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How to Plant Lemon Trees

You can grow a lemon tree in the ground if you live in a temperate climate that gets only light frost, or you can grow one in a large container if you live in a colder climate. Whether you prefer the sweeter Meyer variety, the traditional Eureka that is widely grown on a commercial basis, or the more unusual types such as Ponderosa, Armstrong, Avon, Genoa, Lisbon or another, the instructions for planting all types of lemons are the same.

Planting in the Ground

Purchase a young lemon tree from your nursery. Although you can start them from seed, a tree you start from seed will take far longer to reach maturity and bear fruit.

Prepare a planting area for your lemon tree in an area that receives full sun and that has well-draining soil. If your soil is heavy clay, build a raised bed at least 1 foot above the soil and plant your tree slightly above ground. Dig about two gallons of compost into the soil and then make a hole twice the size of the tree’s nursery pot.

Remove your tree from its pot by gently loosening it. Loosen the roots slightly and then set your tree into the hole. Fill the planting hole with the soil/compost mixture you dug out and firm it down around the tree’s trunk.

Water your tree well and allow the soil to dry out between waterings so the roots don’t remain too soggy.

Planting In a Container

Choose a container that is at least 12 inches across and make sure it has a drainage hole.

Fill your container about half full of a slightly acidic potting soil. Remove your lemon tree from its nursery pot and loosen the roots a bit.

Set your tree into the container and evenly distribute the roots over the top of the potting soil. Fill your container with more of the acidic potting soil. Water it well and keep it in an area that receives full sun.

Move your potted lemon tree indoors in the fall if your region gets frequent hard frosts or snow.


You can use a plant saucer under your potted lemon tree if you need to protect your carpet or a wood surface such as a deck. Dump out any standing water after you water your tree so its roots don’t begin to rot from too much moisture.

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