Potted lemon tree, very convenient!

Potted lemon trees are an excellent citrus to grow at home. Caring for them from re-potting to pruning helps boost lemon harvest and prevents appearance of diseases.

Key facts on potted lemon tree

Name – Citrus limon

Height – 3 to 10 feet (1 to 3 m)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – well-drained

Foliage – evergreen
Flowering – March to July
Harvest – November to March

The climate in most of our regions isn’t well suited to growing lemon trees directly in the ground, but growing them in pots is perfectly possible.

Re-potting potted lemon tree

young lemon tree in shallow potPotted lemon trees cannot extract the nutrients they need from the ground.

So the pot and soil you have put in it are their only source of food for them to stock up and grow. Re-potting is thus critical.

  • Re-pot every 2 or 3 years in spring.
  • Choose high-quality citrus-specific or planting soil mix.
  • Double-check that the bottom of the pot has a hole drilled in.
  • Place a bed of small pebbles or clay pebbles at the bottom of the pot to ensure excellent drainage.

Pruning a potted lemon tree

Pruning isn’t really needed but if you don’t prune your lemon tree, it will quickly grow very large.
In pots, it is best to control your tree’s growth with very regular pruning.

Shorten each new shoot back to more or less half its length, taking great care to cut just above a leaf.
This will result in your lemon tree keeping a nice, tight shape.

  • You might need to do this several times a year.

Remove dead wood regularly and clear the inside branches of your lemon tree to let light penetrate to the center.

Watering potted lemon tree

In pots, lemon trees dry up much faster than if they were planted in the ground.
In summer, frequent watering is required, whereas watering can be reduced in winter.

  • Water as soon as the soil is dry, without flooding the pots.
  • Avoid all heat sources such as nearby radiators, because this could dry your tree out.

Every two weeks, during the growth phase, add citrus-specific fertilizer to boost fruit-bearing.

Potted lemon tree in winter

Growing these trees in pots is most adapted, because it makes it possible to bring the lemon trees to a well-lit spot where it doesn’t freeze in the winter.

Lemon trees aren’t indoor plants, and can’t bear staying in a heated environment all year round. They need relatively lower temperatures from October to May.

It is important to place them in an unheated greenhouse for instance, where the temperature never drops below 32°F (0°C).

  • If you’re looking for citrus plants that cope well with growing indoors, check calamondin trees out.

Harvesting lemons

Lemon harvest in terra cotta potHarvest season is usually November to March.

You will ensure the lemons mature best by protecting the tree from freezing, and keeping the soil around it slightly moist.

In the northern hemisphere, lemon fruits start forming in spring and slowly mature over the winter. Protecting the lemon tree from the cold and from intense indoor heat is important at this point.

Common potted lemon tree diseases

European brown rot – lemons rot while still on the tree.
Scale insects – whitish masses colonize leaves.
Aphids – leaves curl up and fall off.

Smart tip about the lemon tree

potted lemon tree fruitPick the lemons as soon as they easily break off from their branch.

This shows that the fruit has matured enough for the seeds and flesh to be fully developed, without yet being over-ripe.

Learn more about citrus plants


Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden under © CC0 (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Lemon tree seedling shared by 3308894
Lemon harvest shared by Ulrike Leone