Lemon trees are evergreen fruit trees. Desirable for their attractive, fragrant blooms and versatile fruit, these trees are often grown indoors or in containers as patio plants. While the true species (Citrus limon) reaches a maximum height of 20 feet and is covered with thorns, there are many hybrids, most notably the Meyer lemon (a hybrid of lemon and mandarin), that are shorter and thornless.
The original habitat of the lemon tree is unknown to scientists, according to the Purdue University Center for New Crops. The tree is thought to have originated in India, but it is known that the tree appeared in China, Italy and the Mediterranean region in the years between 700 and 1000 A.D. Florida was the first U.S. state to grow lemons, but they are now primarily commercially grown in Arizona and California.
Lemon trees grow in habitats that are warm year-round. Freezing weather will damage or kill these citrus trees, according to Texas A&M University Extension. This is because they are continually growing. In addition, they can be scarred by high winds and need protection from strong breezes. For the highest quality fruit, the trees need a long, cool summer. This greatly narrows down the range of ideal habitats for the lemon tree to just a few warm, protected, coastal areas of the country.
The best habitat for the lemon tree includes one with soil rich in nutrients and fast-draining, according to Colorado State University Extension. Even so, this tree is adaptable to different soil types. In Florida, these trees grow primarily on sand, and in California, they grow in soil that has a high amount of silt and clay. Regardless of the composition of the soil, it must have good drainage or the tree may suffer from fungal diseases such as root rot.
Like all citrus trees, lemon trees thrive in a habitat that allows for plenty of sunlight and air circulation. Overcrowding of these trees can lead to poor growth, and too little sunlight will reduce blooming and fruit production. Lemon trees must have at least five hours of sunlight per day, and preferably more, according to CSU Extension.
Many lemon trees are grown in an indoor habitat. Lemon trees grow well in containers if placed in a warm, sunny room and given proper care. For best results, they should be planted in a container with drainage holes, and the potting soil with a high percentage of peat moss and perlite or sand to aid in drainage. The indoor habitat should not allow for the tree to be exposed to hot or cold drafts.
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