Lemon trees provide you with a plentiful source of Vitamin C, magnesium, and calcium. Not only are they beneficial health-wise, but they are also beautiful trees with glossy leaves and fragrant white flowers. If you are thinking about adding lemons to your garden, you need to know when to plant lemon trees.
Keep reading to figure out the best time to plant a lemon tree based on your climate and the type of lemon tree!
The Best Time to Plant a Lemon Tree
Lemon trees are usually planted in early spring after the threat of frost has passed. There are a few factors that can change when to plant lemon trees, such as climate and type of tree, that I’ll discuss further in this post.
Why does it matter to know the best time to plant a lemon tree? Planting at the proper time allows the tree to establish healthy roots. When planting a lemon tree, you want to time it to where the tree is able to grow and establish itself before wintertime slows the roots’ growth.
Factors Affecting When to Plant Lemon Trees
Lemon trees are typically hardy in USDA zones eight through 11. They are tropical trees, so they prefer warmer climates. In these particular zones, the best time to plant a lemon tree is in springtime.
There are areas of Florida, Southern California, Texas, and Arizona (typically located in zones nine through 11) that have ideal temperatures for lemon trees almost year-round. If you live in these areas that don’t see heavy frosts or cool winters, you can plant a lemon tree at any time of the year. The trees will grow and produce fruit all year once the lemon tree is established.
Type of Lemon Tree
There are different types of lemon trees you can choose from based on where you live. The main two types you will see are the Meyer lemon tree and the Eureka lemon tree.
Meyer lemons are the most popular lemon trees grown. The lemons have smooth skin and sweet flesh. They are hardy in zones eight through 11, but they make great patio and indoor lemon trees for zones four through eight.
The Meyer lemon tree can tolerate cool temperatures down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit before they need to be moved inside. Meyer lemons are normally planted in the spring, but they can be planted year-round in zones nine through 11.
The Eureka lemon tree produces fruit with very few seeds and lots of juicy flesh. Eureka lemons prefer the warmer climates of zones nine through 11. In these areas, the tree can be planted at any time of the year as long as the temperatures don’t get below 20 degrees.
If you plant a Eureka lemon in the spring in a colder zone, you can expect the tree to have a shorter life than the Meyer lemon tree.
Outdoor or Indoor
Planting time in the spring is pretty standard with outdoor lemon trees, but what about indoor lemon trees? Since indoor lemon trees are not exposed to outdoor weather conditions, they can be planted at any time of year. The controlled temperatures will allow the tree to produce growth all year.
The Meyer lemon tree is a great choice for growing indoors. You can basically treat it like a houseplant. It will need to be placed in a sunny window with at least 10 hours of bright light per day, and it can be placed outdoors on your deck or patio during the summer.
Bareroot or Potted
Fruit trees are sold as either potted trees or bare-root trees. Tree wholesalers sell bare-root trees when the tree is dormant. These types of trees will need to be planted during their dormancy. This allows the trees to adapt quickly to planting rather than changing from container soil to the new soil in the ground.
Most lemon trees are sold and shipped as potted plants, rather than bare-root, because they are active year-round. This means they don’t experience a dormant phase, but rather just slowed growth during colder winters. The best time to plant a lemon tree in a pot is in springtime.
When to Plant a Lemon Tree by Seed
Did you know lemon trees can be started from seed? It will be a few years before the tree produces fruit, but it can be done! The best time to plant a lemon tree from seed is several weeks before your last anticipated frost. You can start your lemon tree along with any other vegetable seeds you are starting for the year.
The seed will need to be placed in moist potting soil about a half-inch deep. Cover the pot with plastic wrap or a germination dome to help the seed sprout. Place the pot in a sunny window or under a grow light. You should see the seed germinate within 14 days.
Once the seedling is large enough to be re-potted, you can begin to bring the lemon tree outside for small periods of time. You can also keep the lemon tree inside year-round. Just make sure to give it plenty of light.
Tips for Planting a Lemon Tree
Knowing how to plant a lemon tree is just as important as knowing the best time to plant a lemon tree. Lemon trees love the sun! Make sure to plant it in a spot that will receive at least six to eight hours of sunlight per day.
The site will also need to drain well. Lemon trees grow best in loamy soil that has a slightly acidic pH between 5.5 and 6.5. If you have heavy clay soil, you will need to amend it by mixing in organic compost before planting the lemon tree.
The soil should remain consistently moist. Try not to overwater the plant or allow the soil to become soggy, so that the lemon tree roots do not rot. If the top inch of the soil is dried out, you are safe to rewater the tree.
Planting the Tree
To plant a tree outdoors, dig a hole that is twice the size of the lemon tree’s root ball. Before sitting the tree in the hole, loosen the tree’s roots to encourage them to spread once planted. Set the tree in the hole and fill the hole with a mixture of organic compost and the existing soil.
Press down the soil with your foot to remove any air pockets. Water the plant thoroughly. To preserve moisture, you can apply a layer of mulch about an inch thick across the top of the dirt. Leave a few inches of space around the stem to promote air circulation and avoid root rot.
To plant a lemon tree indoors, choose a container that is slightly larger than the lemon tree’s current pot. If you plant the lemon tree in a container that is too large, the soil around the tree will struggle to dry out and could rot the tree. The container will also need adequate drainage holes. You can place a pan under the container to catch water and avoid making a mess on the floor.
Set the lemon tree in the container and fill the pot with a mix of potting soil and organic compost. Indoor lemon trees will need to be watered less often, but should still be kept consistently moist.
FAQs on When to Plant a Lemon Tree
1. Why don’t lemon trees go dormant?
Technically, lemon trees are tropical trees. In tropical climates, temperatures maintain optimal growing conditions year-round. That means that the trees do not need to quit growing to avoid damage. Lemon trees can healthily grow and produce fruit year-round. That means that they can also be planted year-round in tropical climates.
2. Will lemon trees planted in winter survive?
The best time to plant a lemon tree is in springtime when the threat of frost has passed. Exceptions to this rule include indoor planting and planting in tropical climates. If you do plant your lemon tree in late winter before the chance of frost is over, you will need to cover your lemon tree to help it survive frost damage.
If you purchase a lemon tree during the winter, keep it indoors in a greenhouse until spring to keep your lemon tree happy!
Wrapping Up the Best Time to Plant a Lemon Tree
Strategically planning when to plant lemon trees is important to the trees’ health. While lemon trees should be planted in spring in most areas, they can be planted year-round indoors or in tropical climates. If you allow your lemon tree to have the time it needs to grow, you will see a better production of fruit and a beautiful tree!
Ready for more lemon content? Next, visit our lemon trees page to discover more useful and fun information on lemon planting, growing, harvesting, cooking, and more!