Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How Does a Lemon Tree Grow?

By Megan Smith ; Updated September 21, 2017


Lemon trees are deciduous, flowering trees that produce lemons, either commercially or for the home garden. Lemon trees grow best in warm climates with no yearly frost, like in California and Florida, although there are some varieties, like the Meyer, which can grow in cooler climates. Lemon trees prefer well-drained, acidic soil and, although it is possible to grow a lemon tree from seed, there is only a very small chance that the lemon tree will produce fruit. To ensure your tree will produce fruit consistently every year, purchase a lemon tree sapling that has been grafted at a local nursery. Lemon tree saplings can be planted directly in the ground in the spring; make sure the entire root ball is covered and watered thoroughly. Lemon trees prefer sun over shade, and only need to be watered when the soil is dry.


Lemon trees can be pruned once a year to prevent disease and continue the growth of healthy branches. Lemon trees should not be pruned more than once a year, or the tree will become vulnerable and more susceptible to disease. The best time to prune a lemon tree is in late winter or very early spring, before any buds have bloomed on the tree. Using sharpened pruning shears, prune any branches that appear dead or lifeless approximately 1 inch from the base. Any crisscrossed branches should be removed, especially branches toward the middle of the tree that prevent sunlight from hitting all areas of each branch. It is always better to prune too little than to prune too much.


Besides regular watering, lemon trees should be fertilized twice a year to continue adequate growth. The best fertilizer to use on lemon trees is rich in nitrogen; you can purchase it at your local nursery. The best way to add fertilizer to a lemon tree is to dig a narrow trough 1 foot away from each side of the trunk. Place the fertilizer into these two troughs, then water the tree thoroughly. The best times to fertilize a lemon tree are once at the beginning of fall and once at the beginning of spring.


About the Author


Megan Smith has been a freelance writer and editor since 2006. She writes about health, fitness, travel, beauty and grooming topics for various print and Internet publications. Smith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing from New York University.