Growing Lemon Trees Outdoors


The lemon tree is a cold sensitive tree that thrives in warm, tropical climates. It can grow up to 30 feet tall and produce for more than 30 years. Along with the acidic, bright-yellow fruit, the lemon tree produces fine-toothed, dark-green foliage and fragrant white flowers with reddish buds and purple-colored undersides.

Step 1

Plant the lemon tree in a well-drained location that provides at least eight hours of full sunlight each day . The planting location should provide a mature lemon tree with at least 25 feet distance from surrounding trees, fences and structures.

Step 2

Test the location's soil to ensure that it has pH levels between 5.5 to 6.5. Adjust the soil's high levels by adding lime into the soil until the appropriate level is achieved. Complete any soil adjustments at least one week before planting.

Step 3

Prepare the planting location and tree for planting. Remove the lemon tree sapling from the burlap and bindings. Gently remove any excessive soil from the root system and comb out the roots. Trim away no more than 1/3 of the root system using sterile, sharp pruning shears.

Step 4

Dig a hole for the lemon tree sapling that has a depth and width equivalent to the root system. Fill the hole with tepid water and wait for it to seep into the ground. Place the lemon tree in the center of the hole and fill with soil. Press the soil firmly around the base of the tree to secure the tree's upright position. Build up the planting area so that the final surface of the lemon tree is slightly elevated from the surrounding area.

Step 5

Create a water ring within the elevated area around the trunk of the tree that is approximately 6 inches in height and thickness. Water the lemon tree immediately after planting to promote good establishment. Water the tree within the watering ring for the first four to six months. Add soil to rebuild the water ring after each watering.

Step 6

Irrigate the newly planted tree approximately every two to three days for two weeks. Adjust the schedule to one deep irrigation per week, providing 1-½ inches of water each time. Provide the tree with 1/2 to 1 inch more water per irrigation during the hot, dry summer months.

Step 7

Feed the lemon tree with a slow-release, nitrogen-based fertilizer such as 10-10-10- or 20-20-20. Distribute the fertilizer equally around the tree and water the area thoroughly. Keep the fertilizer at least 12 to 18 inches from the trunk to prevent root burn. Apply the fertilizer applications monthly, beginning in the mid to late spring after the new growth has begun. Follow the fertilizer's label for dosage instructions.

Tips and Warnings

  • Handle the lemon tree and its foliage and fruit with care. Wear gloves to avoid irritation.

Things You'll Need

  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning shears
  • Shovel


  • Home Fruit Production: Citrus
  • Home Fruit Production: Lemons
  • Purdue University: Lemon
Keywords: growing lemon trees, lemon tree sapling, water ring

About this Author

Charmayne Smith is a business professional. She has worked in management for successful organizations since 1994, and her writing career began with her business career. Her business has successfully assisted many clients with start-ups, development, and expansions. She has a bachelor's degree in business and has published with Identity Theft Chat, Garden Guides, eHow, Travels, Associated Content and others.