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LEMON ASPEN CARE GUIDE

Lemon Aspen, also known as ‘rainforest lemon’, is a native Australian rainforest tree. There are two distinct species of Lemon Aspen. Acronychia acidula or ‘True Lemon Aspen’ is native to tropical North Queensland and the Atherton Tablelands. Acronychia imperforata, is known as ‘Fraser Island Apple’ is native to Fraser Island, but also grows along the coast from New South Wales to Northern Queensland.

Lemon Aspen is an attractive, medium-sized tree with large glossy leaves that bears delightful edible white-green coloured fruits with a strong, acidic lemon flavour and notes of spice and eucalyptus. Fraser Island Apple are bright yellow in colour with a sweet and tart flavour.

The fruit can be eaten raw or used to give a citrus kick in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes, including jams, chutneys, dressings, sauces, cordials, juices, desserts, sorbets, and seasonings for meat, seafood and veggie dishes.

In this comprehensive guide on how to grow and care for your Lemon Aspen tree, we will cover:

  • A quick guide on Lemon Aspens.
  • What to do when my plant arrives.
  • I’m ready to plant, what do I need?
  • Repotting and planting steps.
  • Ongoing care of your Lemon Aspen tree.

By following these care instructions, you'll be able to enjoy one of Australia’s unique flavours. Happy gardening!

CLICK HERE to grow your own Lemon Aspen!

1. Quick Guide - Plant Info

Botanical Name: Acronychia acidula / Acronychia imperforata

Plant Type: Small to medium evergreen tree.

Climate: Sub-tropical, tropical.

Mature Height: 12 – 15m in rainforest conditions, 6 – 7m otherwise.  

Position: Full sun with protection from strong winds and frost. 

Water: Moderate watering

Soil: Moist, well-drained loamy soil.

Fertiliser: Organic, slow-release citrus fertiliser in spring.

Frost Tolerance: Mature trees tolerate light frost.

Drought Tolerance: Mature trees are drought tolerant.

Fruiting: Lemon Aspen take 5+ years to start to product fruit. Fruiting occurs during autumn and winter.

Harvest: Fruit should fall to the ground when ripe, but a firm shake of the branch should dislodge more for harvest.

Storage: Lemon Aspen fruit is highly perishable and needs to be refrigerated within 24 – 48 hours of harvest. They will store for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator and up to 2 years in the freezer.

Pots: Grows well in pots.

2. What to do when my new Lemon Aspen baby arrives.

After transit, plants become extremely stressed. It’s important to allow your Lemon Aspen tree to adjust to its new environment before you repot or plant in the ground.

  • Remove the packaging around your tree, but keep it in its original pot.
  • Place your Lemon Aspen in a position that is lightly shaded and sheltered from the wind.
  • Water your tree extremely well.
  • Allow to acclimatise in its original pot for at least two weeks before repotting or planting.
3. I'm ready to plant, what do I need?

Repotting:

  • A pot that is at least double the size of the original pot.
  • Premium, well-draining potting mix.
  • Seaweed solution.
  • Organic mulch (e.g. pine bark, sugar cane or pea straw).
  • Slow-release citrus fertiliser.

Planting in Ground:

  • Compost and well-rotted manure.
  • Seaweed solution.
  • Organic mulch (e.g. pine bark, sugar cane or pea straw).
4. Repotting & Planting

Position: Place your Lemon Aspen tree in full sun. Choose a sheltered location with protection from strong winds and frost.

Planting in Pots:

  • Mix 5mL of seaweed solution in approximately 2L of water and soak the soil in the original pot. This will help prevent transplant shock, boost root regrowth and loosen the soil to make transplanting easier.
  • Choose a pot that is at least double the size of the original pot.
  • Fill half of the pot with premium, well-draining potting mix and sprinkle some slow-release citrus fertiliser. 
  • Carefully grab the tree by the trunk with one hand while supporting the pot with the other. Gently remove the Lemon Aspen from the pot and place in the centre of the new pot.
  • Fill the pot with the remaining potting mix, leaving a gap for a layer of mulch. Firm the soil around the plant using gentle pressure. 
  • Sprinkle a large pinch of slow-release citrus fertiliser on top of the soil.
  • Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant to help conserve water. Keep the mulch away from the trunk to prevent collar rot.
  • Water in well.

Planting in Ground:

  • For the best results, Lemon Aspens prefer well-draining, loamy, pH neutral (6.6 – 7.3 pH) soil.
  • Dig a hole at least as wide and as deep as the root ball. 
  • Enrich the soil by digging in compost and well-rotted manure.
  • Make sure the hole is adequately moist and water before planting if necessary.
  • Gently remove the Lemon Aspen from the pot and place in the centre of the hole. 
  • Back fill, firm the soil around the plant and water in well with a 5mL seaweed solution to 2L of water mix.
  • Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant to help conserve moisture and suppress weeds. Keep the mulch away from the trunk to prevent collar rot.
5. General Care

Soil: Use well-draining, pH neutral (6.6 – 7.3 pH) soil. Ensure good drainage to prevent root rot.

Watering: Water to ensure consistently moist soil, but not overly soggy conditions. Water your tree regularly, especially during the growing season (spring and summer). Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering in cooler months. 

Fertilisation: Fertilise your Lemon Aspen in spring with an organic, slow-release citrus fertiliser. 

Pruning: Lemon Aspen should be pruned within the first year to provide a ‘shrub-like’ shape consisting of several main trunks. Then, lightly shape in subsequent years to allow light to penetrate the canopy. Height is controlled by pruning the tips for easier maintenance and harvest. 

Pests and Diseases: Monitor your Lemon Aspen for common pests like aphids, scale insects, citrus leaf miner, psyllids and caterpillars. Treat infestations with neem oil and insecticidal soap if needed. Lemon Aspen is susceptible to scale and sooty mould.

Harvesting: Fruiting occurs during autumn and winter. The fruit will fall to the ground when ripe. A firm shake of the branches will dislodge more for harvest. 

Winter Care (for cooler climates): While its natural range is tropical, Lemon Aspen seems to tolerate quite low temperatures and mild frost. However, if you live in a cold climate we recommend protecting it during winter.