Potted lemon trees are an excellent citrus to grow at home. Care 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
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.
- 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.
If ever you have to absolutely bring your lemon tree indoors to keep it from freezing, do your best to keep the air moist.
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.
Thrips – leaves and fruits are marked with silver-white blotches. Note: fruits are still perfectly edible, even though they don’t look so appealing.
Smart tip about the lemon tree
Pick 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:
- Background information on citrus plants
- Planting lemon trees directly in the ground
- Growing clementine trees
- Grow orange trees
- Growing grapefruits
Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Lemon tree in pot by Wolfgang Claussen under Pixabay license
Lemon Seedling by an anonymous photographer under Pixabay license
Picking a lemon by Martin Belam ☆ under © CC BY-SA 2.0
Lemon harvest by Ulrike Leone under Pixabay license