So, you’ve always wanted a citrus tree, but you live in a climate that isn’t a friend to such fruit trees. No worries, you can still have your lemons! Last summer I finally splurged and bought myself a lemon tree. I was so excited to take that bad boy home and happily plunked it down on my deck. It took to the space immediately and actually grew a little bit! Then, the days got colder and it was time to bring it in. I worried that the tree wasn’t going to be happy inside, but with a little extra attention, my lemon tree is doing just fine!
Lemon trees love water in the summer months. When it’s super hot out, they grow, and dry out. That means you need to water them often. I was watering mine every day or second day in the summer. Make sure you’ve drainage holes so you don’t drown it.
In the winter, less water is key. While they can do pretty well under the sun and warmth of the indoors, they won’t be drinking as much as the hot summer months. Once a week, or every two weeks may be perfect for your tree. Check daily, then weekly, until you find what your tree wants. Each house will be different as the humidity levels will change.
Citrus trees love sunshine, so make sure it receives plenty of bright light. Don’t have enough through windows? A grow light during the darker months will help. My lemon tree sits under a lamp with 5 bulbs beating down on it. While they are just regular LEDs and don’t have the same power as grown lights, the natural sunlight it receives during the day coupled with the 5 bulbs in the evening keeps it, relatively, happy.
For those darker months, I tried popping in a grow bulb in one of my lamps in the living room. The lemon tree’s leaves weren’t looking too happy about being in December and January darkness. I moved the tree under it, and it’s back to its perky self. The grow light is helping other plants nearby, too, and feels nice to sit under and read a book. Once the daylight starts staying until 6pm, I’ll be taking the grow lightbulb out and letting my plants flourish in the western sunshine (no southern facing windows in our home, unfortunately!). When my cats let me know (by peeing in a plant, obviously) that I needed to move my plants around, the tree got moved into the back room, which will receive tons of light as I start my seeds back there.
Keep it warm
That doesn’t mean you have to stick it in a grow house or keep your house at a balmy 25. It just means keep it away from drafts. The tree may be able to take a few cold gusts of air, as mine as been doing just fine near a door. My tree is protected by other plants nearby, and gets a lot of warm sunlight to compensate. When it gets really cold (-20 to -40 cold) I place my tree elsewhere so it can get some more sunlight and stay a little warmer. Right now, since it’s very chilly out, my tree is happily sitting in my back room that houses all of my seedlings and a few grow lights.
Don’t freak out if you drop some leaves
If your tree isn’t looking its best, don’t panic! Give it a little more sunlight. My leaves started turning yellow and dropping, nothing too drastic, but enough to make me take notice. I moved it away from its designated space and somewhere that had a little more light (aka a grow light). I also double checked that I was watering it properly, and that it was draining.
Move it outside in summer
If you’ve nowhere to move it, keeping it happy with the above tips should do it just fine. If you’ve room outside, bring your lemon baby out. The tree will love the extra heat and sunshine it will receive. Plus, they make excellent ornamental trees. Picture it: lemons hanging overhead as you read during a warm summer’s day.