How to grow a lemon tree

Monty Don shares his tips for planting a lemon tree

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Lemon trees and other citrus plants are not hardy in Britain, but they can be grown in pots outdoors in the summer and brought inside during the winter months. Most gardeners can grow lemons as they are colder tolerant. Other citrus fruits such as limes and grapefruits generally need more warmth. Lemon trees tend to bear fruit up to 12 months after planting.

Lemon trees can be very cold-sensitive, even more than many other citrus plants.

However, they can be successfully grown in the UK.

Lemon trees are vigorous plants and can tolerate cooler temperatures.

Limes need warmer, more tropical temperatures – rather than the cool climates in the UK.

The lemon trees require winter protection to survive the colder seasons.

How to grow a lemon tree

Lemon trees should be planted into terracotta pots and placed in a sheltered, sunny spot.

Ideally, these plants should be placed in front of the south or west facing wall.

These plants flourish best in high humidity.

During the summer months, you should water your lemon trees around once a week – using rainwater if possible.

Make sure to feed your plants weekly using liquid seaweed and a specialist citrus fertiliser.

You should prune your lemon tree in the spring period to thin it out from the centre.

This will allow light and air to infiltrate your plant and enable you to remove any dried, thin and tired branches.

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Once winter arrives you should take steps to move the lemon tree inside, so it can be protected from the cold weather and frost.

The minimum winter night temperature the tree will handle is 10C.

Be warned centrally-heated rooms are not ideal for citrus as they are generally too hot, lack humidity and light.

This can stress out your plant and cause damage.

The four biggest problems to watch out for with lemon trees:

  • Leaves dropping – This is a sign of stress due to too much heat, cold, inadequate watering schedule and lack of humidity.
  • Sticky leaves – This could be a sign of mealybugs or insects.
  • Leaf damage – This could be a sign of stress and upset with your plant as a result of citrus leaf miners.
  • Yellow leaves – This could be a sign of red spider mite which is best controlled with biocontrols and high humidity.

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