Lemon trees are among the easiest fruit trees to grow, but they are sensitive to cold weather, so you should be in the U.S Department of Agriculture planting zones 8b through 11 for them to thrive in your backyard. But don’t be disappointed if you live north of these zones; they make wonderful houseplants, growing only to between 3 and 5 feet in height.
Lemon trees grown from seed will bear fruit in 3 to 6 years. You can also use rooted cuttings or purchase grafted plants at a nursery to get fruit much sooner. No matter which method you choose to grow them, these trees are neither difficult nor expensive to maintain.
Here are six tips to get you started indoors or outdoors:
1. Give them lots of light
Lemon trees need full sunlight for them to grow properly, so they will do best on the south side of your yard. If you are growing them indoors, you might need to assist them with fluorescent grow lights during the winter months.
2. Choose their favorite soil
Lemon trees can tolerate a variety of soils, but they prefer well-draining and slightly acidic soil. If you plant them outdoors, dig your hole a bit shallower then the height of the root ball. They need to set slightly higher than the ground.
3. Keep the soil moist
The trees like an evenly moist soil. Use mulch outdoors to help retain it. They should have a deep watering once a week. However, don't allow the water to puddle.
4. Fertilize as needed
If your lemon tree isn't producing fruit, it might be because it's lacking nutrients. Choose a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen with a formula number no higher than 8. Fertilize no more than four times per year and avoid feeding during the coolest season while it is not in active growth.
5. Move your pots outside
Take your containers outside during warm weather. You'll give them a better chance of bearing fruit. Lemon trees grown indoors don't get proper pollination from bees and other insects. And, they will appreciate the natural light.
6. Prune them
Prune all those shoots that grow straight up out of the tree and any branches that are rubbing against each other. Cut out dead or damaged wood that is hanging toward the ground. You can also prune any long or unsightly branches to give your tree a more rounded look.