Lemon trees are a favorite landscape selection for gardeners in warm regions, such as Arizona, California, the Gulf Coast and Florida. They have an appealing round shape, feature full glossy leaves and sweet-smelling blossoms in the spring, and produce an abundance of fruit for pies, lemonade and preserves all summer long. Sadly, high winds, severe storms, or an overabundance of heavy fruit can all cause the trunk of a lemon tree to split. While a split trunk may be horrifying to behold, it's possible to repair.
Things You'll Need
Drill bit (long)
Measure the width of the damaged trunk, and locate a drill bit and bolts long enough to go completely through the lemon tree.
Remove any damaged limbs or bark around the split by using your hand saw or lopper. Determine if the split is more or less even down the middle of the trunk. A split that leaves approximately 50% of the trunk on either side is a good candidate for repair. Splits that create one very thin side are not considered repairable.
Disinfect the wounded area by applying denatured alcohol, which you can purchase at your local hardware store. Pour the denatured alcohol directly from the container or dab it on liberally with a paint brush. Saturate the wound thoroughly with the denatured alcohol.
Hold the split sides together by tying a rope or cable around the trunk.
Use a power drill and a drill bit to drill a hole through the lemon tree at the top of the split. Chose a drill bit that is slightly slimmer than the bolt.
Insert the long bolt into the drilled hole. You may need to use a hammer to get the bolt though the hole to ensure a firm fit. Secure the bolt with a hex-screw or nut. It may be necessary to use more than one bolt to completely bring the trunk back together. Remove the rope or cable.
Cover the crack of the repair with an antiseptic paint, which will seal the wound and keep bacteria from infecting your tree while it heals. Antiseptic paints can be purchased in the garden center of your local hardware store. If your repair is successful, the lemon tree will grow up and around the bolt. There is no need to remove it in the future.
If your tree's trunk is cracked in a manner that leaves one very weak side, such as an 80/20 split, the tree will most likely need to be removed. Consult a tree surgeon.
Heavy branches may need to be supported with cables or upright supports while the crack is healing.
Depending on the time of year your lemon tree was injured, it may produce little or no fuit during the next growing season due to the stress of repairing itself.