Growing lemons


Site selection

Select a sunny, well drained position.


Pre plant

3 months before planting, prepare soil by adding mulch and pelletised poultry, or cow manure to the site. For pots a good premium potting mix combined with 20% of a good loam soil will be enough to start the tree. Ensure the soil pH is between 6.0 and 6.5 for best results. (Check this with a pH kit which can be purchased from most garden centres).



Dig a hole twice the size of the nursery pot, do not tease the root system of potted plants. If planting in a large pot we suggest 50 cm minimum size. Do not put fertiliser in the hole. A closed handful of blood and bone fertiliser mixed into the bottom of the hole is fine. Plant the soil level in the nursery pot, level with your soil or potting mix and add a sprinkle of soil to cover the roots.


Fertilising young non bearing trees

The focus for the first 12-18 months is on building a strong frame work capable of bearing heavy crops. A good complete fertiliser or composted manure is ideal. Give the tree a closed handful of fertiliser every 3- 4 weeks applied in a band from 30cm from the base of the tree out to the drip line of the tree. Do not apply fertiliser against the base of the tree as this may cause tree death. An edition of trace element fertiliser twice a year is important also.


Fertilising bearing trees

From winter in year two from planting the focus now shifts back to fruit production. Avoid fertilising during flowering and early fruit set with fertilisers high in Nitrogen (N), no higher than 12% is ideal. A good balanced fertiliser with high potassium (K) above 12% is ideal.



A good moist soil is very important from first bud development through until all fruit is harvested.



As trees grow they will produce a dense canopy of leaves. A good open or vase shape tree is desirable. If trees are left unchecked this will reduce light efficiency needed for good bud development, pest and disease control and can lead to the tree setting to many fruit. The correct time to prune is after harvest and before flowering. Remove any deadwood and skirt trees so that foliage is at least 30cm from the ground.

Generally Lemon trees are difficult to train to a hedge or espalier system when planted in the ground as Lemons are quite vigorous with the way they grow. If planted in a pot tree vigour is less and trees can be trained this way, however remember fruit trees as with many plants in pots may have a much shorter life as eventually they will become pot bound.