How to Grow an Indoor Lemon Tree

1. Get a 15 gallon pot with drainage holes and a saucer underneath

2. Choose a lemon variety that Does Well Indoors – Meyer or Pink Variegated

3. Buy a 2-3 year old Lemon Tree.

4. Buy Potting soil that is Acidic

5. Choose a spot that gets 8-12 hours of sunlight

6. Add Full Spectrum Grow Lights if needed

7. Take your lemon tree base out of it’s pot. Check that the roots aren’t growing around the rootbase in circles (i.e. rootbound). The rootbase is the original ball of roots and soil that form the base of the lemon tree you purchased. If the roots are rootbound gently massage them at the edges or use a sharp knife to cut them in 3-4 places on the edge so they can start growing out. They will eventually become rootbound to your larger pot which is what you want. A rootbound tree will grow to match the pot size. You want your new small tree to grow into your larger pot then stop growing.

8. Add potting soil to the pot. Fill the pot with enough soil so when you place the lemon tree into the pot the top of it’s rootbase is about 1-2 inches below the top of your 15 gallon pot.

9. Add potting soil around the rootbase inside the 15 gallon pot. Pack this soil down gently. Do not place soil on top of the lemon tree’s existing rootbase

10. Add a little water to start. Water the tree so that the soil is damp but not wet.

11. Water your tree weekly. Check the pH of your tap water. Add vinegar or baking soda as needed to get your tap water to a pH of 7. Tap water frequently has a pH of 8 as a protection against corrosion of pipes. Your lemon tree wants a lower pH and prefers acidic soils.

12. Fertilize your tree as needed. Don’t over-fertilize. Check for nutrient deficiencies first then fertilize accordingly.

13. Prune your tree only if needed. Over-pruning can lower your lemon yield. Prune dead, broken, or diseased leaves or branches but cutting them with sharp shears at the base of the main stem they connect to.

14. Maintain ideal temperatures and humidity. Lemon trees prefer temperatures of 70 -100 Degrees F. Keep them away from cold windows or sliding glass doors. Maintain at least a 50% humidity level. Use monitors to check for this and add a humidifier if needed. Checking humidity is more important in arid places like Colorado or in air conditioned houses.

15. Pollinate your tree by hand. When flowers bloom it’ll be up to you to pollinate all the flowers with a small paintbrush. Rub the brush against the entire inside of each flower so you contact both the male stamen and female anthers. Do this daily until the flowers begin to wither.

lemon blossom - how to grow lemons indoors
Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay

16. Thin lemons as they appear. Lemons will appear in clusters. Remove ⅔ of the lemons from each cluster. This will give the remaining lemons and chance to get even bigger.

17. Harvest your lemons when ripe. You can expect your first harvest at least 6 months and up to 9 months after hand pollinating. Test for ripeness by squeezing the lemons gently with your thumb. If they feel slightly soft they are ready to pick.

18. Cut lemons with sharp shears. Cut ripe lemons where the little lemon stem meets the main branch. Try not to damage the lemon skin or the main branch while cutting. Cutting cleanly helps prevent disease.

19. Store those lemons. Lemons will keep for 2-4 weeks while stored on the counter or 2-4 months while stored as whole lemons in the fridge. Eat cut lemons within 2-3 days and keep sliced lemons stored in the fridge. Fresh squeezed lemon juice can be frozen and stored for up to 6 months.

Can you grow citrus trees indoors?

Absolutely. Citrus trees do well indoors in controlled environments. Simply choose a variety that does well indoors and give adequate acidic potting mix, water, light, temperature, and humidity and they will do well. Indoor citrus trees require hand pollinating with a brush to grow fruit.

What are the best citrus trees to grow indoors?

Here’s a list of citrus trees that do well indoors: Meyer Lemon Trees, Pink Variegated Lemon Trees, Calmondin Orange Trees, Kaffir Lime Trees, and Trovita Orange Trees.

Most dwarf varieties of citrus trees will do well. Be sure to buy a health 2-3 year old tree from a trusted local nursery.

Local simply means has a physical store nearby with knowledgeable staff. Those nursery employees will be invaluable if any problems arise since they should know what grows best and how to deal with problems for your local area.

How long does it take to grow a lemon tree from a seed?

Lemon trees taken 3 years to start producing lemons after starting from a seed. It is unlikely that the lemons grown will be similar to the lemons you pulled the seeds from. Most fruit trees are grown from cuttings of successful tree varieties. Seeds form new tree varieties that may grow great fruit or may just be a lemon (pun intended).

If you want to grow lemons at home we recommended buying a dwarf lemon tree that is 2-3 years old and following the directions above. If you simply want to grow a tree then lemon seeds will be a fun way to do that.

Again follow the directions above on potting soils, water, light, pruning, and harvesting. If you start from seed you never know what you’ll get but you may make the next great lemon variety!

Full Spectrum Grow Lights for Citrus

Lemon trees require 8-12 hours of full direct light a day. If you have a large window you’ll be able to provide some of this lighting. We recommend supplementing any window light with T5 fluorescent bulbs with a mix of cool color (6500K) and warm color (3000K) bulbs.

Start with a 4 bulb lighting fixture that’s 2 feet long. That will give your citrus everything it needs to grow and to fruit. Plus you will have more control over temperature conditions. Citrus lives best at 70 – 85 Degrees Fahrenheit. Being placed too close to a cold window could slow your trees growth and lower your harvest.