Lemon Tree Growth Stages from Seed: A Complete Guide

lemon tree growth stages

Hi, aspiring gardeners and citrus enthusiasts! Are you eager to embark on a journey of cultivating your lemon tree from a humble seed? Look no further; we have prepared a comprehensive guide that will take you through the fascinating lemon tree growth stages and empower you to nurture your tree from seedling to fruition. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a curious beginner, this article will unravel the mysteries of the stages of lemon tree growth in an informative and engaging manner.

From the delicate emergence of the first sprout to the glorious blossoming of fragrant flowers, each lemon tree stage of growth holds its own enchantment and offers valuable insights for a successful harvest. Discover the secrets of each step, from the initial germination to the flourishing lemon tree flowering stages, and gain the knowledge and confidence to cultivate your own thriving lemon tree orchard. So, roll up your sleeves, grab your gardening tools, and get ready to witness the remarkable transformation of your citrus companion!

Selecting the Right Seeds

Selecting the Right Seeds

When growing a lemon tree, it’s important to start with high-quality seeds that have the potential to develop into healthy and productive trees. Look for fresh, plump seeds free from any signs of damage or mold. The lemon tree growing stages are crucial to monitor, as the seed will eventually sprout and grow into a small sapling. The sapling will mature into a strong and fruitful tree with proper care and attention. Factors to consider when selecting seeds:

Freshness and viability

When starting a garden, it is important to opt for fresh seeds as they have a higher chance of successful germination. Check the viability of the seeds by performing a float test—seeds that sink are generally viable, while those that float are less likely to germinate. Keep in mind that certain types of plants, such as grass stickers, may require a bit more attention and care when it comes to seed selection and germination.

Variety selection

Consider the lemon variety you wish to grow. Various lemon cultivars are available, each with unique characteristics, flavors, and growth habits. Choose a variety that suits your climate and personal preferences.

Organic vs. non-organic seeds

Decide whether you want to grow your lemon tree using organic or non-organic seeds. Organic seeds ensure that your tree is free from synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, aligning with a more environmentally friendly approach.

Preparing the Seeds for Planting

To extract seeds from fresh lemons, cut the fruit and carefully remove the seeds. Rinse them gently to remove any pulp or residue.

Cleaning and disinfecting the seeds

Clean the extracted seeds by soaking them in a solution of water and mild dish soap for a few minutes. Rinse thoroughly to remove any soap residue. This step helps eliminate potential pathogens and improves germination rates.

Soaking seeds for optimal germination

Soak the cleaned seeds in room temperature water overnight or for approximately 24 hours. This process helps soften the seed coat, promoting better germination.

Germination Stage

Select small containers or seed trays with drainage holes to sow the lemon seeds. This allows excess water to drain, preventing waterlogging.

Ideal soil mixture

Prepare a well-draining soil mixture for germination. A blend of peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite provides adequate aeration and moisture retention for the developing seedlings.

Moisture and temperature requirements

Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged during the lemon tree stages of growth. Aim for a temperature range of 70-80°F (21-27°C) to facilitate optimal seedling growth.

Planting the lemon seeds

Plant the seeds approximately half an inch (1.3 cm) deep into the soil. Maintain a spacing of about two inches (5 cm) between each seed to allow ample room for root development.

Water the soil gently after planting the seeds to ensure the soil is evenly moist. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to rotting or fungal issues.

Lemon seeds usually take around 2-4 weeks to germinate. During this period, keep the soil consistently moist and provide a warm and well-lit environment. Signs of successful germination include the emergence of seedlings with a pair of small leaves.

Seedling Stage

Place the seedlings in a location with bright, indirect sunlight. Lemon trees require at least 8 hours of sunlight each day for healthy growth. Consider using grow lights if natural sunlight is limited.

Water the seedlings when the top inch (2.5 cm) of the soil feels dry. Ensure thorough watering, allowing the excess water to drain from the container. Avoid overwatering, as it can cause root rot.

Monitor the seedlings for any signs of pests or diseases. Common issues include aphids, scale insects, and fungal infections. Treat any problems promptly using organic pest control methods or appropriate treatments.

Transplanting seedlings to larger pots

Transplanting lemon seedlings to larger pots

As the seedlings grow, they will outgrow their initial containers. Choose pots that are slightly larger in diameter and have good drainage.

As we approach Plantlife’s No Mow May, it’s important to take good care of your seedlings. Gently remove the seedlings from their current containers, carefully not damaging the delicate roots. Place them into the new pots, ensuring the soil level remains the same. Fill any gaps with fresh potting mix and lightly firm the soil around the seedlings.

Water the seedlings thoroughly after transplanting to settle the soil. Maintain regular watering and provide appropriate sunlight as the seedlings adjust to their new containers.

Young Tree Development

When growing a lemon tree, it’s important to ensure it receives full sunlight for at least 8 hours a day. This is crucial for promoting healthy growth and fruit production. As your lemon tree progresses through its various growing stages, you may want to consider adjusting its placement to ensure it continues to receive ample direct sunlight.

Water the young tree deeply and regularly, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Provide adequate humidity by misting the leaves with water or using a humidifier if the air is too dry.

Feed your young lemon tree with a balanced citrus fertilizer according to the package instructions. Additionally, consider adding organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to enrich the soil.

Pruning and shaping young lemon trees

Prune your young lemon tree during the dormant season to establish a strong structure. Remove any crossed or inward-growing branches, as well as dead or damaged wood. Maintain an open and balanced canopy.

Promote branching by selectively pruning the tips of the branches. This encourages lateral growth and results in a fuller and more productive lemon tree.

Flowering Stage

Lemon trees generally start flowering when they reach 2-3 years of age, although the exact timing can vary depending on the growing conditions and lemon variety.

Look for small, white or pale yellow buds forming at the tips of the branches. These buds will develop into fragrant and beautiful lemon flowers.

Promoting healthy flower development

Feed your lemon tree with a fertilizer specifically formulated for citrus trees. High-potassium fertilizers help promote flower bud development and enhance fruit set.

Lemon trees are self-pollinating, meaning they don’t necessarily require cross-pollination from other trees. However, gently shaking the branches or using a small brush to transfer pollen can improve fruit set.

Dealing with potential flowering challenges

Flower drop is a common occurrence in lemon trees and can be caused by factors such as temperature fluctuations, inadequate pollination, or nutrient deficiencies. Maintaining stable growing conditions and providing proper care can minimize flower drop.

Monitor your lemon tree for any signs of pests or diseases during the lemon tree stages of growth. Common issues include aphids, whiteflies, and fungal infections. Use appropriate treatments to control and prevent infestations.

Fruit Development and Maturation

After successful pollination, lemon flowers develop into small green fruits that gradually grow in size. The fruits undergo several stages of maturation until they reach their optimal size, color, and flavor.

To ensure larger and healthier fruits, consider thinning out excess fruits when they are still small. This allows the tree to allocate more energy and resources to the remaining fruits, resulting in better quality.

Provide your lemon tree with regular applications of citrus fertilizer to support fruit development. Water deeply and consistently, especially during dry periods, to prevent fruit drop and maintain adequate hydration.

Lemons are ready to be harvested when they reach their full color, such as bright yellow or yellow-orange, depending on the variety. The skin should feel firm but not too hard.

Gently twist or cut the ripe lemons from the tree, being careful not to damage the branches or other fruits. Store harvested lemons at room temperature or in the refrigerator for longer shelf life.

Tree Care in Different Seasons

Lemon Tree Car in Different Seasons

Prune your lemon tree during early spring to shape its canopy and maintain an appropriate size. Remove any dead or diseased wood and thin out crowded branches to allow better airflow and sunlight penetration.

Monitor your lemon tree regularly for common pests such as aphids, scale insects, or citrus leaf miners. Use organic pest control methods or targeted treatments to prevent and manage infestations.

Summer care for heat and hydration

Increase watering during hot summer months to prevent water stress. Ensure the soil remains consistently moist, but avoid waterlogging.

Shield your lemon tree from the intense heat by providing shade during the hottest part of the day. Consider using shade cloth or relocating potted trees to a cooler area.

Fall care for preparation

Apply a balanced citrus fertilizer in early fall to provide essential nutrients before the dormant period. Consider adding organic matter or compost to enrich the soil.

If you live in a region with frost or cold weather, take precautions to protect your lemon tree. Cover it with frost blankets or move potted trees indoors during freezing temperatures.

Winter care for protection

Wrap the trunk of your lemon tree with insulating materials such as burlap or tree wraps to protect it from freezing temperatures. Mulch around the base of the tree to insulate the roots.

Trim any dead or damaged branches during winter pruning. This reduces the risk of disease and allows for healthy regrowth in the following spring.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Yellowing leaves can indicate nutrient deficiencies, such as iron or magnesium. Apply appropriate citrus fertilizers or foliar sprays to address these deficiencies and promote healthy leaf color.

Leaf spot diseases and treatments

Leaf spot diseases, such as citrus scab or melanosis, can affect lemon trees. Remove and dispose of infected leaves, and apply copper-based fungicides according to the product instructions.

Pests that commonly affect lemon trees

The citrus leaf miner is a common pest that tunnels through young leaves, causing distinctive winding trails. Apply horticultural oil or insecticidal soap to control their population.

Scale insects appear as small, oval-shaped bumps on the branches and leaves of lemon trees. Use a horticultural oil or insecticidal soap to suffocate and eliminate them.

When growing lemon trees, it’s important to keep an eye out for pests like aphids and whiteflies. These insects can suck sap from the tree and cause problems like leaf curling and stunted growth. To control their populations, you can use insecticidal soap or natural predators. It’s important to take action during all lemon tree growing stages to ensure a healthy and thriving tree.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Can lemon trees be grown indoors?

Yes, lemon trees can be grown indoors if provided with adequate sunlight and growing conditions. Choose dwarf lemon tree varieties for indoor cultivation.

  1. How long does it take for a lemon tree to bear fruit?

Lemon trees typically start bearing fruit within 3-5 years, depending on the growing conditions, lemon variety, and seedling quality.

  1. Do lemon trees require cross-pollination?

No, lemon trees are self-pollinating, which means they can produce fruit without cross-pollination with other lemon trees.

  1. What are the best lemon tree varieties for home gardens?

Some popular lemon tree varieties for home gardens include ‘Eureka,’ ‘Lisbon,’ ‘Meyer,’ and ‘Improved Meyer.’ Each variety has its unique flavor and growth characteristics.


Enjoy the rewards of growing your own lemon tree! From selecting quality seeds and nurturing seedlings to caring for a mature tree and harvesting juicy lemons, the journey of lemon tree growth is filled with excitement and satisfaction. By following the lemon tree growth stages outlined in this guide and providing the necessary care, you can cultivate a thriving lemon tree that brings beauty and delicious fruits to your garden.

Remember to maintain optimal growing conditions, address any issues promptly, and seek advice from local gardening experts if needed. Get ready to experience the joy of plucking fresh lemons from your very own tree and delighting in their zesty flavors!