Instructions on How to Grow a Lemon Tree


Lemon is a popular acid fruit used to make beverages, condiments and oils. The tree is less tolerant to cold than other citrus fruits and is hardy in USDA planting zones 8 through 11. Lemon trees make good container plants, however, so they can be grown just about anywhere. There many varieties of lemon, including some dwarf and seedless varieties. Most lemon trees are very thorny, so care must be taken when working with them. Many gardeners grow lemon trees indoors for their fresh aroma and tiny white flowers.

Step 1

Choose a location that has full sun, drains well and offers protection from strong winds. If the location receives frost during the winter, plant on the south side of the home.

Step 2

Dig a hole three times the diameter and 1 inch deeper than the root ball. Remove all grass, weeds and stones from the dug soil. Amend the soil with compost if the soil is heavy clay and does not drain well. Create a mixture of one part compost to three parts soil. If the soil drains well, amendments are not needed.

Step 3

Place some soil back into the planting hole creating a 2-inch mound at the bottom. Spread the roots of the tree over the mound, draping them down. The level of the tree should be slightly higher than it was in the container you purchased it in, or the graft line should be 2 inches above the soil level. Adjust the mound if necessary.

Step 4

Fill in halfway up the root ball with soil. Water to settle the soil around the roots. Continue to fill and water a couple inches at a time. Once the planting hole is full and the soil is level with the surrounding ground, tamp down firmly with your foot.

Step 5

Use soil to build a watering ring around the base of the tree. Follow the outside diameter of disturbed soil and make the ring 5 inches high and 6 inches wide. Fill the ring with water and allow it to soak into the soil. Water three times the first week and two times a week for the next three weeks. Water again when the soil starts to dry out to a depth of 1 inch.

Step 6

Keep the soil under the canopy of the lemon tree free of weeds. Use a hoe to cultivate shallowly or hand pick weeds. Try not to use mulch but if you don't have time to pick weeds, use grass clippings and keep at least 12 inches from the trunk.

Step 7

Fertilizer with a slow release citrus tree fertilizer once you start to see growth. Follow manufacturer's directions on how often and amount to apply.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Hoe
  • Grass clippings
  • Slow release fertilizer


  • Purdue University: Lemon
  • Gardening Know How: Growing Lemons -- How To Grow A Lemon Tree
Keywords: lemon trees, growing citrus trees, making watering rings

About this Author

Dale DeVries is a retired realtor with 30 years of experience in almost every facet of the business. DeVries started writing in 1990 when she wrote advertising and training manuals for her real estate agents. Since retiring, she has spent the last two years writing well over a thousand articles online for Associated Content, Bright Hub and Demand Studios.