Lemon Seed Germination, Growing from Seed (Citrus)

Introduction: Hello gardeners, we are back with a great information on lemon seed germination and how to grow lemons from seeds. Lemon is one of the important categories of citrus and it is a very healthy fruit that is loaded with vitamin C and fiber. It is generally known for its pulp and juice throughout the world. Different citrus fruits are mainly used throughout the world as food or juice.

A  guide to lemon seed germination, growing from seed (citrus)

Lemon trees thrive outside year-round in the tropical and sunny areas. But they can also thrive inside as an edible lemon fruit in cold environments. Lemons can be easily grown from seed and these are a wonderful looking plant. You can propagate lemon the seeds directly in the soil, or a plastic resealable bag with a damp paper towel. In this article we also cover the following topics;

  • Process of growing lemon tree from seed
  • Germinate lemon seeds in a paper towel
  • Lemon seed germination temperature
  • Time is taken for lemon seed take to germinate
  • Growth stages in the lemon tree
  • do you have to dry out lemon seeds before planting
  • Planting lemon seeds after germination
  • Can you plant lemon seeds from a store-bought lemon

Soil and sunlight requirement for lemon cultivation

Lemons can be grown in all types of soils and light soils having good drainage are suitable for its cultivation. The pH range of soil should be 5.5 to 7.5. They can grow in slightly alkaline and acidic soils. Light loam well-drained soils are best for lemon farming.

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Soil Requirement for Lemon Tree Seeds.
Soil Requirement for Lemon Tree Seeds.

Seed rate of lemon trees

The minimum plant density of 208/acre must be maintained.

Planting a lemon tree from a seed

The first step in propagating lemon seeds is to choose a good tasting, juicy lemon. Remove the seeds from the pulp and wash them to remove any clinging flesh and sugar that can foster fungal disease, which will kill off seed by the way. You want to use fresh seeds and plant them immediately; don’t let them dry out which will decrease the chance that they will germinate. Fill a small container with pasteurized soil mix or a mix of half peat moss and half perlite or sand and pasteurize it yourself. Pasteurization will aid in removing any harmful pathogens that can kill your seedling.

Plant 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. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy and keep your growing lemon tree seeds in an area that is around 70°F (21°C.); the top of the fridge is ideal. Once the seedlings emerge, move the pot into brighter light and remove the plastic. Do not allow the lemon seed to dry out at any time. It wants to stay moist to germinate.

When the seedlings have several sets of plant leaves, transplant them to larger, 4 to 6-inch pots filled with sterile potting medium. Fertilize them with a water-soluble fertilizer high in potassium every 2 to 4 weeks and keep the soil moist. The propagated lemon seedlings must have at least 4 hours of direct sun with temps between 60-70°F. (15-21°C.).  As the lemon tree gets larger, prune it in the early spring and repot as needed to encourage new growth and fruiting. Cease fertilizing and reduce water in the winter season and keep the tree in a draft-free area.

Growing Lemon Tree from Seed in Pot.
Growing Lemon Tree from Seed in Pot.

Lemons from the grocery store can inexpensively provide seeds to produce lemon trees. Fill a seed-raising tray with a moist and seed-raising mix up to three-quarter inches from the top. Tamp down the soil so it’s firm in the tray and cut a lemon in half with a knife and remove the seeds. In general circumstances, the lemon seed will start germinating after 2 weeks. This time may change in cold weather. The seed germination process is dependent on temperature and humidity. What are we waiting for? let’s get into the details of seed germination of lemon tree.

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Lemon tree seed germination processing

  • For germinating the Lemon tree from seeds, it is very important to select good and healthy seeds.
  • Collect 5 to 10 seeds that look healthy and large.
  • Clean the lemon seeds using a paper towel.
  • If you have confusion about good or bad lemon seeds, then you can take selected seeds in a glass of water. If any seeds float in the water then avoid these types of lemon seeds.
  • Because those seeds will not germinate correctly.
  • Moreover, select small and unhealthy seeds it may not sprout and it may not keep the quality of the parent tree.

Plant the lemon seedlings

Plant the lemon seedlings in individual 6-inch pots of the sterile commercial potting mix when they are about 4 to 5 inches tall. Then move them to a sunny windowsill in a warm room. Lemon trees require at least 4 to 6 hours of direct sun daily. Water enough to maintain the soil surface evenly moistly.

Feed the seedlings ammonium sulfate (21-0-0) in March after they’re 6 inches tall. Dissolve one tablespoon ammonium sulfate in 1 cup of warm water for each seedling. Water the seedlings with the fertilizer solution and repeat the applications at six-week intervals until the end of August. Never feed lemon during the cooler months.

You cannot plant a lemon seed to grow a lemon tree. Sure, that seed will grow, but it probably won’t make fruit. While this lemon plant produces consistently good fruit, the seed inside that fruit must be considered a whole new variety that is yet unknown.

best time to plant lemon trees

The best season for lemon planting is July-August and intercropping with cowpeas, vegetables, French beans can be done in an initial two to three years. P

Spacing between lemon trees

Spacing between plants must be kept between 4.5×4.5. Pits of size 60×60×60cm must be dug for planting seedlings. 10Kg of Farmyard Manure and 500g of single superphosphate must be applied to pits while planting.

Water requirement for lemon tree

Lemon wants irrigation at regular intervals. Lifesaving irrigation must be given in winters and summers. The irrigation process is necessary for Flowering, Fruiting, and proper plant growth. Over irrigation may leads to diseases like Root rot and collar rot. High-frequency irrigation is beneficial and salty water is injurious for crop plants. Partial drying out of the soil in spring could not affect plants.

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Raising of seedling for rootstock

It is desirable to raise lemon nursery in light, well-drained but fertile soil, free from soil-borne pathogens and nematodes. Bold seeds collected from desired trees can be sown in primary nursery beds properly prepared with enough organic manure. The upper top portion of the nursery beds should be covered with sand (about a 3-5 cm layer) and the seeds before sowing are treated with fungicides to avoid seed-borne infections. Usually, 3 to 4 weeks is required for germination in secondary nursery beds. In the secondary nursery, proper spacing of about 20 to 30 cm is maintained between plants and rows, and the ‘off’ type seedlings of sexual or hybrid origin are eliminated. The elimination procedure ensures greatly towards getting true-to-type nuclear seedlings which are more or less uniform, upright and vigorous. Optimum temperature range for lemon seed germination was recorded as 20-40°C

Transplanting seedling after lemon seed germination

Eventually, your lemon seedling will outgrow its pot. When the seedling reaches 1 year old, transfer it to a 6 inch (15.24 centimeters) wide pot. Eventually, you will need to move the plant to a pot that is 12 to 18 inches (30.48 to 45.72 centimeters) wide and 10 to 16 inches (25.4 to 40.64 centimeters) deep. A good rule of thumb to find out when it’s time to transplant is to look under the pot. If you can see plant roots through the drainage holes, it is time for a new, bigger pot.

Weed control of lemon plants

Effective weed control is perhaps the single largest factor that is likely to determine the prospects of the lemon industry. In some countries, the non-tillage practice of weed control has already given encouraging results. Where soil erosion is not a problem, it was found that a zero tillage herbicide weed control soil management treatment can be used for up to 28 years without adversely affecting tree growth and yield.

Among several chemicals used, the chemicals such as simazine, diuron, atrazine, bromacil, and terbacil have been reported to be effective for controlling weeds in the citrus plantation. It was found that spraying of simazine (8.0 kg/ha) followed by gramoxone (3.01/ha) was the best treatment for efficiently checking the weed population for a longer period.

Mulching of lemon plants

Mulching with UV – absorbent polyethylene sheets increased soil moisture content and soil temperature increasing crop yield and percentage of fruit drop, increased fruit size, fruit juice, volume and decreased fruit rind thickness and total acidity.

Germinate lemon seeds in a paper towel

Paper towels, filter paper or even newspaper provides an excellent medium for germinating lemon seeds. They are pathogen-free and make it easy to control the moisture content for good germination. This method takes the guesswork out of knowing if your seeds have germinated since you can easily observe them.

To use this paper towel method;

  • Tear a paper towel in half and then moisten one of the halves.
  • Place 4 or 5 seeds on half of the paper and fold the other half over the seeds.
  • Blow opens a clear, sandwich size zip-close bag.
  • Then place the paper with seeds inside and reseal the bag.
  • Set the bag anywhere out of direct sunlight that stays at room temperature and the bag acts like a miniature greenhouse that retains heat and moisture. You should observe seeds sprouting in about 5 to 7 days.
  • The biggest drawback to the paper towel method is that the delicate, sprouted seeds should be transplanted manually to soil or another moisture-holding medium such as vermiculite. The main root is delicate and should not be touched. Use tweezers on the seed body or cotyledons when moving them to moist soil.
  • Do not push the seed into the soil and make a hole in the soil for the entire root, hold it in place and push soil gently over it. If the lemon seed is already showing true leaves, make sure those remain above the soil. In a few weeks, the seedlings must be ready for outdoor planting if the weather has warmed up.

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Manures and fertilizers for lemon trees

Manuring is done in three equal doses 3 times in a year in February, June, and September. One or two sprays of micronutrient mixtures if required could be given.

Training and pruning of lemon trees

To allow the growth of a strong trunk initially shoots up to 40 to 50 cm from the ground level should be removed. The center of the plant must remain open. Branches should be well distributed to all sides. Cross twigs and water suckers are to be removed early and the bearing trees require little or no pruning. All diseased, injured and drooping branches and also deadwood are to be removed periodically.

Pest management in lemon plants

Important insect-pests of lemon are citrus black fly and whitefly, citrus psylla, Citrus thrips leaf miner, scale insects, bark eating caterpillar or trunk borer, fruit fly, fruit sucking moth, and mites, etc. Other pests attacking lemon particularly mandarin orange, especially in humid climate are the mealybug, nematode, etc.

Lemon harvesting

On attaining proper size, shape along with attractive color fruits is ready for harvest. Depending upon variety fruits are normally ready for harvesting in Mid- January to Mid- February. Do harvesting at the proper time as too early or too late harvesting will provide poor quality.

Growth stages of a lemon tree

Lemon trees tend to mature more quickly than other citrus trees and could start producing fruit within the few years of their life cycle.

Flower bud induction in lemons

Flower bud induction in lemon trees starts by November and then continues into early January. Flower bud induction is influenced by any environmental stress upon the lemon tree. The flattening of the developing buds starts evident late in January.

Flowering of lemons

The flowering stage in a lemon tree is greatly dependent upon environmental factors such as the moisture in the soil, and temperature. Under optimal growth conditions, the lemon trees achieve full bloom in spring. The lemon tree particularly flowers in two main peaks every season and then continuously at reduced intensity during the remainder of the year. The five-petaled, white flowers appear singly or in clusters. The pollen grains are sticky and the flowers cross or self-pollinate by insects that are attracted to the strong scent of the flowers.

Fruit set of lemons

During the fruit set stage, the flower or ovary creates its transition into a young fruit which then keeps growing until maturity. Any failure in fruit set is referred to as abscission and this can occur at any time after the ovary has grown significantly. Fruit set and abscission are greatly influenced by the flowering intensity, management of the lemon tree and climate conditions.

Cell expansion

During this time, the lemon fruit continues to grow. The tree wants plenty of water, but you must be careful not to over-water or it may develop root rot. Keep the soil well-drained and that it is damp but not muddy. As the cells in the tree expand, the lemon fruit grows along with the rest of the tree.


At this stage, the lemons must be a rich yellow and ready to pick. The proper ripening of lemons on the tree is important, as this affects the storage life and ultimate fruit quality and taste. If lemon fruits are picked before they ripen fully, they are of an inferior quality when they eventually ripen.

That’s all folks about lemon seed germination and growing lemons from seeds. You may be interested in How to find Soil Health and Soil Health Indicators.


  1. Hi, it’s a very useful information, can I know once I germinate the seed, and plant them directly to a large pot more than half an inch deep, will it effect the growing? If not, how long will it take for a lemon to grow in case we have planted them to a large pot?


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