A Will to Live

In the summer of 2013, I bought a small lemon tree. There were several lemons on it when I purchased the tree and I had visions of all of the lemons that were to come. The nursery staff told me to bring the tree into the house before the temperatures dropped, so as winter neared I put it indoors. One by one, the beautiful lemons turned black and fell off. Then most of the leaves fell off. Soon there was nothing left but the trunk (if you can call something that small a trunk) and a few leaves.

Spring 2014 came and nothing happened. The same few leaves stayed on, but there were no new ones and there were no flower buds. I took the plant to a nursery to see if it was possible to save it. They instructed me to use a particular kind of fertilizer. Months later there was still no new growth.  It wasn’t until late August that a few flower buds formed. The plant was still alive but it seemed too late in the season for any fruit that formed to grow to maturity.


As it started to get cold, I once again brought the tree into the house. And again, the few small lemons that were on the tree turned black and fell off. This time the rest of the leaves fell off as well. I decided to leave the tree in the house even though it was just a stalk.

Sometime in late winter 2015, I concluded that the situation was hopeless and put the tree outside on the balcony. My plan was to compost it in the springtime. However, when springtime came and I picked up the container to take it to the compost heap, I noticed many tiny leaves were beginning to form! (Note: The big leaves at the top the photo below are from another tree.)


The lemon tree seemed determined to live. Over the next weeks, the leaves grew and a flower bud formed and then blossomed!


Once again, it produced no fruit.

Later in the year, as the weather got colder, I decided to leave the small tree outside rather than bring it into the house as had been my practice. The leaves stayed on throughout the winter of 2016. When spring  came there were no buds, but the tree was definitely alive.

In late May, I decided to try something else. I made a mount out of new top soil in the back yard and planted the tree in the middle of it. Around it I planted a circle of beets,  a circle of carrots and a circle of lettuce. I had the image of the vegetable plants worshiping the lemon tree.

None of the seeds even sprouted; I probably had planted them too late in the year, or maybe I didn’t water them enough. The tree developed no blossoms or flowers but over time there were more leaves.

Next spring, I will take more care in preparing the soil, and will then plant the vegetable seeds around the tree once again. I’m excited to see if my vision of the lemon tree being surrounded by an abundance of vegetable plants will become a reality.

This lemon tree seems to have a will to live. As long as that continues, I will be here to support it in any way I can!

15 thoughts on “A Will to Live

    1. I definitely would like to hear them. You can either put them on the blog so everyone can see it, or email them to me.

      I imagine most of the problem is lack of sun and hot weather, but I still believe it can be a nice plant even if it never produces fruit. It is certainly teaching perseverance.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve heard different opinions on whether citrus trees like acidic or alkaline food. My mom’s recipe to support lemon trees was to add white vinegar to the water and mix egg shells in the soil. It helped revitalize a Meyer lemon tree that was struggling and going down hill. I continued doing this regularly (once a month) over the years and the tree did very well. I also used organic citrus tree fertilizer and fish emulsion. Granted this was in Santa Cruz and I get that in Seattle sun and heat are an issue. I know that growers cover there trees in the winter to protect them from the cold. I did this during some cold, frosty winter days and it worked.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think there is going to be an article about growing citrus plants in the PNW in the September GreenFriends newsletter. May I include your comments even though you aren’t PNW?

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Lovely narrative. I always think the nature devas notice and appreciate our attention, respect and efforts to provide for the plants under our care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I probably won’t get lemons because of lack of heat and sun in my back yard but it would be awesome if it was a healthy small tree.

      To me ITS persistence is remarkable. I would have been happy to compost it last spring but how could I when it was covered with tiny new leaves that seemed to come out of nowhere!

      Liked by 1 person

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