close up on yellow lemon in tree with fireplace in the background

How to Grow A Lemon Tree Indoors: The Do’s and Dont’s

As with all citrus trees, growing a lemon tree requires lots of humidity and healthy seeds. Growing a lemon tree indoors, however, will require you to go the extra mile to ensure your soon to be plant will be healthy and fruit-bearing.

Many people choose to grow lemon trees inside their homes mainly because they live in colder regions or just don’t have enough room in their backyard.

yellow lemons in tree

Having A Lemon Tree Indoors: Do’s And Don’ts In Growing Them

You’ll be happy to know that lemon trees don’t require much attention once you plant them in a pot. Seed-grown lemon trees, on the other hand, might take four years to grow. They could also take up space in your living room or wherever you’d like your lemon tree to be planted.

If you want to grow a lemon tree from seed, expect it to reach a height of around 20-feet. Thankfully, there are other, faster and more efficient ways to grow a lemon tree indoors.

If you wish for your lemon tree to start giving you fruit right away, then you should be on the look-out for special rootstock with a plant attached to it. These are of the dwarf variety, a common example being the Meyer lemon.

Meyer lemon trees are great for indoor planting due to their sturdier appearance. They also provide a lot of fruits. Also, their smell is pleasant and can be an excellent feature in your home.

Meyer lemons are also best when opting for lemon trees as a houseplant as they can be maintained at in between 3 to 5 feet tall.

What’s The Right Soil For An Indoors Lemon Tree?

Lemon trees are great houseplants as long as enough space is provided for them. Before planting one, check to see if the plant is growing on its own roots or if it is grafted.

When selecting a container, choose one that is slightly bigger than the root ball. This way, it will have enough room for drainage and air circulation. The pot should be 25 percent bigger than the root ball of the plant.

Any type of pot, whether it’s clay, ceramic or plastic can be used when planting an indoor lemon tree. However, clay pots can be great for first-timers because the material is porous and allows water to evaporate from the sides.

The soil mix should be a combination of potting soil and organic matter like compost and humus. It also needs a proper pH of around 6.0 and 6.5, as the plants respond well to a slightly acidic soil.

If you want your indoor lemon tree to give you a large quantity of fruit, then consider using well draining organic potting mixes.

There is no set volume of soil needed for planting a lemon tree as it depends on your growth preferences. Large containers are best for growing lemon trees outside, as they can quickly reach impressive heights.

lemon tree in pot in an open door to the porch

Light and Temperature Are A Must

It is important to create the right climate in which your lemon tree can thrive. It should receive between 8 to 12 hours of natural sunlight. As such, you should consider placing this plant near a south-facing window for added sunlight.

Remember that your lemon tree needs to receive light from all sides. For it to have a uniform growth, rotate the plant’s side facing the window once every few days.

If your house is poorly lit, consider buying artificial lights as they can be set accordingly to the desired intensity. Never leave the lights on your lemon tree for more than 18 hours. Install 40-watt fluorescent shop lights above this plant as they can be especially useful during winter when the sun is less active.

Lemon trees can grow at a steady pace when the temperatures range is between 70 and 100 degrees. The ideal temperature would be at around 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Your lemon tree won’t grow if the temperature is above 105 degrees, and it can go into dormancy if the temperature falls to 50 degrees. Anything below 30 degrees Fahrenheit will cause your plant to start dropping leaves, followed by damage to the fruits and the tree itself.

If you are planning on moving your plant outdoors for the summer, be aware that lemon trees don’t like sudden changes in temperature. Lemon trees acclimatize in time, so you need to take it outside for a couple of hours at a time until you leave it outside for the summer. When the weather turns sour, do everything backwards.

moisture on a lemon in a tree

Watering Your Lemon Tree

Indoor lemon trees have to be watered consistently for them to produce healthy fruits. However, they do not require as much water as other plants. To avoid root rot and fungal infections, you need to keep the soil slightly moist.

Keep in mind that because your lemon tree is inside, it does not have the benefits of a natural climate. This is especially true when considering the summer months. Don’t use too much water on your lemon tree to prevent waterlogging its soil. If that happens, just decrease the amount of water you pour on it.

Moisture is a valuable ingredient for high-yielding plants. Consider spraying water on the lemon tree on a daily basis. Also, adding protective covering in the form of pebbles or moss will not only make your lemon tree stand out, but it will also reduce evaporation and retain moisture at the surface of the root.

You can buy a water meter so that you can measure the soil’s moisture level. To ensure that your lemon tree is growing steadily throughout the winter months, you can also position the plant near a humidifier, or use a spray bottle and mist it regularly.

Fertilizers To Look For

Once you decide to grow a lemon tree indoors, fragrance will become a key factor in your new environment. Lemon trees require high amounts of fertilizer, and these come in several forms.

High-nitrogen fertilizers may be the best choice for feeding your lemon tree. Use nitrogen fertilizer for your plant once every three weeks during the spring and summer months. Cut the use of fertilizer by half during fall and winter.

Liquid fertilizers that have added microelements are also a great choice for keeping your lemon tree healthy. These contain micronutrients such as zinc, iron, and manganese.

If this option is too costly, you can use a slow release fertilizer of NPK 12-6-6. Apply the liquid fertilizer once a month during growing season.

Pollinating Your Indoor Lemon Tree

Outdoor lemon trees don’t require extra attention when it comes to pollination as bees and other insects take care of that. An indoor lemon tree, on the other hand, will require you to pollinate it manually.

The easiest way to do this is to use either a paintbrush or a cotton swab to rub pollen on the stigma. While lemon trees may sometimes be able to produce fruits without doing this, the process of rubbing pollen within each flower takes only a few seconds.

You can also consider buying special pollination tools from your local store. However, the feat should be easy enough to carry out on your own.

Potential Dangers

Lemon trees are particularly vulnerable to pests such as spider mites, mealybugs, scale, and aphids. You can recognize the early signs of an infestation by watching out for curled, speckled, or yellowing leaves. Sticky residue and silky webs left from the bugs are also good indicators.

Using chemical treatments to get rid of the pests isn’t advised as the toxic components will most likely damage the plant. Instead, use organic or mild treatments such as insecticidal soap, horticultural oil or neem. When using neem, always wear protective eyewear and gloves.

To make sure that your pesticide is safe for the lemon tree, only use it on a small portion on the plant beforehand. Pests generally reside under the leaves of citrus trees, so make sure the treatment covers that region as well.

pear-shaped lemons in a potted lemon tree besides another lemon tree

Harvesting Your Lemon Tree

Lemon trees blossom in between six to nine months. However, this depends on the type of the lemon tree and the weather conditions.

A lemon will continue to ripen as long as it is in the tree and will stop when it detaches from the branch. Ripened lemons are yellow, soft, and heavy.

When you believe the fruit has reached a proper ripeness, you can use your thumb to apply pressure to the rind. Softness is a good sign that the lemon is ready to be harvested.

Conclusion

Growing an indoor lemon tree is not hard but it takes a little patience and care to get to a bountiful yield.

A combination of potting soil and organic matter that is slighlty acidic is a healthy base for a plant of this type.

When it comes to temperature and light, you will have to orchestrate everything. This includes setting your plant at a south-facing window for natural light or buying additional growing lights.

In addition, the temperature needs to be constant at 85 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal growth. Exposing the lemon tree to drastic temperature changes can easily shake it up.

You must water the lemon tree regularly. Still, don’t use too much to prevent waterlogging the soil. Buying a water meter can help maintain optimal moisture levels for your lemon tree.

Pollinate your plant to increase your chances of a higher fruit-yield. When dealing with pests, use the least toxic treatment available and always test it on a small portion of the plant first.

When all is said and done, you should have a new addition to your home, one that can produce juicy lemons for months and years to come.

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Bonnie Enos

I spend my time in my garden trying to create the greatest outdoor space possible. My garden is my happy place and where you will always find me on a nice day. I take my experience and share it here for you to read!

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