How to grow a lemon tree in a pot
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Lemon trees aren’t hardy in the UK and you need to grow a lemon tree in a pot to be successful. Here are the important things to know about how to choose a pot, the right kind of soil, and basic care instructions.
How to choose a lemon tree pot
As long as the pot is big enough for the root of your lemon tree, you have a wide choice of materials to choose from.
Choose a pot that’s 25% to 50% bigger than the root ball of the tree. Lemon trees like space around them to grow in to. About every two to three years, your lemon tree will outgrow its pot. When this happens, you need to find a bigger one for its new size. I recommend potting the tree in a functional pot (with adequate drainage) and then putting that pot inside a decorative container.
These pots are extremely durable. Their fine texture allows effective drainage which is of prime importance to the tree. The downside is that ceramic forms the heaviest pots and is difficult to move from place to place. It won’t be easy to take your lemon tree from your garden into your home once summer begins to end.
However, you can get around this by keeping your lemon tree inside at all times. Or planting it in a pot that will be big enough for more than a few years.
Terracotta / clay pots
These are similar to ceramic pots but are generally unglazed. They come in one colour – the natural pink-orange of the raw clay. These pots don’t chip or break easily but they do dry out quite quickly. You need to keep a close eye on your lemon tree’s water situation in one of these containers.
Plastic containers are your lightest choice and don’t really add much weight to the tree. They’[re suitable indoors and outside. They’re not as durable as the natural choices about and can get brittle in the sun or cold. I recommend that you drill extra drainage holes in the bottom of plastic pots as they never seems to come with enough.
Beware of how top heavy your lemon tree is, or becomes, and how it might topple over a lighter weight container.
Are you in the UK? See my guide on how to grow a lemon tree in the UK here
You can use almost any soil to house a lemon tree as long as it has good drainage. I recommend a sandy, loam-based soil. In lieu of this, try a good potting mix with a large amount of perlite, vermiculite or horticultural grit mixed in. Lemon trees hate to be waterlogged and drainage is key to their good health.
The pH level of the soil is another key element to your success with your tree. Try for a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. For this reason, you may want to invest in a pH testing kit and test the soil on a regular basis. Adjust the soil’s pH by adding particular nutrients and minerals depending on what the results are.
Also, consider using compost on the top of the soil. This provides nutrients to keep the plant’s energy levels up. Plus it increases the drainage of the soil while keeping moisture form evaporating form the surface.
Basic care and attention
You need to pay attention to the watering, nutrients and the environment of your lemon tree as it starts its life. Avoid environment shock by starting it out in a place that’s similar in these three ways to the space it grew up in. and then gradually move it to where you want to place it. Lemon trees don’t like abrupt change and react in a variety of non-healthy ways.
The Care section of my Lemon Tree series contains articles that together cover the instructions for how to grow a lemon tree in a pot.
- How long does a lemon tree take to grow?
- How to look after a lemon tree?
- How and when to prune a lemon tree?