Lemons are great. We use them all the time, for cakes and other foods, as well as cocktails and exotic teas. Nevertheless, it’s not just about how tasty they are. A lemon tree has lovely-smelling flowers, smooth foliage, and it can keep us preoccupied through the year. In other words, it’s both useful and fun to have around.
Everyone can grow a lemon tree. Moreover, everyone can grow a lemon tree in their home. For you to succeed in doing that, you’ll first need to choose a suitable lemon and prepare for its specific needs. So, to sip on homegrown lemonade in months’ time, check the rest of our guide on how to grow lemons.
What Difference Does It Make?
But before we begin with the steps, you need to understand the difference between growing lemons outdoors and indoors. When growing outside, they require a warm climate more than anything else. Most types of lemons grow almost twenty feet tall and take around half a year to yield for the first time. Yet, none of these characteristics suit us indoors.
But there’s no need to worry — you don’t need to have a sunny castle to grow lemons. There are special seeds that have small roots, grow pretty fast, and bear fruit in less time than their regular-sized cousins.
The three best dwarf lemon trees are:
- Improved Meyer: mixed with oranges; easiest to grow.
- Ponderosa: yields bulky fruits; crossed with citron.
- Variegated Pink Lemonade: has funky pink flesh but regular juice.
Here Are the Steps:
Secure a Well-Draining Pot
Although some people might find it logical to start growing your tree in a pot that will match its final size, that’s not true. In fact, it’s better to start small. Big pots are problematic as they can confuse you when it’s time to water the tree. In other words, it might be hard to see when it’s time to do so. Therefore, we suggest that you begin with a 10-inch diameter container first. As your lemon develops over time, move it over.
When it comes to the material of the pot, lemons do well in pretty much any kind. So, you can use both porous terracotta and lightweight resin. The only thing you need to worry about is that the pot has big enough holes for drainage. Furthermore, it’s a good idea to not use black or dark color pots, as lemons enjoy cool roots. You should also consider putting your tree over a dolly to move it more easily, as it gets heavier over time.
Control the Light and Temperature
Just like for any other plant, there are two specific factors to think about — light and temperature. For the tree to grow properly and yield in time, your lemon needs at least eight hours of sunlight daily. And the more light it receives, the better the outcome will be. To get the right amount of light, we suggest that you place your lemon tree near the windows in the South or Southeast part of your home.
On the other hand, all three dwarf lemon trees that we’ve mentioned grow best if the temperature in your home is 65 Fahrenheit (ca. 18 °C) overnight. Luckily, this is something most homes can cope with. In case you have heating or air-conditioning turned on, do move the tree away from the ducts. Lastly, when summer starts, you can take your lemon outside for a little vacation. This will benefit fruit-bearing significantly.
Identify the Proper Way to Water Your Plant
For the best growth and care, it’s key to properly water your lemon tree. To do so, we recommend that you leave about three inches of dry soil before watering. When watering, make sure to do it thoroughly. You’ll know that you did this properly when water begins to come out of the drainage holes on the bottom of the pot. The soil shouldn’t be too wet. It should, instead, be moist.
When summer comes, your lemons will need daily watering. This is especially true if they’re outdoors during those few months. On the other hand, when winter hits, you should water the tree only to keep the soil moist. In case you spot yellow leaves, it will be a clear sign of your lemon tree lacking water. Of course, all this is relative, and it depends on your lemon’s age, size, and how big its pot is.
Like all other living things, plants require food. All three dwarf types — Meyer Lemon Tree, Ponderosa, and Variegated Pink Lemonade — love nitrogen, magnesium, and iron. This is especially true for indoor trees. The fact that they grow inside a home and in a container means that they can’t have those nutrients on their own as they would outdoors. Luckily, that’s where the fertilizers come to the rescue.
Your lemon tree will need fertilization to get its nutrients. The best way to go about this is to use the likes of “Pennington UltraGreen Citrus and Avocado Plant Food.” It has a perfect blend of everything a dwarf, the indoor lemon tree requires. Follow the instructions on the package closely, as your tree’s needs will change over time.
Know How to Pollinate and Prune
Lemons self-pollinate, which isn’t the case with most other fruit trees. In other words, lemons don’t need partners to yield. But, in natural conditions, lemons work together with insects who transfer their pollen across the forest. The better pollination, the better end product — juicier lemons. When its flowers are blooming, make sure to shake up the leaves a bit. This will spread the pollen better across the tree.
For pruning, indoor lemon trees don’t need much. Still, it’s best to use gloves when growing and caring for them. The thing is, most trees don’t have thorns, but there might be a few, so don’t risk anything. We also recommend that you prune all thorns and roots that appear close to the soil level. You should do this once the tree yields its fruit so that you don’t risk pruning a branch that will eventually bear.