Properly care for a citrus tree

Lemon tree – Citrus limonCitrus limon, also
Lemon or called lime, is an evergreen tree that reaches up to 7 m in height in plantations. For care in apartments there are two varieties that do not grow taller than 130 cm in the pot. A special feature of the lemon tree is to bear flowers as well as fruits all year round under warm and humid conditions.

Proper care for lemon tree

The Care of a citrus tree is moderately difficult, some requirements of the plant should be met if possible.


Citrus limon "Meyer forms up to 12 cm long, slightly rounded leaves; the fruits, up to 9 cm in size, are light yellow with a thin skin. Citrus limon "Ponderosa has leaves similar to those of Citrus limon "Meyer". However, the fruits are orange-yellow, with thick skin and a diameter of up to 11 cm. Hybrid of the lemon. Mandarin orange Citrus retikulata applies. Otaheiteorange is a small-growing, thornless bush with purple flowers and roundish, yellow or orange-red fruits up to 5 cm in size.

Location / Light

You care for a lemon tree in a bright to sunny location.

The illuminance at the location of the lemon should be at least 1800 lux all year round.

During the summer, sufficient lighting is not a problem, provided that you do not put the plant in a dark corner of the room. In the low-light season, you should check the light levels, only a sufficiently brightly maintained lemon tree will remain healthy and pest-free during the wintering period.

Plants remain healthy and vital only if their light needs are met. Knowledge of the light intensity, given in lux, provides information on whether the location is bright enough. Plants with low light requirements still need at least 500 to 600 lux. Houseplants for very bright locations need 1600 lux and more.

The direction of the sky, the season, glazing and trees and bushes in front of the house quickly reduce the light intensity by 30 to 70%. Already 2 to 3 meters behind a bright window can be too dark for most potted plants. Too much light is also bad for numerous houseplants, it must be shaded or you change the location.

Lack of light symptoms

– Long, light shoots growing towards the light, wide leaf spacing and pale, lightened foliage – Limp, not stable growth – Thin, pale green, translucent leaves – Leaves clearly too small, soft shoots

Shopping tip: plant lamps u. Lighting systems for dark locations, because low-light corners in the home can be upgraded to eye-catching with modern lighting and attractive houseplants.

Watering / Watering

During the main growth phase, water a lemon tree abundantly. Inside the pot ball should always be a penetrating, uniform moisture during the growing season. Even short periods of drought should be avoided.

Lemon trees do not tolerate calcareous water, they react with a clorosis (a yellowish discoloration of the shoots and leaves) to a too high ph-value and strongly calcareous water. Rainwater is best for watering.

Proper care for a lemon tree

1. Before watering, allow only the top layer of the substrate to dry out slightly. Then water thoroughly.

2. When watering, administer enough water to the lemon tree until it runs out of the drain hole and accumulates.

3. The water that remains in the saucer will be used up after ca. Shake off for 20 minutes. Even plants with a high water requirement suffer if the roots are left in water for a long time.

When, how much and how often to water can not be answered generally. This provides, especially for inexperienced plant friends for uncertainty. But you should also not make it too difficult for yourself.

Principle when watering

If you are not sure, it is better to water a little less than too much. Very few houseplants die of drought, most often they are watered to death.

Why is too much watered ?

When a plant looks droopy, many amateur gardeners reach for the watering can first. This is by far the most common care error. In the case of limp plants, you should not water without checking the soil, because very often it is not the lack of water that is to blame for a dying plant.

To check the moisture content, first feel with a finger or the back of the hand whether the substrate feels moist. If there is still uncertainty, rub some crumbs of soil between your fingers. Wet or dry soil can be distinguished so well. Before and after watering, briefly lift the planter, so they get a feel for the weight and quite quickly also for the moisture content of the pot ball.

Large planters require a moisture meter. So you can quickly in the middle of the pot. Reliably determine the moisture. The meter is cheap to buy. It belongs to every basic equipment of a plant lover.

For large planters and tubs indispensable, the

Why do plants die with too much water?

A limp-looking plant often cannot absorb any water because it has already been too wet for a long time. Thereby is too little oxygen in the earth. The roots become rotten. The destroyed roots can no longer absorb water and the plant becomes limp. A sign of lack of water, but not because of too little watering but because of the rotten roots. The only thing that can be done now is to quickly pot up the plant, clean all roots from the wet soil, pluck off dead and rotten, black roots and cut them off. Then the plant is potted in fresh soil and until the formation of new roots, about 1 to 2 months watered sparingly. With a little luck the plant will recover.

How to prevent root death

Never water preventively or on suspicion. First check the soil for moisture, then watering. Any water left in the saucer or planter after watering must be drained off after 5 minutes at the latest. If you miss this, more sensitive plants can suffer irreparable root damage in as little as 10 minutes.

What to do in case of bale dryness ?

Once the root ball is completely dry, simple watering is not enough, especially in smaller planters. The entire pot must be completely immersed in water up to the soil surface until no more air bubbles rise.

Wintering / dormant period

The overwintering of the lemon tree is possible in:

– Lukewarm house 12 – 18 °C, at least 1800 lux / 12 hours per day – Warm house 18 – 24 °C, at least 2000 lux / 12 hours per day

In winter, the temperature must be adjusted to the light conditions. If a lemon tree is placed in a bright but cold place, the leaves still have sufficient light for photosynthesis, but the roots already stop activity almost completely at 12.5 °C. The result is that the tree can no longer supply the leaves sufficiently and as a result they drop off. It comes to the so-called "Winter Leaf Drop.

Wintering in a lukewarm or warm house: Lemon trees overwintering in warmer conditions always need enough water so that the soil does not dry out completely. Before watering, allow the top layer of the substrate to reach a depth of approx. dry for 2 cm, then water sparingly. The need for light, food and water increases with the temperature.

During the wintering period, the lemon trees are fertilized only once or twice weakly.

Only when longer frost-free periods are to be expected do you clear out the lemon trees again.

Potted plants must first become accustomed to strong sunlight in the spring when they are cleared out of winter quarters. To do this, place them in a shady to semi-shady place for 1 to 2 weeks. A little sun in the morning or evening hours is sufficient during this period. After this acclimatization period, the plant can be placed in its final, sunnier or full-sun location.

At the beginning of the growing season, lemon trees are watered more vigorously again. When the plant starts to sprout vigorously, you should also start fertilizing it regularly.

Proper care for lemon tree

To properly assess the moisture content inside the pot during the dormant period, you need a moisture meter for houseplants. This is especially true for larger planters, resp. for potted plants.

The practical test devices can be found in garden centers or like here on Amazon: Moisture meter*

Stay in the summer

From mid-May until the first frost, the lemon should be placed outdoors. The location should be bright to full sun and protected from the wind.

Plants that have been overwintered indoors should not be immediately exposed to full sunlight outdoors at the beginning of the warm season. The harsh UV rays can burn the leaves of the indoor lime tree. Such a burn can be recognized by brown, irregular spots on the leaves. To accustom the plant to sunlight, place it in a shady to semi-shady spot for 1 to 2 weeks. A little sun in the morning or evening hours is sufficient during this period. After this acclimatization period, the plant can be moved to its final, sunnier location.

Propagate lemon tree

Lemons can be propagated by cuttings 10 to 15 cm long. Dip the cut surface of the cutting in a rooting hormone and put it in a slightly moistened mixture of equal parts peat and sand. Put a plastic bag over the cuttings and place the pot at 19 to 22 °C in a bright, not fully sunny location.

After successful rooting, remove the plastic bag and water the young lemon only enough so that the soil does not dry out completely. As soon as the roots grow out of the water drainage hole, pot the plant into the recommended substrate. Now you can continue to cultivate the offspring like adult specimens.

Lemon trees can also be grown from seed. If you put the seed in sowing soil and keep it moist and warm, it will germinate after four to six weeks. Place the small seedlings in a bright location, but avoid direct sunlight at the beginning. Once the seedlings have reached a height of 10 to 15 cm, place them individually in small pots and treat them like adult plants.

Lemons develop very slowly into attractive foliage plants; depending on the species, it can take up to ten years before they bloom and bear fruit indoors.

Soil / Substrate

Ideal for the care of a lemon tree is a soil ph-value of 4.8 to 5.8.

Buy potting soilLemon trees also thrive in standard compost-based potting soil. The pH value is indicated on the packaging. Should be within the tolerated values. If the pH-value is wrong, the lemon tree will not be able to develop healthily, cloroses are often the result of too high pH-values.

Mix substrate yourselfIdeally, a lemon tree should be planted in a substrate mixture of high-quality potting soil and loamy arable or garden soil (the top layer of soil used in agriculture) and a little quartz sand. The preparation is not difficult. The reward is a permanently healthy and vigorous plant, well resistant to diseases and pests, provided that the other care requirements for light, water, temperature and nutrients are also met. The right substrate mixture ensures a good hold of the plant. Good aeration of the root area. Landing soil adjusts the pH value and improves the absorption and storage capacity for water and nutrients. A good substrate has a good buffering property. Must not lose its beneficial properties over a long period of time.

By adding quartz sand, pumice gravel, lavalite, lava granules and other suitable additives, not only the physical but also the chemical properties of the substrate are changed. Small pebbles, styrofoam, grit and the like improve water drainage after watering. This helps waterlogging. To prevent root rotting.

Other important properties for a good potted plant soil are insufficiently considered by manufacturers for financial and transport reasons. This affects the storage capacity for water and nutrients, the air circulation within the substrate and the stability to prevent slumping and compaction.

Buffering power of the substrate

The buffering power of a substrate is also very important, the buffering power prevents:

– rapid drying of the potting soil – salinization at the roots – fluctuations in the nutrient supply – rapid changes in the pH value

Detailed information, substrate recipes and sources of supply can be found here: Soil or Substrate ? – The perfect mixture for all indoor plants

Substrate mixture for a lemon tree

– 2 parts high quality potting soil, ph-value 4.8 to 5.8 – 2 parts arable or garden soil with clay content – 1 part quartz sand

Everything must be mixed well together. Landing soil (arable soil with clay content) can be sterilized by heating before use.

Quality potting soil as a basis for mixtures. high-quality potting soil, via Amazon

White peat serves as a basis for mixtures with low pH value. unfertilized white peat, via Amazon

Peat substrate Serves as a base for low pH mixtures. order peat, peat soil via Amazon

Quartz sand for loosening and for good water drainage quartz sand, grain size 1 to 4 mm, via Amazon

Pumice As an aggregate, improves the air content, water storage capacity and rootability, promotes root development, grain size 0-4 mm. Pumice 10 l, via Amazon

Lava granulesEifel lava, pure mineral material. Grain size approx. 0-12 mm. Lava 10 l, via Amazon

Vermiculite: expanded clay mineral for substrate improvement: loosening, large accumulation capacity for nutrients and water. Grain size 1-3mm Vermiculite 5 l, from approx. 5 Euro, Amazon

Repotting lemon tree

A lemon tree is repotted in early spring, if necessary.

You repot the plant if

– the pot has become too small in relation to the plant – the substrate has collapsed – the pot is completely rooted – when abundant roots come to the surface

For repotting, the old soil is shaken out of the roots, and all dead dead roots of the plant are cut off. Living roots can also be trimmed somewhat if necessary. after repotting, protect the plants from direct sunlight for 2 to 3 weeks. A well repotted plant recovers quickly and will soon continue to grow.

Fertilizing / nutrient requirements

The nutrient requirements of a well-growing lemon tree are quite high during summer. During the main growth period, the plant gets every third to fourth watering a special fertilizer for citrus plants. Fertilize less frequently during the winter, between November and March, one or two applications of fertilizer are usually sufficient.

You can order fertilizer here: Fertilizer for citrus plants*

Cut lemon tree

A lemon tree should be shaped a little only when necessary.

Pests, care defects& Notes

The lemon tree is sometimes attacked by aphids. The infestation usually affects the new shoots. Every now and then you should carefully check the plants for infestation with these plant pests.

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