If you have ever seen a flowering lemon tree, you will want to grow one. Or maybe many trees. For those of you who haven’t seen, we will explain you. Their dark green, oval and delightful leaves have a glossy texture that can shimmer in sunlight. The white flowers bloom with a citrus fragrance and to the touch are soft. They bear the exciting possibility of fruit. Lemon tree flourish outdoors year round in sunny and hot areas, but they can also thrive indoors like edible houseplants in cold season climates.
While rooting cuttings is a reasonable option for fast fruit, the cuttings of the lemon tree are not readily available in many areas of the world. But the lemons are another story. It might take anywhere from 3-6 years for your tree to be able of producing fruit, there is some extra reward about starting it from seed.
Here is a guide of how to grow a lemon tree from a seed:
Things that you will need:
- Be careful to buy an organic lemon because some non-organic lemon seeds may be incapable of germinating. Any organic lemon will do that, but if you have the space or climate restrictions, try to find a specific variety that is called a “Meyer” lemon. They are a smaller type of lemon and is usually grown for ornamental purposes, and because of that they are better suited for indoor containers. But you can use any seed that makes sense for your situation.
- Potting soil. Any potting soil will do, but we suggest you to use a potting soil with a blend of perlite, peat, organic fertilizer and vermiculite. Every seed that we planted in this type of organic potting mix have sprouted beautifully.
- Container or pot. You will need a container with drainage holes that is 5-6 inches deep and a few inches in diameter will be enough for sprouting. But, the seedling will need to be re-potted later into a much larger pot. Mature lemon trees prefer a pot that is wider rather than deeper, so we advise you to plant your seeds in a pot that is 12-18” in diameter and 10-16” deep. Your little tree will happily make itself a home in a larger pot for the next few years, and then maybe you will want to upgrade it again.
- A lot of sun or grow light. Lemon trees need a lot of sunlight, especially when they are sprouting and they need 10-14 hours of light each day. So, if you don’t have a sunny window, get a grow light. The growing light don’t cost much and they will prove their worth in healthy green foliage.
Methods for sprouting the seed:
- Pre-moisten the potting soil. Put some soil into a bucket and add some water until the soil is damp.
- Fill the container with the pre-moistened soil and leave it about an inch of space below the rim of the pot.
- Slice open the lemon and choose a seed that for you looks full of life. Pop the seed into your mouth and then suck on it until the flesh from the seed is removed and the flavor of lemon is gone. But, pay attention not to allow the seed to dry out at any time. In order to germinate, it needs to stay moist. Keep the seed in your mouth until you are ready to plant it.
- Plant the seed! Plant the seed while it is moist about 1/2” below the soil level. Cover it with a little soil and water it well with a watering can or a squirt bottle.
- Cover the pot with breathable plastic in order to keep your seeds moist and warm. You can use a piece of clear garbage bag that has a holes poked into it, and one rubber band to securely hold it.
- Place the container in a warm location and observe it for the next couple of days. Remember that your seed needs moisture and warmth to germinate. Don’t allow the soil in the pot to dry out completely. Pay attention not to cook the seed in its little greenhouse. Too much moisture and hear could lead to a rotten seed. Your goal is to achieve a balance, so if you think that the soil is warm enough without the plastic, then remove it.
- After two weeks, maybe you will notice a sprout emerging from the soil. When the sprout appears, remove the plastic if you haven’t removed it previously, and place the pot in a warm location with a direct sunlight. Supplement sun if you need with a grow light.
- Take care of your baby and watch it grow. Be sure to provide it with:
- Place the pot in a sunny and warm window where it will receive minimum 8 hours each day of direct sunlight, or supplement sun for a grow light.
- Take care that the soil is damp at all times, especially when your tree is young. But do not allow it to sit a puddle of water, those drainage holes are there for some good reason.
- If you want to keep the lemon tree healthy and growing the soul will need to be replenished with nutrients. You can feed it with organic fertilizer like a vermicompost or compost, when it has developed a nice little set of leaves. Dig a little trench around the base of the tree, fill it with the nutrients and water it well. Try to feed it twice a year or as you will need, but do not overfeed it. About the fertilizing, less is best, so if you are in doubt, put it off a bit longer.
- Your new friends need a lot of love, so spend some time looking at it, and pay attention to its growth. Talk to it, feel it, but please don’t try to dance with it. Get into a habit of watching for some brown leaves and checking the underside of leaves for pests. The plants just like us can fall victim to bugs and diseases, and sometimes then need extra care and love.