Scaling back

Back in December, I posted about my troubles with soft brown scale on my dwarf Meyer lemon tree.  So far, the jury is still out on who will win, but today my tree got a very thorough bath after I noticed a significant population explosion in the scale department.  Ugh.

Although thoroughly infested, the tree in general looks spectacularly happy.  It is loaded with blossoms, and has a large number of tiny lemons.  The scent in the room today, with occasional sun warming the blossoms, as incredible.

The first clue the scale was back with a vengeance was the nasty, sticky honeydew the buggers secrete covering the pebble mulch.  Yuk!  It was also noticeable on many of the leaves, and the more honeydew, the more/larger the nearby scale insects (see in the photo below right).  I’d been swiping the scale insects I could see with cotton pads and rubbing alcohol, but today I decided I would systematically wash down the entire tree with a weak solution of dish detergent and water.  I used a small rag made from a soft cotton t-shirt thinking it would be easier to move within the tree without knocking off any lemons.

I divided the job into three portions, using the three main branches of the tree to mark progress.  The whole job took about an hour and I had to change the water and rag several times, but I think I hit every branch and leaf.  I did knock lots of male blossoms and a few baby lemons off, but I figured I’d have to thin anyway later on.

While I was in the tree grooming mode, I also pruned off more thorns (ow!) and placed a homeade branch spreader to train a branch to grow in a different direction.  I used a popsicle stick.  I hope in a few months the branch will have settled into this new direction and will fill in a side of the tree that is lacking.

Dan gathered the nasty stone mulch and brought it downstairs for a wash.  This also allowed us to gather all the dropped blossoms and add them to the compost bucket.  Following the bath, the tree looks great.  I turned it so the other side would get more direct sun exposure, and when the pebbles are dry, I’ll replace them.  I’m eagerly awaiting the lemons so I hope this helps keep my lovely lemon tree happy!

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7 Responses to “Scaling back”

  1. Farmgirl_dk Says:

    Ugh…I *hate* scale. My beloved fig tree got it and I recall hours of rubbing alcohol rub-downs. Never did entirely beat the problem.
    Interestingly enough, I ran into my first case of outdoor scale here on the property last summer. It was on a climbing vine up against the house. Blech. I ripped that baby out and burned it. THAT’S how much I hate scale. Good luck with your lemon!

  2. Leigh Says:

    Wow, I’ve got one of these but know nothing about them. I’ve just had mine a year, but it’s starting to grow and looks pretty happy so far.

  3. Callie Says:

    I love Meyer lemons!
    Sure hope the scale is gone.
    The tree looks beautiful!

  4. jeannie Says:

    She looks good Ali! hope the bath works too.

  5. Sara Says:

    My meyer lemon fights scale every year, yours looks great compared to mine! Don’t the blossoms smell lovely?

    I used neem oil this summer and that seemed to keep the scale at bay, though I didn’t keep up with it enough after moving the tree indoors for the winter. I also let mine make way too many fruit this year and I think that stressed it. But I did get some lemons! :) Good luck!

  6. weekendfarmer Says:

    ah…the flowers! I can just smell them : )

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