How to grow lemon trees in containers
How to Grow a Lemon Tree in Pot
Tangy and sour, lemon adds flavor to every cuisine. LearnHow to Grow a Lemon Tree in Pot easily in this article with all the required information!
Image credit: the tree center
Do you want to grow lemons, but a shortage of space is stopping you? If this is your plight, then growing lemon tree pots is a smart idea. Plant it on a patio, terrace, or even indoors, and you will be bestowed by its scented flowers and soft yellow citrus fruits. You can grow it on the balcony too! Let’s have a look at How to Grow a Lemon Tree in Pot easily!Follow some awesome tips to grow bountiful lemons here
Best Lemon Tree Varieties to Grow in Pots
Growing a lemon tree from seeds is a bad idea because it can take up to 4-5 years to produce fruits. Instead, ask local nurseries for dwarf varieties that can do well in containers.
Varieties that are most suitable for containers are Improved Meyer, Lisbon Lemon, and Dwarf Eureka. However, a lemon tree doesn’t grow too big, which means you can grow almost any variety in the pot.
Buy a healthy lemon plant that is at least 2-3 years old so that you don’t have to wait for it to start blooming and fruiting.
How to Grow a Lemon Tree in Pot
Choose a pot that is 25% bigger than the root ball of the plant. A clay pot is ideal because, unlike plastic, it is porous and evaporates water from the sides. This helps the lemon tree to grow well as it dislikes being waterlogged.
The quality and type of potting soil is an essential factor, as well. For growing high-yielding plants, use a well-draining potting mix with a lot of organic matter and aged manure.
If you’re growing a lemon tree in a balcony or any other small space, take care of its thorns, keep the plant in a corner.
Requirements for Growing Lemon Tree in a Pot
All plants in the citrus family love full sun, around 7 to 8 hours of sunlight is essential. If growing a lemon tree indoors, position the pot near a window with ample sunlight. You can also substitute the lack of direct light with artificial grow lights.
Lemon does best in well-draining soil. The pH level of soil should be around 5.5 to 7 as this plant prefers slightly acidic soil to neutral soil. You can also use equal parts of garden soil, cocopeat, and compost.
The lemon tree requires consistent watering to produce healthy fruits. Giving it too much or too little water can lead to blossom and fruit drop, and sometimes the plant may die too. Check the top 2-inch layer of soil for dryness before watering. On windy and hot days, it requires more frequent watering and slightly moist soil.
If you are growing a lemon tree indoors, it requires a certain humidity level to thrive: 50% is ideal. You can maintain humidity by placing it on a pebble tray or using a humidifier.
Re-pot your lemon tree every couple of years or so at the beginning of spring (in warm climates, winter is the best season). Your pot size should be according to the scale of your tree. Avoid too large or small planters; keep in mind to use a container that is one size bigger than your previously used pot.
Lemon Tree Care
While growing a lemon tree in a pot in USDA Zones 9 to 11, you don’t need to care for cold that much, but below these zones, special care is needed in harsh winters. Temperature below 30°F (-1 C) is life-threatening for the lemon tree, except ‘Meyer’ lemon variety, which tolerates some cold till 24°F (-4 C).
Freezing temperatures kill citrus plants. The optimum temperature is around 50°F to 82°F (10°C to 28°C). To overwinter it, keep your potted plant indoors or in a greenhouse when the temperature falls below 35°F (2°C).
Pruning and Pinching Lemon Tree
Pinching encourages bushier growth — pinch growing tip when a branch is about 5-6 inches long. Pruning of a lemon tree is best carried out when new growth starts in spring (February-March). You can also do this in fall or late winter in frost-free regions.
Be careful before pruning it, only prune diseased or dead branches or the ones that are reducing airflow. Because lemon stores excess food in its leaves, and too much pruning can result in inferior fruits. Also, keep looking for suckers and prune them immediately if found one.
Fertilizer for Growing Lemon Tree in a Pot
All plants of the citrus family are heavy feeders. Lemon requires fertilizer to produce juicy fruits, lush foliage, and fragrant blooms. Use special-purpose citrus fertilizers for every citrus species plant; if unavailable, use slow-release fertilizer with NPK 12-6-6 or 20-20-20.
Look for a fertilizer that contains micronutrients, especially iron, manganese, and zinc. If you’re not using slow-release fertilizer, give a boost to your lemon tree by applying a water-soluble fertilizer once a month in the growing season. Occasionally, side-dress your plant with compost or well-rotted manure.
Tip: This may sound absurd, but you can pour a cup or two of plain yogurt (without added colorant or flavor) once in 4-6 weeks around the base of a lemon tree to observe the stronger growth.
Pests and Diseases
Pests like mealybugs, spider mites, aphids, and scales occasionally attract toward it. Keep an eye on them. If you see the infestation, apply insecticidal soap, neem oil, or pesticides. To get rid of them organically, read this article.
Harvesting time depends on the type of lemon variety you are growing and your weather conditions. The citrus fruits stop ripening once they are off the tree. To determine if the fruit is ripened, see if the fruit is heavy, soft, and yellow.
Additional Tips for Growing Lemon Tree in Pot
- Keep your lemon tree in a less windy spot as it dislikes strong winds and drafts. However, you’ll need to provide good airflow.
- If moving indoors for winter or outside for summer, acclimatize it slowly to avoid shock.
- You can also do grafting to get two or more varieties from a single tree.
- Avoid wetting the foliage to save the plant from potential diseases.
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Meyer Lemon Tree Care & Growing Guide
Growing Meyer lemon trees (Citrus × meyeri) in garden pots or the ground is a rewarding experience. Not only are they prolific fruit producers, but their showy white blossoms are incredibly fragrant and beautiful, with shiny, dark foliage that adds additional interest.
Learn How to Easily Grow Meyer Lemon Trees in Pots
Native to China, Meyer lemon trees are naturally shrub-like but can easily be pruned into true tree form. When planted in the ground, they can grow up to 10 feet tall, though when grown in garden pots they'll generally be smaller and grow accordingly with the size of the pot. Seedlings develop at a moderate pace, bearing fruit in about four years. These trees are best planted in the early spring after the danger of frost has passed. They need warm conditions year-round to produce a good harvest, or they will need to be overwintered indoors.
Similar to other citrus fruits, the fruit's skin and plant materials are toxic to dogs and cats.
What Are Meyer Lemons?
Unlike the more common Eureka and Lisbon lemons, the Meyer is actually a hybrid fruit, probably a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. It was brought to the U.S. in 1908 by agricultural explorer Frank Meyer. While the original hybrid from China proved to be highly susceptible to viral disease, today's form, released by the University of California in 1975, is a much improved plant. The Meyer lemon fruit is sweeter than the fruit of other lemon trees, and even the peels are tasty and great for cooking. They are also smaller and have a rounder shape. It is a self-pollinating tree, meaning you need only one tree in order to produce fruit.
|Common Name||Meyer lemon|
|Botanical Name||Citrus x meyeri|
|Plant Type||Tree, shrub|
|Mature Size||6–10 ft. tall, 4–8 ft. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full, partial|
|Soil Type||Sandy, well-draining|
|Soil pH||Neutral, acidic|
|Bloom Time||Fall, spring|
|Hardiness Zones||9–11 (USDA)|
|Toxicity||Toxic to pets|
Meyer Lemon Tree Care
Meyer lemon tree care is an easy matter in warm climates like Florida or California, where they’re popular as low-maintenance container-grown plants both outdoors and inside. They are slightly more cold-tolerant than Eureka and Lisbon lemon trees but still need a sheltered and sunny position to thrive.
These trees don't do well in saturated conditions, so pick a spot that has excellent drainage. If you are concerned about standing water, build up a wide mound of soil to plant your tree on or position it on a slope.The Spruce / Sydney Brown The Spruce / Sydney Brown
The Spruce / Sydney BrownThe Spruce / Sydney Brown
All citrus trees love the sun, and the Meyer lemon tree is no different. It will grow and fruit best when located in full sunlight, though it can survive in a slightly shady spot. This tree prefers at least eight hours a day of direct light.
Meyer lemon trees can grow in almost any type of soil, as long as it boasts good drainage. They prefer an acidic soil pH between 5.5 and 6.5 and thrive in a loamy or sandy mixture. It's a good idea to test your soil ahead of planting to determine whether or not it needs adjusting. You can add lime to increase the soil pH or sulfur to lower it, if necessary.
Proper watering is one of the keys to growing any citrus plant, particularly those grown in pots. The aim is to keep the soil of your Meyer lemon tree moist but not soggy. To determine whether it's time to water your plant, stick your finger into the soil at least up to the second knuckle. If you feel dampness at your fingertip, wait to water. If it feels dry, water your plant until you see water run out the bottom of the pot.
If your Meyer lemon tree is indoors, particularly in the winter when the heat is on, misting the leaves with water can also help keep it healthy. It's a good idea to use pot feet, which allow water to drain out of the pot and prevent the plant from becoming waterlogged.
Temperature and Humidity
Meyer lemon trees are happiest in temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. That means that, unless you live in USDA growing zones 9 to 11, you should bring your tree indoors when temperatures start regularly dipping below this range. Even in zones 9 to 11, the tree should be protected when temperatures drop below freezing. Be sure to use a covering that reaches all the way to the ground to help trap the heat from the earth.
Citrus trees do best with humidity levels of 50 percent and above. If you don't have a humid enough spot indoors, fill a tray with rocks, pour water just below the top of the rocks, and place your pot on top of the rocks so that humidity will rise up around the plant. You can also consider placing a small humidifier nearby.
During the growing season (early spring through fall), feed your Meyer lemon tree with either a high-nitrogen fertilizer or a slow-release all-purpose fertilizer. Typically three applications evenly-spaced throughout the growing season should be enough to keep your plant happy, growing, and producing. Citrus trees also respond well to additional feeding with a liquid fertilizer, such as compost tea, liquid kelp, or fish emulsion, but it is generally not necessary.
The common practice of feeding lemon trees with leftover coffee grounds does serve to acidify soils that are too alkaline, as well as provide some minimal nutrients. However, to be effective, the coffee grounds should be well-composted—not dumped fresh from your coffee maker onto the soil around the plant. Uncomposted coffee grounds contain too much caffeine, which can harm trees.
Pruning Meyer Lemon Trees
How you prune your Meyer lemon tree is up to you, as the tree's general shape has no bearing on its ability to produce fruit. Many gardeners prefer to prune the tree so that it has an exposed trunk and traditional shape, while others opt for a hedge-like style.
Either way, wait until the tree is between 3 and 4 feet tall before pruning. The majority of the fruit ripens in the winter, so you should wait until that process is complete before pruning. Beginning at the base, prune off any dead or dying branches, as well as any long, thin stems (which generally aren't strong enough to hold fruit). From there, you can go ahead and prune any branches that are impeding the growth of others or blocking the plant from having ample airflow.
Propagating Meyer Lemon Trees
Lemon trees are easier to propagate than some other citrus varieties. This can be done using semi-hardwood cuttings at any time of the year, but the process is most likely to succeed if the cutting is taken when the tree is in active growth. This means late spring or early summer cuttings are recommended. The cutting should be from healthy, new growth, and it shouldn't have any flowers or fruit on it. Here's how to root a new Meyer lemon tree from a cutting:
- Take a cutting from a mature and disease-free mother plant, ensuring the segment is at least 3 to 6 inches long.
- Remove all leaves, flowers, or fruit from the cutting, except for the top four leaves on the wood.
- Dip the cut end of the branch in a rooting hormone powder to protect against rot or disease.
- In a medium-sized pot (about 1 gallon), place a high-quality potting mix that has been thoroughly watered.
- Place the cutting into the soil mixture, making sure the cut end of the brand is buried into the soil.
- Cover the entire pot and cutting with a plastic bag to preserve moisture and set out in a brightly lit location. Keep the soil moist (but not soggy) and mist the cutting occasionally until it develops new roots (which typically happens in two months' time).
- Once roots are established, remove the plastic covering and care for your plant normally, keeping it indoors or in a sheltered location until the following spring.
Potting and Repotting Meyer Lemon Trees
When potting a Meyer lemon tree (or repotting a tree that has become too large for its container), choose a five-gallon or larger container that is at least 12 to 15 inches in height. Make sure the container has ample drainage holes.
Fill the pot partway with a potting mixture (ideally one made for citrus trees), remove the tree from its original container, and fluff the roots if they are matted. Place the tree in the center of the pot, and fill in the gaps with the potting mixture just to where the crown of the roots is still visible. Press down the soil, and water the tree immediately. Pot-grown trees will require more frequent watering than their in-ground counterparts.
Harvesting Meyer Lemons
Lemon trees grown indoors usually fruit only in the spring, while outdoor trees in warm climates will typically fruit year-round. Because citrus fruit will only continue to ripen while still on the tree, make sure to wait for your Meyer lemons to be ripe before picking.
When ripe, Meyer lemons will be an egg yolk yellow color and slightly soft to the touch. Use a knife or scissors to cut the fruit from the branch so you don't risk damaging the plant by pulling off pieces that are larger than intended.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases
Meyer lemon trees—and citrus trees in general—are typical targets for a variety of pests, including whiteflies, rust mites, mealybugs, aphids, and scale. While established adult trees usually can withstand an infestation or two, smaller, more vulnerable trees can be decimated by any one of these issues. Signs of pest issues will typically appear on the undersides of leaves or on the fruit.
To control and eliminate pests issues, begin by pruning away any dead, unhealthy, or infected areas of the tree. Treat the plant by spraying it with horticultural oil, like neem oil, diluted significantly, reapplying frequently until all signs of infection have ceased.
How to Get Meyer Lemon Trees to Bloom
Though not prized for its flowers, getting your Meyer lemon tree to bloom is still incredibly important, as that's how the tree produces fruit. Meyer lemon trees do not flower for the first few years of their life, so you can start keeping an eye out for blooms around the third or fourth year. The most essential component in a blooming Meyer lemon tree is abundant light—all citrus trees need a lot of light to bloom and simply will not do so without getting at least eight hours a day. If you don't have one location in your lawn that gets that much light, consider potting your lemon tree (versus planting it in the ground) so you can move it around and "chase" the light throughout the day.
If your Meyer lemon tree is getting plenty of light but still not blooming, it's time to look to your fertilizing schedule. Fertilize your tree once a month, but no more—trees that are fertilized too much have just as hard of a time blooming as ones that are not getting fed frequently enough. Choose a fertilizer that is specifically formulated for citrus trees.
Additionally, the temperature is fairly important when it comes to getting your Meyer lemon tree to bloom. Your plant will need a brief period of cooler temperatures (around 60 degrees Fahrenheit) during the winter and early spring in order to be encouraged to bloom.
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Practical tips for growing a lemon tree in a pot
- Getty Images
Next time you eat a lemon, save a few seeds to grow your own tree. Even in the cold season, a productive lemon tree can grow in your home. Lemon, an evergreen citrus plant with a pleasant fresh aroma and large snow-white flowers, is not only a beautiful decorative element, but also a source of delicious, natural fruits that will give you and your loved ones a vitamin boost at any time of the year.
- Getty Images
Carefully cut the lemon and remove the seeds. Select 12-15 large seeds with a smooth surface without deformation, otherwise they will either not germinate at all, or will not give healthy shoots. The bones must be washed to get rid of the mucous membrane: it can cause rotting of the seeds. It is best to leave the seeds in a glass of warm water overnight, this will not only clean them, but also help them germinate faster.
- Getty Images
GETTING READY FOR LANDING
The main criterion in choosing a pot for a lemon tree is the presence of drainage holes. Excess water should not accumulate in the pot, as this will lead to the death of the plant. Place a large tray under the pot and pour water into it: this will help maintain the necessary humidity. The depth of the pot should be chosen based on the estimated height of the lemon tree. For seed germination, a container with a volume of 0. 5 liters or more is considered the best option, and already germinated seedlings are recommended to be placed in a larger pot. Choose a low-acid potting mix to fill the pot: Lemons grow well in peat moss soil and in soil designed for growing cacti.
- Getty Images
Find a well-lit, warm place to plant your tree. A place that receives direct sunlight for 8-12 hours a day is suitable. If there is no such place in the house, you can use special phyto-lamps for plants. At a temperature of + 25-28 ° C, the first shoots will appear in two weeks. Since lemon trees grow in humid climates, it's a good idea to install a humidifier in the room.
- Getty Images
Fill the pot with soil 2 cm from the edge.
Gently spray the soil with warm water from a spray bottle.
Cover the pot with plastic wrap or a plastic bag, secure the edges and make small holes. Do not forget to monitor soil moisture: periodically remove the film and moisten the soil.
After two weeks, when the first sprouts appear, remove the film. When the tree has grown significantly, choose a suitable size pot for it.
Water the lemon tree once a week. It is important to monitor the level of humidity: the soil should not be wet, because of this, brown rot may develop, but if it is too dry, natural salts that the tree itself secretes will accumulate, which will lead to its death. Remember to ventilate the room in which you grow lemons. If it's too cold outside, put a fan near the plant - this will mimic its natural habitat. It is useful to periodically fertilize the soil with compounds rich in nitrogen. Fertilize the tree every three weeks in warm weather and once every six weeks in the fall and winter.
- Getty Images
When fragrant white flowers bloom on the tree, pollinate them with a brush. Run the brush over the stamens and transfer the pollen to the center of the flower on the pistil. Repeat artificial pollination every day. A lemon tree can bear fruit without it, but by carrying out such manipulations, you increase the likelihood of large, juicy fruits.
- Getty Images
HARVESTING THE FRUIT
The lemon tree usually bears fruit about three years after planting. When clusters with fruits appear on the plant, remove about 2/3 of them. This will make room for the others and the lemons will grow bigger. In addition, a large number of fruits can overload the tree, leading to its exhaustion. To understand that the fruit is ripe, pay attention to its color: it should be bright yellow. You can also touch the fruit: a ripe lemon is soft to the touch. Once harvested, fruits can be stored for 1-2 months in a cupboard or refrigerator.
- photo 9000 features of the content of citrus fruits in potted plants. Only then will it grow into a strong, beautiful and fruitful tree. The lemon tree in a pot is a spectacular, unpretentious and useful citrus crop in everyday life. It is represented by many varieties, but all of them do not create difficulties in maintenance. But there are a few nuances that should be considered when growing a lemon:
- Lemon is sensitive to the amount of moisture. He loves water and hardly tolerates even short-term droughts. Make it a rule to constantly water the tree, preventing the soil from drying out. Regular spraying will also be useful.
- The plant needs an excess of sunlight. That is why it is difficult to grow it in apartments where there is a lack of daylight. These can be ground floors or rooms with north windows. Under such conditions, the lemon begins to shed its leaves and wither.
- Lemon needs regular feeding. The fact is that he needs a lot of strength for flowering and fruiting, and the land with pots quickly loses nutrients. Every year the plant needs to be fertilized and only then the plant will be lush and begin to bear fruit.
- Nutritious earth mix. Acidified or neutral soil with a loose structure is suitable for growing lemons. This can be ready-made soil for citrus plants or a homemade mixture. To do this, sand, peat, humus and hardwood are mixed in equal proportions, after which a large amount of soddy land is added.
- Temperature conditions. In the summer season, the optimum temperature is 26 °C. With her, the tree feels comfortable, actively grows and develops correctly. In spring and autumn, it is better to lower the temperature in the room to 14 - 16 ° C. With the onset of winter, it is better to provide the lemon with a temperature regime of 7 to 12 ° C. But remember that the transition from heat to coolness should be smooth, the tree does not like sudden changes. In the summer season, lemon should be sprayed. It is best to do this in the evenings or on cloudy days. The main rule is that the sun's rays should not fall on the leaves during spraying, because. it may cause burns.
- from March to October, during the period of active growth and development of the tree, fertilizers are applied to the soil in small doses every 2 weeks;
- in the winter, top dressing is carried out no more than 1 time per month.
- Young trees are not pruned. It is important to gradually turn the pot so that all the shoots develop evenly and the crown is evenly dense.
- When the lemon reaches a height of about 25-30 cm, you can start cutting it with a secateurs. Leave about 20 cm before branching to get a standard plant on a small main trunk.
- Regular pruning promotes active growth of side shoots. The following year, you need to cut them too in order to start the active growth of additional branches.
0.1.Lemon tree care summary
1.How to water a lemon?
2. Rules for feeding lemons
3. Rules for pruning lemons
4. Rules for transplanting lemons
5. Diseases and pests
Lemon Tree Care Summary
|Summer||26 ° C|
|Spring, Autumn||to 14 - 16 ° C|