We all know the saying, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade—but did you know that life really did give us lemon trees for the first time thousands of years ago? That’s right: thought to be originally from north-east India, lemons supposedly made their way through the Mediterranean to reach southern Italy in 200 AD.
And we’ve loved them ever since! Thanks to their beautiful trees, aesthetic fruits, seducing perfume, and variability in the kitchen, lemons are one of the most popular citrus fruits out there.
Growing a Lemon Tree: Care, Pruning, Pests, and Diseases
So you’ve got yourself a young lemon plant, and you’re ready to make it at home in your garden, patio, or greenhouse. You can already imagine the glasses of sweet, cold lemonade you’ll be making next summer!
Here are some important things to keep in mind before you get too dreamy.
If you want your own freshly grown lemons, you’ll need to put in a little work before reaping the reward. It’s not too difficult, but you do need to be mindful! These posts will guide you step-by-step on how to set up your lemon tree for successful growth.
When it comes to planting lemon trees, timing is essential. They are so reliant on sunlight and warmth (and so sensitive to the cold and frost!) that getting the timing right is not only recommended but absolutely necessary, depending on where in the world you are geographically located.
This post will help you get the timing right depending on your location, lemon tree, and even planting preferences.
Using the right kind of soil is one of the best things you can do not just for lemon trees, but for your entire vegetable and/or fruit garden. For example, watering isn’t nearly as helpful if the soil has no water retention!
This article will help you think about ten different things to consider while choosing potting or gardening soil for your lemon tree.
Fertilizer is important for lemon trees because it helps deliver the nutrients they need to thrive. In this post, you’ll learn what ingredients you should look out for in fertilizers, the types of fertilizers out there, and the brands I think are best.
Here I’ve highlighted three of our favorites for you:
Though it’s not something you like to hear about, it’s something you need to prepare for. Unfortunately, the threat of pests is all to real among lemons, so it’s important to always be one step ahead of them.
Much like pests, the best way to fight lemon tree diseases is prevention, which starts with educating yourself through posts like this one.
Just like all fruit trees, pruning your lemon tree is an important routine to maintain the tree’s overall health and vigor.
If you don’t know what this means, grafting is the technique that allows the replication of healthy plant or tree DNA. To learn more about this great process and how to use it, take a look at my post.
Now comes one of the best parts about growing a fruit tree: harvesting its fruits!
Not only does this post walk you through important information regarding the harvesting of lemons, it also outlines the tools you need to get the job done.
Learn the tips and tricks to decide when is the right time to pick lemons. That way you avoid the risk of picking them too early, or when they’re no good anymore!
Health Benefits of Lemons
What’s better than learning that lemonade (the pure, natural kind) is actually great for you?
Take a closer look at exactly what’s going on beneath that wonderfully scented peel.
That’s right, you heard me. Lemons are healthy for you! Discover why through this informational guide.
Lemons in the Kitchen
If you’re ready to add a little zest to your recipes, you’ll want to take a look at these posts.
As you might have guessed, not all lemons are one and the same. Learn about the different varieties out there!
When Do Lemon Trees Bloom?
While lemon trees can bloom at any time of the year, they usually grow flowers in the spring. These beautiful blooms last for a couple of days or up to a week, depending on the type of tree and its age, climate, and health. Following the springtime blooms, the fruit grows throughout summer and slowly turns color in fall and winter to reach its signature yellow shade.
Some lemon trees bloom in the fall, and if it’s too cold outside when blooms appear, it’s important to tuck the trees indoors for shelter. Also, keep in mind that it’s normal for lemon trees to start blooming when they are three or four years old, as young trees need time to build sufficient roots.
When To Prune Lemon Trees?
It’s most common to prune lemon trees in the spring or autumn. Mature lemon trees should be pruned 1-2 times a year after harvest. While it may be a few years before baby lemon trees bear fruit, it’s important to regularly prune these growing trees to maintain their structure.
If you notice an abundance of leaves and foliage growing in different directions, your lemon tree is probably ready for pruning. Pruning encourages healthier growth and bigger lemons by balancing the leaves and ensuring they receive enough sunlight.
How Big Do Lemon Trees Get?
Domestic lemon trees grow 10-20 feet tall on average. The heights can vary depending on which type of lemon tree you have and its age, as some trees take up to six years to reach their mature height and bear fruit.
You can get standard and dwarf lemon trees, and the smaller variety is often recommended for indoor growing. While 8-10 feet is the average for dwarf lemon trees, some standard trees can reach up to 30 feet in ideal growing conditions.
Where do Lemon Trees Grow?
Lemon trees are believed to have originated in India but now flourish in warm climates around the globe, including Arizona, California, Florida, and Italy. Lemon and other citrus trees are relatively low-maintenance when grown in their ideal temperatures between 55-90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lemons are more sensitive to the cold than other citrus fruit, so hardiness zones 9-11 are the preferred growing locations. If you’re outside these regions, you can grow lemons as container trees inside a greenhouse or sunroom to protect against the cold temperature and still produce fruit.
How Much Sun Do Lemon Trees Need?
Lemon trees love the sun and should get around 6-8 hours a day. That’s the ideal amount of daily sunlight for lemon trees, so they are best planted on your home’s south-facing side. These trees are sensitive to the cold so the more sun they can have, the better.
If you are growing them inside to protect them from the cold, a solarium or greenhouse is preferred, otherwise find a sunny spot close to the window so the lemons can thrive.
When To Fertilize Lemon Trees?
The best time to fertilize lemon trees and other citrus plants is once every month or two months throughout active growth in the spring and summer. Also, fertilize once every 2-3 months in the fall and winter when the tree is dormant.
If your climate and growing conditions lead to flowering and harvesting in other parts of the year, you can follow the same fertilizing schedule during both the active and dormant periods. You can always check with the specific instructions for your tree variety to ensure you are fertilizing correctly.
Where To Buy Lemon Trees?
You can buy lemon trees from your local nursery, at online nurseries such as Nature Hills Nursery. A few things to keep in mind when purchasing lemon trees is whether you want seedlings or pre-planted trees. It’s easier to get started with home-growing young lemon trees that are already on their way to maturity.
Keep in mind where you will be planting the trees and what you need to ensure the citrus thrives in your region’s growing conditions.
When Do Lemon Trees Produce Fruit?
Most lemon trees produce fruit when they are 3-5 years old. Lemons ripen anywhere from four months to a full year after flowering. For the typical lemon tree that blooms in the spring, the fruit grows over the summer before turning from green to yellow throughout the fall and autumn months.
Growing conditions and the region’s climate may impact a lemon tree’s flowering and fruit production. In some places where flowering occurs in the fall, the fruit will be ready for picking in the spring.
How Long Do Lemon Trees Live?
Lemon trees typically live around 50 years, but they can live up to 100 years when grown in optimal conditions and maintained regularly. Disease prevention and adequate care can boost a lemon tree’s lifespan, including fertilizer and pruning.
To ensure a long and healthy life for your lemon tree, it’s important not to overwater it and cause detrimental rot. Make sure the soil drains properly too.
How Much Do Lemon Trees Cost?
Lemon trees range in price from $20-$200 or more. It depends on which variety you buy and where you buy them from. Sometimes purchasing citrus trees in bulk can save money in the long run, or if you plan to grow from scratch, seedlings are less expensive.
Also keep in mind the cost of fertilizer, watering, and pruning, which can easily add up over the lemon tree’s average lifespan of 50 years.
How Long Do Lemon Trees Take To Grow?
Generally, it takes at least a few years for lemon trees to reach their mature height. Standard trees can take up to six years to reach 20 feet and begin bearing fruit. Indoor lemon trees are smaller and may grow to 3-6 feet tall within a year or two.
The growing times vary based on the temperature, climate, sun exposure, pruning, and other environmental conditions. If you buy lemon trees from a nursery, it will take less time for them to finish growing and produce fruit than if you plant the seedlings yourself, but it depends on personal preferences and home growing goals.
When Do Lemon Trees Flower?
Lemon trees can flower throughout the year depending on the growing conditions, but flowers most commonly appear in the early spring or fall.
Coastal regions with slight temperature fluctuations may have longer harvest seasons with more fluctuation in flowering times and landlocked locations with more distinct seasons usually yield lemon trees at predictable times each season. Drought stress may also impact flowering and lead to a longer time in between blooms.
Can my pets eat lemons?
It’s perfectly normal to wonder if your four-legged friends can eat the same food that you do. Take a look at these two posts to see what our research says about dogs and cats eating lemons.
Can I grow lemon trees from seed?
The short answer is yes, you can grow a lemon tree from the seeds you find within a lemon fruit you purchase at the store (or harvest from a tree). The more complicated answer is that the tree that will germinate from that seed is not guaranteed to be exactly like the tree the lemon from which you collected the seeds.
In fact, growing a lemon tree from seed isn’t difficult (think of it as an experiment with a surprise ending! but it will be many long years before you are able to harvest lemons from it. This differs greatly from grafted lemon trees, which will bear fruit within a couple of years.
Can I grow lemon trees outside?
Whether or not you can or should grow lemon trees outside depends on your geographic location. Lemons aren’t cold-resistant trees, so you don’t want to risk them being stuck outside during freezing nights!
Our Best Time to Plant a Lemon Tree post talks about factors that you should consider when deciding whether to plant a lemon tree outside or in a container.
Are lemons healthy?
The short and exciting answer is yes! Take a look at our “Health Benefits of Lemons” section for a more detailed response.
When Life Gives You Lemons
We are continuously adding lemon content, so check back often to find new posts about your favorite sour citrus!
Next, discover planting and growing tips, care guidance, recipes, destinations, and more related to these great nature goodies: