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Growing Lemon Tree in Pots, Indoors, Balcony, Terrace

A step by step guide for growing a lemon tree in pots

Today, we learn the topic of how to grow lemons in the home garden. By growing a lemon tree in pots, you can place this pots indoors, balconies, terrace, backyards where there is a minimum amount of light is available. Lemon is a small tree or spreading bush of the rue family (Rutaceae) and its edible fruit. The lemon plant forms an evergreen spreading bush or small tree, 3 to 6 meters (10–20 feet) high if not pruned. Its young oval leaves have a decidedly reddish tint; later they turn a green color. The lemon fruit is oval with a broad, low, apical nipple and forms 8 to 10 segments. The outer rind, or peel, yellow when ripe and rather thick in a few varieties, is prominently dotted with oil glands. The lemon tree is vigorous, upright, and spreading, with an open increase habit. why wait, let us get into the details of lemon treen growing in pots.

Lemon trees varieties:

Different varieties of lemon trees are given below;

Some of the varieties of lemon trees are Avalon Lemons, Bearss Lemons, Buddha’s Hand Lemons, Bush Lemons, Citron Lemons, Dorshapo Lemons, Eureka Lemons, Fino Citron Lemons, Greek Citron Lemons, Lisbon Lemons, Meyer Lemons, Organic Lemons, Ponderosa Lemons, Sweet Lemons, True Lemons, Verna Lemons, Genoan lemon, Masero lemon, and Eureka lemon.

Requirements for growing a lemon tree in pots:

Generally, a growing lemon tree in pots allows you to be growing lemon tree indoors or in a small space in your backyard or on your terrace or in the balcony.

Soil requirement for growing a lemon tree in pots:

Lemons are adapted to most well-drained soils and prefer soils with a pH level of 5.5 to 6.5. Rootstock choice for the soil type and conditions is critical. Like most houseplants, lemon tree prefers a slightly acid, all-purpose mix, which you can get by using a peat-moss based growing mix.

Temperature requirement for growing a lemon tree in pots:

The temperature required for the lemon tree will be warmer climate with acceptable temperature range being between 70 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 38°C) with the best temperature around 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29-30°C). Above 105 degrees (40°C) lemon tree will stop to grow, while below 50 degrees (10°C) this tree will go into the dormancy.

The light requirement for growing lemon trees:

Set lemon tree in full sun from a southern exposure. Lemon trees need lots of light. If that’s not possible, supplement the light by installing 40-watt fluorescent shop lights above the lemon tree particularly important in the winter season, when they need 12 hours of light.

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Growing lemons indoors

Let us discuss how to grow a lemon tree indoors;

Growing Lemons Indoors.
Growing Lemons Indoors.

Lemons can make excellent houseplants and will be comfortable in a container or a pot as long it provides adequate drainage and room for growth. Heights of around 3 feet to 5 feet can be expected for a lemon tree growing indoors. They prefer well-draining, slightly acidic soil. Maintain the soil evenly moist and fertilize as needed. Lemon trees thrive within a normal temperature range of about 70°F throughout the day and 55°F (13°C) at night time. Keep in mind that they will generally go into dormancy when temperatures fall below 55°F. (13°C.) Lemon trees require lots of light; therefore, they can need to be supplemented with fluorescent grow lights during winter. Lemon trees can be placed outdoors during warm periods, which are recommended in order to increase their chances of bearing fruit. When you grow a lemon tree indoors, bees and extra insects are unable to pollinate them. Therefore, you must place them outdoors during summer unless you want to hand pollinate.

Some of the lemon tree varieties best in containers are;

  • Meyer Improved dwarf
  • Lisbon
  • Ponderosa dwarf

When growing lemon trees in containers, the needs are similar to lemon trees growing in the ground. The lemon trees will need good drainage, so make sure the pot or container has drainage holes.

They will need consistent and regular watering. If the container where the lemon tree is growing is allowed to dry out, the lemon leaves of the lemon tree will fall off. Fertilizer is key to growing a healthy lemon tree in a pot. Use a slow-release fertilizer to make sure that lemon tree gets consistent nutrients. Container lemon trees need high humidity. Place lemon tree over a pebble tray or mist it daily.

Propagating of the lemon tree

Many lemon trees are container-grown, purchased from the nursery. Though, they can be propagated through cuttings, air layering, and seed. The variety generally dictates the best method used; yet, different people see different results using different methods. The majority find it very easier to propagate lemons by rooting large cuttings. While seeds can be used, the seedlings are generally slow to bear. When choosing to grow from lemon seeds, allow them to dry out for a week or two. Once dried, plant the seeds about an inch deep in good potting soil and envelop with clear plastic wrap. Set the pot in a sunny location and wait for it to reach 6 inches to 12 inches before transplanting outdoors or to another pot.

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Different types of pots

Let us discuss different types of pots suitable for growing lemon tree;

Your pot size must be according to the scale of your tree. Avoid too large or small planters; keep in mind to use a pot or container that is one size bigger than your previously used pot.

Ceramic Pot

Ceramic pots are one of the best pots to grow lemon trees.  They are prepared from finely textured clay and then are glazed keeping it non-porous. This means this pot will allow the water to effectively drain.  In addition, it is a very highly durable material that can last for decades. It is also the most expensive.

Clay Pot

They are typically readily obtainable in almost any garden store, are affordable, and provide versatility for both inside and outside.

Clay pots are usually made with unglazed terracotta clay.  Very simply this means they are more durable compared to ceramic pots. Clay pots dry out slightly faster (meaning you will have to water more).  Another advantage of the clay pot is that it will typically keep your lemon tree plant roots from drying out.

Plastic Pot

These are the cheapest pots out there and you most likely can even obtain one for free from a neighbor.  Even though they are plastic, usually they are made to look like ceramic or clay pots. This type of pot is that it is less durable than most of your other pots and does not drain as effectively.

Wooden Pot

The downsides of wooden parts are pretty simple.  They are middle of the road in weight, so you normally want to leave them in one spot.  In addition, they can rot from too much water and typically will require drainage holes cut into them.


The lemon tree requires consistent watering to create healthy fruits. Giving it too much or too little water can lead to blossom and fruit drop and sometimes plant can die too. Check top two-inch layer of soil for dryness before watering. On windy days and hot days, it requires more frequent watering and slightly moist soil.

Growing lemon trees from seed in pots:

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Let us discuss growing lemon tree from seeds in pots;

  • Moisten the potting soil therefore that it is damp, but not soaked, all the way through.
  • Fill the smaller pot or container with soil, all the way up to an inch below the rim.
  • Cut the open lemon and remove a seed. Remove all of the pulp from the lemon surface. A good method to do this is to simply suck on it until it is clean.
  • Do not delay to lemon plant. The seed should still be moist when it is buried into the soil in the smaller pot. Plant the seed about half an inch deep in the center of the pot.
  • Spray the soil that is directly above the seed gently with water by using spray bottle.
  • Cover the pot with clear plastic wrap, seal the edges with a rubber band, and poke small holes in the top with a pencil.
  • Place the pot or container in a warm, sunny location.
  • Spray on more amount of water occasionally, not allowing the soil to dry out. Do not cause water to puddle though. Just maintain the soil somewhat moist.
  • After about 2 weeks, when the sprouting emerges, take the plastic covering off. If you want additional light for your lemon plant, you can use a grow light to supplement the sun’s light.
  • Take care of the young plant by keeping the soil damp, by making sure it gets at least 8 full hours of light per day, and by giving it moderate doses of organic fertilizer like compost.
  • Watch over the plant to ensure it is not attacked by bugs or diseases. Prune off brown, dead leaves when needed. Use more pesticides if you must.
  • When the lemon plant outgrows its small pot, put it in the larger pot. You will go through much the same process when you re-plant it as when you first planted. Younger plants require more water than older plants, but they all do need adequate water.

Tips for growing a lemon tree in the pot:

  • Choose a pot that is 25% bigger than the root ball of the lemon plant.
  • A clay pot is ideal because unlike plastic it is porous and evaporates water from sides, this helps the lemon tree to produce well as it dislikes being waterlogged.
  • The quality and type of potting soil is a necessary factor as well.
  • For growing high yielding lemon plants, use a well-draining organic potting mix.

Pruning and pinching lemon tree

Pinching encourages bushier growth, pinch growing tip when a branch is about five inches long. Pruning of lemon tree is best carried out when new development starts (February – March). Be careful before pruning it; only prune diseased or dead branches as lemon stores excess food in its leaves and too much pruning can result in poor fruit crop. And, keep looking for suckers and prune them immediately if found one.

Fertilizer for growing a lemon tree in a pot

All plants of the citrus family are heavy feeders, and lemon tree to requires fertilizer to generate juicy fruits, lush foliage, and fragrant blooms. Use particular purpose citrus fertilizers for every citrus species plant, if unavailable use slow-release fertilizer of NPK 12-6-6.

Look for a fertilizer that contains micronutrients, particularly iron, manganese, and zinc. To give boost feed to lemon tree apply a water-soluble fertilizer once in a month in the growing season. Occasionally, sides dress your lemon plant with compost or well-rotted manure.

Insect Pests of the lemon tree:

There is a number of lemon tree insect pests. These consist of relatively harmless bugs, like aphids, and more serious pests, like citrus rust mite, one of the insects that affect lemons rather than foliage.

Even indoors, the lemon tree may fall prey to insect infestation. The first defense against indoor pests is to maintain the tree healthy. Tiny and related to the spider, spider mites are a more common indoor pest. Because they’re not insects, insecticides normally are not effective against them. Mealybugs feed on the sap of your lemon leaves and excrete honeydew, which encourages the growth of fungus. Washing the top and underside of lemon tree leaves with mild, soapy water prevents and helps eliminate infestations. Insecticidal soap is useful against mealy bugs and spider mites.

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When and how to harvest lemons

Lemon trees normally take around two to three years to bear fruit and harvesting depends on the variety of plant.

Lemons are ready to harvest when fruits have developed full color and flavor. Harvest lemons when their peels are yellow color or only a green tinge, with a slightly glossy appearance. The longer the fruit stays on the tree the sweeter it will become so some suggest picking and tasting the fruit to determine how the crop is developing.

To pick lemons, use the twist, tilt method and snap method. Take the entire fruit in your hand and twist it gently, tilting and pulling away until it breaks free.

Some facts about the lemon tree:

Growing Lemon Tree Facts.
Growing Lemon Tree Facts.
  • Most lemon trees require eight to 12 hours of sunlight daily. When growing lemon trees indoors, position your plants beside a south-facing window with good airflow.
  • Most lemon trees can take about 3 years after planting to yield some lemons suitable for picking that is long as they are cared for correctly. If you grow a lemon tree from seed, it could take from three-six years for the tree to be capable of producing fruit.
  • Plant some lemon seeds about ½ inches deep to increase the chance for lemon seed propagation. Moisten the soil lightly and cover the top of the pot or container with plastic wrap to aid in water retention. Maintain the soil moist, but not soggy.
  • Generally, lemon trees do not tolerate cold snaps well. Temperatures dropping below 29 degrees Fahrenheit contribute to wood and fruit damage, along with dropped lemon leaves.
  • Lemon trees have a medium growth rate, adding 13 inches to 24 inches in height a year until they reach maturity. It takes most lemon trees about 3 years after planting to yield a small harvest of lemons suitable for picking, as long as they get the care they need.
  • Generally, one lemon tree can produce up to 270 kg of lemons per year.
  • Some of the lemon trees bloom in spurts year-round, while others bloom in spring. The blooms last anywhere from a few days to a week, depending on the selection, age of the tree, climate and the health of the tree.
  • The lemon tree fruiting occurs in 3 to 4 years after plantation. However, some dwarf or hybrid varieties may take less time.
  • It is recommended to avoid watering on the foliage as it may cause fungal diseases.
  • Your lemon tree requires moderate water, avoid too much watering.
  • The reason for lemon fruits are not getting into big size is the lack of water.
  • Keep the soil moist always and never let it completely dry.
  • The reason for lemon tree flowers are falling off, it would be due to overwatering, lack of nutrients, excess of flowering, or your tree might be exposed to too much of heat or cold.
  • Your potted lemon tree or indoor lemon tree requires water once in 3 or 4 days. However, you should check the soil dryness in the pot.
  • To prevent lemon tree leaf drop, you should avoid too much water, control pests and diseases, and fix the nutrient problems in the soil.

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  1. Lemon tree dying because of some reasons;
    Symptoms of a dying lemon tree contain leaf drop, abortion of flowers and shriveling of fruits. Extended temperatures below 25°F cause leaf drop, branch dieback and even trunk and root death. Excessively dry soil leads to plant demise as can any number of insects or fungal diseases, especially when the soil is too wet or slow-drained.
    Over watering is another common reason for lemon tree dying. Some lemon leaf diseases also reason for lemon tree dying. For example, Phytophthora is a soil borne pathogen that causes root rot and foot rot while also afflicting the leaves, causing leaf drop, fruit drop, dieback and finally death.

    Some of the remedies for lemon plant dying are;
    Improving drainage and irrigating in the morning will aid in elimination of phytophthora disease. Select disease resistance plant varieties. Water any newly planted lemon trees every other day for the first week, and then one or two times a week for 2 months. Develop a regular watering schedule for lemon plants, and check the moisture of the soil before watering. Keep the soil moist but not saturated. Fertilize your Lemon tree starting in early spring when new growth sprouts. The instructions for fertilization will vary, and the amount of fertilizer applied will depend on the age of your tree.


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