Growing a tree can seem daunting and out of reach for a lot of gardeners, but it’s not as hard as it sounds. In fact, it’s actually possible to grow a small fruit tree inside your home. Today, we’ll be taking a look at growing lemon trees indoors. This can be an excellent way to add some citrus fruit to your diet and is also a rewarding from a gardening prespective! Keep in mind, that trees grow indoors will not grow quite as tall as their outdoor brethren, but this is often intended due to the small space so is not much of a concern for most gardens.
Let’s jump into it, and see what it takes to grow your vary own lemon tree indoors.
The best way to start is to begin with a sapling of roughly 2-3 years old. This cuts out a lot of time and is always much easier than starting from seeds. Also, be on the lookout for trees labeled as “dwarfs”. Dwarf trees are specifically bred to be smaller, so they will do better indoors.
The best place to pick one up is a local nursery. This gives you the opportunity to check out the plant and make sure it’s healthy before you buy it. You can also purchase these online, here’s a decent one on amazon, if there are no nearby nursery or it is out of the outdoor growing season.
While growing from a sapling is the suggested starting method, you can also grow from a seed if you so choose. This will take long to bear fruit, and is also a bit more difficult, but can extra rewarding when the plant finally matures.
Choosing a Container
When choosing a container make sure to get one large enough to account for future growth. Generally, you’re going to be looking for one in the 10-15 gallon range. Having too small of a container will limit root growth, ultimately leading to a smaller and less fruit bearing tree. Also, make sure your chosen pot has good drainage. A couple of large holes at the bottom will help promote natural water draining and prevent accidental overwatering.
Fill the bottom inch or so of the pot with a mix of small pebbles and rocks, then fill the rest with a high quality potting soil. Most soils from a local gardening store will do the trick perfectly. You can also look for soils specifically targeted at citrus trees that are another great option. Place your tree into the pot and gently spread the roots out to help promote proper growth.
Like most fruits, lemon trees require a decent amount of bright light to grow properly. Generally, look to get the tree 8+ hours of direct sunlight, or supplemental light a day. While a lemon tree can survive with less, it will bear less fruit and end up looking more like a standard houseplant.
During the winter months, you’ll likely get less natural light but that is okay. The tree will typically go into a dormant period where it will grow less, but also need less light. If you feel you need more light feel free to supplement with grow lights, but slowing growth during the winter months is no cause for concern.
Watering and Feeding
When watering the plant, check the top inch or two of the soil for moisture. If this is dry then give your plant some water; water until you begin to see drainage from the bottom of your pot. Lemon trees are notorious for needing lots of water, so make sure you’re checking the soil regularly.
As noted above, growth will slow down in colder climates during the winter, and much like lighting your tree won’t need as much water either. Take extra care during these months not to overwater, and don’t be surprised if you got a few extra days between watering.
Lemon trees also like a lot of humidity, and lightly misting the plant daily can help to replicate this. Take a small spray bottle of water, and lightly mist the plant once per day. This will help mimic the natural humidity the plant would grow in while outdoors. This is very important as the humidity indoors is often not in an acceptable range for the plant.
Lastly, you’ll want to make sure you’re fertilizing frequently with a well balanced fertilizer or compost. Once per month is usually about right for feedings. Unlike other plants, it’s okay to continue doing this year round to keep the soil nutrients up, although in the winter you can dilute the concentration a bit more than usual.
One thing unique to indoor growing is manual pollination. While outdoors, bees and insects will normally take care of this, but indoors it is up to us! Gently shake or use a cotton swab to distribute the pollen from flower to flower. While this isn’t a requirement, it will greatly increase the chances of yielding fruit.
When successful, the fruit will generally take a few weeks to ripen.
If you don’t want to manually pollination you can also simply leave the plant outdoors during the warmer months. This will expose it to the above mentioned elements, which should be enough to pollenate the plant.
Growing Lemon Trees Indoors
Hopefully, with these tips you’ll be growing lemon trees indoors in no time! Growing fresh fruit can be a bit challenging at times, but is very rewarding when done right!
1. My Plant Looks Healthy But Isn’t Bearing Fruit, why?
In may cases this is due to lack of sunlight. Lemon trees will need lots of light in order to bear fruit. When they don’t, they can still look healthy but they won’t bear fruit. Try increasing the light the plant gets and see if makes a difference.
2. How Long Does it Take for a Lemon Tree To Bear Fruit?
In generally takes 3 years but in some cases might take up to 5 if the plant grows slowly. This is why it’s suggested to get a sapling in this age range as it will be ready to bear fruit right away.
3. What Will be Different About an Indoor Lemon Tree?
The biggest difference is the size, which also means the tree will bear less fruit. Outside of that, care is very much similar.