How to Grow Lemon Trees Indoors

Опубликовал Admin
29-11-2016, 09:24
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Tending a small lemon tree in your home can be a delightful aromatic experience. While the thought of growing a tree inside a house or apartment may seem daunting to beginners, it is not as difficult as it may sound. Give the roots of your tree plenty of room to grow, and keep its soil and branches moist and warm. All you need to do is give your lemon tree a little TLC, and in return, it will give you a fresh-scent and delightfully sour yield of fruit time and time again.


  1. Choose the right type of lemon tree. Meyer lemon trees are the most common for indoor growing and produce small to medium fruits with a strong flavor. Pink variegated lemon trees are another good option for beginners and produce lemons with pink flesh.
  2. Purchase a good specimen. Shop at a nursery for a tree between two and three years in age. Planting a lemon tree from seed can be done, but is not recommended, since trees planted from seed may take a long time to grow and produce fruit.
  3. Select a large container with drainage holes. A 10 to 15 gallon (40 to 60 liter) container should give your tree plenty of room, and under average conditions, a lemon tree can grow up to 8 feet (2.4 meters) in a container that large.
    • If the container you choose does not have any drainage holes, drill one or two into the bottom.
  4. Prepare an all-purpose soil mix. A store-bought, soil-based mix that is slightly acidic works best. Mix sand into the potting mix to allow for better drainage.
    • A potting mix with a base of peat moss can also work and presents a soil less alternative. These artificial mixes work even better when they contain compost.


  1. Find a saucer that is large enough to fit beneath the bottom of your container. Place a few pebbles or gravel on the saucer and add a little water before placing the container onto the saucer and the pebbles. The water-filled saucer will help maintain a trace amount of humidity around your tree.
  2. Lay a layer of landscaper's cloth over the bottom of the container. This cloth will prevent soil from draining out of the container's drainage holes when you water.
  3. Place a layer of gravel or broken pots inside the bottom of the pot. The gravel will promote better drainage, preventing the roots of your tree from drowning or rotting.
  4. Fill your container halfway with potting mix. Pack the soil in so that it will create a sturdy base for your tree to stand in.
  5. Slip the lemon tree out of its nursery pot. Rub its roots slightly to help them spread out before placing the tree into the pot.
    • If you purchased a bare root tree, create a mound of soil and place the tree into the pot with its roots spread over the mound.
  6. Pack soil around the tree. Press the soil down firmly to remove excess air, creating a denser, sturdier set-up to support the tree. Do not allow any roots to remain exposed, and do not cover the trunk. The trunk will begin to rot if kept covered.
  7. Water the tree immediately. Give your tree enough water so that excess drains out into the saucer. Empty the saucer once the soil finishes draining.

Care and Harvest

  1. Keep the soil moist. Periodically check the top 2 inches (5 centimeters) of the soil. When the top 2 inches (5 centimeters) are moderately dry, give your tree a thorough watering until excess water drains out of the bottom of the pot and into the saucer. Empty the saucer.
    • If using hard tap water, you may need to drop the water's pH before giving it to your tree. Adding 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) white vinegar to 1 gallon (4 liters) of water will usually do the trick.
  2. Mist your tree using a spray bottle. This should be done on a frequent basis, if not daily. Misting your tree mimics the natural humidity that your tree misses out on by being indoors.
  3. Keep the room humid by using a humidifier. If your lemon tree does not seem to be doing well even in spite of frequent misting, you may need to go a step further in keeping it moist by running a humidifier in the same room for a few hours a day. You can monitor humidity levels by using a hygrometer, and the relative humidity level should be around 50 percent during the spring and summer.
  4. Manage the temperature of the room you keep your lemon tree in. These trees do best in rooms with an average temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21.1 degrees Celsius) by day and 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12.8 degrees Celsius) at night. While temperatures that dip below 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12.8 degrees Celsius) will not kill your tree, they will cause your tree to go into dormancy and stop growing.
  5. Place your tree in a south-facing window. Lemon trees need full sun, meaning 8 to 12 hours of sunlight a day.
  6. Supplement natural light with artificial lighting. Place a 40-watt fluorescent grow light several inches (10 to 20 centimeters) above the top of your tree. Keep the light on as long as necessary until your tree has soaked in a total of 8 to 12 hours of light.
  7. Pollinate your lemon tree by hand. By keeping your tree inside, you prevent bees and other insects from pollinating it. Some trees can produce fruit without being pollinated, but pollination greatly increases your odds of a plentiful yield.
    • Perform the process early in the day, preferably in the morning. Pollen can be killed by the heat or dryness of a warm afternoon.
    • When your tree flowers, gently rub the antlers inside each flower with a paintbrush or cotton swab. The antlers are the yellow tips of the five stamens that stick up from the center of the flower. Rubbing the antlers gathers a dusty yellow pollen onto the brush.
    • Rub the pollen onto the sticky lobes of the pistil. The pistil is the center stalk that rises above the other stalks in the middle of a flower. Gently apply the pollen you gathered on your brush or swab onto the lobes, or stigma, until the pollen sticks.
    • Allow the plant to take over from there. The plant should finish developing from that point without further assistance.
  8. Feed your tree with a balanced fertilizer. Select a fertilizer with high levels of nitrogen and moderate levels of phosphorus and potassium, such as a 12-4-4 fertilizer. The numbers refer to the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, respectively, so the first number should be highest. Many plants would experience a decrease in fruit and flowering with a high-nitrogen fertilizer, but citrus trees are heavy nitrogen feeders and need a higher dosage than most plants for rapid growth. Fertilizers that also include minerals like iron and zinc will help your tree to absorb the food better. Apply your fertilizer once or twice a month according to package directions.
  9. Prune with caution. Pruning too many leaves will reduce your yield, but occasional pruning can be helpful. Remove dead, broken, and diseased branches, and thin to control the height and spread of your tree as space allows.
  10. Root-prune only as necessary. Your tree should remain root-bound in order to keep its size in check, but some potted lemon trees will stop producing fruit if their roots get too out of control. When a tree stops growing, root-pruning becomes necessary.
    • Remove your tree from its pot. Expose the roots and keep them moist by spritzing them with water from a spray bottle.
    • Use pruning shears to remove the largest roots that circle around the root ball.
    • Shave 1/2-inch to 1-inch (1.27 to 2.5 centimeters) of the roots around the exterior of the root ball using a sharp knife.
    • Repot the tree and prune approximately 1/3 of its foliage to balance out the pruned roots.
  11. Watch out for pests. Pests are rare for indoor trees, but small infestations can occur. Spray the pests with soapy water to kill them off. If this does not work, apply neem oil.
  12. Keep a look out for signs of disease. Fungal diseases are especially common, but bacterial diseases can attack as well. Look into possible anti-fungal and anti-bacterial remedies to determine what might work best to treat the specific disease your tree has.
  13. Thin out clusters of lemons. Once a cluster of small lemons appears on your tree, remove 2/3 of them to allow the remaining 1/3 a chance to mature to full size. Typically, lemons take between 7 to 9 months to ripen.
  14. Twist ripe lemons off the tree. You may also use shears to snip them off, but truly ripe lemons usually drop with a fair amount of ease.


  • Do not use fertilizers containing alfalfa meal or cottonseed meal. A fungal disease known as anthracnose frequently infects both alfalfa and cottonseed, and fertilizers containing these products may introduce the fungus to your tree.
  • While it is not necessary, you may wish to move your lemon tree outdoors during the summer so that it can pollinate naturally and receive more light. Just be aware of the fact that you will need to slowly acclimate your tree to its new environment each time you move it. Otherwise, it could go into shock.
  • Consider growing other citrus trees indoors, as well. Acid fruits tend to be easier to manage than sweet fruits, so beginners should stick with highly acidic citrus trees like Calamondin Orange, Persian Lime, Eustis Limequat, and Nippon Orangequat. More advanced growers can consider sweeter citrus fruits like Valencia Orange, Clementine Mandarin, Oroblanco Grapefruit, and Moro Blood Orange.

Things You'll Need

  • Lemon tree
  • Large pot or other container
  • Large saucer
  • All-purpose soil mix
  • Pebbles
  • Landscaper's cloth
  • Spray bottle
  • Watering can
  • Humidifier
  • Fluorescent grow lights
  • Paintbrush or cotton swab
  • Fertilizer
  • Shears
  • Neem oil
  • Anti-fungal and anti-bacterial treatments
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