Summer is a great time to enjoy the refreshing citrus flavor of lemon. Wouldn’t it be great to have your own tree that you can pick from whenever you like? Fortunately, lemon trees are among the easiest citrus fruits to grow in your yard. With a bit of planning and patience, you can be plucking your own lemons in a matter of months.
Growing a lemon tree from seed is surprisingly straightforward, and something that anyone can do if they have a warm, sunny windowsill. It will take a few years to before it fruits and flowers but eventually your hard work will pay off. Citrus will grow in all parts of Australia except areas that experience severe frost.
Citrus trees have big benefits
They can produce gloriously perfumed white flowers, sport glossy, green leaves and brightly coloured fruit – yellow, orange and green
Fruit holds on the tree in good condition for many months after ripening providing long-term self-storage
Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C and are great for winter health including resistance to colds and flu
What You’ll Need
It’s recommended that you buy organic lemons since some non-organic varieties have seeds that will not germinate. The “Meyer” variety are preferred because they are small and are better for ornamental purposes in containers or indoors.
Use a mixture of peat, vermiculite and organic fertilizer. Normal potting soil will also suffice.
Choose one with drainage holes. To germinate your seeds the container only needs to be 15cm deep. Lemon trees have strong root systems and will prefer a container that is wider than it is deep so rather plant the seedlings in a container 30-45cm wide and 25-40cm deep. This will be sufficient for a few years.
How to Germinate Lemon Seeds
Moisten the potting soil by adding water until it’s damp all the way through.
Fill the container with the potting soil leaving a 3cm space below the rim.
Slice the lemon (it’s best to cut the lemon slightly off-centre to avoid damaging the seeds). Pick the seeds out and rinse all the flesh off them.
Plant them 1cm deep and cover completely with soil, then water well.
Cover the container with a plastic bag and poke some holes in it to allow for the exchange of gasses. This keeps the seeds warm and moist. Use a rubber band to keep the plastic bag in place.
Take note: seeds need warmth and moisture to germinate. But you don’t want too high temperatures nor do you want to allow the seeds to dry out. So keep an eye on them. If you think the soil temperature is warm enough rather remove the plastic cover. Too much warmth and moisture combined will rot the seeds.
The germination period can take up to two weeks. You can remove the plastic cover when you see the little sprout emerging. Place the little ones where they can get some sunlight and check on them regularly.
Once they are large enough to manage you can transplant them into larger containers.
Tip: Remember, lemon sprouts need light. Set the plant in full sun or in a sunny windowsill and check regularly to make sure it isn’t drying out or infected by diseases.
Caring for the Seedlings
Allow the soil to get dry when the seedlings have developed some leaves, before you start watering again. Do not let the soil to get dry completely. However, it must be kept moist.
When you grow lemon tree from seed, keep in mind that the trees will require about eight hours of sunlight in order to survive. On the other hand, the lemon tree seedlings will need about 14 hours. Consider placing a grow light beside your lemon tree to ensure that it will get enough sunlight that it needs. You can purchase these lights from nurseries and local garden centers.
Transplanting your Lemon Tree
Transplant the seedlings once the tails are already about 3.15 inches. If you don’t want to wait long, transplant them once the tails are already about 1/2 inch long. Create a shallow hole in a damp and well-drained soil and then tuck the lemon tree in pot into the hole. Pat the soil gently around the seedling.
Remember that your seedling will soon outgrow its pot. Once it reaches about a year old, transfer it into a pot that is about 6 inches wide. Eventually, you may have to move the pot to something wider, about 8 inches wide and 16 inches deep. You can also choose to transplant the seedlings directly into the soil.
A good rule of the thumb when it comes to transplanting when growing lemon tree from seed is to check the bottom of the pot. If you will see roots at the drainage holes, then take that as a sign that the plant will now need a much bigger pot.