How To Grow A Lemon Tree Indoors Step by Step + Tips & Tricks!

I love lemons in almost everything. Not only is it zesty and tangy, but has lots of vitamin C and nutritional value to it.

Also, our collective consciousness is pushing us to bring more organic and authentic food to the table. The motto is to be clean on the inside and shine on the outside, right?

So why settle for chemically infused, store-bought lemons when you can have an organic supply if you know how to grow a lemon tree indoors. And to top that, your house will have a pleasant lemony fragrance all the while!

But let’s start with the basics of how to grow a lemon tree indoors from seed before we declare a war on store brought lemons. You need to know the following things before you start.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Grow a Lemon Tree

Close up of a lemon

If you think gardening is just watering a plant and forgetting all about it – you are heavily mistaken. While a lemon tree is a beginner-friendly plant, it still needs to be maintained.

If you are planning to grow your citrus tree indoors, you might need to do a little extra, as they are more suited for outdoor gardening.

But we love to make difficult pairing work somehow, be it in movies, novels or in real life. Don’t panic, this love story will work perfectly well! All we need is a few adjustments here and there.

Here is what you need to know and work-around.

  • Lemon is more suitable for tropical and sub-tropical areas. It cannot withstand harsh and long spells of cold winters.
  • Your love will give its fruit after completing its first 5 years. So hold on tight and be very patient with it. Plants have feelings. Don’t rush the process!
  • If you live in a colder region with minimum sunlight and cold breeze, I suggest you do not go for lemon trees.
  • But in case you live in an area where you have a bearable winter, which doesn’t go on for more than half a year, you can make things work.
  • Choose which method you want to go ahead with – via seed or via sapling/cutting?
  • How long does it take to grow a lemon tree from a seed? It might take you quite long –approximately 1-2 years to see your seeds grow into a decent tree.
  • If you want to cut short some amount of waiting time, you can get a sapling of 1-2 years of age. Yet, you will have to wait for it to bear the quality fruit that you desire.

Last but not least, believe in yourself that you will make this work! It was a hard lesson for me to realize that a green thumb is earned, not store-bought.

Now to the other main concerns.

The Technicalities Of How To Grow A Lemon Tree Indoors

Pick A Variant Of Lemon Tree

I would highly recommend that you pick Meyer lemon trees, as they are very adaptable and forgiving under the care of enthusiastic beginners. It generally produces small to medium-sized lemons in plenty of quantity.

Another good choice is the variegated “eureka” pink lemon. It has a pink pulp inside and its taste tilts more on the ‘tutti-frutti’ side than a true lemon.

Picking Pots

The depth of the pot determines the size of the lemon tree. The deeper it can grow and build its roots, the taller it will grow. When you have already decided to grow a lemon tree indoors, you need to maintain a certain height.

Mostly, a pot that can hold 15 gallons of water (57 L) would be a good enough choice. Buy a plastic pot with drainage holes to avoid any chances of waterlogging.

The aim is to keep the soil moist all the time, as lemons thrive in humidity. You might need to keep a saucer under it to do that efficiently. Add gravels and pebbles to it to create a little humid atmosphere around the soil.

Cementing The Plan With The Right Soil

Don’t just get any soil for your lemon tree. Find acidic to mildly acidic and well-draining soil for your tree. They do particularly well in peat moss soil mix. The soil used for growing cacti works well for a lemon tree.

Once you are done buying a pot and soil for your tree, you need to get a sapling from the nursery.

Preparing The Pot For The Plant

Lemon tree in a pot

The first thing you would need to do is to gently take out the sapling from its root without harming it. Mildly scrape away soil from the top layer, dig to the bottom and then gently put it away. Massage the roots gently to promote faster growth.

Before you plant it in a new pot, fill the pot halfway with soil mix. Place the sapling gently and put the remaining soil over it.

Make sure you do not fill it to the trunk, as it can cause fungal infection in them. Another good tip to remember is to plant the sapling in a new pot on the same level it had in the initial pot.

Water, Air, Fertilizer, Sun, And Light After Planting

Water Requirement

Water the plant immediately after you have buried its roots and made it stand upright on its own. The idea is to keep the soil moist and damp.

Water it enough to let it thrive. They generally need to be watered weekly.

Also, if you have hard tap water, consider mixing 1 gallon (4L) of water with 1 teaspoon of vinegar to maintain your tree’s pH balance.

Light Requirement

Place it in a sunny area where it can have at least 8 hours of direct sunlight. If your area is not getting enough sunlight, it would be better to buy some grow lights and place it near it.

Grow lights work better than normal bulbs and other artificial sources of lights, as it is designed to give your plants light while not burning it up. You can even control the amount of light it gets, which will help you get better yield.

Fertilizing Requirements

Another important thing to remember would be to fertilize the soil often.

Your fertilizer should have nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the ratio of 2:1:1. Add a quarter pound of this fertilizer every two to three months.

As your tree completes a year, add a quarter more to the dosage. After it reaches its maturity in about 5 years, only use 3-4 pounds of fertilizer 2-3 times a year.

Temperature Requirements

Your lemon tree would love the temperature to be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21.1 degrees Celsius) by day and 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12.8 degrees Celsius) at night.

Anything less than this will slow down its growth and it might fall into a coma.

Also, you can get a humidifier in case your area doesn’t get much humid. You can keep the pot near the window for fresh air. If the air is too cold, place a rotating fan near it so that it can maintain the balance.

So when do lemon trees produce fruit after so much of labor? They reach their maturity in about 5 years of age and start producing fruits.

After their first harvest, you can expect them to flower-and-fruit at least twice every year. The better the sprouting conditions, the faster and better the results.

Have “The Talk” With Your Lemon Tree

Lemon tree outdoors on a sunny day

When you keep a lemon tree indoors, you keep it safe from harsh weather conditions. But it also hinders it from pollination.

Bees, birds, and other insects are famous pollinators who do their job well outdoors. But when you keep it indoors, how would you ensure pollination?

With no pollination or poor pollination, there will be no fertilization and thus, no or poor quality lemons.

Some variants of lemons are self-pollinators – meaning, they do not necessarily need external factors to pollinate and fertilize. Eureka and Lisbon are one of those variants but they do it less often than usual.

Even if you have any of these two variants, do not rely on them to pollinate, as it can bear weaker quality lemons.

The best way to ensure good fertilization would be to manually pollinate it.

And how do we do it? I know this sounds a little weird to do, especially if you are a beginner – but you have to actually help them mate.

Do not worry, they will not complain or feel shy with a helping hand.

Let me tell you how you can do this:

  • Choose your tool: cotton swab or a paintbrush
  • Identify male parts and female parts of the lemon flower. The male part of the flower is called the stamen and the female part of the flower is called carpel.
  • You would need to swab or collect pollens sticking on anthers (part of stamen) of a flower to the stigma(part of carpel) of another flower.
  • You have to do this once a day. It takes 6-9 months for a tree to bear fruits after being pollinated.
  • Hand-pollination will yield bigger and healthier lemons than by self-pollination.

So how many lemons does a lemon tree produce indoors? It is hard to say, as their growth is stinted and most often than not, they cannot accommodate many lemons at a time.

It gets draining for the whole tree to divide its whole energy to many different sources. When you add multiple fruits to the equation, the tree might start losing strength.

This is an important thing to note when you are getting the very first harvest. The tree already decides which fruit to nurture and which one to drop.

But in case you find a few weak ones, cut them off gently from the tree.

Can You Plant Lemon Seeds From A Store Bought Lemon?

Yes, you can. But if you are talking about the seeds from store brought lemons, it can take 5-15 years to see a decent tree standing.

Also, you would need to be very careful and prepared twice as much before you plant a store-bought lemon’s seed.


Don’t let life hand you lemons – grow them in your apartment and laugh on life for producing inferior quality lemons. Because sometimes, it is all about the competition on who can nurture things the best.

To make the competition even zestier, can you plant a lemon tree from a store-bought lemon and make the result even better than growing from a sapling?

Now we have reached the end of this article. I hope you have more than sufficient ideas and information on how to grow a lemon tree indoors.

With enough love, dedication, and maintenance, you can definitely taste those zingy lemons and squeeze them for a glass of lemonade!

Andy Gibson

My name's Gibson. Andy Gibson. I like to think of myself as the Bond of the backyard, that is if yard work ever became sexy. I write about everything about indoor and outdoor gardening and the dread-it-but-still-need-to-do-it chores around the yard, like cleaning out the gutter guards.

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