How to Grow and Care for Lemons

Are you tired of your fruit bowl being filled with the same old boring apples and bananas? Well, why not add a little zest to your life by growing your own oranges! Not only will you have a delicious and healthy snack at your fingertips, but you’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing you grew them yourself.

Plus, who doesn’t love the smell of fresh citrus wafting through the air? So, grab your gardening gloves and let’s get to it – it’s time to grow some oranges!

About Lemon Trees

growing and caring for lemons

Lemon (Citrus limon) , a citrus fruit that are known for their sour and tangy flavor, are a great source of vitamin C, antioxidants, and other nutrients that can help boost your immune system and promote overall health.

A lemon tree is a type of evergreen tree that belongs to the family Rutaceae, which also includes other citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, limes, and tangerines. Lemon trees are typically small to medium-sized, reaching a height of 10-20 feet (3-6 meters) when fully mature, and are characterized by their glossy green leaves, fragrant white flowers, and bright yellow fruit.

Native to Southeast Asia, lemon trees are now grown in many parts of the world, including California, Florida, Italy, Spain, and Israel. They’re often grown for their fruit, which is used for a variety of culinary and non-culinary purposes, such as cooking, baking, juice production, and aromatherapy.

Growing a Lemon Tree Indoors

growing lemon tree outdoors

Lemon trees can be grown indoors. There could be many reasons as to why you might consider growing a lemon tree indoor. Let’s have a look at some of them:

  • Lack of outdoor space – If you live in an apartment or don’t have access to an outdoor garden, growing a lemon tree indoors can be a great way to enjoy fresh fruit and add some greenery to your living space.
  • Climate – Lemon trees are typically grown in warm, sunny climates, and may not be able to survive outside in colder regions. Growing a lemon tree indoors allows you to enjoy fresh lemons even if you live in a cooler climate.
  • Convenience – Having a lemon tree in your home means you can easily access fresh lemons whenever you need them, without having to make a trip to the grocery store.
  • Aesthetics – Lemon trees are beautiful plants with glossy leaves and fragrant blossoms. Growing one indoors can add some natural beauty to your home décor.

If you were wondering whether you could grow a lemon tree indoors, the answer is yes! Lemon trees can be grown indoors if you provide the right conditions for it to grow. Your lemon tree will need bright sunlight, well-draining soil, and regular watering to thrive. If you have a sunny window or a grow light, you can grow your lemon tree indoors.

It’s important to note that lemon trees can grow quite large, so you will need to choose a dwarf variety and make sure you have enough space for it to grow. They also require a dormant period of cooler temperatures to produce fruit, so you may need to simulate this by providing cooler temperatures in the winter or moving the plant outside for a period.

Growing a Lemon Tree Outdoors

Lemon trees are commonly grown outdoors in warm, sunny climates. They require a lot of sunlight and are best suited to warm climates with mild winters. Generally, your lemon tree will need temperatures above 50°F (10°C) to survive and will do best in regions with temperatures between 70°F and 100°F (21°C to 38°C).

If you live in a warm climate and have space in your garden, you can plant a lemon tree outdoors. Make sure to choose a location that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day.

We know that lemon trees can grow quite large, so make sure you have enough space for the tree to mature. Some lemon trees can grow up to 20 feet (6 meters) tall, although there are dwarf varieties available that are more suitable for smaller gardens.

How to Choose the Right Lemon Tree

There are several types of lemon trees that can be grown indoors and outdoors, each with its own set of characteristics and growing requirements. The best type of lemon tree to plant will depend on your specific growing conditions and preferences. Consider a variety that’s well-suited to your climate, space, and skill level. Here are some of the best types of lemon trees to consider:

Meyer Lemon (Citrus × meyeri)Meyer lemon trees are a popular choice for both indoor and outdoor growing. It’s a hybrid between a lemon and a mandarin orange and was first discovered in China in the early 20th century by Frank Meyer, a plant explorer for the United States Department of Agriculture. They produce juicy, sweet fruit that’s less acidic than other lemon varieties, and they can be grown in containers. Meyer lemon trees are also relatively compact and can grow up to 6-10 feet (1.8-3 meters) tall.
Eureka Lemon (Citrus × limon ‘Eureka’)Eureka lemon trees are a popular choice for outdoor growing in warm, sunny climates.  It’s a cultivar of the lemon tree, which is a member of the Rutaceae family. The Eureka Lemon is one of the most common lemon varieties grown in California and other warm, sunny regions, and is widely appreciated for its juicy, acidic fruit and fragrant blossoms. They can grow up to 20 feet (6 meters) tall. Eureka lemon trees require regular pruning to keep them under control and maintain their shape.
Lisbon Lemon (Citrus × limon ‘Lisbon’)Lisbon lemon trees are another popular choice for outdoor growing in warm climates. Like the Eureka Lemon, Lisbon lemon is also a cultivar of the lemon tree (Citrus limon) and is a member of the Rutaceae family. Lisbon Lemon is a popular variety for commercial and home cultivation, especially in warm, sunny regions. They produce medium-sized fruit with a tart, acidic flavor, and can grow up to 20 feet (6 meters) tall. Lisbon lemon trees require regular pruning and fertilization to ensure optimal growth and fruit production.
Dwarf Ponderosa Lemon (Citrus limon ‘Ponderosa’)Dwarf Ponderosa lemon trees are a great choice for indoor growing, as they are compact and can be grown in containers. It’s a cultivar of the lemon tree and is a member of the Rutaceae family. The Dwarf Ponderosa lemon is a unique lemon variety as it produces large, bumpy fruit that can weigh up to a pound. They can grow up to 6-10 feet (1.8-3 meters) tall.

Propagating Lemon Tree Plants

Lemon trees can be propagated by several methods, including seed propagation, cutting propagation, and air layering. Regardless of the propagation method you choose, it’s important to keep the soil moist and warm, and to provide the new plant with plenty of light and nutrients as it grows. With proper care, your propagated lemon tree should thrive and produce delicious fruit for years to come.

Let’s have a quick look at each method:

Seed Propagation

This method involves planting lemon seeds in soil and allowing them to grow into seedlings. To do this, remove the seeds from a ripe lemon and plant them about an inch deep in a pot filled with well-draining soil. Keep the soil moist and warm, and the seedlings should emerge in a few weeks.

Cutting Propagation

This method involves taking a cutting from an existing lemon tree and encouraging it to grow roots. To do this, take a 6-inch cutting from a healthy lemon tree, remove the leaves from the bottom half of the stem, and dip the cut end in rooting hormone. Plant the cutting in a pot filled with well-draining soil and keep the soil moist and warm. After a few weeks, the cutting should start to grow roots and new growth.

Air Layering

This method involves creating a small wound on a branch of an existing lemon tree and encouraging it to grow roots at the wound site. To do this, make a small cut in the bark of a branch, wrap the cut area in damp sphagnum moss, and cover it with plastic wrap to create a humid environment. After a few weeks, roots should start to grow from the wound site. Once the roots are established, cut the branch below the wound site and plant it in a pot filled with well-draining soil.

How to Care for Your Lemon Tree

propagating lemon trees

We know that lemon trees require a warm, sunny climate and well-drained soil to grow and produce fruit. They’re also sensitive to cold temperatures and frost and may require protection during the winter months in cooler climates. Proper care and maintenance, such as regular watering, fertilizing, pruning, and pest control, can help ensure the health and productivity of your lemon tree. Let’s take a closer look at how you can care for your lemon tree.

Growing Zones

Lemon trees are tropical and subtropical plants that thrive in warm, sunny climates. The best growing zones for lemon trees are USDA plant hardiness zones 9-11. These zones generally have mild winters with temperatures that rarely drop below freezing, and long, hot summers that provide ideal growing conditions for citrus trees.

However, it’s important to note that not all lemon tree varieties have the same cold tolerance, and some may be more sensitive to frost and freezing temperatures than others. For eg, the Meyer lemon is known for being colder tolerant than other lemon varieties and can survive temperatures as low as 22°F (-6°C) for short periods of time.

If you live in a cooler climate, you may still be able to grow lemon trees by growing them in containers and bring them indoors during the winter months. You can also choose a hardier lemon variety or consider using protective measures such as frost blankets or grow lights to protect your lemon tree from the cold.

Best Time for Plantation

In North America, the ideal time to plant lemons is early spring. While in native lemon areas, they can be planted at any time of the year.

Sun Exposure

Lemons need full sun for proper nourishment. At an early stage, the tree should be protected from the wind until they are quite sturdy on their own.

Soil Type for Lemon Tees

soil types for lemon trees

The best type of soil for lemon trees is well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Lemon trees prefer soil that’s rich in organic matter and nutrients, but not too heavy or compacted, as this can lead to poor drainage and root rot.

Remember that the soil should be loose with good water retention capabilities. Sandy loam or loamy soils are generally considered to be the best for growing lemon trees, as they provide good drainage and allow for healthy root growth.

It’s important to note that the specific soil requirements may vary depending on the variety of lemon tree, as well as the climate and growing conditions in your area. It may be necessary to amend the soil with organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to improve soil structure and fertility.

Regular soil testing can also help you determine the specific nutrient and pH requirements of your lemon trees and allow you to make any necessary adjustments to the soil to ensure optimal growth and productivity.

Water Needs

watering lemon plants

In early stages, the tree requires frequent watering. When the tree matures there won’t be the need for frequent watering.

In summer, the soil must be kept moist. When spring season arrives, lemon requires water on a regular basis. Stop watering the tree when flowers get faded.


Warm weather is suitable for lemon trees. Lemon prefers to be in temperature up to 75 to 85 Fahrenheit. Special care is required for young trees, if the temperature drops, they must be brought inside and sheltered.


Lemon trees need good doses of fertilizers. For healthy nourishment, they must be provided nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus fertilizers.

Shaping or Pruning

It’s important to remember that lemon trees should not be pruned too heavily or too frequently, as this can reduce their fruit production and weaken the tree. Pruning should be done with care and only when necessary to maintain the health and appearance of the tree.

Pruning your lemon tree correctly can help to promote healthy growth, improve fruit production, and keep the tree at a manageable size. Here are some tips for shaping and pruning your lemon tree:

  • Choose the right time – Pruning is best done in the late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Avoid pruning in the fall or winter when the tree is dormant, as this can make it more susceptible to frost damage.
  • Remove dead or damaged branches – Begin by removing any branches that are dead, damaged, or diseased. These branches can be cut back to the point where they meet healthy wood.
  • Thin out the canopy – Remove any branches that are crossing or rubbing against each other, as well as any branches that are growing inward toward the center of the tree. This will help to open the canopy and promote better air circulation and sunlight penetration.
  • Control the height – If your lemon tree is getting too tall, you can prune back the top branches to control its height. Be careful not to remove too much of the tree at once, as this can shock the plant and reduce its fruit production.
  • Shape the tree – Use pruning shears to shape the tree into a desirable shape. You may want to encourage a more rounded canopy by removing the top branches or create a more open, spreading shape by removing lower branches.


overwintering lemon trees

If you live in a cooler climate with harsh winters, it may help to take steps to overwinter your lemon tree and protect it from the cold. By following these tips, you can help your lemon tree survive the winter months and continue to thrive year after year. Let’s have a look:

  • Bring the tree indoors – If you have a potted lemon tree, you can bring it indoors during the winter months to protect it from frost and freezing temperatures. Choose a bright, sunny location such as a south-facing window, and be sure to keep the tree away from drafts and heating vents.
  • Reduce watering – During the winter months, lemon trees go dormant and require less water. Reduce your watering schedule to avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases.
  • Provide supplemental light – Lemon trees require a lot of light to thrive, and indoor conditions may not provide enough natural light. Consider using grow lights or placing the tree near a bright, artificial light source to provide the necessary light.
  • Control humidity – Lemon trees prefer a humid environment, but indoor heating can cause the air to become dry. Use a humidifier or mist the leaves of the tree regularly to maintain a humid environment.
  • Prune lightly – Avoid heavy pruning during the winter months, as this can stimulate new growth that may be more susceptible to cold damage. Instead, focus on removing dead or damaged branches and shaping the tree as needed.

Harvesting and Storing Your Lemon Fruit

harvesting lemons

Harvesting your lemons is probably the most exciting part of the growing process, and it’s important to know when and how to harvest the fruit to ensure that it’s of the best quality. Let’s look at some tips for harvesting lemon trees:

  • Check the color – Lemons are typically ready to harvest when they have turned a bright yellow color. Some varieties, such as the Eureka lemon, may have green patches even when they are fully ripe, so be sure to check the color of the fruit as well as its size and weight.
  • Feel the fruit – Gently squeeze the lemon to check if it’s firm and heavy. If the fruit feels soft or light, it may not be fully ripe.
  • Cut the fruit – Use a pair of sharp pruning shears to cut the fruit from the tree. Be sure to leave a short stem attached to the fruit to prevent damage to the skin and to help it last longer in storage.
  • Storing the fruit – After harvesting, store the lemons in a cool, dry place such as a pantry or refrigerator. Lemons can be stored for several weeks or even months, depending on the variety.

It’s important to note that lemon trees may produce fruit year-round, but most of the fruit is typically harvested during the winter and spring months. To encourage continued fruit production, be sure to water and fertilize your lemon tree regularly, and prune it as needed to promote healthy growth.

Common Lemon Tree Problems and Solutions

lemon problems solutions

Lemon trees can be susceptible to a variety of problems, including pests, diseases, and environmental stress. The last thing you want is to have a lemon tree that is struggling after all your hard work. The table contains some common lemon tree problems and their possible solutions:

Common ProblemsPossible Solutions
PestsLemon trees can be attacked by a range of pests, including aphids, scale insects, and spider mites. These pests can cause damage to the leaves and fruit and may even kill the tree if left untreated. To control pests, spray the tree with a solution of insecticidal soap or neem oil, or use sticky traps to catch the insects.  
DiseasesLemon trees can be affected by diseases such as citrus canker, citrus black spot, and phytophthora root rot. These diseases can cause leaf and fruit damage and may even kill the tree if left untreated. To control diseases, remove any infected plant material, and apply a fungicide or copper spray to prevent further spread.
Nutrient deficienciesLemon trees can suffer from nutrient deficiencies if they’re not receiving enough of the necessary nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, or iron. To remedy this, apply a citrus-specific fertilizer according to the package instructions.
Environmental stressLemon trees can be stressed by factors such as extreme temperatures, drought, or improper watering. To prevent environmental stress, keep the tree in a location with consistent temperatures, water it regularly but not too much, and provide it with adequate drainage.
Fruit dropLemon trees may drop their fruit prematurely, which can be caused by factors such as insufficient pollination, water stress, or pests. To prevent fruit drop, ensure the tree is receiving adequate water and nutrients, and control any pests that may be present.

It’s important to monitor your lemon tree regularly for signs of problems and act quickly to prevent further damage. With proper care and attention, your lemon tree should thrive and produce delicious fruit for years to come.

FAQs about Lemon Trees

1. Where is the best place to plant my lemon tree?

The best place to plant your lemon tree is in a location with full sun exposure and well-draining soil.

2. How long does it take for a lemon tree to fruit?

It typically takes 3 to 5 years for a lemon tree to produce fruit.

3. How long can you leave lemons on the tree?

Lemons can be left on the tree for several months, depending on the variety and growing conditions.

4. What is the lowest temperature lemon tree can handle?

Lemon trees can tolerate temperatures as low as 30°F (-1°C), but extended periods of cold weather can damage or kill the tree.

5. Are lemon trees better in pots or ground?

Lemon trees can thrive in both pots and the ground, but they may require more frequent watering and nutrient replenishment in pots.

6. Do lemon trees grow better inside or outside?

Lemon trees grow better outside, where they can receive full sun exposure and have room to grow.

7. What season do you propagate lemons?

Lemon trees can be propagated in the spring or summer when the plant is actively growing.

8. How long does it take to propagate lemon?

Propagation time can vary depending on the method used, but it typically takes a few weeks to several months for a lemon tree to establish roots and start growing.

9. How long does it take for a lemon tree to bear fruit from a cutting?

It typically takes 3 to 5 years for a lemon tree to bear fruit from a cutting.

10. How do you prepare a lemon tree for planting?

To prepare a lemon tree for planting, select a sunny location with well-draining soil, dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball, and mix in compost or other organic matter. Gently remove the tree from its container and place it in the hole, backfill with soil, and water thoroughly.

Wrapping Up

Growing your own lemon tree can be a fun and rewarding experience, whether you choose to grow it indoors or outdoors. Not only will you have access to fresh, organic lemons for use in cooking and beverages, but you’ll also enjoy the beauty of the tree and the scent of its blossoms.

I hope going through this guide, has been helpful. Lemon trees are relatively easy to care for and can be grown in a variety of locations, making them a versatile addition to your gardening repertoire. Don’t forget the sense of accomplishment that comes with successfully growing your own lemon tree is hard to beat! So why not give it a try and see what amazing things you can create with your very own homegrown lemons?