Growing a Lemon Tree in a Pot

lemon tree in a pot
Meet Lila, my Meyer lemon tree!

The container garden experiment continues with a lemon tree in a pot!

If you follow our Facebook page, you’ve probably seen me squeeing over there about ordering a Meyer lemon tree and my plans to grow it in a pot on my back porch. I ordered the tree from Lemon Citrus Tree in Jacksonville, FL, and it arrived on my doorstep on Wednesday morning!

Remind me to have a word with the UPS guy about how he treats packages marked fragile.

Despite a little man-handling in transit, the tree arrived in good shape! It had two not-quite-ripe lemons on it already and a ton of babies that look like they’re going to grow up big. One of the lemons fell off when I pulled the tree out of the packaging, but the other one is still hanging in there (you can see it in the photo above). I planted the tree in an 18″ pot, placed the pot on a tray full of gravel so it would have some drainage, and then put the whole thing on a little rolling cart, so that I can wheel my lemon tree inside when the weather gets too chilly.

I’ve been reading up on how to care for my lemon tree, and it sounds like it’s going to need a lot of love. Here are some helpful tips on growing a lemon tree in a pot that I’ve come across:

  • Pot size. Lemon trees need a 12″ – 24″ pot to thrive. The site I bought from recommends using potting soil.
  • A reader suggested that I use a paintbrush to pollinate if I want lemons in winter, so I’ll need to set an iCal reminder for that. Right now, it’s warm enough here in Atlanta that my tree can live outside, and we’ve got plenty of bees in our back yard to do that work for me.
  • Lemon trees need lots of water, so I’m going to water it daily, at least at first. Once it’s more settled, I’ll switch to watering every other day.
  • Sunlight is super important. A lemon tree likes about 8 hours of full sun each day, so I’ve got my cart set up in a sunny spot on the back porch for maximum sunniness.
  • Prune often. When you’re growing a lemon tree in a pot, pruning helps the tree grow stronger. You’re also supposed to keep an eye out for “sucker branches” which come up from the roots and have bright green leaves. Those suckers have to go!

potted lemon tree

The site where I bought the tree recommends using a 2-1-1 fertilizer or one that’s specifically for citrus or avocados, and that has me a little stumped. I’d love to hear tips from you experienced organic citrus growers on how you feed your lemon tree!

I also ran across information a couple of years ago that I haven’t been able to find again. Have any of you seen a recommendation about pruning off some of the baby fruit when you’re growing lemons in a pot? I think it said you’d ideally have 3 lemons in a cluster, but it was a long time ago, so I’m not 100% sure about that. The directions I saw were very specific, so I’m hesitant to try this without reading them again.

That’s pretty much my plan to care for my lovely lemon tree, who I named Lila. Have any of you guys grown a lemon tree in a pot or otherwise? I’m new to this and really want Lila to thrive, so share any tips in the comments!

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6 thoughts on “Growing a Lemon Tree in a Pot”

  1. We’ve had a Meyer Lemon in a post for 21 years. It stated in a one-gallon pot we got from an old-timer in Lafayette, Indiana.

    Over time, I have moved it to bigger pots (I asked at the local garden shop for the last one… 30 gallons probably). We have taken many cuttings and started new trees which we have given away. Beside by original plant I have grown one of a similar size from a cutting we kept years ago… in fact I am not sure which is the mother plant anymore.

    North Texas freezes in the winter so I put my big pots on a cart made of 2x4s and 4″ swivel coaster wheels. When the temps are above freezing the two pots stay outside, when not we roll the cart into the garage.

    We get a lot of lemons from the two plants. We picked the last 3 from last year this week. The new fruit are at various sizes from golf-ball sized to just blossoming.

      1. I just chose to move it to bigger pots when it seemed like it had not gotten bigger for a couple of years. We have changed them several times. I think this is about as big as we will go though… anymore and I will not be able to move them.

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