Have you ever wanted to learn How to Grow Lemon Trees in Pots, but didn’t know where to begin?
Growing Lemon Trees in Pots was not as easy as I thought. Some types require extensive care, others need to be brought indoors when it’s cold, & others aren’t right for gardening pots.
That’s why I created 18 PROVEN Tips for growing healthier lemon trees in gardening containers for bigger, better, and more lemons no matter where you live in the world.
Tip #1: The Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree is BEST for Pots
The Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree is perfect to grow in a pot because it is known for its fragrant flowers and medium-sized, yellow fruit. It produces a fruit that is tangy, juicy, and slightly sweet.
You’ll notice this does not taste like store-bought lemons because it is a cross of a lemon and an orange.
The reason the Meyer Lemon Tree is the best Lemon to grow in pots is that it is one of the hardiest Lemon Trees on the planet. It is known for being cold, heat, and insect resistant.
In addition, this is a self-pollinating tree meaning you only need one. You won’t have to worry about having to pollinate it with your hands or a machine!
Even better, it is one of the fastest-growing lemon trees and only grows to 4-6 feet indoors (in a pot). And you can expect fruit within 1 to 2 years of planting!
2. Lisbon Lemon Trees are Perfect for Beginners
If you want to learn how to grow lemon trees in pots then the Lisbon Lemon Tree is perfect for beginners.
The Lisbon Lemon Tree is a heirloom lemon, similar to what you will find in grocery stores. It has a rich floral smell similar to orange blossom and its fruit has a tart, tangy taste.
You want to buy and plant a lisbon lemon tree in a pot because it is a vigorous hardy tree that produces a heavy crop.
This tree is great if you are looking for a slightly larger tree than the dwarf meyer, growing approximately 8 feet tall and is another self-pollinating tree (meaning you only need one).
Finally, it should be noted that while this tree is very heat and disease resistant you will want to be careful if left in the cold. It is recommended to move this tree indoors during winter months that get below freezing.
Tip #3: The Dwarf Ponderosa Lemon Tree is Perfect for Lots of Fruit
Out of all three lemon trees listed, the Dwarf Ponderosa Lemon Tree may produce the best fruit. It produces grapefruit-size lemons weighing it at almost two pounds.
These are sweet, delicious lemons that will make you never want to have a store-bought lemon again.
The great news about this tree is that it’s fast-growing, reaching heights of 8 feet in a gardening container. The fruit will be produced 1 to 2 years after planted and they typically ripen within 6 to 9 months.
While it produces the best fruit, it also requires the most care. While cold hardy, the Dwarf Ponderosa Lemon tree is not as disease-resistant or heat resistant as the other trees.
I recommend keeping this tree indoors or on a patio away from full sun exposure and air drafts.
Tip #4: Choose the Right Gardening Pot for YOU
If you want to learn how to grow lemon trees in pots then choosing the right pot is essential. It will help you reap the benefits of all your hard work, time, and money.
You will want a pot with sufficient drainage. This will allow your lemon tree roots don’t stay too wet and rot (hence killing the tree).
In general, you want a pot that is 25% to 50% larger than the root ball. This typically means it will be at least 5 gallons, but not more than 15 gallons for healthy growth and support.
In general, you can’t go wrong with almost any type of pot to plant your lemon tree in.
With that being said, there are 4 specific kinds that I personally recommend.
- Ceramic Pot
- Clay Pot
- Plastic Pot
- Wooden Pot
Tip #5: Water Just Enough!
Watering is one of the important factors if you want to know how to grow lemon trees in pots. Citrus trees generally require more water than other fruit–bearing trees. Lemon trees are no different.
If you are keeping your lemon tree indoors, I recommend watering it twice a week for about 30 seconds each time.
You can typically tell if your tree needs watering if the soil feels dry. Light brown is another tell tale sign.
If you are keeping your lemon tree outdoors, I recommend watering it every other day for 30 seconds each time. I recommend doing it more frequently because sun and heat can dry out the soil at a much faster rate.
In addition to watering, your lemon trees will grow best in about 50% humidity.
If you keep your pot outside year-round you can’t control this. If you keep your pot indoors you can control humidity with a humidifier or watering the tree. The best way to gauge the humidity is with a ThermoPro Digital Thermometer.
For under $10, this will tell you the temperature and humidity of where their plants are planted. This will help you grow your tree in the right place and water it the appropriate amount.
One additional tip on watering. If you notice the leaves turning yellow or fall off it means the tree is not getting enough water. Increase watering by an additional day a week both inside and outside.
Tip #6: Provide at Least 6 Hours of Sunlight!
Water is critical to lemon trees. And if you want to learn how to grow lemon trees in pots then sunlight is too.
Typically, most will need 6 hours of direct sunlight.
If you have your pot outside make sure it gets sun exposure half the day and shade the other half. Usually, patios or against the house is the perfect location. If your plant is inside keep it by a window for at least 6 hours or purchase a grow light like Hydrofarm Grow Light.
Heat should never be a problem for lemon trees. The hotter it is the more frequently it needs water.
Regardless of sunlight of the time of year, frost and freezing temperature will kill your tree. Move inside if you expect either.
Tip #7: Prune at just the right time!
While pruning a lemon tree is essential for lemons to grow, it is important if you want healthy tree growth, more lemons, and bigger lemons!
But when exactly do you prune a lemon tree? And how?
If you want to control its size or promote additional fruit growth, I recommend watching the below video:
Tip #8: Apply Only One Kind of Fertilizer
If you want to have your lemon tree grow faster and become healthier then apply fertilizer to the soil.
Never apply fertilizer during the first year of plant growth as it will cause root burn and destroy the tree.
Beginning in year two, apply a slow-release fertilizer once every two months in the spring and summer. In winter, apply once every 3 months in a circle around the base of the tree. This way it will soak in all parts of the soil. Then apply approximately 30 seconds of water thereafter.
You will want to apply a fertilizer that has at least twice the amount of nitrogen as it does phosphorus and potassium, also referred to as 2-1-1 fertilizer. This will provide strong root growth and healthy plant growth. I recommend Miracle-Gro Shake ‘n Feed Continous Release.
If your lemon tree has fruit or dark, lush leaves then you do not need to apply fertilizer.
Tip #9: Plant in the BEST Soil
When learning how to grow lemon trees in pots it is CRITICAL to have the right soil.
The great news about lemon trees is that they can grow in almost any type of soil.
If you want the most productive tree though you will want to grow it in soil that has good drainage. Typically, I recommend sandy loam-based, which is a mixture of sand, silt, and clay. My favorite is Miracle-Gro Raised Bed Soil.
Because this can be sometimes hard to come upon, any potting mix or raised bed soil that has perlite or vermiculite will also do. You will want to make sure it has a pH level between 5.5 & 6.5 (which is most commercial soil).
If neither has those two ingredients, just mix in about 20% peat moss into potting mix or raised bed soil. You can then test your soild with the Sonkir Soil pH meter to determine what needs to be added to your soil to get it to 5.5 – 6.5.
Tip 9a. Electric Pollination Tool
Almost every lemon tree you grow in a pot is a self-pollinator. This means it should have no problem pollinating on its own.
If kept outside just let mother nature do its work. If you solely keep it inside and it does not bear fruit, you may need to manually pollinate it.
It should be noted that I have never had to pollinate my lemon tree and I keep it inside most of the year.
In addition, manual pollination by hand can be a long, tedious, and lacks results (even if done correctly).
If you would like to be as effective as possible though, I would recommend an electric pollination tool: Aerogarden Pollinator
To learn more about how to use it, please view the video below:
Tip #10: Become a Repotting Pro
If you want to learn how to grow lemon trees in pots then become a repotting expert.
At some point, your lemon tree is going to outgrow its current pot. You will need to transplant it into another plant.
Remember, when transplanting a lemon tree to a new pot, you want to make sure the pot is 25% to 50% bigger than the root ball. The root ball is the root, plus surrounding dirt of the lemon tree.
The best time to repot a lemon tree is in the spring. Typically you will do this every 3 to 4 years.
The night before you transplant the lemon tree, you will want to water the soil for a good minute.
You will want to have one person tip the pot the lemon tree is in downwards and sideways. Then another person will want to grab the tree by its trunk and slowly rock it back and forth and in an outward motion.
Continue to do this until the tree and its root ball is out.
You will then want to add potting mix or raised bed soil into the new pot. Leave enough space so that you can transplant the tree into it and fill it up with more soil. Leave twice the size of the root ball empty in the new pot.
You can then fill it in with either soil from the old pot or fresh potting mix or raised bed garden soil.
Finally, you want to add your fertilizer as mentioned previously and water it again for a good minute.
Tip #11: Keep your Tree out of the Cold
While lemon trees are hardy, they cannot consistently survive cold weather. Specifically, if there is going to be a frost then make sure to move your tree inside.
With that being said if you happen to forget and it looks like your lemon tree is dead, do not just throw it away.
I once left a tree out in 20-degree weather and when I got home I thought it was dead. I held onto it until spring and believe it or not new growth form and it has born fruit every year since.
Tip #12: Keep Away From Strong Winds
Lemon trees do not tolerate strong winds well.
There is a very scientific reason for it, but let’s keep it simple. If you have strong winds keep your tree in an enclosed patio, close to your house and protected from the weather, or inside.
Tip #13: Too Much Sunlight is BAD
Lemon trees thrive in heat and direct sunlight. But too much of a good thing is not always good.
If your lemon tree location is in direct sunlight for more than 12 hours it is at risk for root burn.
Root burn is where the root of the tree dries out and either stunts or kills the entire tree.
Tip #14: Darkness = EVIL
ust like too much sunlight is not a good thing, too much darkness is also very bad. The tree will not be able to grow and bear fruit.
Make sure to place your lemon tree in a location that will get at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. If it does not, make sure to place it under grow lights.
Tip #15: Don’t Overwater
As we reviewed in our previous sections, you should water your lemon tree twice a week. If outside, then every other day. You want the soil to remain dark and moist.
If you water the tree too much where the soil can’t dry out you run the risk of root rot. Very simply this is where the disease will destroy the roots of your plants, rendering it useless.
Tip #16: STOP Fertilizing
I have heard a lot of beginner gardeners talk about how much they fertilize their plants so that they can get quick growth and high fruit production.
This is a rookie mistake and is not always a good thing.
Never fertilize your lemon tree during its first year of growth. In addition, only fertilize the tree every other month in the spring and summer and once a quarter in the winter.
If the tree is flowering, producing fruit, or looks lush green don’t fertilize it.
Too much fertilizer can again destroy the root of the plant, causing it to die quicker than heat, cold, or disease.
Tip #17: Keep Away from Disease
This is going to sound too simple to put, but gardeners still make this mistake.
Do not place your lemon tree by other trees that have a disease. If you have a spot in your yard or garden that gets insects that are parasites do not put it there.
And finally, keep it away from areas that animals can get into it. Although most animals will not bother your lemon tree, I experience a deer chomping at the leaves one fall day.
Tip #18: Making the Pot Too Heavy
I’ll admit this one won’t affect your lemon tree at all.
But if you want to make your life easy or plan on moving the lemon tree from inside to outside every season then use lightweight materials, prune excessive growth, and don’t water it right before you plan on moving it
If you enjoyed reading this article then I recommend reading: