Do you wish you could grow your own lemons, but don’t know where to start? If you’ve been to garden centers and considered buying a few trees, you may have been shocked by the price of just one. But you can start growing your own lemons — or any citrus you like — for next to nothing.
The price to get started: whatever lemons cost at your local grocery. Just don’t toss out the seeds! You’ll also need a zippered freezer bag and some paper towels. Once the sprouts appear, you’ll also need some good potting soil, a pot (or pots) for planting, and a breathable plastic cover (or regular plastic wrap with tiny holes punched in it.)
Ready to get started?
Purchase some nice-looking lemons on your next shopping trip. Organic is best, if you can get them, because non-organic lemon seeds may not germinate. After slicing your lemon open, carefully remove the whole seeds with the tip of a small knife and drop them into a cup of water. The seeds must not dry out, or they won’t sprout. Set the cup aside. (You also can leave them in the water until you’re ready to start sprouting them.) Remove all the pulp by wiping them clean with a paper towel.
Fold up and moisten a paper towel or two and place them in a freezer bag; set them aside. You’ll use this as a sprouting medium.
On another folded paper towel, lay one seed out, and with the same knife point, carefully poke through and remove the outer husk of the seed. This allows the seed to germinate. Once you remove the husk, place it into the freezer bag on the damp paper towel. Remove the husks from all the seeds and add them to the bag, flatten it and zip it closed.
Place the bag in a window or other sunny spot for a few weeks until little green sprouts appear. Those are your seedlings, and you’re on your way!
Once you’re ready to start planting your tiny trees, prepare your pot and soil. You’ll need a good potting soil suitable for fruits and vegetables, and a pot that’s six inches wide and six inches deep. There should be holes in the bottom to allow drainage—stagnant water can cause mold growth and other problems. Plant your little seedlings about a half-inch below the soil’s surface, and lightly spray the soil with water so that it’s damp. Cover with the plastic film (make sure there are tiny holes) and secure around the edges with a rubber band. Leave it in a sunny window, or under a grow light until the tiny leaves break through the top of the soil.
Your lemon tree will need at least eight hours of sunlight a day (or from a grow light) and some watering. Your soil should be moderately moist, but not soaking wet. About a month after leaves start appearing, add more nutrients to the soil with a good fertilizer.
When the plant gets bigger, you’ll need to move it to a larger container. These trees grow best in a container that’s wider than it is tall. Once your lemon tree is big enough, plant it in an outside garden area, if you have the space (and climate). If you don’t, a suitable indoor container with adequate sunlight will allow you to grow your lemon tree and pick fruit indoors.
Keep an eye out for things like browning leaves, pests underneath the leaves, and other potential problems when you water it. Your local extension service can give you advice on growing in your specific area.
Although younger trees are known to produce some fruit, you can reasonably expect to start picking your own lemons within three to six years.
With a little time, money and patience, you can have your own lemon tree — or orchard — and may never have to buy lemons again.
Have you ever grown lemon trees? What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:
How to Grow a Lemon Tree from Seed, Growing Wild Ceeds, 3/10/2012
Grow Lemon Tree Seeds Easily At Home, Unknown Remedy, 10/28/2016
Grow a Lemon Tree Seed, StepToHealth.com