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?

One of the fastest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is by growing your own produce.

Even if you go to farmers markets or buy locally, you can’t get more local than growing lemons yourself!

Growing your own lemon tree is easier than you might think, but there are still several steps to follow to ensure that you have a healthy, productive plant.

Read on to learn how to grow a lemon tree indoors. 

Lemon Tree Apartment - A Harvest Guide for Growing Indoors

You may be wondering if a lemon tree is good for apartment life. Thanks to modern technology, you can grow a citrus tree in an apartment.

Here you can use LED grow lights for citrus trees, or another grow light for citrus trees if you don’t have a window that provides plenty of light.

These are lights made to provide optimal conditions for photosynthesis. You can find grow lights to purchase here.

Want to know more about the lemon tree fruiting cycle? Are you wondering, “Hey, when do lemon trees bloom?”

If you want to learn more about the flowering and fruiting cycle of lemon trees, take a look at this article (If you're just interested in growing flowers, check out more on that, here).

Lemon trees are an exercise in patience, however. From sprout to fruiting, you’re looking at three to five years.

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 varieties will have slightly different production cycles.

For instance, “Eureka” lemons are year-round. However, the most common flowering cycle has flowers appearing in spring, fruit developing over the summer and fruit turning from green to yellow in fall or winter. 

Generally speaking, lemons can ripen anywhere from four to twelve months after flowers appear.

Lemon trees outside tend to have a longer harvest season in areas where temperatures fluctuate less, so keeping your lemon tree indoors or in stable temperatures may lengthen the production time of the tree.

You can harvest green lemons when they are at 2 inches in diameter and let them ripen indoors. Green lemons at this stage have lemon flavor.

Keeping dwarf lemon trees also works great for apartment spaces. Popular dwarf varieties are Meyer lemons and Eureka lemons.


What You’ll Need

To get started growing your own lemons and reducing your carbon footprint, you will need several items:

What You Need

  • Organic lemons - contain germinating seeds, whereas non-organic lemons may sometimes not.
  • Planting pot about 1 foot by 1 foot, with adequate drainage holes on the bottom for water to run off, and a water tray.
  • Seedling pot - should be about 3 square inches and 2.5 inches deep.
  • Potting soil - should be 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.
  • A sunny location inside (or a grow lamp)
  • Organic fertilizer
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    A small trowel
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    A spray bottle filled with distilled water
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    Plastic wrap
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    Rubber band
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    Pencil
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    Fork
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    Spoon

Steps on Growing A Lemon Tree Indoors

Now it's time to start growing your own lemon tree indoors! Here's how to do it:

Step # 1. Prepare the Seedling Pot for your Dwarf Lemon Tree Indoors

Ok, let’s get into how to grow a lemon tree from seed easily in your own home. Here’s how to plant lemon seeds in a cup.

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.  

Step # 2. Remove the Seed from the Lemon 

To remove seeds from a lemon, simply cut the lemon in half.

You may worry about cutting and damaging the seeds, but there are enough seeds in the lemon that cutting it won’t ruin your chances of finding whole ones.

Use a spoon to 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.  

Step # 3. Plant the Seed 

You need to plant 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 a lemon tree from seed video below. It will help you learn how to germinate lemon seeds fast:

Step # 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 plant will receive air.

Then place the pot in a warm, sunny location.

If your living quarters don’t get much sun, you might want to invest in a growing lamp to place your lemon plant or seed under.

Step # 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. 

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

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

Step # 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.

Step # 7. Transfer Your Lemon Tree Plant to a Larger Pot 

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

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 plant. 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 of the plant.  Place the plant into the new soil, then fill in around the roots.

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

Step # 8. Indoor Lemon Tree Care  

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

Your lemon tree 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 upper 40’s Fahrenheit or lower in temperature, keep the tree inside. 

If you’re growing a 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.

Water only when the soil at the top feels dry to the touch.  

Enjoy Your Lemon Tree!

If you’re sick of driving to the store for out-of-season lemons, then growing your own lemon tree could be the answer.

There are also a couple of alternative methods.

You can also learn how to germinate lemon seeds in a paper towel here:

And if you know someone with a lemon tree, here’s how to grow a lemon tree from a cutting:

Growing your own lemon tree is also the ultimate in locally grown produce. (To grow or preserve more produce, check out our articles on storing fresh basil and aquaponics here.)  

Did you have a comment or tip to share about growing your own lemon tree? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Also, remember to share the article if you found it helpful!

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