Potted lemon tree care

Potted lemon tree

Image - vix.com 

If you are looking forward to having a fruit tree on your patio or balcony and you have no idea which one to choose, I recommend that you get a lemon tree. Yes, yes, although it can grow up to 4-5 meters, it is one of the best adapted to living in containers since it tolerates pruning very well.

With minimal care, your potted lemon tree will give enough fruit so that you can taste the real natural lemons, that is, those who have been nurtured with care.

How to plant a potted lemon tree?

Lemon blossom

Having a fruit tree is something that almost everyone can do. But to take good care of it it is essential that the pot is more or less as wide as it is deep. The size will depend on the tree itself, as we cannot plant it in a 50cm diameter container if it is a very young plant, since doing so will most likely cause its roots to rot due to excess moisture.

So, if the lemon tree that we have bought is in a 30cm container, we will plant it in another that measures between 35 and 40cm. How? As follows:

  1. The first thing we have to do is fill the pot with a first layer of expanded clay or volcanic clay.
  2. Then, we will fill it up to a little less than half with substrate for the orchard (sold in nurseries), or with the following mixture: 40% black peat + 40% perlite + 20% organic fertilizer (horse or goat manure, for instance).
  3. Now, we put the tree in the container. In the event that it is above or far below the edge, we will add or remove substrate. Ideally, it should be about 3cm below.
  4. Then we finish filling.
  5. Next, we place the pot in a very bright area where it will be in direct sunlight for a minimum of 5-6 hours a day.
  6. Finally, we will water.

What care to give it?

Lemon tree with fruits

Now that we have it planted in its new pot, we have to provide it with a series of care so that it looks beautiful and produces good fruit. To do this, we have to do the following:

  • Irrigation: watering the lemon tree must be frequent, but avoiding waterlogging. During the summer it may need a watering every two days, while the rest of the year we will have to water it less. In case of doubt, we will check the humidity before giving it water, inserting a thin wooden stick and checking how much soil has adhered to it. If it comes out practically clean, it means that the substrate is dry and that therefore it must be watered.
    If we have a plate underneath, we will remove the excess water 15 minutes after watering.
  • Subscriber: from spring to summer, we can even also in autumn if we live in an area with a mild climate, we must fertilize it with organic liquid fertilizers, guano being especially advisable due to its high nutrient content and its rapid effectiveness. Of course, we must follow the instructions specified on the packaging to avoid the risk of overdose.
  • Transplant: our lemon tree will need a substrate renewal - as much as possible, without manipulating the roots much - every 2-3 years.
  • Pruning: at the end of winter we will have to prune it, removing the dry, weak and diseased branches, and also cutting those that are growing too much. For this we will use a small hand saw previously disinfected with pharmacy alcohol, and we will put healing paste on the wounds so that the fungi cannot infect it.
  • Preventive treatments: being a fruit tree that can be affected by various pests, such as cochineal, aphid or the Red spider, it is highly advisable to do preventive treatments with neem oil o potassium soap.
  • HarvestLemons will be ready to pick in spring. When they have acquired the characteristic yellow color, we can collect them to make delicious recipes.
  • Rusticity: this is a tree that supports well cold and weak frosts down to -3ºC. If in our area the thermometer drops more, we will have to cover it with a thermal gardening blanket or with transparent plastic. In the case of severe frosts, of -7ºC or more, it will be necessary to protect it in a heated greenhouse.

Lemon tree with fruits

Following these guidelines, we will have a healthy and well-cared for potted lemon tree.

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  1.   white zamora said

    What varieties are those that are planted in pots? Thanks

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Blanca.
      You can put the one you like the most. The lemon tree is a tree that resists pruning well. Even so, we recommend the Four seasons, which is a variety that already does not grow more than 4m, and therefore is much easier to work with.
      A greeting.

    2.    Arantxa said

      Hi! I have had a potted lemon tree for a year. It worries me because the color of the leaves is very pale, there are several that turn yellow and the flowers fall off.
      I can do?
      Thank you.

      1.    Monica Sanchez said

        Hello Arantxa.

        You may have nutritional deficiencies. Iron or manganese may be lacking.
        It is solved by watering it with a liquid citrus fertilizer, such as this.


  2.   saul metz dominican said

    Hello, I want to know how long a Tahiti lemon tree lasts in Floreser because I have 12 lemon trees and they have one year and four months and a Persian lemon tree of the same time and they are not yet flowered. Thank you

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Saul.
      Lemon trees usually take 4-5 years to flower, but if they are grafted they take a little less time (2-3 years).
      A greeting.

  3.   Mariana I dreamed Ibarra said

    I planted a seed of a lemon that I consumed and a beautiful lemon tree sprouted that I take care of it as if it were gold. At this time the tree is 18 months old and measures about 30cm. I have it in a large pot but it looks healthy, shiny green leaves. I have been told that since it grew from a seed, it will never bear fruit. That's right?
    Thank you.

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Mariana.
      No it's not true. Yes it will bear fruit, no problem. Which will take longer than one that is grafted, and the quality may not be as expected.
      A greeting.

  4.   Juan said

    Hello, some care for the root taking into account that it is a pot, do you have to cut it?

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi John.
      You can trim the roots a bit in late winter, but don't cut more than 5cm.
      However, if the tree is young and / or fits well in the pot, it is not essential to prune the roots.
      A greeting.

  5.   Angela said

    Hi Monica, I have a 4 season lemon tree planted in a large pot with good drainage and the recommended substrate in the nursery where I bought it 2 years ago. It is well located on the roof where it gets enough sun during the day. It has grown a lot, has abundant flowering and does not present pests since I check its leaves daily. I started applying a citrus fertilizer that was sold to me at the nursery. But its older leaves bend inwards, quite a lot of leaves fall off (new and old) and the little lemon trees that come out after flowering also fall off. Is it normal as part of growth? Thanks

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Angela.
      It is normal for old leaves to fall, but only if new, healthy leaves grow.
      From what you count, it may be that the compost is hurting him or that he needs a larger pot. If you see that roots are growing out of the drainage holes or that it has not grown in a while, I would advise you to transplant it in spring.
      A greeting.

  6.   leo said

    Hi, I have a 4 season lemon tree for a long time and now I want to fix it a bit: prune, remove the old soil and put it new, nutrients.
    Do you have to cut the roots? What should be placed at the bottom of the pot so that it drains well? You have to buy some special soil for the bottom and then put normal soil on top?

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi leo.
      No, I do not recommend cutting roots. Simply plant it in a pot that is at least 5cm wider. Put a layer of about 2-4cm of clay on the bottom, and then a good substrate (it can be the universal one sold in nurseries).
      A greeting.

  7.   Rose said

    My question is, I just bought a 4-season dwarf lemon tree which comes with a lot of lemons. I would like to know if I have to change the potted lemon tree or wait a bit, since I have it for two days, thank you

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello rosa.
      It is more advisable to wait until the lemons have fallen, or you have picked them.
      A greeting.

  8.   Lucia said

    I have a potted lemon tree, which I bought two years ago and it came with a lot of lemons, last year it did not flower and now on December 20, the beginning of winter it has begun to flower, is it normal that it flowers at this time? I live in the south of Spain on the coast.

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Lucia.
      No, it is not very normal 🙂, but if you have had warm temperatures, the plants get "out of control".
      A greeting.

  9.   MIRTA OVENS said


    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Mirta.
      In spring, early or mid-season (better early) 🙂
      A greeting.

  10.   Daniel said

    Hi Monica, where can I get 4 seasons grafted lemon tree?
    Also if it would adapt to Tierra Estella in Navarra.
    From already thank you very much !!!

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Daniel.
      I have been taking a look and in the online store elnougarden.com they sell.
      Regarding its rusticity, it resists frosts of up to -4ºC.

  11.   Manoli said

    Hello, I have a four-season lemon tree, it has many lemons but now the leaves are falling off, they are very green and new, why is it, is something missing, thank you very much

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Manoli.
      Have you checked if it has any plagues? The fall of leaves is usually related to the attack of an insect. In this article we talk about the most common pests of the lemon tree.

      Now, if they are yellowish or it is a tree that is not usually fertilized, it could be that it lacks some nutrient. So in this case it would be highly recommended to pay with a specific fertilizer for fruit trees 🙂

      I hope it gets better. If you have any further questions, ask.


  12.   xabi said

    Hello, are there problems or is it not advisable to plant 2 lemon trees in the same pot? I have several pots with lemons and in 2 of them I have planted between 2 and 3 lemons from seed. They are growing well. I suppose that the ideal would be one lemon tree per pot, but is there a problem with at least 2?

    Thank you very much.

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Xabi.

      I do not recommend it. The roots of these trees are not invasive, but they need space to grow. A pot for two is not enough, since they will fight, each one, to get nutrients ... and it is possible that one of them will die on the way.

      To avoid this, it is highly recommended to move them to larger and larger pots as soon as you see that the roots are coming out of the drainage holes, their growth has stagnated, and / or they have occupied the entire pot.


  13.   Benjamin said

    For more than 7 years I have planted some seeds of the Lemon of Haiti and my lemon tree has not given me flowers yet-
    What can I do to make it bloom and bear fruit?
    Thank you

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hello Benjamin.

      Do you have it in a pot or on the ground? If it is potted, you may need a larger one, especially if it has been in it for more than three years.

      You may also be missing a subscriber. That is why I recommend you pay it in spring and summer with a citrus fertilizer (you can buy it from here! for example).


  14.   Laly said

    Because the lemon tree leaves are at this time semi rolled, they were always green and stretched, also how is it in a pot on a balcony on a 9th floor, the leaves are full of dust. Can I wash them?

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Yes, you can wash them without problem, with soft water and mild soap. Greetings.

  15.   Laly said

    Congratulations on your advice.
    The leaves of my potted lemon tree started to curl up and fall off. What should I do?

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Laly.

      Check to see if it has any pests, since for example mealybugs or thrips can cause the leaves to roll up. In case you have, you can clean them with soft water and diluted neutral soap.

      If it did not have anything, then it is possible that it lacks some nutrient, so we recommend you to fertilize it with some liquid citrus fertilizer, like this one that they sell here!.


  16.   Susana said

    Hello Monica, my potted lemon tree that has been with me for a few months but measures 1 meters has started to spread twigs all over its trunk and widen its Cup, should I cut those small twigs that come out from the base to keep the trunk clean? When should I do it? Is there a bloom now in August? Could you do it already?

    1.    Monica Sanchez said

      Hi Susan.

      The ideal is to remove the shoots that come out of the trunk, yes. It is better to do it in the fall.