How To Grow A Lemon Tree Indoors

Do you wish you could pluck a tasty citrus fruit right from a tree in your own home, instead of driving to the store for out-of-season lemons? Growing your own indoor lemon tree is easier than you might think, but there are still several steps to follow to ensure that you have healthy, productive citrus.

What You’ll Need

  • Organic lemons 
  • Planting pot 
  • Seedling pot 
  • Potting mix 
  • A sunny location inside (or a grow lamp)
  • Organic fertilizer
  • A small trowel
  • A spray bottle filled with distilled water
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rubber band
  • Pencil
  • Fork
  • Spoon

8 Steps On Growing A Lemon Tree Indoors

Now it’s time to start growing your own lemon tree indoors! Here are some tips on growing citrus indoors:

steps on growing a lemon tree indoors graphic

1. Prepare The Seedling Pot For Your Dwarf Lemon Tree Indoors

Ok, let’s get into how to grow citrus in your own home.

Start by making sure the potting soil you bought is damp. It shouldn’t be saturated or runny, just damp. You can moisten your potting soil by pouring a little bit of distilled water over it and turning the soil with your trowel.

Distilled water is better for growing your own plants, as it doesn’t contain any of the added chemicals from the tap. You could even get fresh water out of your own rain barrel.

Then add the dampened soil to the seedling pot, filling the pot so the soil is an inch below the rim.   The seedling pot should be about 3 square inches and 2.5 inches deep

2. Remove The Seed From The Lemon 

Don’t use any lemon. Using an organic lemon is necessary for indoor lemon tree growing because it contains germinating seeds, whereas non-organic lemons may sometimes not. Keeping dwarf lemon trees also works great for apartment spaces. Popular dwarf varieties are Meyer lemons and Eureka lemons.

To remove seeds from a lemon, simply cut the lemon in half. You don’t have to stress out what’s the right way to cut the lemon without damaging seeds. Citrus trees like lemon have enough seeds in the lemon that cutting it won’t ruin your chances of finding whole ones.

Take your spoon and scoop out one of the seeds that is still intact. That’s right: you only need one.

Remove the pulp from the surface of the seed by simply rubbing it clean with a paper towel. 

3. Plant The Seed 

You need to sow the seed while it is still moist. This will help it germinate easier.

Dig a hole with your trowel about half an inch deep in the center of the pot. Place the seed into the hole and cover it with soil.

(Before planting that lemon seed, you may want to check out how-to make the best potting soil for containers here!)

Spray the soil above the seed with your spray bottle so that the soil is nice and damp.

An alternative method is to peel the outer casing off the seed for faster sprouting, as you can see in this how to grow lemon from the seed video below. It will help you learn how to germinate lemon seeds fast:

4. Cover The Seedling Pot 

Cover the seedling pot with clear plastic wrap.

Secure the plastic wrap in place by wrapping the rubber band around the pot. This will create a moist, warm environment that will support seedling growth. Use your pencil to poke small holes into the plastic so the seedling will receive air. If your living quarters don’t get much sun, you might want to invest in a growing lamp to place your lemon tree or seed under.

Then place the pot in a warm, sunny location.

5. Nurture That Seedling 

Keep a close eye on your seedling pot. Do not let the soil dry out under any circumstances.

Keep the soil moist by spraying it with your distilled water in the spray bottle. The soil should be damp, however, not soaked. Do not add so much water that the water is puddling in the soil. Too much water can harm the seedling and even cause mold or fungus growth.

When you need to water will vary depending on factors like how dry your home is, but check the seedling at least once per day. 

After about two weeks, you should see some sprouts emerging. 

6. Care For Your New Indoor Lemon Tree Sprout 

Once you see the sprout, you can remove the plastic from the seedling pot.

Continue to keep the soil damp in the same way as above.

The plant should get at least eight full hours of sunlight each day. This is where a grow lamp could come in handy.

Feed the plant small doses of organic fertilizer. Follow the instructions that came with your specific fertilizer. 

Keep feeding and watering it until it gets to be too big for the seedling pot.

7. Transfer Your Lemon Tree Plant To A Larger Pot 

To transfer your lemon tree, fill your planting pot with planting mix.

When considering a potting mix, opt for brands that are fertile and contain plant food like natural fertilizers. You can also find potting soils that are made for tropical plants, usually called something like “Tropical Mix.” Optional peat moss and compost.

Fill most of the container and leave a small bowl shape in the soil that is about the size of your plant. Peat moss and compost are great additions to larger containers. You can read more about soil additions here.  

Make sure the soil is moist in the same way as when you planted your seedling.

Carefully loosen the soil around the lemon. You can do this by gently prodding the soil with a kitchen fork. But be sure not to loosen the soil too much, or you could damage the roots.

Carefully lift the plant out of the soil, pulling by the base. Then, transfer the citrus into the new soil, then fill in around the roots.

If you want to keep your lemon indoors, you can opt for a dwarf version of citrus trees. Meyer variety is a popular choice for growing indoors because it only grows 4 to 6 feet (1). A Calamondin orange is also a great choice as it has the same height as Meyer.

For larger lemon trees, you can see a tutorial on transferring the tree here:

8. Care For Indoor Lemon Tree Properly

Here’s how to take care of a lemon tree.

Citrus plants like lemon will continue to need plenty of sunlight. The more sunlight it gets, the more fruit it will produce. During warmer months, growing a lemon tree outdoors is an option.

You may be able to keep it out on a patio or porch if you have one. (It might also look good next to some outdoor solar lights.) When nights reach the upper 40’s Fahrenheit or lower in temperature, keep citrus plants inside. 

If you’re growing a Meyer lemon tree indoors during winter, keep the plant around a window that gets the most sunlight, if you have such a window. 

There are also larger growing lamps for larger tree plants. These look like floor lamps you can place right over indoor, potted trees. These make a lemon tree apartment doable.

Do not overwater your indoor lemon tree, it will not need as much water as when it was a seedling. Citrus plants like lemon only need water when the soil at the top feels dry to the touch. You can also use a moisture meter for a more accurate reading.

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Final Thoughts

If you’re sick of driving to the store for out-of-season lemons, then growing citrus could be the answer. Many residential gardens are now growing lemons, oranges, and other citrus trees indoors, and with this guide so can you! Even a green thumb beginner can grow a healthy citrus tree that can produce fruit!

Did you have a comment or tip to share about growing indoor lemon? Feel free to share in the comments below. Also, remember to share the article if you found it helpful!

FAQs

Growing a lemon tree indoors can take three to five years – from sprouting to fruiting. If you’re growing your lemon tree indoors, you will have to manually pollinate the flowers, since wind and insects won’t do it for you. Do so by moving pollen from flower to flower with a cotton swab. Peak production for lemon trees tends to be in the winter months, although different lemon varieties will have slightly different production cycles. You can also propagate by using stem cuttings.

Yes, lemon trees need a lot of sunlight. After the lemon seed starts to sprout and grow, you can move it outdoors so it can get enough sunlight. When growing lemon trees indoors, you can use LED grow lights as a supplementary light source or if you don’t have a window that provides plenty of ligh

Yes, lemon trees do well in pots, especially when you are growing them from seeds. However, you should make sure that you use large containers with drainage. Potted plants and all lemon tree varieties like Meyer lemon trees do not do well in waterlogged soil. From seeds, the ideal pot size is about 1 foot by 1 foot, with adequate drainage holes on the bottom for water to run off, and a water tray. Citrus trees that are grown indoors also require a potting mix with a high-nitrogen fertilizer.

  1. How Tall Does A Meyer Lemon Tree Grow. Retrieved from: https://www.citrus.com/blog/how-tall-does-a-meyer-lemon-tree-grow/

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