Table of contents:
- Features of the development of citrus fruits
- Forming the crown of citrus fruits grown from seed
- Formation of the crown of a fruit tree
- Formation of a standard tree
Forming a citrus crown is a fun process, but requires patience. Sometimes needed to get a fruiting tree. Fruiting in most lemons begins only after the formation of fourth-order branches in the crown (more on this below). The branches of the first, second and third orders do not bear fruit. But Meyer's lemon bears fruit on the branches of the second and third orders.
I must say that citrus fruits are quite stubborn in nature. They do not always want to grow the way we want - a compact tree. Therefore, we will try to formulate instructions for detailed formation. And the most important thing here is the beginning, when a sprouting seed, a rooted stalk or a young scion has just begun to grow. But before talking about the formation, let's touch on the issue of physiology.
Features of the development of citrus fruits
The growth and development of citrus fruits in nature and on our windowsills is significantly different from other indoor plants. The specificity of development is due to the cyclical nature of the growing season. From spring to autumn, these plants have three development peaks:
First growth, in spring, from about mid-March to June. At this moment, new shoots and leaves grow vigorously. But suddenly the growth stops and the calm (no growth) lasts until the young growth matures.
Ripening of shoots is one of the phases of the growing season, and it consists in preparing the plant for the dormant period. In nature, maturation begins with a significant reduction in growth processes: a decrease in the length of the day, an increase in daily temperature differences, and in cultural cultivation, in addition, when pruning. When ripe, the deposition of nutrients increases in the shoots, the green bark becomes woody, becomes brown and dry, the leaves acquire a darker shade.
Second wave of citrus growth during the month in mid-summer. We observe intensive growth of leaves again. In August, it stops again and the maturation of recruits begins.
The third wave of growth usually occurs in the Indian summer - early September and can last until the end of October.
What is noteworthy: often at the end of the growth phase, citruses dry out the apical bud (growth point) at the end of the shoots. Thus, the natural crown formation occurs in nature. Those. thanks to this mechanism, fruit trees have a spreading crown.
I must say that the timing of the growth spikes is not strict, they are dictated, first of all, by weather conditions. For example, last year Calamondin began to grow rapidly in mid-March, this year - at the end of February. And an orange in a different room (at lower temperatures) last year - at the end of March, and this year has not yet started. In addition, if the spring is early and sunny, the first growth can be more stormy and long than the second, or vice versa, the spring is cloudy, and the summer is sunny, then the second growth is longer and more productive. Sometimes there are only two growth waves per year, or vice versa, four.
Not a topic about formation, but a word about growth peaks. During intensive green leaf growth and flowering, citrus fruits will grow a huge number of buds. Sometimes they bloom like our apple trees - all the branches are covered with flowers, then the formation of ovaries begins. But suddenly a part flies around, and after a couple of weeks, flies around again. A significant part of the fruit set, citrus fruits are discarded on the instincts of self-preservation, so that depletion does not occur, there are enough nutrients for a new cycle of growth and flowering.
When I saw this sight for the first time, I almost made a terrible mistake. The fact is that the massive flying around of the ovaries - they are poured like peas, immediately raises the idea that, probably, the plant does not have enough water. We must water! But waterlogging is destructive for citrus fruits - this is certain death. And if you do not know the physiology, you can ruin the plant, trying to stop the shedding of flowers and ovaries by watering. Therefore, first, check the soil in the depth of the pot, whether it is dry enough.
Well, now we turn to the formation.
Theme on the form about the formation of citrus
Forming the crown of citrus fruits grown from seed
After the seed has germinated, a shoot is formed at the seedling or rooted cuttings, it is called a zero-order shoot. For this single-stemmed seedling, while it is not yet lignified, we pinch the crown (growth point) so that the height from the ground is 25-30 cm. This process is called pinching.
After pinching, the growth of the zero shoot stops, it begins to ripen.
When the ripening of the zero shoot is over, the citrus is ready for new growth, and we cut it to the desired length. Traditionally, it is recommended to leave 15-20 cm, some gardeners cut it even shorter - leaving about 10 cm.In any case, it is desirable that at least four leaves remain on the zero-order shoot.
New shoots begin to grow from under the leaves remaining on the shoot. Usually, when trimming a zero shoot, the bud of the uppermost leaf or two buds, less often all three, starts to grow. For the formation of a plentifully fruiting tree in the future, it is necessary to ensure that three, in extreme cases, two new shoots start to grow. These will be first-order shoots. If they don't want to grow, only one new shoot stubbornly climbs, we break it out (breaking out differs from pruning in that the shoot is removed completely under the base). We are waiting for the rest of the kidneys to wake up. If they do not want to start growing, then we break out the leading shoot again.
And so, until we get the simultaneous development of two or three shoots of the first order. Ideally, it is better to get four first-order shoots, but in reality this does not always happen.
If we managed to get three shoots of the first order, we let the one above grow up, we send two to the sides. Those. you can fix the shoots in certain directions with flexible wire, but make sure that it does not injure the bark.
If we managed to get four shoots of the first order, then we direct them like a fan, in different directions, pushing them apart so that the shoots do not interfere with each other, do not block the light. Very often, the shoots stretch up all in a crowd so that from the outside you cannot make out where which branch is and what order. At the same time, young citrus fruits are formed very easily with wire.
The branches of the first order grow, and can grow thin and long for a long time, therefore, when they grow 25 cm, we pinch them again. When the branches are ripe, we cut them about 5-6 cm below the place of pinching, so that four leaves remain on the shoots of the first order, at least. When trimming, we make a cut directly above the bud facing outward, and not inside the crown (picture above).
The final part of crown formation
If you have coped with the formation of shoots of the first and second order, everything else is not difficult. Everything happens according to the same scenario. We grow shoots to a certain length, pincer, wait for ripening, cut them off.
The length of the shoot, at which the crown of the shoot is pinched, depends on the order of branching - with the next order they are shortened.
- shoot of zero order 15-20 cm
- shoots of the first order 20-25 cm
- shoots of the second order 10-15 cm
- shoots of the third order about 10 cm
- shoots of the fourth and further about 5-10 cm
On shoots of the fourth or fifth order, the formation of skeletal branches ends. If the shoots begin to bloom until the crown is formed, it is better to break off the buds, since there will be no growth on such branches, the formation will take a long time. And only with the formation of shoots of the fifth order can citrus be allowed to bear fruit.
The first difficulty: to achieve development after pruning not one bud, but simultaneously two or three. If a single shoot begins to grow at the pruning site, it must be broken out, sometimes repeatedly. Those. do not let it grow, but break it out under the base until the shoots come from the buds below.
The second difficulty: the appearance of tops. These shoots are also called fattening, they will not bear fruit, but differ in that they grow vertically upward and grow much faster than future fruit branches. If not broken, they draw off a lot of nutrients and thicken the crown.
Formation of the crown of a fruit tree
If you already have an adult, grown lemon tree (and other citrus), then you can cut off the branches and form the crown throughout the year, but it is better in spring (April - May). Shoots grow constantly, tops grow especially vigorously - these shoots need to be cut out regardless of the season (if you do not want to use them in the future, this is also possible).
The formation of an already mature large plant with branches of 5 and 6 or more orders of magnitude is carried out as the soul tells you. Step back and evaluate the shape of the crown from the side. Usually it is trimmed so that a lemon or orange really looks like a miniature tree. Some citrus fruits, such as calamondin (citrofortunella), due to genetic characteristics, do not grow as a tree, but as a bush. Then your task is to maintain the even shape of the bush, cut off branches that grow inward, not outward.
If you have been vaccinated on a fruit tree or game grown from a seed, after a successful fusion, you need to correctly direct the scion. The shoot that grows after inoculation, so that it grows straight, is tied to a stick stuck in the pot. It is necessary to cut the growing scion at a length of 12-15 cm. In the future, form it in the same way as described above, counting the order of the branches of the scion, not the rootstock.
Lemon trees, propagated by cuttings, layering or grafting, bear fruit on branches of the 4th-5th order, going to the side. When using a low-standard form in a tree grown from a cuttings or layering, branches of the 4th-5th order are formed by the end of the second year of life. Such plants bloom for the third year and can bear fruit. On three-year-old lemons, first remove half of the buds, and then leave 2-3 fruits from the remaining ovaries, on a 4-5-year-old plant - 6-7 fruits, on a 6-7-year-old plant - up to 10 fruits. With such a rationing of the yield, the correct development of the lemon tree is ensured.
Formation of a standard tree
Depending on the height of the trunk (trunk), trees can be:
- high-stem - stem height reaches 30 cm
- medium-standard - height up to 20 cm
- low-stem - stem height 10 - 15 cm
To form a low-stemmed lemon, grapefruit, lime or any other citrus fruit, after the young plant reaches a height of 15-20 cm, before the start of its next growth (late February - early March), the top is cut off, leaving 4-7 leaves. After that, 4–6 shoots will begin to develop from the lateral buds. Of these, you need to leave only 3-4 shoots going in different directions (shoots of the first order). When these lateral branches have completely finished their growth, they also cut off the tops, leaving 3-5 buds on each of them in the leaf axils. The last bud should not look inside the crown, but outward. Twigs will start growing again from the lateral buds (shoots of the second order).
In the future, pruning is carried out until branches of the fourth order are formed.
Rejuvenating old citrus trees
Lemon trees are rejuvenated at the age of 14–20, when its fruiting decreases. By this time, the plant is already quite powerful, dense, the branches are quite thick. Not every windowsill will fit such a specimen, but in the room lemons and oranges are quite razlapisty - fruit shoots do not grow up, but to the sides.
In addition, large trees often outgrow all available containers. The root system is limited to pots (bucket, tub), and may not overpower the nutrition of a large dense crown, especially hung with fruits. To maintain a certain proportionality of tops and roots, the crown of old trees is shortened.
It is necessary to prune in the spring (in March - April): all branches up to the 4th-5th order are cut off, thereby causing increased growth of dormant buds. Rejuvenated plants are transplanted into new dishes or old ones, while the root system must be shortened by one third by cutting off the roots from the periphery of the root ball. In no case should the roots be disturbed inside the root ball.