Lemon trees are beautiful and can produce a large quantity of fruit if they are looked after well. There is also something magical about growing something from seed, whether alongside a child or for your own enjoyment.
Propagating lemon seeds is a relatively easy process. You will need patience, as trees that are produced from seed may take around five years to fruit, and the fruit may look a bit different from the lemon you take the seed from.
Regardless of this, you will get your very own lemon tree, and if you treat it right, it is likely to fruit. Some don’t, which is why new trees are often produced using a grafting method.
Grafting is quite a complicated process, but growing a tree from seed is much easier. Let’s have a look at what you’ll need to get started.
What you need to plant and grow your very own lemon tree
The first step is selecting a great tasting, juicy lemon. The better the original lemon, the better your result will be! Organic is usually best, as the seeds are generally stronger.
Take the seeds out of your lemon, and wash them. Make sure there are no bits of lemon flesh on them, which can get mouldy and turn into a fungal nightmare.
Use only fresh seeds and plant them immediately. Don’t let them dry out, as they are unlikely to germinate. Just plant them quickly, and everything should be just fine.
Choose a potting soil that is pasteurised, or buy a half peat moss/half perlite or sand mix, and then pasteurise it yourself. Pathogens can kill your seedling, so don’t forget this critical step!
You’ll need a small container to begin your adventure. Buy a couple of pots to put a number of seeds in, in case a few don’t come up; or, alternatively, buy a fairly wide pot to plant several seeds in at once!
You’ll need a 4-6 inch pot (or a couple of them) to put the seedlings in, once they have popped up. You don’t need to buy these straight away, though. The smaller pots will do to begin with.
Sun is necessary for all life, and plants thrive and survive on it. Choosing to plant your seeds during winter might not be the best idea for that reason.
Late spring or early summer could be an ideal time, as the temperatures are more stable inside your house during this time, and there are more hours of light, so when your seedlings come up, they can drink in some of that healthy sunlight.
How to germinate a lemon seed
Planting the seeds
Put a few lemon seeds around half an inch deep. This will increase the chances of successful propagation.
Moisten and cover
Moisten the soil lightly, then cover the top of the pot with a plastic wrap to keep the moisture in. Don’t make the soil soggy, just moist. Add more water as soon as it looks like it might be drying out.
Where the pot should go
Store your pot in an area that has a fairly constant temperature around 21 degrees Celsius. The top of the fridge is an ideal spot.
When the trees starts to grow…
Once the seedlings start to emerge, move your pot to a brighter area and take the plastic wrapping off.
Once the seedlings have several sets of little leaves, you can transplant them. Grab a few 4-6 inch pots, fill them with sterile potting medium and fertilise them with a water soluble fertiliser. The fertiliser should be high in potassium.
Feed your seedlings every 2 weeks to a month, and keep the soil moist at all times.
The seeds should ideally see at least 4 hours of direct sunlight, and the temperature should be between 15 and 21 degrees Celsius.
At the tree gets bigger, prune it in the early spring and repot it as needed to make sure it grows nicely and gets ready to bear fruit happily.
Stop fertilising your tree in the winter, and don’t water it as much. Keep the tree in a place that doesn’t get drafty when it’s cold.
It may take up to 15 years for your lemon tree to produce fruit. However, the tree should start to pretty much look after itself once it gets big. Don’t forget to water and feed it, though!