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The Problem of a Lemon Tree in a Pot

Lemon tree image by Timo de Looij from

Lemons are packed with vitamin C, and are a popular ingredient in many recipes and beverages. It is cheaper to grow your own lemon tree at home, versus buying lemons at the market. Even those who have limited space can successfully grow a lemon tree. They grow well in containers, provided that their basic needs are met. According to, many who grow lemon trees in pots make some mistakes that can be avoided with a little knowledge and preparation.

Wrong Size Pot

A lemon tree needs its pot to be large enough to enable its root system to grow and develop properly. A pot that is too small causes the lemon tree to become root bound, which adversely affects its fruit yield. A pot that is too large is uncomfortable for the tree, which also affects its yield. Ideally, the pot must allow for root growth, without being too spacious. Repot the lemon tree during the spring if necessary.

Inadequate Water

Lemon trees are finicky about their moisture level, and protest by dropping leaves or fruit if they go too long without water. The lemon tree prefers soil that is on the moist side of dry. The soil must never completely dry out. According to, container lemon trees require more frequent waterings because pots heat up and cause evaporation. A lemon tree is happiest when it is receiving water on a regular schedule. Check the soil daily for the first few weeks, until you figure out how often you need to water to prevent drying out.

Inadequate Drainage

A lemon tree cannot tolerate wet feet. If there is too much water in its pot, the tree is susceptible to root rot and fungal diseases. This is avoided with the use of well-drained soil instead of top soil from your yard. Well drained soil has a lot of organic matter that enables excess water to drain away quickly. Drainage holes in the pot are also important. Before you plant a lemon tree in a pot, check the pot for drainage holes. If there aren't any, use a drill to make some so that the water will flow freely.

Inadequate Light Exposure

Inadequate sunlight is a common lemon tree mistake. Some container gardeners may put their lemon tree on the patio or close to their house to enjoy its fragrance or beauty. Some even prefer to grow their lemon trees indoors. These areas are usually too shady for a lemon tree. For best results, a lemon tree needs at least eight hours of direct sunlight per day. Southern exposure is ideal.

Climate Shock

If you live in an area of the country where it freezes during the fall or winter, take your lemon tree indoors. Don't shock the tree by taking it from cold weather to heated home in the span of a minute or two, as this could stress the plant. Instead, it is important to move the tree to slightly warmer temperatures over the course of a week or so until you finally bring the tree indoors for the winter. Reversing this method must be done to reintroduce the tree to outdoor temperatures during the spring.

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