”. You can keep them at bay by blasting with a strong spray from your water hose. There are insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils labelled for controlling these and other insects for indoor plants or if the water hose isn’t effective in outdoor plantings.

Consult local sources for information regarding diseases that might occur. Never subject the roots to waterlogged conditions, and maintain good humidity for the leaves; and you’ll go a long way to keep your tree healthy and resistant to disease.

Pruning and Training
Before active growing in the spring, remove any dead or damaged limbs. Remove any shoots or suckers that emerge below the lowest limbs of the trunk. See comments in the Containers Section above regarding shaping and encouraging air circulation.

Freezing temperatures will ruin the fruit so pick all the ripe lemons before a predicted frost in your region.

Freezing temperatures will kill this very tender citrus tree. Protect with several layers of cardboard wrapped around the lowest limbs, and all the way to the ground. You can secure the cardboard using duct tape. You can drape old blankets over the tree as well. The idea is to keep the tree covered from top to bottom and retain warm air close to the tree. There are other methods as well. Regardless, when covering the tree, remove the cover once temperatures rise, and replace it when a frost is expected.

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What Is A Ponderosa Lemon: Learn About Ponderosa Lemon Growing

An interesting specimen citrus tree is the dwarf Ponderosa lemon. What makes it so interesting? Read on to find out what a Ponderosa lemon is and all about Ponderosa lemon growing.

What is a Ponderosa Lemon?

Ponderosa lemons derive from a chance seedling discovered in the 1880’s and are most likely a hybrid of a citron and a lemon. They were named and launched into the commercial nurseries in 1900.

The fruit of the dwarf Ponderosa lemon looks much like that of citron. It bears large, grapefruit sized, pale green fruit with a thick, furrowed rind. While the fruit is juicy, it is extremely acidic. Blooming and fruiting occurs year round. As its name indicates, the tree is small, round at the top with medium sized branches upon which hang large, elliptical leaves.

Usually grown as an ornamental, although the fruit can be used in place of lemon, the Ponderosa has purple tinged flowers. Like all lemon trees or hybrids, Ponderosa lemons are very cold sensitive and frost tender. Ponderosa lemon growing should only occur in USDA hardiness zones 9-11 or indoors with additional light.

How to Plant a Ponderosa Lemon Tree

Ponderosa lemons are most commonly seed container planted on patios or as door front ornamentals in California and Florida. It grows well indoors as long as it is out of full sun exposure and air drafts. In

Northern regions, grow lights should be provided.

When you plant a Ponderosa lemon tree, use one size larger container than that in which it has been growing in. Citrus trees like clay, which allows for good drainage and root aeration. A potting mix of equal parts peat moss, compost, perlite and sterile potting soil should do the trick. Allow 1 inch between the top of the pot and the soil surface to allow for watering.

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.

Ponderosa Lemon Tree Care

Keep the tree watered but not overly. A container grown citrus may need to be watered one to two times a day in hot regions. Allow the top 1 inch of soil to dry during the fall and winter seasons. Keep the tree in an area between 80-90 degrees F. (26 to 32 C.) to encourage blooming and fruiting. Mist the leaves with water daily to add humidity into the air.

Hand pollination is recommended using a small paint brush, with fruit ripening within six to nine months.

Feed the tree with a citrus liquid fertilizer twice each month during the growing season. At dormancy, cut back to once a month in the fall and winter.

Additional Ponderosa lemon tree care is in regards to pruning. Prune the tree in the early spring prior to any budding. Using clean, sharp shears, remove any crossing branches. The goal is to create a strong, yet open canopy that allows for air circulation. Snip the canopy tips back several inches to control the overall height and any growth that is seen on the trunk below the lowest branches. Also, remove any damaged or dead limbs year round.

Bring the tree inside for the winter when temps drop below 50 degrees F. (10 C.). Place it in a bright room with a daytime temp of 65 degrees F. (18 C.) and night temperatures of between 55-60 degrees F. (12 to 15 C.).

Move the tree back outside when sustained night temps are above 55 degrees F. (12 C.). Allow it to acclimate over the course of a couple weeks by putting it out in a warm, shaded area during the day and moving it back inside at night. Gradually begin to move the tree into more sun exposure each day and leave it out for a couple days. When the tree has hardened off, it should stay in sun, outside until the fall providing a sublime aroma of sweet citrus to the patio or deck.

A Simple Guide on How to Grow and Care for Ponderosa Lemon Trees

The Ponderosa lemon tree is famous for its attractive appearance and its huge, five-pound lemons. But that doesn’t mean it is difficult to grow, as you will learn. We’ll tell you how to grow and care for a Ponderosa lemon tree.

Did You Know?

A single Ponderosa lemon is sufficient to make several pitchers of lemonade.

The Ponderosa lemon tree, despite its name, is not a true lemon tree. It is a citrus plant that is a hybrid between a citron (another citrus plant) and an ordinary lemon tree. It is popular for its huge 4 to 5 pound fruits, which have the appearance of a citron, but taste like a lemon. They have a thick, wrinkled rind, and seedy flesh. The fruits serve as a perfect culinary replacement for lemons, and can be used in jams, lemonades, pies, and other recipes.

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Let’s Work Together!

The Ponderosa lemon tree was discovered by George Bowman, in 1887, in Hagerstown, Maryland, which soon became popular all around the US by the name of ‘American Wonder Lemon’, owing to its large fruit. It is a slow-growing tree, which, when fully grown, can reach a height of 24 feet, and spread out to a width of 10 to 12 feet, though it is much smaller when grown in containers. It grows in the USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11, and can be grown from both, seeds and cuttings.

Though the tree is not cultivated commercially, it is gaining popularity as an ornamental plant because of both, its attractive appearance and the diverse uses of its fruit. The tree bears fruit throughout the year, which can be left on the tree for several months without loss in flavor or quality. The plant is self-fertilizing, and can be pollinated by simply rubbing a paintbrush on its flowers. Let us now see how to grow and take care of the Ponderosa lemon tree.

How to Grow Ponderosa Lemon Trees


► Prepare a potting mix by combining equal amounts of peat moss, perlite, and sterile pot soil in a pot which is one size larger than the growing container. A pot of 5-gallon capacity is ideal. It should have a hole at the bottom.

► Transfer the plant from the growing container, or a cutting, to this pot, making sure that the soil level in the pot is the same as that in the growing container. Leave about an inch of space at the top, to allow watering.

► Take a small container and fill it with large pebbles, followed by pouring a little water, such that the pebbles are not completely immersed in it. Keep the pot on top of the container of pebbles, which provides humidity.

► Water the plant thoroughly, but without making the soil soggy. Allow the soil to dry out before the next spell of watering.

► Apply a good indoor citrus fertilizer twice a month, till the plant grows actively.


► Select a location which receives a good amount of sunlight and has well-drained soil. It should be around 20 – 30 feet away from any structure to allow proper air circulation. Uproot all weeds and grass from a 2-foot section of the soil, as they might compete with the plant.

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► Take the pot which has the Ponderosa lemon tree and topple it sideways. Gently lift the plant from the scattered soil, and by spraying water from a garden hose, clean off all the soil around its roots.

► Dig a hole in the ground, which is twice the width and of the same depth as the pot. Place the tree in it, ensuring that the bud union is a couple of inches above the soil.

► Fill half of the pit with soil, followed by thorough watering. Then, fill the pit completely. Compact some soil at the base of the stem, such that it is about an inch higher than the ground.

► Place a 3 to 4 inch-thick layer of mulch, such as wood chips, hay, or leaves around the tree, ensuring that it does not come in contact with the stem, and extends all the way till the drip line.

► Using some garden soil, create a ‘watering ring’, by compacting soil in a circle 2 feet away from the base. It should be 3 – 4 inches high, and 7 inches wide. Water the plant in the ring. If any holes are visible around the root, fill them with soil.

► Water thoroughly once every two or three days for the first month. Reduce this to once every 4 or 5 days during the next couple of months.

► Apply ammonium sulfate fertilizer once in the first year after new growth appears on the tree, and twice in the following year.

► Eventually, the watering ring will gradually melt down, and at this stage, the tree can be considered to be established in the soil.

How to Care for Ponderosa Lemon Trees


The Ponderosa lemon tree is not drought-resistant. Watering should be frequent after planting, and only periodic later on. Deep and thorough watering is preferable to shallow and regular watering. It is advisable to water the plant only when the soil surface feels dry to touch. Do not allow water logging under any circumstances, as this can cause root rot, which can kill the plant.

Potted plants can tolerate more water, since the pot drains away the excess amount. In fact, container plants can be watered once or twice daily in warm weather. On the downside, these plants are more susceptible to drought. Watering should be less frequent during the colder months. Choosing too large a pot too soon, called ‘over potting’, can lead to over-watering, and may cause root rot. It is one of the chief causes of pest infestation and disease.


The tree prefers well-drained soil, since soggy soil can cause water logging. The soil can be neutral or slightly acidic, with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5, so a pH test is advisable. Sandy soil is fine, but this has less nutrients and needs more frequent watering, though the plant can survive even in poor soil. A mixture of garden soil, sand, and compost, in equal measures, is ideal for a potted plant, as this solves the problem of nutrients, along with providing good drainage.

The Ponderosa lemon tree can survive in loamy, sandy, or clay soils. The soil may develop a high salt-buildup if not watered adequately. Applying and regularly replacing a thick layer of mulch in outdoor plants is recommended, as this provides nutrients by gradual decomposition, besides allowing slow percolation of water, by trapping it. It also prevents weeds from growing around the plant.


The tree needs good sunlight for rapid growth and reproduction. Indoor potted plants can be exposed to grow lights to cut the light deficit, especially in the northern states which receive lesser hours of sunlight, or can be placed at a sunny, south-facing window, especially in winter. Eight hours of sunlight is the daily recommended exposure, but a minimum of 5 to 6 hours is essential. Potted plants can even be kept outdoors in full sun, provided that they are protected from the wind.

Beginning in spring, they should be first acclimatized by keeping them in a warm, shady spot outdoors in the mornings, followed by bringing them indoors during the hotter parts of the day, and again leaving them outdoors at night. After a few days, they can be left outdoors continuously, until fall. However, when temperatures soar to 100ºF or higher, then it’s wise to shift the plants into some shade, or cover them with a shade cloth. At such high temperatures, the tree bark may get sunburned.


Being tropical in nature, this tree requires warm temperatures, and is less resistant to frost, when compared to the other citrus plants. Temperatures below 32ºF will cause the foliage to develop frost burns, and even death, if exposed to temperatures of 28ºF or lower for several hours. Potted plants should be taken indoors during winter, but can be kept outdoors when temperatures rise above 55ºF.

During winter, outdoor plants can be covered with blankets or cardboard, ensuring that warm air does not escape, and holiday lights can be placed around them at night. The minimum-recommended winter night temperature is between 40 to 50ºF, with an increase of 5 to 15ºF during daytime. In general, the plant requires a daytime temperature of about 65ºF, and a nighttime temperature of between 55 to 60ºF, in all seasons.


Adequate fertilizing will ensure good growth and yield of the plant. A fertilizer like ammonium sulfate, an indoor, citrus liquid water-soluble fertilizer, or a balanced fertilizer of 20-0-0 formulation can do the job. It should be applied by scattering it around the base of the plant, followed by watering. Watering is essential for two reasons: one, that it takes the fertilizer all the way to the roots, and two, it prevents root burns caused by strong fertilizers.

The recommended dose is one cup during the plant’s first year, followed by an increase in one cup, both in the second and third years. Fertilizing should be split up into three applications; one each in February, May, and September. The tree should receive as many cups per year, as its age in years.


The pruning required is minimal, as the natural shape of the plant is attractive and upright. Prune any dead, diseased or interlocking branches that might block sunlight from reaching the inner part of the tree. This is because, more exposure to the sun equals a better yield. For this reason, the branches are maintained in a scaffold-like structure, where sunlight reaches the interior.

Branches that appear on the lower limbs of the tree should be removed, as they change the scaffold structure. Remove any root sucker which appears at the base, as it drains away nutrition that can be better used for growth and fruiting. Adequate pruning will prevent the branches from snapping under the weight of the lemons. It is vital to regularly prune all canopy edges to promote better growth. You can also remove the thorns, if desired. Pruning should be carried out before spring, when the plant begins vigorously growing.


The Ponderosa lemon tree is attacked by various pests, like aphids, mites, whiteflies, cutworms, and scale insects, which reduce its vigor. The easiest remedy for this is to ‘blast’ these pests away using a spray from a garden hose. One can also apply a horticultural oil, such as neem oil, or an insecticidal soap regularly. Though, in most cases, these insects have their own natural predators which kill them, so the infestation may not need external control always. Indoor potted plants can be shifted outside temporarily for the predators of the pests to come and do their job.

Diseases like citrus stubborn disease, citrus black spot, Alternaria, root disease, and citrus gummosis may also target the tree. Most of them are transmitted to the plant by the above mentioned pests, or caused by over-watering. Therefore, control of pest infestation, good fertilizing, and maintaining adequate soil drainage will go a long way in protecting the tree.

In conclusion, the Ponderosa lemon tree can grow well in temperate regions, despite being tropical in origin. If given good sunlight, drainage, and warm temperatures, this tree can very well take care of itself.

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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.

Farm to Fork: Preserved Ponderosa lemons

Found lemons could become lemonade. Instead, preserve them for future dishes in this quick, easy recipe.


This week is technically backyard to fork.

A mystery backyard citrus tree produced hard, angry fruit. Fruit that fell from the tree in piles, so large and tough that none of our area animals went near. The littlest child, who only eats peanut butter and bananas, took one smell of the cut fruit and said, “That’s a really big lemon.” The previous owner had waved at the tree and said it was some kind of orange.

Amy Bennett Williams helped identify the fruits as ponderosa lemons.

Our lemons had bumpy rinds and were just bigger than softballs, and can be as large as footballs. Ponderosa lemons are a cross between a lemon and a citron. They can be used in place of lemons in any recipe, and one large ponderosa lemon can produce enough juice for several lemon meringue pies.

Due to the large amount of lemons collected from our tree (more than 20, with more ripening), this recipe is perfect for preserving the lemons, which can be used in future dishes like Moroccan tajines. Or eaten straight from the jar (just rinse them off first).

Preserved ponderosa lemons

2 large jars (about 8 cup capacity) with tight seals

4 ponderosa lemons, washed and dried, ends trimmed and discarded, and sliced into 1/4 inch thickness

1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed, divided

1 cup sea salt or kosher salt, divided

2 cinnamon sticks

2 bay leaves

8 whole cloves

Juice of 2 large and heavy lemons, seeded, divided

  • Pack the equivalent of 1 lemon into each jar, and pack down with a spoon.
  • Into each jar, sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup salt, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 bay leaf, and 4 cloves.
  • Add the rest of the sliced lemons between the two jars.
  • Add the remainder of the sugar and salt, cinnamon, bay leaf, and cloves. Pack down again.
  • Equally divide the juice of two lemons between the two jars; cover tightly.
  • Place the jars in a cool, shaded part of the kitchen counter for one month, and turn the jars upside down, shaking gently, every day. After a month, place lemons in fridge where they can keep for about one year.
  • Prior to using lemons, rinse lightly to remove salt.

Source: Virigina Kahler-Anderson via blogher.com

Note: I’m not a big fan of cinnamon. But I do love sugared lemons. So, as an experiment, one jar is packed with granulated sugar, salt, and lemon juice. Another smaller jar is packed with lemons and then filled with vodka. I’ll know in a month how they turn out (hopefully enough for a few lemon drop martinis), and would love to hear from anyone who makes the original recipe.

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