Apart from being one of the few versatile fruits that can be easily used in many recipes, lemons are also easy to grow at home. Forget buying them at the supermarket, growing a lemon tree is easy if you follow the tips below.
Choosing Lemon Tree Varieties: Standard vs. Dwarf
Many people think that lemon trees must be grown outdoors as they can grow up to 15-20 feet tall. While it is true for standard lemon trees, the dwarf varieties of lemon trees do not grow as big and tall, making them the perfect types to grow in a pot.
Ask your local nurseries for any dwarf variety of lemon trees that is at least 3 years old. It is not recommended to grow a lemon tree from seeds as it can take a minimum of 4 years before it starts to produce fruits.
Some of the dwarf varieties that are suitable to be grown in a pot are Improved Meyer, Lisbon Lemon, and Dwarf Eureka.
Getting the Right Pot
It is important to use a pot that is at least 25 percent bigger than the root ball of the lemon tree. Opt for a clay pot instead of the plastic one as it is porous and allows water to evaporate from the sides. This will help the lemon tree to grow well as it dislikes waterlogged soil.
Growing Lemon Tree in a Pot
Make sure to repot your tree every 3-4 years or at the beginning of spring season. If you live in a warm climate, the plan at the beginning of the winter season. If you have been vigilant with watering and fertilizing but there are signs of leaves turning brown or dropping or twig dieback, it is also a sign for you to repot the lemon tree.
Another sign to repot is when you see the roots growing out of the drainage holes.
Make sure that you use a pot that is one size bigger than the previous pot.
Lemon Tree Care
A lemon tree generally requires plenty of sunlight and around 7-8 hours of sunlight is considered optimum for a lemon tree to grow well.
If you plant it indoors, make sure to place the pot in the area where natural sunlight is accessible such as in the balcony or the patio.
Apart from plenty of sunlight, a lemon tree also needs regular watering. However, overwatering or underwatering it, the leaves may turn yellow and curled. It usually requires less water in cold season like winter compared to during summer.
A lemon tree will thrive at a humidity level of 50 percent and the optimum temperature is between 50 °F to 82 °F (10 °C to 28 °C).
While it can still grow well in cold weather, temperature below 30 °F (-1 °C) can threaten the plant except for Meyer lemon which is able to tolerate up to 24 °F (-4 °C).
Do not forget the fertilizer to boost the growth of the lemon tree and to produce more fruits. Use special fertilizers that are specifically for citrus plants. If unavailable, use slow release fertilizer of NPK 12-6-6 instead.
5) Pruning and pinching
Lush foliage requires pinching and pruning. Pinch the growing tip when the branch is about 5 inches long while start pruning when new growth starts which is usually around February until March.
However, it is important to only prune diseased or dead branches as the plant stores excess food in its leaves. Excessive pruning will result in low-quality lemons.
The plant may produce crops depending on the weather and also, the variety of the tree. To check whether or not the lemons have ripened, check if the fruits are heavy, soft and yellow.