Among all the fruit trees, the lemon tree is one of the most suitable and easy to care for at home. What’s more, there are varieties of miniature lemon trees that can be grown perfectly in a pot, so you can have it not only in the garden, but also on the terrace, balcony or patio.
In addition, a lemon tree and its orange blossoms will be able to fill your outdoor area with a pleasant aroma. And the best thing is that, when it pays off, you can use it in your recipes and infusions. It is really delicious! In this guide, discover how to care for a lemon tree at home.
Lemon tree characteristics
The lemon tree, whose scientific name is
Citrux x limon, is an evergreen tree that can reach heights of up to 5 meters. It is a tree of the Rutaceae family with a long life, so with proper care it can last for many years in your garden or on your terrace. The lemon tree comes from Asia and is characterized by its woody trunk, somewhat yellowish in color and highly branched. Its leaves are large, oval and bright green, with a characteristic thorn at the base and very aromatic. Its orange blossom flowers also give off a characteristic aroma.
There are several varieties of lemon, although the most used for home cultivation in pots is the Eureka, also known as the 4-season lemon tree and known for giving lemons all year round, although it does not resist cold climates very well.
Where to grow the lemon tree?
Although it is common to have it in the garden, it is also possible to grow the lemon tree in a pot. In fact, if you want to enjoy its fruits and its beauty and you live in a cold climate, it will be the best way to protect it from frost, since it does not support temperatures below -3 °C. In fact, the climate in which you grow the lemon tree is essential for it to thrive. The ideal temperature for the lemon tree is between 17 and 28 °C, so it will be the perfect crop for temperate zones if you plant it in the garden. But if it’s colder in your area and you have it in a pot, you can always place it in a more protected location or cover it with a blanket or tarpaulin that keeps the tree warm.
Where to put the lemon tree?
One of the needs of the lemon tree is humid and light air, which prevents the leaves from drying out. Therefore, even if you have them in a pot, it is best to put them outside where they can receive between 6 and 8 hours of direct light a day. Since they also need to be protected from drafts and wind, if you have it in a pot, you should place it near the walls, where it can be more covered.
The soil of the lemon tree
One of the conditions for the lemon tree to thrive is that you choose a substrate with good drainage, so that the soil does not become flooded. For this reason, you will need a semi-light substrate, with a slightly acidic pH and rich in organic matter. You can use a substrate for succulents or one specific for citrus. Renew the lemon tree substrate every two or three years without manipulating the roots too much.
As for the fertilizer, the lemon tree needs periodic doses of organic matter to continue developing and giving you its delicious fruits. You can apply worm hummus or a specific fertilizer for lemon trees throughout the year, but especially during the warmer months.
When and how to water a lemon tree?
Water is one of the main requirements of the lemon tree cultivation, since it needs a lot of humidity in the substrate, since it does not tolerate droughts. Therefore, the ideal is to provide water every other day in summer, especially if temperatures exceed 30 ° C. The rest of the year it will be enough to do it once or twice, depending on the weather.
When you water the lemon tree you will have to be especially careful not to flood the soil, since it would be very harmful.
Pruning the lemon tree
Pruning is another of the most important aspects of the lemon tree, so that it adopts the shape that we want and does not grow more than necessary. Like other fruit trees, the lemon tree needs formation pruning to give it the desired shape during the first years. Then, each season, you will have to subject them to a maintenance pruning, eliminating the branches that grow in unwanted directions, as well as eliminating those that are in poor condition. It also eliminates clearing the crown a bit so that the light can pass to all the branches.
The best time to prune a lemon tree is at the end of winter and beginning of summer, when the intense cold has passed, but the growing season has not yet begun.
How to grow a lemon tree from seed?
One of the advantages of growing a lemon tree at home is that you can do it yourself from the seeds of a lemon that you have consumed. The first thing you should do is put the seeds in a container with water for 3 hours, which will serve to hydrate them.
Those that come to the surface, discard them and use those that have gone down to the bottom. Dry them take a pot of about 30 cm in diameter. Pour 75% soil rich in mineral and vegetable nutrients, place the seed and cover it with gravel until they are covered.
It will take about 15 days for the first shoots to appear. When the seedling reaches about 15-20 cm you can transplant it into a larger pot or in the garden. The best option is terracotta or stone, avoiding plastic ones that tend to absorb heat and dry out the substrate more quickly.
Most common lemon tree problems
Like other plants and fruit trees, the lemon tree can be attacked by various diseases and pests, such as mealybugs, aphids or red spider mites, but it can also be a problem with irrigation or location. Check its symptoms and fix it:
- My lemon tree does not give lemons: make sure that your lemon tree is not too cold, receives enough watering and has an adequate supply of organic matter and fertilizer. In the latter case, you may need a contribution of magnesium and phosphorus.
- The leaves of my lemon tree are yellow: this problem is usually caused by a lack of nutrients or by a pest.
- The leaves of my lemon tree are wrinkled: the most common thing is that the lemon tree suffers from a plague of the miner insect. You can remove it with sprays of potassium soap (1-2% per liter of water).