How to Grow a Lemon Tree in Pot | Care and Growing

Tangy and sour, lemon adds flavor in every cuisine. Learn how to grow a lemon tree in a pot. Growing lemon tree is easy if you follow the requirements given below.

how to grow a lemon tree indoors
Image credit: the tree center

You want to grow lemons but stop because you run out of space or you don’t grow it because you live in a colder region. If this is your plight then growing a lemon tree in a pot is a smart idea. Plant it on a patio, terrace or in indoors and you will be bestowed by its scented flowers and soft yellow citrus fruits. You can grow it in balcony too, Meyer lemon variety is perfect for kitchen and balcony gardens, especially for non-tropical zones.

Lemon Tree Varieties

Growing lemon tree from seed is a bad idea because it can take up to 4 years to produce fruits. Instead, ask in local nurseries for dwarf varieties that do well in containers. Varieties that are most suitable for containers are Improved Meyer, Lisbon Lemon, and Dwarf Eureka. However, a lemon tree doesn’t grow too big, which means you can try to grow any variety in the pot.

*Buy a healthy lemon plant that is at least 3 years old, so that you don’t have to wait for it to start blooming and fruiting.

How to Grow a Lemon Tree in Pot

Choose a pot that is 25% bigger than the root ball of the plant. Clay pot is ideal because unlike plastic it is porous and evaporates water from sides, this helps the lemon tree to grow well as it dislikes being water logged. The quality and type of soil is an important factor too. For growing high yielding plants, use well draining organic potting mix.

*If you’re growing it in small space like a balcony, take care of its spikes, keep the plant in a corner.

Requirements for Growing Lemon Tree in a Pot

Repot your lemon tree in every couple of years or so in the beginning of spring (in tropics winter is the best season). Your pot size should be according to the scale of your tree. Avoid too large or small planters, keep in mind to use a container that is one size bigger than your previously used pot.

*pH level of soil should be around 5.5 to 7 as the plant prefer slightly acidic soil to neutral soil.

Sunlight

All plants in the citrus family love full sun, around 7 to 8 hours of sunlight is essential. If growing indoors use grow light to provide adequate lighting inside.

Watering

The lemon tree requires consistent watering to produce healthy fruits. Giving it too much or too little water can lead to blossom and fruit drop and sometimes plant may die too. Check top 2-inch layer of soil for dryness before watering. On windy and hot days, it requires more frequent watering.

Humidity

If you are growing a lemon tree indoors, it requires certain humidity level to thrive, 50% is ideal. You can maintain humidity by placing it on a pebble tray, misting or using a humidifier.

Care for a Lemon Tree in Pot

Learn how to grow Lemon Tree in Pot in this informative article.

If you’re growing lemon tree in pot in USDA Zones 8b to 11 you don’t need to care for cold that much, but below these zones, special care is needed in harsh winters. Temperature below 30°F is vulnerable for the lemon tree, except ‘Meyer’ lemon variety that can tolerate some cold till 24°F.

Freezing temperatures succumb these plants to death. Optimum temperature is around 50°F to 82°F (10°C to 28°C). To overwinter it keep your potted plant indoors or in a greenhouse when the temperature falls below 35°F (2°C).

Pruning and Pinching Lemon Tree

Pinching encourages bushier growth, pinch growing tip when a branch is about 5 inches long. Pruning of lemon tree is best carried out when new growth starts (February – March). Be careful before pruning it, only prune diseased or dead branches because lemon stores excess food in its leaves and too much pruning can result in poor fruit crop. Also, keep looking for suckers and prune them immediately if found one.

Fertilizer for Growing Lemon Tree in a Pot

All plants of citrus family are heavy feeders and lemon tree too requires fertilizer to produce fruits and lush foliage. Use special 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, especially iron, manganese, and zinc. To give boost feed to your lemon tree apply a water soluble fertilizer once in a month in growing season.

Pests and Diseases for Lemon Tree in Pot

Pests like mealy bugs, spider mites, aphids and scales occasionally attract toward it. To get rid of them organically read this article.

Harvesting

Harvesting time depends on the type of variety you are growing and your weather conditions. The citrus fruits stop ripening once they are off the tree. To determine if the fruit is ripened, see if the fruit is heavy, soft and yellow.

Additional tips on Growing Lemon Tree in Pot

  • Keep your lemon tree in a less windy spot as it dislikes strong winds.
  • If moving indoors for winter or outside for summer, acclimatize it to avoid shock.
  • You can also do grafting to get two or more variety from the single tree.

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Tangy and sour, lemon adds flavor in every cuisine. Learn how to grow a lemon tree in pot in this informative article

 



34 COMMENTS

  1. I started mine from the seeds of a lemon last year. It took about 3 months before they ever popped up out of the soil…I had given up on it. its still in the same pot that I put the seeds in, and seems to be doing well – growing good. Oh well if it takes 4 years or more to grow lemons – its been fun watching it grow.

      • How do you do the grafting? I planted lemon from the seeds , I have 2 that grew from it, they’re still small but doing good. it’s been 2 years, and my goodness I have to wait for 2-3 more years for the lemon to come.

    • I recently also planted from seeds. But i followed a youtubers video and it took about two weeks to see the little green sprouts popping up through the soil. Sedds from a lemon will germinate quicker when you peel the skin off of the seed. Theyre very slippery. Take a seed and use a paper towel to dry it . Start peeling the pointy tip of the seed with your finger nail. Its not that easy but you can do it. Until the whole seed is exposed. Wet a paper towel put the seeds in it fold paper towel over the seeds and stick in a zip lock freezer bag put someplace dry for about 2weeks then they should be sprouting little tiny sprouts. Now plant them in your growing container pointy side down . In about two weeks youll see them popping up. Im haveing fun with mine.jj

  2. I have four growing in pots and this info is useful. Thanks. In a year or two i may be able to share photos of the plant with fruits

  3. I have had my Meyers Lemon tree for years and it usually produces 6 to 7. This last time around it was infected by these little critters that looked like tiny marshmallow so it didn’t do as well.
    Look forward to trying out all the information so that possibly my tree will sprout even more lemons.

  4. I have 2 lime trees and a lemon in pot they were doing well all summer but in Nov. it got cold and I brung them in.. now the leaves are falling off can someone tell me whats going on and are my babies dying HELP

    • Remember one thing in the winter plants do not need much watering. Let the soil get real dry and than put enough water to soak up the soil. Another thing keep it away from heaters, they need natural temperature so expose them to sun light as much as possible as they love the sun. Do not fertilize your plant in the winter. Wait 3 months and when spring comes, than use slow release fertilizer. Good luck!!

  5. I bought a grafted Mayer Lemon tree, 1st year it gives me 21 fruits now it’s my 3rd year still giving fruits, my secret is I changed the dirt every year using organic potting soil with mixture of blood meal and bone meal . I’m in NJ before frost time I move my tree in my family room with enough sunlight

  6. I have it in a pot..the tree reached around 2ft.. I cracked opened the base of the pot and plant them outdoor.. It has been a year outside, the growth seems very slow and the leaves yellowish and spotted, looks un healthy.. Is there something wrong? Wish smbody cld help.. I appreciate it..

    • Yellowing leaves is either lack of soil nutrients and/or they need water in a consistent matter. Water only until moist the same day(s) every week. Hope this helps!

    • I must add to the post from Steph, yellowing leaves can also be from too much watering. I nearly lost my lemon tree last year. When I saw the yellow leaves I thought it needed more water, so not true. I watered it more and lost even more leaves. Then I moved it outside this summer as I always do and forgot about it. The mist from the sprinklers was great, I didn’t water it at first, let it completely dry out. Then only watered about once every two weeks and not too much at a time. Drying out and only the mist from the sprinkler was the saving grace for my Meyer lemon tree. It’s now producing fruit again, although I did lose about 7 started fruits when I stressed it out. I’ve learned my lesson. Good luck!

  7. Lovely post!
    I tossed a couple of lemon seeds in a pot around a month ago and now I have 10 tiny plants (2 inches high). When should I repot them separately? I live in India and the climate is quite hot.

    • Hi Abhinaya, Our sincere advice for you and all our readers– Always avoid growing fruit trees from grocery store seeds or seeds you get from fruit pulps because they may not come true and may produce bad and lesser quality fruits, the future plant will not remain healthy too. The best option is to buy a grafted lemon tree from a local nursery or online.

      You should avoid repotting plants in hot and scorching Indian summers as they may die if it is too hot. But if they are extremely root bound to pass the summer, try to repot them on a cool, cloudy day and place them indoors in indirect light after repotting. Also, mist them a few times a day to keep them cool.

  8. I have a lemon grown from seed I have had for over 15 years.
    It has never bloomed. I give it plenty of sun in summer, I have pruned it to shape, looked terrific but no blooms. It is in a 5 gallon pot, and must be 6′ tall plus. I wintered it in my home in Ohio zone 5 in a kitchen corner where there is light on 2 sides. Very bright and cool. I keep it watered , our home is somewhat dry, so this year I am wintering it in a greenhouse. Any suggestions besides it is time to fertilize it again?

    • Try repotting it. I started mine from a seed as well. It took 7 years. I tried every fertilizer and researched about it. Brought it outside in the spring until fall. I finally discovered Bu dynamic compost tea last summer and I really believe this did the trick. I was very surprised to see flowers and fruits finally last year. You might want to give it a try. You can buy this stuff at amazon.com. Lemons love plenty of sun too:)

  9. i started my lemon tree from seed, it is very healthy looking, green floiage, new growth, i have had it in a pot for at least 21/2 yrs, and it has not bloomed,, i keep it outside daily from early spring to frost, it gets plenty of sun, and water, i fertlize it every three months, but i have never yet to see a bloom,, what am i doing wrong?? i have been told i need two for pollination, and have been told bees will pollinate it outside, but no blooms, please tell me what is wrong// thank you

  10. Linda, I was planting them like crazy straight from a lemon. I have beautiful plants but saw a video on YouTube and realized from the guy that it won’t actually produce fruit. You have to peel the shell from the actual seed inside. I’m trying that now. I’m in the process of growing roots right now, then I will plant them. Though BGW says you can’t do this, the guy on YouTube has had success and is actually growing fruit! However, I’m not sure how long it has taken him but it didn’t sound very long. I’m anxious to try.

    =)

    • I have 3 lemon trees that I started from store brought lemons and peeled out the seed from shell, wrapped in moist paper towel and put it inside plastic baggies in cool dry place till sprouted, I believe it took 3 yrs for my plant to produce fruit. Have reported once with new soil, use organic spray to kill those white mites, bring it indoors winder and leave always fall off but returns once taken back out doors. Will fertilizer more this yr to see if get a higher yield of fruit. I did buy one myer lemon and left it outdoors this past winter, covered pot with 4″ mulch and cloth during nights. Looks healthy still.

  11. [email protected]

    Excellent articles on how to grow plants .

    One suggestion is to write where we can find the seeds .Seeds are not easy to get ,please put seeds distributors in major cities in the world where I can write to the nearest to get the seeds

    Also whom to resort to in case we need to be touch with a person who can give us advise

    Please add these two .This will make the benefit complete

  12. Hi I have a lemon tree for8 years it only had lemons one time … I was hoping this year to Bloom so I can see same lemons .. But not again ? Is three years now and nothing . If you don’t mine can you help me with this ? Thank you . ?

    • I bought citrus fertilizer spikes from Wal-Mart for my lemon tree last spring and ended up with twice as many fruits! You might want to give these a try – they are the Jobe’s brand. They are just pushed down into the soil around the plant. Mine is grown in a large pot but if yours is in the ground they recommend using a hammer to drive in the spikes. These worked well for me.

  13. I hear from many places that trees grown from seed may Never bloom or fruit no matter what you do. I hear the only real way to grow fruit for sure is to buy grafted trees. I guess that’s the buisness to be in these days. I bought a bonsai grafted ( very small tree) it came with a few strand for roots. I’ve been using mycorizza every week as advised by the mycorizza seller but I don’t think , after4 months , don’t think I’m growing much roots. Very frustrating. I’m scared to take out of pot after all summer being in sun most of 8 hrs.a day for fear what roots I do have will die being exposed to air even for a few minutes. The pot feels heavier but I think it’s mostly pot & water combo. Seller told( of tree) it can grow to a full sized tree. After all this time I think I’m ready to check the Root growth. It’s cloudy day after a full day & night of rain, it should be safer than a hot sunny day. Wish me luck. I’ll keep all posted ! Don’t give up hope that tree may fruit. I never drempt I’d have children after 6 long yrs. of 2 different FertilityDr. I find myself with 4 grown children. 2 boys & 2 girls. NEVER GIVE UP HOPE❤️??❤️

  14. I got a very small grafted treeMeyer lemon tree. It may have had 3 short thin roots. At 8″ tall I pinched top leaves.It took a while but it did split into two branches.Ive been adding mycorizza weekly as seller told me to do from end of may2017 until almost end of Sept.I haven’t checked but it’s rained for 24 hrs. & still cloudy so I may check them today. Wish me luck.ive had a lot of suckers today I’ll know if mycorizza grew any roots. It must have grown some since it kept growing after pinching leaves at about 8″ tall. Wish me luck & I’ll be praying for all you seed growers.

  15. Comment:hiii….i put sime lemon seeds last month in pot but still waiting to pop-up seeds…..anybody can tell how much time it will take to popup..

  16. I have grown lemon trees from seeds. You must use organic lemons. I Have several right now on my window sill. They are a vibrant green and so healthy . I use one organic lemon and have six trees started. Very little water and lots of sunshine.

  17. Well mycorizza did grow full roots .by end of summer I checked my roots & they look great .Its under 1yr.dec.col brought it indoors & I have small fruit & more blooms .to keep fruit do I pinch off new blooms to keep 3tiny lemons? Any help would be appreciated?

  18. Hi, I have a eureka lemon tree. I purchased it 4 years ago. It gave me one lemon last year but that is it. I used to fertilize 3 times a year spring, summer and fall. Based on what I am reading I should be feeding my plant more often during the growing season. I am hoping to get some lemons soon. I also just purchase a meyer lemon. I am hoping to have better luck with this one. E

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