Did you know that you can start a real, fruit-bearing indoor lemon tree in a teacup or mug?
Typically, lemon trees flourish outdoors year-round in hot, sunny regions, but they can also thrive indoors as edible houseplants in cold-season climates.
These miniature citrus trees can deliver a big dose of cheer to any sunny space. And it’s practically foolproof. I planted seeds in April, enjoyed watching them spring up in the windowsill, have forgotten to water them for 7-8 days at a time, and 6 months later my little lemon tree forest is luxuriously green and smells fantastic. Best of all, they bear the exciting possibility of fruit!
And probably, you’re aware of the fact that citrus fruit are very alkalinizing as well as rich in magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and loads of vitamins.
The fragrant orangery at the gardens of Versailles, with more than a 1,000 carefully manicured potted plants, might be the world’s most famous showcase of citrus trees indoors or out, but you don’t need to be Marie Antoinette to harvest your own lemons at home.
Given a sunny window, your lemon tree could bear fruit in 3-4 years. There is something extra rewarding about starting from seed. They can be germinated in the middle of winter with very little effort. Watching them grow has been an exciting and fascinating experience, and I know the best is yet to come.
You can often find a Meyer lemon in an organic food store or Whole Foods-type-grocery. I have read that organic lemons are preferred since some non-organic lemon seeds may be “duds”, incapable of germinating.
If you want to do this, you will only need seeds, soil, and, of course, a container.
How to grow a Lemon Tree
Slice open your lemon and choose a seed(s) that looks completely full of life. For me it is easiest to pop them into my mouth and suck on them until all the flesh is removed and the lemon flavor is gone, or you can soak them in a glass of water for a day to remove the rest of the flesh from the seed. Keep them moist until planting.
Put a 1/2″ of pebbles in the bottom of the cup to create drainage, and after that fill the cup with moist soil. Plant the seeds in the soil 1/2 to 3/4″ deep and cover them over. Tamp the soil firmly over the seeds.
Water the seeds and place in a warm sunny spot. You should see the beginnings of sprouts in a month to two months. Mine took every bit of two months so be patient. Just when you think nothing is happening, you see green peeking through. It is really quite exciting!
Time to select your Lemon Tree Seedlings and move to bigger pots
Don’t forget to mist the surface with water every 5-6 days to support their growth. Just keep them evenly moist. Don’t over-water. Until germination, you may loosely cover the cup with cling wrap, with which you will create a greenhouse effect, but take caution that you don’t cook your seeds in too hot a window. Remove cling wrap as soon as the seeds sprout.
After 4-6 months when the seedlings are grown and getting crowded, you should choose the most beautiful and the strongest ones and transplant them into individual pots with a larger diameter. This time make sure the pot you choose has drainage holes and use a saucer. The composition of the soil should remain the same.
The best choice for homegrown citrus are the dwarf varieties that prevent the tree from growing too large. Seeds for Meyer lemon, kaffir lime, and calamondin oranges can be grown as dwarves, doing well indoors, but you can also purchase a 2-3 year old plant that has a 3-year warranty!
For a plant that will produce fruits and blossoms right away, choose a two-to three-year-old dwarf tree. Calamondin orange trees, which have a high tolerance for indoor conditions, are a good choice for beginners.
Your lemon tree can become a very beautiful and luxurious house plant with the right exposure and conditions.
In early summer a lemon tree should be fertilized. I suggest feeding it an organic fertilizer if you plan to make lemonade or use the peel for zest.
If you have a protected garden or patio, you can set the lemon tree outside and return it inside well before cold weather.
In winter, lemons love a bright spot with 8 or more hours a day of bright sunlight in a south facing window. When conditions are right, they will produce fruit in the winter and summer.
Water it moderately in winter, but do not allow the soil to become completely dry. If part of the leaves drop, there is no need to worry, this is normal. In the spring cut back the branches, and in a very short time new branches will grow creating a beautiful bushy crown.
Do you love citrus? Have you ever started any kind of seeds indoors?