How to Grow a Lemon Tree: Tips and Tricks

Here’s how to grow this plant successfully, at home or on the balcony

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By Alex

Do you want to find out how to grow a lemon tree and thus enjoy its intoxicating scent and fruits? Here is the guide you were looking for.

The lemon tree, with the intense green of its leaves from which the yellow of its fruits peeks out, is a true pleasure for the senses, not only for the eyes, but also for the sense of smell. This plant, as well as being beautiful, is, in fact, very fragrant and with a little care and attention it can flourish and bear fruit at any latitude and (almost) in any climate.

Discover, then, how to grow the lemon plant, the attention it needs and how to try to obtain it by planting the seeds of the lemon commonly used in the kitchen.

Lemon tree, an ancient hybrid

This plant is in the Rutaceae family, which consists of about 1,600 plants of tropical and subtropical origin that are characterized by the production of aromatic oils. From a botanical point of view, lemon or Citrus Limon is a hybrid of lime or Citrus Aurantifolia.

This plant probably originated in India and China where it was cultivated as early as 1,000 BC. It later spread to the Middle East and Mediterranean Europe; in fact, ancient Roman and Greek mosaics depicting lemons have been found.

Christopher Columbus later exported the lemon tree to the American continent, and today the countries of South America are important producers.

Anatomy of a Lemon Tree

Typically, lemon trees reach a height of between 10 and 20 feet (3 and 6 meters). Their leaves are elliptical in shape, leathery and dark green in color.

The lemon’s flowers are white, its fruits yellow with a particularly hard rind and give off an intense and pleasant scent. Lemon juice is, moreover, a real health boon.

In areas with a favorable climate, a lemon tree can flower and bear fruit several times a year.

How much does a lemon tree produce?

The lemon tree begins to bear fruit after the fourth year of age and usually ripens from spring to late fall.

This plant is very productive and can produce 350 to 600 fruits over the course of the year.

how to grow a lemon tree

Lemon Plant Varieties

There are countless varieties of lemon trees in the world, each with its own unique characteristics in terms of flavor, appearance, and adaptability to different climates. Here are some popular lemon tree varieties:

  • Eureka Lemon (Citrus limon ‘Eureka’): Eureka lemons are one of the most common lemon varieties. They are typically medium-sized, oval or elliptical in shape, and have a bright yellow color. Eureka lemons have a tangy and slightly acidic flavor and are often used in cooking and for making lemonade.
  • Lisbon Lemon (Citrus limon ‘Lisbon’): Lisbon lemons are very similar to Eureka lemons in appearance and taste. They are also widely grown and used for various culinary purposes. Lisbon and Eureka lemons are often difficult to distinguish and are sometimes considered interchangeable.
  • Lunario or Sweet Lemon (Citrus limetta): Lunario lemons, also known as sweet lemons, have a sweeter and less acidic taste compared to Eureka or Lisbon lemons. They are often eaten fresh or used in beverages and desserts.
  • Ponderosa Lemon (Citrus limon × medica): Ponderosa lemons are quite large and have a thick, bumpy skin. They are not as common as Eureka or Meyer lemons and are primarily used for their zest and lemon oil, as their flesh can be somewhat bitter.
  • Variegated Pink Lemon (Citrus × limon ‘Eureka Variegated Pink’): This lemon variety has variegated green and yellow foliage and produces pink-fleshed lemons. The pink color is retained even after juicing, making it a visually striking option for culinary use.
  • Villa Franca Lemon (Citrus limon ‘Villa Franca’): Villa Franca lemons are medium-sized, have a slightly elongated shape, and are known for their juicy and acidic flesh. They are often used in cooking and for making lemon zest.

FOCUS: What is finger lime or citrus caviar? What does finger lime taste like? 

Lemon Tree Care

This plant is very delicate and needs some care to be able to survive, flower and bear fruit.

It is, therefore, very often preferable to grow lemon tree in pots, so that temperature, exposure and watering can be kept under control.

Where to grow the lemon tree

As stated above, this is a highly valued plant not only for its fruit production, but also for its ornamental appearance and its intense and intoxicating scent.

This plant can be grown in the ground, an option suitable only if you live in areas with a particularly warm climate, otherwise it is advisable to grow it in pots.

how to grow a lemon tree
The lemon plant is very productive: think that over the course of the year it can produce 350 to 600 fruits

How to grow a lemon tree in pots

The potted lemon plant can grow both outside and inside the houses giving a lot of satisfaction as long as you give it the right care.

Let’s see below how to grow and care for a potted lemon plant.

Exposure to sunlight

The plant should enjoy good exposure to sunlight so that it has acceptable temperatures throughout the year.

Caring for lemon trees in winter

During winter, your lemon tree will inevitably suffers. Therefore, it is ideal to retire it to a sheltered place where temperatures never drop below 12 degrees and cover it with the handy non-woven sheeting that can be purchased at any garden store or online.

A lemon plant in the house

If you keep your lemon plant indoors make sure it has light and is in a warm place but without placing it excessively close to the radiator or windows. Any excessive temperature change or exposure to electricity can damage this plant, especially, during its early years.

Potted lemon plant watering

Plant watering should change according to the season. In the cold months, watering should be limited and occur at long intervals, while in spring and summer it is necessary to water steadily.

The lemon tree needs the right combination of moisture and dryness to grow and flourish.

Lemon tree yellow leaves

A good tip to find out if your lemon plant needs water is to check the color of its leaves. If these begin to yellow, it is necessary to water it more frequently.


This citrus plant needs to be fertilized on a regular basis and especially during fruit ripening.

There are specific fertilizers for citrus-producing plants on the market, which contain a lot of nitrogen and potassium and a smaller amount of phosphorus and other trace elements.


This operation must take place once a year between February and March and must not be particularly invasive.

DISCOVER: The amazing properties of lemon water

Lemon Tree Diseases

This plant can be subject to attack by different types of fungi.

Some make the branches and leaves dry and yellow while others can affect the bark, generating gummy formations which then cause it to rot. In the first case, to try to save the plant it is necessary to prune its branches while in the second it is necessary to remove the parts of bark attacked by the fungus.

Another threat to the lemon plant is cochineal which can be eliminated by removing the film they form with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol.

how to grow a lemon tree
Can you smell the intoxicating scent of lemon plants, too?

Growing a plant from seed

If you love to indulge in landscaping, you can try starting and growing your own lemon plant from the seeds of lemons used in cooking.

Therefore, choose organic lemons that generally belong to strong varieties capable of growing without the need for intensive use of fertilizer.

Bury these seeds about 2 cm deep in a 12-15 cm diameter pot filled with moist potting soil and place the pot in a place exposed to sunlight and protected from drafts.

Try to keep the potting soil constantly moist without overdoing it: excess moisture or dryness can cause the seeds to rot.

Generally, you need to wait 3 to 6 years before getting fruits, but satisfaction is assured!

Lemon plant price

The cost of this plant ranges from 10 to 50 dollars depending on its species, size and where you buy it.

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