How to grow a lemon tree: planting, care and pruning
Lemon trees, though a warm climate fruit, can be grown almost anywhere in the right conditions. If you live in an area with a lot of warm tropical weather, you can grow your lemon tree outdoors, otherwise plan on growing it inside. Lemons are very sensitive to cold and will not do well in an area that experiences freezes in the winter. There are a few hardy varieties of lemon trees available that can tolerate cold better than others, but growing indoors is just as easy, and your tree will have a better chance of survival.
To start growing a lemon tree you must decide whether to grow from seed or to purchase a potted tree. If you live in an area where citrus trees thrive, you should be able to purchase a lemon tree at your local nursery. Nurseries in cold climate areas may not carry the tree you are looking for, but they can be purchased from a nursery supply store online or by mail order. Keep in mind that if you are purchasing the tree through the mail or online, that citrus trees cannot be shipped to certain states because of agricultural concerns.
Whether you purchase your tree or grow it from seed, you must know how to take care of it and what conditions are best for optimal growth. Citrus trees thrive on sunlight, and must not be kept in a shady area for long periods of time, where they may become leggy and need pruning. If your tree is getting adequate sun and being watered regularly, pruning will not be necessary. Ideally, your trees that are kept inside will be planted in an area of your home with east facing windows, where they will get the most sunshine. Trees grown indoors in pots can be moved outside in the summer months to best take advantage of the sun.
If you plan on growing your tree from seed, remove the seed from the fruit, rinse it well, and plant as soon as possible. To help your seed along you may even want to take a nail file or a piece of sandpaper to one side to rough up the tough hide. Seeds should be planted at a depth of ¼ to ½ inch deep and watered well. You should notice growth within 7 days of planting. You will want to get the new shoots down to only one stem, as the plant grows taller. Be advised that lemon trees planted from seed require a good deal of patience, as the first fruit may not appear for up to ten years after planting. This is true for indoor and outdoor grown trees.
When growing a lemon tree in a pot make sure that the container you choose is big enough to give the tree room to grow, while allowing for easy handling. If you will be moving your plant from the indoors to outside on occasion, you do not want the container to be too heavy to lift. One benefit to growing a lemon tree versus another kind of fruit tree is that they can tolerate even poor soil. The ideal soil for your tree will be something that drains well, such as sandy loam, but really any type of soil will do if the draining is adequate. The bottom of your container should first be filled with a layer of soil. Place your tree on top of this and add more soil to fill your container. If you place a piece of mesh on the bottom of the container before planting you will avoid losing any soil through drainage holes. From then on the care of your tree is fairly simple.
As your tree grows it is a good idea to use a citrus-specific fertilizer on occasion. This fertilizer comes in many forms and is sold as a liquid, a crystal, and a tree spike. Also remember not to over water the tree. Water your lemon tree only after the first inch of soil has gone dry. The more sun the tree is receiving the more often it will need to be watered.
Growing lemon trees at home is a simple, but long process. With the right amount of sunlight and proper care your tree will produce fragrant blossoms that will eventually lead to beautiful and delicious fruit.