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Do Citrus Lemon Trees Like Acidic Soil? (Quick Answers)

Many of our valued possessions in our yards or gardens are our plants. Gardening is popular among people across the world and people have been growing their interest into gardening recently.

However, taking care of these plants requires dedication and delicate care as well as an appropriate growing environment. In the abstract below, you will learn about the type of soil that is best suited for citrus lemon trees.

Do citrus lemon trees like acidic soil?

Citrus lemon trees like slightly acidic soil of a pH ranging between 6.0 and 7.0, they can tolerate acidic soil of a pH level as low as 5.0 but too acidic or alkaline soil is harmful. Very acidic or alkaline soil binds the nutrients to the soil and makes them unavailable for the roots to absorb.

Citrus lemon trees grow better in slightly acidic soil of a pH between 6.0 to 7.0 because it allows the roots to absorb all the essential plant nutrients that are in their chemical form.

Acidic or alkaline soil:

Citrus lemon trees like acidic or alkaline soil. But if the soil, is too acidic or alkaline such that its pH is below 5.0 or above 7.5, then the roots fail to absorb the nutrients and face nutrient deficiency because the nutrients are no longer available in the form to be absorbed.

If the pH of the soil is around 6.0 – 7.0, the level of acidity of the soil causes the nutrients to be dissolved and thus the roots can absorb them.

Besides that, the acidity also creates an optimal condition for the soil bacteria that allows them to break down the organic matter in the soil and release their nutrients – which are also absorbed by the tree roots.

However, if the soil is too alkaline – meaning If the pH of the soil is above 7.5 then it can have detrimental impacts on the plant’s growth.

This can be medicated by the help of an acid reaction that would neutralize the alkali and make the soil less alkaline.

In order to do so, you can add urea to the soil as it has a slight acidic reaction in the soil and gradually lowers the pH of the soil.

Ammonium sulfate can be also used alternatively, but it lowers the pH at a much faster rate therefore it is often not advised to use ammonium sulfate.

Citrus lemon trees like acidic soil between the pH of 6.0 to 7.0 because the slight acidity of the soil dissolves the minerals and the nutrients available in the soil to be in a form that can be absorbed by plants.

Besides that, it also allows the bacteria in the soil to convert complex chemicals to simpler and absorbable nutrients. These two factors allow the breakdown of large organic matter into smallest usable nutrients that are beneficial for plants.

Do citrus lemon trees need acidic soil?

A soil pH of 6.0-7.0 is good for citrus trees. It’s the right amount of acidity which helps dissolves the majority of minerals in the soil as nutrients for the roots.

It also helps the beneficial soil bacteria to break down organic matter in the soil. This helps to provide even more nutrients for the tree.

Therefore, having a slightly acidic soil is needed by citrus lemon trees because the acidity prevents the tree from having nutrient deficiency which would otherwise cause the leaves of the plant to become yellow and fall off.

Besides being able to absorb the already present nutrients in the soil, the plants can also absorb the nutrients being released into the soil by the bacteria.

However, keep in mind that too much acidity or alkalinity is bad for the plant because at that point the nutrients in the soil become bound to the soil and cannot be absorbed by the roots.

The bacteria also becomes inactive to release any nutrients into the soil as well.

Is a Lemon Tree an acid-loving plant?

Although citrus plants such as lemon trees heavily benefit from slightly acidic soil, it becomes dangerous for them if the soil becomes too acidic.

While they can withstand and benefit from soil of pH 6.0 to 7.0, it becomes harmful for them if the pH drops below 5.0.

This is because acidic soils cause the essential nutrients and minerals to get bound to the soil instead of being dissolved, which the plants cannot absorb.

Therefore, the acidic soil creates a deficiency for nutrients like calcium and magnesium while overdosing the plants with aluminum or manganese.

So it would be wrong to conclude that lemon trees are acid-loving plants, because they only benefit from slight acidity and higher levels of acidity in their soil could prove to be detrimental to the plant’s health.

Why acidic soil is good for citrus lemon trees?

Having very acidic soil is dangerous for a plant because it rips them off the required nutrients, however, having slight acidity is not only good for the plant but it is essential for healthy growth.

Below are some of the reasons describing why acidic soil is good for citrus lemon trees:

Makes minerals and nutrients available for the plant:

A plant needs a different assortment of nutrients and minerals for the optimal growth of their roots,  stem, leaves and other parts of the plant.

However, many of these nutrients and minerals are locked away and tightly bonded with the soil – which cannot be absorbed by the plant’s roots.

Slight acidity causes chemical reactions to take place in the soil which in turn breaks the bonds of the nutrients and minerals in the soil and dissolves them into a form that can be absorbed by the plant’s roots.

Supports healthy beneficial soil bacteria:

Unlike many organisms, the soil is the home to millions of microorganisms such as bacteria. These bacteria often have a symbiotic relation with the plant as they provide the plant with useful nutrients and they in turn get food from the plant.

An acidic soil is beneficial for the bacteria as well because the acidity provides an optimal working condition for the bacteria and they can release more nutrients out into the soil for the plant’s roots to absorb.

Helps breaking down larger pieces of organic matter:

Besides releasing nutrients into the soil, the bacteria also plays a significant role in the ecosystem by decomposing organic matter buried in the ground and releasing smaller pieces from the organic matter.

Many of the smaller pieces released contain helpful nutrients and minerals that the plants can benefit from.

Are coffee grounds good for a lemon tree?

Lemon trees benefit from slightly acidic soil and absorb a high proportion of nitrogen and phosphorus from the soil.

Many gardeners therefore use NPK mixes to cut down on the deficiency but coffee grounds can be used as an alternative as well. You can use coffee grounds on the soil once every 1-2 months or 2-3 months during cold seasons.

It’s better if you keep the coffee ground leftovers which you can apply over the soil. Not only the soil but the worms in the soil are fond of coffee grounds and can improve the overall health of your garden.

How do you acidify soil for citrus lemon trees?

Acidifying the soil is a simple process if done carefully and if the items are used in the right amount and concentration. Below stated are the steps that you can take to acidify the soil slightly for your citrus lemon trees:

Gather the items to be used:

Before you get started with the process, it is essential that you gather the necessary items in the right amount. You don’t want to over acidify the soil because that would cause more harm than good for your lemon tree.

Among the items required, you would need a NPK fertilizer that has decent nitrogen concentration, Urea or Ammonium sulfate.

Treatment for the first year:

For the first year, you need to fertilize all of your trees lightly with NPK fertilizer and apply 1 tablespoon of urea or ammonium sulfate. You may choose to use either or both but make sure to not overdose your plants.

If your garden consists of decomposed granite or sandy soil, take extra precaution to keep the pH level between 6.0 to 7.0. After scattering the fertilizer, water the garden thoroughly.

Treatment for the following years:

After the first year of treatment, you need to fertilize the trees once every 4-6 weeks. NPK fertilizer should be applied until August because the new sprouts will be vulnerable to frost.

Therefore, you should keep the other treatments the same while decreasing the dosage of NPK nearing June.

Final Thoughts

Citrus lemon trees like somewhat acidic soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0, although they may survive acidic soil with a pH as low as 5.0. However, soil that is too acidic or alkaline is toxic. Very acidic or alkaline soil binds nutrients to the soil and prevents the roots from absorbing them.