How To Germinate Lemon Seeds – Your Guide To Growing A Lemon Tree

How To Germinate Lemon Seeds - Your Guide To Growing A Lemon Tree

Do you have some lemon seeds and aren’t sure how to germinate them? Do you want to grow a lemon tree but aren’t sure where to start? Or are you curious about lemon seeds and want to know more?

No matter the reason that brought you here today, we have the answers for you! 

Finding out how to germinate lemon seeds to grow a lemon tree can be tricky, especially if you have never done it before.

You head online for some guidance but are met with page after page of confusing and conflicting information. Frustrated and disappointed, you are left unsure where to turn or who to trust.

How will you find out how to germinate lemon seeds now?

Well, that is where we come in to save the day! Keep reading to find out how to germinate lemon seeds to grow a lemon tree.

We have a step-by-step guide you can follow to germinate your seeds, several methods you can try, and answers to all your questions. Get ready to become a lemon seed expert today. 

Can You Eat Lemon Seeds?

Yes, you can eat lemon seeds! Lemon seeds are not dangerous or toxic, containing salicylic acid. This has the same nutritional properties as the rest of the lemon.

While you might not want to eat lemon seeds, it’s a relief to know that nothing bad will happen if you accidentally ingest some. 

Are There Different Types Of Lemon Trees?

How To Germinate Lemon Seeds - Your Guide To Growing A Lemon Tree 1

Yes! While most of us know the Meyer lemon tree, there are several variants of the Citrus lemon species. Lisbon lemons are one of the most popular and available lemons and trees. 

Other popular lemon trees include Ponderosa, Greek Citron, Avon, Verna, Primofiori, Bearss Lemon, Pink Variegated, and Eureka.

This is not an exhaustive list, but the most popular types of lemons and trees that you could choose from for your garden. 

Do Lemon Trees Have Thorns?

This might surprise you, but yes, most lemon trees will have thorns. Some varieties of lemon trees are thornless, but the quality of lemons might not be the same.

Most of the best-tasting lemon trees have thorns, so we recommend opting for a variety that has thorns. 

You do need to take care, though. Keep an eye on pets and children around the lemon tree, as the thorns are very sharp! If the thorns become an issue, you can snip the thorns with scissors.

This is best done when they are small and the point can be removed. 

How Long Does It Take Lemon Seeds To Sprout?

It takes roughly a week or so for lemon seeds to germinate provided the conditions are correct. You might see germination signs after just five days!

The seeds will start to sprout, and grow roots, stems, and leaves as they develop into baby trees. 

How Long Does It Take To Grow A Lemon Tree?

There are a few factors that impact how long it takes a lemon tree to grow. Outdoor lemon trees take up to six years to produce fruit and can reach heights of 20 feet! Indoor lemon trees are slightly different.

The size of the container for a potted tree impacts how quickly it can grow and its height. Also, if you prune the tree, this impacts its height. 

There is no one straight answer to give here, but providing you care for your lemon tree, you can see fruit in a few years and a tree that should live for fifty years! 

How To Germinate Lemon Seeds

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Let’s get into what brought you here today. Germinating lemon seeds is easier than you might think. While initially, it can be time-consuming, you will soon reap the rewards and have a baby lemon tree! 

Check out our step-by-step guide below to see how you can germinate lemon seeds now. 

What You Need 

To start, you will need the following items. 

  • Lemon seeds
  • Paper towels 
  • Water 
  • Permanent marker 
  • Zip-top bags 
  • Spray bottle (optional)
  • Knife 

Once you have your items, it is time to germinate your seeds! 

Step 1 – Harvest the Seeds 

To start, cut your lemon into wedges and remove the seeds. You can keep the lemon wedges for cooking, or you can make some lemon water. 

Rinse your lemon seeds before soaking them in a small container for fifteen minutes. 

Step 2 – Germinate Your Seeds 

Next, use a small knife or your thumbnail to nick the seed coat and remove it from the lemon seed. 

Fold a paper towel in half and lightly wet it with water. You can use a spray bottle for this if you wish. 

Spread the lemon seeds out on the paper, ensuring they aren’t touching. If you need to add more water, re-spray the paper towel. You want it to be damp, but not dripping or with any water pooling. 

Then fold the paper towel down over the lemon seeds, ensuring they are fully covered. Carefully move the wrapped seeds into the zip-top bag. 

Use a permanent marker to label the type of seeds and the date on the bag. Once labeled, place the baggie out of the way and in a warm area. On top of a microwave or near heating vents are good locations. 

Leave your lemon seeds for five to seven days. Check the seeds and look for any signs of growth. There might be a root radicale coming from the lemon seed. When you see this, your seed has germinated! 

Step 3 – Transplant Seeds 

Now the seeds have germinated, it’s time to move them into small pots. Start with a coffee filter or cut one piece of one and add it to the bottom of the pot. This helps capture the soil to stop it from draining out. 

Fill the flower pot with some potting soil. Place your lemon seed or seedling into the pot.

Make sure to cover the seed completely or you can plant the baby tree with the leaves and trunk above the surface of the soil. 

Water thoroughly and place under grow lights or a sunny window. 

Step 4 – Grow 

Monitor your seed or seedling as it grows! You should notice changes quickly and within no time, a baby tree should sprout and grow. 

Other Ways To Germinate Lemon Seeds 

While the method we showed you earlier will allow you to germinate lemon seeds, it is not the only method. There are other fun ways you can grow lemon trees that can be used with children!

It’s a fantastic activity to do with children and can teach them some valuable skills, so let’s take a look at fun ways you can germinate the seeds! 

Use A Mug 

A great way is to use a mug. Why not use a citrus or lemon-themed mug to add your lemon seeds too? Germinate them as we showed you earlier and add your sprouted lemon seed to the mug and cover them with soil. 

The seedling will then grow in the mug, making it the perfect gift or craft to do with children. These lemon tree mugs are a fantastic gift for teachers, friends, or family.

You could also hand-write some care instructions for the lemon tree and attach them to the mug handle, so the receiver of the gift can grow the tree themselves! 

Create A Chart 

Another fun way to germinate your lemon seeds is to add a chart. This works well if you are germinating your seeds with children and gives them a visual to use while the seeds are germinating.

Create a chart following the steps we outlined earlier. Your child can tick off each step, checking on the seeds for any sign of growth. 

For a child, waiting a week to see if the seed has germinated can be a long, slow, and boring process. But by adding a chart, there is something they can check visually daily.

You can add what you want and have them as involved in the creation process as you like to make the germination of the seeds as enjoyable as possible! 

How To Care For Lemon Trees 

Now that you have germinated your lemon seeds and planted them, it’s time to know how to care for your growing lemon trees.

We have some guidelines below for growing and caring for your lemon trees that are growing indoors or outdoors.

So no matter how you plan to grow your lemon trees, you can find the guidance you need below. 

Growing A Lemon Tree Outdoors 

Lemon trees are more cold-sensitive than other citrus trees, so you need to consider this carefully when planting them.

They should be planted near the south side of your home and with protection from frost. Planting them near your house should help with this. 

Your lemon tree also needs full sunlight to grow, meaning you need to find the perfect spot for your tree!

Consider your garden carefully and observe it at several different points of the day to ensure that the space you select has enough sunlight. 

If you aren’t able to offer your lemon tree full sunlight and protection from the frost, it might be worth potting it and keeping it indoors instead.

You can also move the potted lemon tree around your garden before planting it to help determine the best spot for it. 

Your lemon tree should be planted in well-drained and slightly acidic soil. Lemon trees can tolerate a range of soils, so if you don’t have the budget for new soil, don’t panic!

However, if you do have the money to spend, we recommend opting for the soil it prefers to increase your chances of growing a successful lemon tree. 

You should try and plant your lemon tree slightly higher than the ground too. Dig a hole that is shallower than the length of the root ball.

Place the tree or seedling in the hole and replace the soil. Make sure to tap the soil firmly while you replace it. 

Water sufficiently and add some mulch. Mulch helps to retain moisture and should stop your lemon tree and the soil around it from drying out.

Your lemon tree will need deep watering once a week. You can tell when the lemon tree needs watering by touching the top of the soil. If it is dry, it needs to be watered. 

You can prune your outdoor lemon tree where necessary to maintain its shape and height. It will take about six years for lemons to appear that can be picked and enjoyed!

Growing A Lemon Tree Indoors 

Lemon trees can also be grown indoors if you cannot provide them with the conditions they need outside. Providing the container you use is large enough and has good drainage, your lemon tree will be happy. 

Lemon trees grown indoors can reach heights of three to five feet, provided they have space in their pots to grow. You should use well-draining, slightly acidic soil for indoor lemon trees too.

We recommend fertilizing the soil when needed and keeping it evenly moist. You can check on the soil by touching the top of it to see if it is dry. Water when the soil feels dry. 

Lemon trees need a temperature range of 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 55.5 degrees Fahrenheit during the night.

You should use any heaters or air conditioning you have to maintain these temperatures in the room your lemon tree is in. If the temperatures drop below 55 degrees, your lemon tree will go into dormancy. 

If this does happen, don’t panic. Once the temperatures rise again your lemon tree will revive and should grow as normal.

Alongside warmth, lemon trees require lots of light. Place them in rooms that get full sunlight to help them grow. You might need to use fluorescent grow lights in the winter to help them grow as normal. 

When possible, we recommend placing your lemon trees outdoors during warm periods. Not only does it provide them with access to sunlight and warmth, but it increases their chances of bearing fruit! 

Lemon trees that are grown indoors are less likely to be [pollinated as they aren’t coming into contact with bees and other pollinators.

Place your lemon trees outdoors during the warm summer months and allow nature to do her thing!

If you are unable to place your lemon tree outside, you can hand-pollinate it to ensure it grows fruit. 

Propagating From Your Lemon Trees 

While you can grow your lemon trees from seeds as we showed you earlier, you can also take cuttings from your lemon trees to grow more!

You can use the seeds from the lemons grown on your trees, following the steps we outlined earlier. Or, you can take a large cutting from the lemon tree and use this. 

The cutting should be placed in some water until the roots start to grow. It can then be transferred to a pot with some soil and potted.

You can also place it straight into the soil if you prefer. Once potted, care for it as you would your current lemon tree. 

The cutting can be gifted to friends or family, providing them with their lemon tree to grow and care for! 

If you have never propagated a plant before, check out our step-by-step guide below which will walk you through the entire process.

Thankfully, lemon trees are one of the easiest to propagate, so even if you are a beginner, you will find success! 

Step 1 – Take A Cutting 

Take your cutting from a healthy new growth on your tree that has not yet produced flowers or fruit. You want the cutting to be three to six inches long. 

Step 2 – Remove Leaves 

Next, remove all the leaves except the top two sets. Dip the bottom end of the stem into rooting hormone powder.

This helps the cutting grow roots, making the propagating process easier. 

Step 3 – Add To Soil 

Take your cutting and place it in a one-gallon container filled with well-draining, moist medium soil. 

Step 4 – Keep Warm 

Keep the cutting warm and with the correct humidity levels. This can be achieved by putting a clear plastic bag over the cutting. 

Step 5 – Add Light 

Place your container in a bright location so that the cutting can get the brightness it needs.

Keep the cutting moist by misting it often. You only need to do this when the soil feels dry to the touch. 

Step 6 – Check For Roots 

In roughly two months, check your cutting for roots. To do this, gently tug at the cutting. If there is resistance when you pull, the cutting has taken root!

Step 7 – Remove Bag 

Remove the plastic bag and keep your lemon tree in a bright spot until the spring. You can then plant the lemon tree into its permanent home or gift the lemon tree to family or friends. 

Potting And Repotting Lemon Trees

Regardless of the type of lemon tree you have, you will want a large container, ideally five gallons or larger.

The container should be at least fifteen inches tall with several drainage holes at the bottom. 

You can follow our steps below for potting and repotting your lemon trees. 

Step 1 – Fill The Container 

Fill your container halfway with potting mixture for citrus trees. Spread the mixture evenly across the container. 

Step 2 – Remove The Tree 

Remove your lemon tree from its original pot and manually fluff any matted roots. If you find it difficult to remove your tree, water it first. The increased moisture in the soil will make it easier for you to remove the tree from its pot. 

Step 3 – Plant Your Tree

Add your tree to the new container, filling the slides of the tree with potting mixture.

Take care here, as you don’t want the soil to go over the crown of the roots. As you add the soil to the container, gently press it. 

Step 4 – Water

Once the soil is added, water your lemon tree. Pot-grown lemon trees will need more frequent watering than those grown outdoors. You can check the soil by touching the top layer to see when the tree needs watering. 

Caring For Your Lemon Tree In Winter

If you suffer from cold winters, you will want to bring your lemon trees indoors to protect them. These should be placed in a well-lit room that is not too warm.

The low temperatures you find indoors during winter are similar to those in early spring and will encourage flowering on your lemon trees! 

You can move your lemon tree outdoors again in late May. This allows your lemon tree to pollinate naturally and the fruit to grow in warmer spring and summer climates. The tree can then be returned indoors during September. 

Of course, these are rough guidelines. Consider the temperatures and humidity in your area and make adjustments where necessary. Your lemon tree will not thank you for being left in dry air

Where possible a mister or humidifier should be used to provide them with the moisture they want whether they are indoors or outdoors. 

Pests And Diseases That Affect Lemon Trees

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Before you go, let us briefly walk through the pests and diseases that commonly affect lemon trees.

You must know about these so that you can sport the signs and adjust your care for your lemon tree where needed! 


The following pests can be spotted on your lemon tree:

  • Aphids 
  • Scale insects
  • Mites
  • Citrus leaf miner 

Insecticides are a good option here, both chemical and natural, to deter pests from your lemon tree.

When purchasing a chemical or natural insecticide, make sure to check the label before using it! You want to ensure that it is safe to use on your lemon tree. 


Several diseases can affect your lemon tree. These will often cause yellowing leaves, and marks on leaves, fruit, or flowers. Below we have listed five of the most common diseases to keep an eye out for. 

  • Citrus Greening: This is a bacterial disease that causes disfigured fruit and yellow blotchy leaves
  • Greasy Spot Disease: These yellow spots will turn into brown blisters on your leaves. The fungus that causes the disease happens in very wet and humid weather. 
  • Citrus Scabs: Corky growths on your stems, leaves, and fruits can be a sign of citrus scabs. A  copper-based fungicide can help to control this. 
  • Melanose: This is another fungal problem that occurs during rainy conditions. You will notice sunken lesions that become raised, rough to the touch, and then crack. 
  • Citrus Canker: This disease presents as pinpoint spots on the leaves. They will grow and become yellow halo. A fungicide treatment and leaving the tree in full sun can help it to survive. 

All of these diseases are easy to spot provided you inspect your lemon tree regularly.

As most of them are fungus-based, fungicides can be used to treat them. Again, make sure any treatment you use is suitable for use with your lemon tree. 

Final Thoughts

And there you have it, your step-by-step guide to germinating lemon seeds to grow lemon trees.

While the initial germination process is slow, it is simple and will allow you to grow lemon trees with ease!

Make sure you follow our steps and you can enjoy worry-free growth. 

Once your lemon tree has started to grow, it is relatively easy to care for too.

As long as you water your tree regularly and provide the right conditions, there is no reason why you can’t grow and enjoy a garden full of lemon trees! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Before you leave us today, be sure to check out our brief FAQ section to get the answers you need to your last-minute questions!

Are Lemon Trees Easy To Grow?

Yes, providing you give your lemon tree enough water and the right conditions it can be easy to grow.

Your lemon tree can grow indoors or outside and is self-pollinating, so you don’t need any other trees for your lemon tree to produce fruit.

Be sure you follow the guidance in our article today to care for your lemon tree correctly.

Where Do Lemon Trees Grow Best?

Lemon trees grow best in mild winters and warm to hot dry summers. They grow well in the sub-tropical citrus belt of the US, ranging from California to the Gulf Coast to Florida.

How Long Does It Take Lemon Trees To Grow Lemons?

It can take up to six years for a lemon tree to grow lemons. Of course, this depends on the environment the tree is growing in and if it’s being cared for correctly.

Do Lemon Trees Flower?

Yes, lemon trees often bloom when they carry fruit. Lemon trees will flower, and this is not something you need to worry about.

Most of the flowers will fall off without any fruit. Those that remain will produce the lemons. When you pick the fruit, take care to only remove the fruit and not the flower.

You must allow the tree to bloom, so be sure to leave the flowers alone!

How Do I Harvest A Lemon Tree?

Once your lemons have ripped, you can allow them to fall from the tree, or gently pull them from the tree yourself.

You must leave your lemons on the tree for them to ripen. Lemons will not ripen once they have been picked from the tree, so take care not to pick them prematurely. 

It can take up to a year for your lemons to mature, turn yellow, and be ready for harvest. During this time, leave your lemons alone on the tree.

You will notice flowers blooming on the tree at this time too, leave them alone too. Your lemon tree knows what it is doing!

Sometimes the lemons will ripen quickly, other times they will take up to a year.

Patience and continuing to care for your lemon tree are your best bet here if you want to enjoy lemons year after year!

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.