How to Grow Lemons

How to Grow Lemons

How to Grow Lemons

In this article, we share a comprehensive guide to growing lemons at home.

Quick Guide Information

Common Name: Lemon

Scientific Name: Citrus limon

Family: Rutaceae

Plant Type: Tree

Life Span: Long-lived Perennial

Time Till Harvest: 3-5 years

Light Requirement: Full sun to partial shade

Optimum pH: 6.0 - 7.5

Having your own lemons is such a joy and a marvelous gift to have in your home. Whether it’s for lemonade or a salad dressing, there is something special about the sweet and sour flavor of a lemon. Growing lemons can be pretty easy too, it’s just a matter of having the space and patience to let them grow into a large and fruitful tree.

There are many different varieties of lemons, limes, and similar citrus. If you're struggling to choose which one to plant, consider taking a look around your region. Are there any particularly productive, healthy, and age-old trees that you know of? What variety are they? This is often the best way to choose a variety of any tree as diverse as a lemon. If there is already one you have in mind, consider asking a local gardener or nursery to see if it is suitable for your region.

Propagation, Planting, and Maintenance

Most people will probably want to buy a young lemon tree from a nursery. This will save you a lot of hassle and allow you to have lemons produced in your garden sooner than later. Yet, if you are really motivated it’s actually not too hard to start a lemon from seed.

I recommend starting them using the classic “Ziploc” method which is useful for a variety of different plants. This helps you get past the first couple weeks of watering an empty pot, which can easily be forgotten and result in failure.

+ Get fresh seeds from a local or organic lemon that you want to propagate. Don’t bother with old or dried seeds.
+ Fold them into a paper towel and lightly mist with water. You don’t want it dripping just moist enough.
+ Close the zip-lock bag half way, allowing for any necessary air exchange to happen.
+ Leave for 2-4 weeks in a dark and warm place until they germinate.
After this place the plant in a 1-litre pot and keep the soil moist.
+ Eventually transplant into a 5-10 litre pot or larger, and weight until the tree is at least 1 metre high before transplanting into the garden.

 

Planting and Maintenance

Proper site selection is important to planting your lemon. Find a place with full sun and good drainage. Avoid anything with swampy or excessively wet soils. In dry environments you will want to find more protected areas lower in topography.

Trees can get up to 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide so consider finding an area with appropriate space. This being said, you can always prune accordingly.

There is not a one-size fits all rule for planting a lemon tree. In areas with good soils, you can often just get away with digging a hole one and a half to two times the size of the pot and amending it with a liter or two of compost. In poorer soils you will want to amend it with 15-20 litres of compost mixed into the native soil to ensure it gets off to a good start. In regions with acidic soil, you may want to neutralise it with some agricultural lime.

Make sure to plant the base of the stem at a relatively equal level with the soil surface. Planting too deep could result in rot during wet conditions while planting too high can result in exposed roots.

Common Problems

Yellowing Of Leaves - This typically occurs due to some nutrient deficiency. Iron deficiency will appear as yellowing between the veins of affected leaves. Nitrogen deficiency is seen by yellowing of older leaves at the bottom of stems. Consider adding fertilisers and compost as necessary.

Sunburn On Stem - The stems of lemon trees can be quite sensitive to excessive sunlight. Sunburned stems look cracker or begin peeling, which can risk the introduction of more diseases. This can be avoided by not over pruning trees. Alternatively, you can paint the stems with lime or white tree paint.


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