Ponderosa Lemon

The Ponderosa Lemon Tree

The Ponderosa lemon, sometimes called the American Wonder, is actually a hybrid of a citron and pomelo, which are two of the original citrus species.  As such, the Ponderosa lemon rind is thick like a citron and the fruit are large like a pomelo.  The juice is more acidic than your typical lemon. While I like those gosh darn big lemons, I have to admit that the foliage is probably the most drabe in my collection. But hey, citrus foliage sets a pretty high bar in terms of attractiveness, so it’s not like it’s ugly to look at.

Basic Information

Common Name Ponderosa Lemon
Botanical Name Citrus x pyriformis
Location of Origin Hagerstown, Maryland
USDA Zones 9-11
Can be grown in containers? Yes

Fruit Characteristics

Fruit Size Large
Fruit Shape Round, Slightly Oblong
Fruit Flavor Bitter, Acidic
Rind Thickness Very Thick
Rind Texture Somewhat Pitted
Rind Color Yellow
Flesh Color Yellow White
Easy to Peel? Difficult
Seeds Very Seedy

Tree Details

Has Thorns? Yes, many large thorns
Foliage Color Green
Foliage Size Medium
Flower Color Violet to White
Flower Size Medium-Large
Mature Tree Height in Ground 8′ – 12′
Fruit Bearing Age 3 – 4 years old
Alternate Bearing? No
Heat to Sweeten Fruit? No

Growing Conditions

Temperature Hardy to 32 ºF
Self-fertile? Yes
Sunlight Required Full Sun
Bloom Season in Minnesota Spring – Early Summer
Harvest Season in Minnesota Winter – Early Spring
Average Spring/Summer Watering Once every 1-2 weeks, more often when hot
Average Fall/Winter Watering Once every 3 weeks

Guides for Growing in Containers

Images

Ponderosa lemon fruit in mid July in Minnesota in containers. Several fruit are developing on the tree.
Some decently sized fruit have formed on the Ponderosa in mid-July. There’s still a lot of growing to be done. Ponderosa lemons on a young tree will still reach up to a pound or more in weight. It looks like a couple of lemons might get that big by fall 2018.
Some scarring showing on Ponderosa lemon
Some scarring showing on Ponderosa lemon. This is normal and does not impact the quality of fruit underneath the rind.
ponderosa lemon buds
Buds

Ponderosa lemon ripening
This lemon is starting to ripen and so is the one behind it!
Two Ponderosa lemons remain in mid August 2018. They'll be twice the size or more in a couple months.
Two Ponderosa lemons remain in mid-August 2018. They’ll be twice the size or more in a couple months.

ponderosa lemon has now turned yellow!

My Notes

A lesson learned from the 2018 summer:

  • There will be a point when a young tree has a few fruits on it a couple months after blooming. Out of these few fruit, you’ll notice that a couple will really take off and eventually the growth on some will outpace the others. The laggards should be removed once identified. The tree will naturally drop them, but by pruning them sooner you shore up resources that can go into making the good fruit better or for new foliage.