How to Grow Lemons from a Seed – The Ultimate Guide

How to Grow Lemons from a Seed - The Ultimate Guide

Planting a lemon tree in your garden is a great way to make your own lemons and add an ornamental feature to your property. Although it’s easy to plant a lemon tree that you’ve purchased from your local nursery or garden center, you might wonder if you can grow a lemon tree from seed.

This comes in handy if you already have a lemon tree and want to propagate it, but is it possible? Although you can grow lemon trees from cuttings, you can also grow them from seeds.

This is an easy process as long as you follow some important tips to encourage germination success, such as ensuring that you place the pot of seeds in an area of the home or garden that gets a lot of sun every day.

This article explains what you need to know about growing lemon trees from seed and whether this is viable. We’ll also explore the best ways to prepare your seeds before planting them. 

Why Should You Grow a Lemon Tree?

Why Should You Grow a Lemon Tree?

There are good reasons why you should consider growing a lemon tree at home. These include the following: 

  • You can produce your own lemons, which are a great source of Vitamin C and can be used in a variety of cooking and baking recipes. 
  • Lemon trees are beautiful trees that enhance the appearance of your garden and property. 
  • Lemon trees are fragrant additions to your garden. They make it smell lovely!  
  • Growing your own lemon trees helps you to save money. If you love lemons and consume them regularly, you can grow your own instead of buying them from the local supermarket. 
  • Lemon tree blooms attract pollinators such as bumble bees to your garden. These can benefit other plants that you’re trying to grow.  
  • Lemon trees are easy to grow, provided you give them enough sunlight daily. 
  • Lemon tree leaves can be harvested. It’s not just the lemons that grow on the tree which can be used for cooking – lemon tree leaves can be used as a garnish!   
  • If you don’t have enough space in your garden to grow a lemon tree, you can grow one in a pot indoors

How to Grow a Lemon Tree: Step-by-Step Process 

How to Grow a Lemon Tree: Step-by-Step Process 

As mentioned earlier, you can grow a lemon tree from seeds, and this is quite a straightforward process. However, it does need a bit of patience as lemon trees grown from seed can take up to five years to bear fruit. Here are the steps to follow.  

Items you will need:

  • Seeds from a juicy lemon. (Wash the seeds so that you remove any fruit on them that can lead to disease, which will make the seed struggle or fail to grow.) 
  • Small pot (The pot should be around three inches/7.62cm wide and five inches/12.7cm deep, but ensure that it has drainage holes at the bottom so that excess water will drain properly.) 
  • Soil mix (make sure that it’s been pasteurized so that it doesn’t contain harmful pathogens) 
  • Water 
  • Plastic wrap 

Once you’ve gathered all of the above ingredients, follow these steps: 

  1. Choose the right seeds. When choosing seeds from a lemon tree to plant, make sure they’re plump and look healthy, increasing the chance of them germinating. Avoid using seeds that look shriveled or unhealthy. 
  2. Place the soil mix in a small pot or container. 
  3. Plant your lemon seeds in the soil. You want to plant them at a depth of about 0.39 inches (1cm) into the soil and cover them completely. 
  4. Cover the pot with plastic wrap. This will encourage warmth and humidity, helping the seeds to germinate.
  5. Make some holes in the plastic so that there’s enough air circulation for the seeds. 
  6. Water the seeds thoroughly after planting them. 
  7. Place the container in an area that gets a lot of sunlight every day. This area should have temperatures of between 68°F (20°C) and 82°F (27.7°C) as this will provide enough warmth. 
  8. Check the soil regularly. If you live in a dry climate, the plastic covering on the pot can cause the soil to become too dry. Water it when it feels dry. 
  9. When the seeds sprout, take the plastic off the pot but continue to keep its soil moist. 

Note that if your potting soil hasn’t been pasteurized, you can pasteurize it yourself at home. To do this, heat it up to a temperature of 160°F (71.1°C). Make sure you keep it at that temperature for about half an hour. Check the center of the soil to ensure it stays at this temperature. For this, you can use a cooking thermometer. 

When the above steps are followed, your lemon seeds should germinate within two weeks. As the seeds take root, you’ll see green leaves start to grow from the soil. 

Alternative Method of Planting Lemon Seeds

You can prepare your lemon seeds for planting by keeping them in a moist paper towel. For this method, you want to soak a paper towel in water, making sure to squeeze it so it’s not sopping wet. Place it on a table and smooth it out, then get your lemon seeds.

Wash them before placing them on the damp paper towel. Fold the paper towel and then put it in a clear plastic bag. You can leave the paper towel in the plastic bag, in a warm and dark spot, until they sprout, which should take about two weeks. Then, when the seeds sprout and become seedlings, you can plant them in a pot containing soil. 

This alternative method of planting lemon seeds is easier than the previous one, especially for beginner gardeners, as you will require fewer items. 

What to Do After the First Few Months of Planting Lemon Seeds

What to Do After the First Few Months of Planting Lemon Seeds

Once your lemon seeds have sprouted and are growing into seedlings, you need to follow some important tips to ensure that they can grow into trees. 

  • Put your lemon seedlings in an area of the home that gets a minimum of 10 hours per day. Although an established lemon tree needs about eight hours of sun every day, seedlings require a bit more to encourage their growth. 
  • The lemon seeds will grow roots as they start to become small plants. During this time, you’ll also notice leaves and soft stalks growing on the plant.
  • After three months, your lemon seedlings should be transplanted into a larger pot.
  • Give your lemon tree well-draining soil that has a pH of around 6-7.5. Avoid soil k, as this can hamper the growth of your lemon tree. If your soil is acidic, add lime to it to improve it. 
  • When you have lemon tree seedlings, make sure you water them about once a week with approximately two inches (5.08cm) of water. Avoid overwatering your lemon tree because this can soak and damage its roots. 
  • Protect your lemon tree from pest infestations. Lemon trees are susceptible to pests such as aphids and scale insects. These can be eliminated with the use of horticultural oils. You can make your own lemon tree spray by mixing one tablespoon of baking soda, one gallon (3.7l) of water, and two tablespoons of canola oil. 

Should You Soak Lemon Seeds Before Planting Them?

Sometimes soaking seeds before planting them can help them to germinate faster. Lemon seeds benefit from being soaked overnight or for at least eight hours prior to planting.

This softens them so that they will absorb water and nutrients that are required to encourage germination and sprouting. Simply put the seeds in a bowl of lukewarm water.

After soaking them, plant them immediately so that the wet seeds don’t rot. Lemon seeds need to be kept moist to germinate successfully, so don’t let them dry out! If you’re not going to be using them right away, you should wrap them in a wet paper towel and keep them a bit wet until you’re ready to plant them in the garden.

When planting your lemon seeds, make sure that you water the soil beforehand, as this will also help them to grow healthy. 


If you want to propagate your lemon tree, you can do so from seed. Growing lemon trees from seeds is easy, provided you take some special precautions. This includes tips such as the following: 

  • Soaking the lemon seeds prior to planting. 
  • Planting lemon seeds in potting soil. 
  • Watering the seeds to keep their soil moist.


About The Author

Gina Harper grew up dreaming about farms and growing her own food. She began an urban garden to feed herself and turned it into an incredible hobby. Gina is here to teach you everything from raised beds to container gardening, how to keep plants alive and well in a smoggy city, and the works. It’s time that we carve our own piece of green earth and reap what we sow—she’s here to help you with that.