Sour to Sweet: 15 Lemon Tree Care Tips For Faster Growth

If you are taking care of the basic needs during the initial growth years, you will find that lemon tree care and growing isn’t that difficult. It can be a very rewarding experience instead.

You need to pick a lemon tree carefully as their species vary considerably in size, appearance, and taste of the fruit.

We shall now discuss some important lemon tree care tips that will help you yield a healthy crop.

How To Grow Lemon Tree Faster

You need to understand first that there are no quick fixes when it comes to growing a lemon tree abnormally fast. It is best to provide optimal growing conditions so that the plant can grow naturally.

Some factors that could slow down the growth of your tree are – poor drainage, lack of sunlight, improper irrigation, and lack of proper care of the lemon trees. Here are some tips that can help:

  1. Lemon tree climate – For optimum growth, you should plant a lemon tree in the spring as it helps the tree to settle down properly before harsh winter temperatures hit and potentially cause damage while hampering the tree’s growth.
  2. Ideal location – Place this tree in a sunny location that has well-drained soil. If proper drainage is not available, you can opt for a raised planting bed to raise the soil level and use rich soil for growth that drains better. How much sun does a lemon tree need for optimum growth? –  About 8 to 12 hours.
  3. Proper nutrition – Remove any grass from under the tree regularly as it takes away essential nutrients from the soil and affects the growth of your tree. You can use nitrogen fertilizer and apply it each month from spring to summer for the first year to support the growth. After the first year, you can reduce fertilizing every four or six weeks.
  4. Watering technique – It is important for the lemon tree soil to be moist, but not saturated. You must pay attention to the environmental conditions and monitor the moisture in the soil.
  5. Accordingly (especially for variegated pink lemon tree care as water is crucial for its growth). The best way to water the tree is to let the soil partially dry in between watering.
  6. Pruning – Avoid pruning in young lemon trees as removing green leaves will slow down the growth of the tree. Pruning is recommended only when the tree reaches maturity.

How Long Does It Take For A Lemon Tree To Bear Fruit?

Lemon trees generally produce their first crop (35 to 40 pounds) once they reach around 3 years of age after planting. But as they move closer to maturity by the end of the 5th year.

This yield increases to almost 200 pounds annually, with continuous harvesting from summer through winter.

In the case of a tree that has been grown from grafting to a dwarf rootstock, you will observe blooming by the end of the first year.

How Often Do You Water A Lemon Tree?

The best soil for the lemon tree is one that is moist but not soggy. You should water your tree every seven to ten days during the summer to keep soil sufficiently hydrated.

It is advised to let the soil be partially dry between watering, especially for the mature trees. If you provide around four to six inches of water each month.

It should be optimal for the growth of the tree. Overwatering in any case must be avoided as it causes crown and root rots.

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What Lemon Tree Growth Stages Are?

A lemon tree goes through four growth stages – flower bud induction, flowering, fruit set, and ripening.

#1 Flower Bud Induction

Flower bud induction usually starts in November and continues till early January.

Though sometimes affected by the environmental stress upon the tree, the developing buds are often seen flattening by late January.

#2 Flowering

Depending on the environmental factors such as the moisture in the soil and the temperature, the lemon tree blooms fully in spring under optimal growth conditions.

This tree flowers in two major peaks each season that continue at reduced intensity for the rest of the year. Their white flowers with five petals can be seen both individually and in clusters.

With sticky pollen grains, they sometimes cross or self-pollinate as the insects are drawn to the strong scent of the flowers.

#3 Fruit Set

In this stage, the flower transforms into a young fruit that continues to grow until it reaches maturity.

The fruit setting might fail as well in this stage (known as abscission) due to problems in flowering intensity, management of the tree, and climate conditions.

#4 Ripening

For improved storage life and better fruit quality and taste, it is essential that the lemons are harvested from the trees only after proper ripening.

The lemon trees are not capable of continuing the ripening process if they are removed from the tree at an early stage.

So, to avoid an inferior harvest, you must wait for the lemons to ripen properly on the trees.

Lemon Tree Maintenance Tips & Tricks

We have already discussed the requirement of water, sunlight, soil, temperatures, feeding, and normal care for the lemon tree earlier.

Lemon Tree Care
Lemon Tree Care

Let’s now discuss some more aspects of the lemon tree requirements:

#1. Lemon Tree Care-Planting

The answer to the question ‘when to plant lemon trees’ is – any time of year in warmer climates.

But for colder areas, it is better to plant them in spring to avoid late frosts. They can be planted in containers as well as outdoors, as we have discussed.

Proper sunlight, well-drained and moist soil, fertilizer for mature plants, and normal care are recommended.

How To Plant a Lemon Tree?

While planting a lemon tree outside, remember to dig a hole twice as wide and deep as the pot you brought your plant in.

  • Untangle the roots, place the plant in the hole, and add compost with mulch into the top layer of the soil.
  • If you are planting in a container, it is recommended to use a pot of at least 50 cm in diameter with several drainage holes.
  • Also, for this purpose use the premium quality potting mix to get favorable results. Water immediately after planting and follow the necessary instructions for care

#2. Lemon Tree Care-Pruning

How to maintain a lemon tree? – Pruning is recommended immediately after harvest, from late winter to early spring.

You should prune the trees only to keep them in the desired shape (a strong canopy) and height. Skirting should also be done while taking care of the lemon tree.

It maximizes air movement under the tree while minimizing fungal and infestation problems. So, remove the branches that hang too close to the ground.

#3. Lemon Tree Care-Varieties

The most common varieties of this tree are – Eureka, Lisbon, and Meyer. Eureka is almost thorn-less and grows up to 4 meters tall.

Eureka lemon trees produce the main crop during the winter season and smaller crops in the spring and summer seasons. Lisbon, on the other hand, is thornier and produces fruit once a year in the winter.

It also grows up to a height of 3 to 4 meters. The Lisbon and Eureka lemon tree care is similar to that of Meyer tree care as we have discussed earlier.

#4. Lemon Tree Care-Harvesting

Lemon tree fruits should be harvested only when they have developed full color and flavor. Their peels will be yellow and appear slightly glossy.

You can also pick and taste one fruit before harvesting all of them to ensure they are ready.

For harvesting, we recommend you hold the entire lemon in your hand, twist gently, tilt, and pull it away so it breaks off easily.

#5. Lemon Tree Care-Pests

The lemon trees are quite pest-resistant but they still fall victim to some pests – scale insects, the leaf miner, stink bugs, sooty mold, etc.

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Inspect your trees regularly and treat these insects at the earliest stage using organic oil sprays.

If the infestation is uncontrolled, you may have to opt for insecticidal sprays.

How To Care Lemon Tree In Winter

The lemon tree cannot survive outdoors in freezing temperatures. In such cases, it is better to plant them in pots and keep them inside. Here are some tips for lemon tree indoor care:

  1. Place them in a sunny spot that receives at least eight hours of sunlight so that they can thrive. Pick a spot inside the house accordingly (eastern and southern, or southern and western locations are recommended)
  2. To ensure adequate humidity level (close to 50 percent), keep bowls of water near the radiator or in front of a heating vent and keep the lemon tree plant nearby.
  3. If the air circulation inside your area seems restricted, we advise you to set up an electric fan in the room where you have kept your lemon tree. If you feel that the outside air isn’t brutally cold and it’s sunny outside on a particular day, you can also open the window in the afternoon for a few hours.
  4. To make sure your plant is hydrated and the soil isn’t too dry, water the plant regularly. But do keep in mind that overwatering can damage the plant as well. It is best to let the top layer of the soil dry in between watering. You can also stick a finger in the soil and add water if you find the soil is drying more than an inch below the surface.
  5. Finally, as the days start to warm up in the spring, keep your plant outside for a few hours in the afternoon for a few days to gradually re-acclimate it to the outdoor world.

Tips On Lemon Tree Care Outdoors

How to grow a lemon tree? – For lemon tree care outdoors, it is important to remember that they are more cold-sensitive than all other citrus trees.

So, they must be placed where they receive sufficient sunlight and are protected from frost, preferably near the house.

  • As long as the soil is well-drained or they are planted on raised beds, and the soil is slightly acidic, your lemon trees should grow just fine.
  • It is advised to add mulch at the time of planting so that the soil retains moisture around the tree.
  • The best watering technique is to water them deeply once a week or for ten days (when the top layer of soil dries up).
  • Pruning is recommended only to maintain the shape and height of the tree.

Tips On Lemon Tree Care Indoors

Lemon trees are excellent houseplants that can be grown comfortably in a container.

For indoor lemon tree care, you need to ensure that the container has well-drained and slightly acidic soil with sufficient space for the growth of the tree.

If you keep the soil evenly moist and properly fertilized, your tree should reach a good height of around 3 to 5 feet.

Where Do Lemon Trees Grow?

  • The optimal indoor day temperature for the lemon tree is about 70-degree Fahrenheit while it is 55-degree Fahrenheit for the night.
  • If the temperature falls below 55 degrees F, the plant may go into dormancy. So, it is better to keep it outside in the afternoon for a few hours during winter so that it receives adequate sunlight.
  • This will also ensure that bees and other insects can pollinate the plant and its chances of bearing fruit increase significantly.

How To Use Lemon Tree Fertilizer

Lemon trees require a high amount of nitrogen. Thus, it is preferable to use fertilizer that has a high ratio of nitrogen as compared to other nutrients like phosphorous and potassium.

  • An ideal nutrient ratio is 3:1:1. Hence, before using any fertilizer product check for its nutrient information on the product label. Also, it is important to follow application instructions as well.

    If the lemon tree is 3 feet tall, we suggest applying the fertilizer in a 3-foot wide circle around it. Similarly, if it is 20 feet tall, we recommend applying the fertilizer in a 20-foot circle around it.
  • This method ensures that the fertilizer is evenly distributed and reaches the entire root system of all the trees.
  • As for the frequency of application for fertilizer, we advise not to do it more than four months in a year. It is best to avoid fertilization completely during the winter season.
  • The best lemon tree care and feeding can be achieved by utilizing a granular and delayed-release fertilization method. Besides nitrogen.
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Limited amounts of mineral nutrients such as manganese, iron, and zinc are also essential for growth. So, pick a fertilizer that has a trace amount of these nutrients as well.

How Do You Care For A Potted Lemon Tree

For growing lemon trees in a pot, we recommend you choose a dwarf variety as regular trees may not grow sufficiently in a limited space.

  • Some of the preferred dwarf varieties include Meyer Improved dwarf and Lisbon Ponderosa dwarf.
  • For the potted lemon tree care, follow the same tips as mentioned earlier for outdoor plants – well-drained soil, regular watering for adequate moisture, and slow-release fertilizer.
  • For pruning, it is essential only to remove the sucker branches that grow from the scion or rootstock of the plant.
  • For ponderosa lemon tree care, consistent watering is of utmost importance.

Tips On Lemon Tree Care In Summer

How to grow lemon trees in summer? – For the lemon trees planted in summer.

  • Consistent watering is important to ensure that soil doesn’t dry out. For indoor plants in cooler areas.
  • It is recommended to keep them outside in the sun for a few hours in summer so that they receive sufficient sunlight.
  • Other than that, normal care for the lemon tree (as mentioned above) is advised to achieve optimal growth for the plant.

How To Care Meyer Lemon Tree

The Meyer lemon tree has its origins in China and grows up to a height of 6 to 10 feet, while the dwarf variety grows to about 5 to 7 feet.

It has distinct dark green and shiny leaves with gorgeous white blossoms that have a purple base.

It is preferred by gardeners as it bears fruit almost throughout the year and can thrive outdoors (resilient to temperatures as low as 20 degrees F). Not only is its fruit rounder than other lemon varieties but also sweeter and less acidic.

How to take care of the Meyer lemon tree? Meyer tree prefers sandy loam soil with adequate water in the initial growing years, especially during dry summers.

  • While the young trees do not need fertilizer, it can be applied later on about 3 times a year to keep the tree healthy.
  • Like other lemon trees, they also thrive in 8 to 12 hours of sunlight every day. So, place them indoors and outdoors accordingly.
  • The Meyer lemon tree care in winter is similar to the other lemon trees as discussed.
  • Though they are quite pest-resistant, you still need to keep a check on citrus thrips for indoor trees and use insecticides if required.
  • For outdoor trees, these pests are controlled by natural predators such as spiders, lacewings, and pirate bugs.

With proper care, you can get a bountiful harvest in the summer and spring seasons for decades from this tree.

How Much Sun Does A Lemon Tree Need

Lemon trees must be placed in full sunlight to receive about 8 to 12 hours of sun every day for optimum growth.

In order to grow lemon trees inside in a cooler climate, we suggest placing them closer to a brick wall so that they can utilize the heat radiating from the walls.

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Trust us when we say that there is no better feeling than grabbing a ripe lemon from your own backyard. These above lemon tree care tips will definitely help you if you follow them completely.

The lemon tree’s hardiness makes it easy to grow and does not require much maintenance as we have discussed.

We recommend you get a lemon tree from the nearest nursery and enjoy the yield for decades.