With sweet-smelling flowers, glossy foliage and tart, tasty fruit, an indoor lemon tree rewards your attention year-round. Regardless of your climate, you can grow a container lemon tree indoors and enjoy your own homegrown lemons. Growing indoor lemons isn’t hard as long as you choose the right tree and meet its special needs. While growing citrus indoors can be a bit tricky, with just a few pointers, you can easily fill your windowsill with enough lemons to make lemonade 🍋😉
Make sure you purchase a dwarf tree, as a regular citrus tree is much to large to thrive indoors. Then you need to find the right pot. You will need a large pot with sufficient drainage holes. Larger pots will prevent top-heavy trees from tipping over, while also allowing plants to grow larger roots and be more productive. Material doesn’t really matter (terra cotta, unglazed ceramic, plastic, fiberglass, wood, etc.) as long as they have drainage holes. Just don’t use the black plastic pot that your plant comes in from the nursery, as this material is weak and will absorb and retain heat from the sun, and can cook the roots.
Light – All citrus plants need a ton of bright light in order to thrive indoors—I’m talking more than 10 hours per day. The optimal place for a lemon tree would be in a south-facing window. Without enough light the plant will not produce flowers, and therefore will not produce fruit. If you’re worried about your light situation, try supplementing with a grow light.
Water – Regular watering is key. Consistent watering is important for a happy citrus tree. Establish a schedule of deep waterings, leaving time in between for the soil to dry a bit. The frequency will depend on the size and maturity of your plant, its location, the potting soil, and so on—there’s no straightforward rule of thumb. Mainly, you don’t want the soil to dry out completely, nor do you want to keep it saturated with water. Using a moisture meter can make this job a bit easier. When the meter reaches the threshold between dry and moist, your plant is ready for another watering
Humidity – Citrus trees are tropical plants that prefer humid conditions. If you find yourself complaining about dry air during the winter, your citrus tree will too, and since a dry tree is a stressed tree, you should care for it like you would your own chapped lips. Regular misting, a pebble & water tray, or a humidifier will all keep it nice and dewy
Seasonal Changes – Bringing your tree outside during the warmer half of the year will help it thrive. Citrus trees need natural day/night temperature fluctuations in order to bloom, so leaving your tree indoors year-round likely won’t cut it. Experts suggest waiting to move trees outdoors until overnight lows rise above 50°F. Start the tree in a shadier spot for a few days before moving it into full sun to reduce the risk of leaf burn and shock. Toward the end of the season, move the tree back inside before it gets too cold. Keep in mind that you might have to adjust how often you water your tree once you move it outdoors (and when you move it back inside). Keeping the plant outdoors will also allow insects to pollinate the flowers, which is necessary for fruit production.