Planting a lemon tree is easy, but timing your plant so that it bears the most fruit takes a little more planning. Knowing the best time to plant a lemon tree will help you get the most out of this small but productive tree in your backyard or garden. The best time to plant a lemon tree is early spring. The soil should be moist and not yet hot, which means planting after heavy rains or right before an expected heat wave is not advisable. Lemons like neutral pH levels and do not do well with soil that has lots of alkaline elements. If you are planting in an area that gets frost, wait until the end of autumn to plant. Do not plant during the hottest part of summer; they need protection from the sun while they establish roots beneath the surface. Read on to learn more about when is best to plant a lemon tree to get great results every time!
Step 1: Prepare The Soil
Lemons like a well-drained soil with lots of organic matter. If you have sandy soil, add some compost or rotted manure to increase its holding capacity. If you have heavy clay, work in plenty of compost or other organic materials to lighten it up. In either case, make sure the soil has a pH of 6.5 to 7.0. If it is too alkaline, add some peat or ground coconut husk to make it more acidic. If your soil is too acid, add some lime. The lemon tree needs lots of soil nutrients, so give it a dose of balanced fertilizer at planting time. Follow the directions on the package, but in general, you want to give it more in the beginning than at harvest time. Keep the soil moist but not soggy to avoid root diseases.
Step 2: Choose Your Lemon Tree
When you are ready to buy a lemon tree, there are a few things to keep in mind when selecting the best variety for your climate and soil. First, you want to choose a variety that is ‘freestone’- this means that the flesh closest to the interior of the fruit is easily separated from the seeds inside. This makes the fruit easier to peel. Lemons are generally categorized by their shape, size, and use. The shape includes round, oblong, or pomelo; the size includes small, large, or extra-large; and the use includes Eureka, Lisbon, Swafford, Lisbon, W. Earl, or California. This should be enough information to find a variety that is perfect for your growing environment!
Step 3: Planting Day
Before you plant your lemon tree, make sure you’ve done everything possible to make the soil as fertile and hospitable as possible. This means adding lots of manure or compost to the soil. Choose a spot in the garden that receives full sun, is protected from cold winds, and is not too close to other plants. Dig a hole deep enough to accommodate the full depth of the tree’s root ball. Put a handful of bone meal or other slow-release fertilizer in the bottom of the hole. Pry apart the root ball and spread the roots evenly around the inside of the hole. Place the tree in the hole and fill it back in with the surrounding soil. Keep the soil moist for the first couple of weeks after planting, and then let it dry out a bit between waterings. The lemon tree will produce fruit within three years of planting.
Tip – Be Patient!
Lemons are a long-term fruit tree. In other words, they don’t produce fruit quickly and they are not an annual crop like strawberries. After you plant your lemon tree, be patient. It will take 2-3 years before you see the first fruit. Be diligent with watering, fertilizing, and protecting your tree from pests and diseases. You’ll be rewarded for your efforts with lemons for many years to come!
Tip – Keep It Wet!
Lemons thrive in warm, tropical climates, but not in soggy, swampy soil. Make sure your soil dries out between watering so that it does not become waterlogged. Frequent, light watering helps to keep the soil from becoming too dry. Make sure that the water you give your lemon tree is not too cold, as this can damage the plant. If you are unsure whether the water is too hot or cold, test it on your wrist. If it feels slightly warm, it is fine for your lemon tree. If it feels too hot, it is too hot and needs to be cooled off before watering your lemon tree.
Lemons are a delicious, easy-to-grow fruit that is great for your health. The best time to plant a lemon tree is early spring. Prepare the soil by adding lots of compost or manure, and then choose a freestone variety and plant it in full sun with well-drained soil. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, and be patient as it takes a few years for the tree to produce fruit. Once your lemon tree is established, it can produce lemons for decades. Enjoy homegrown lemons with less sugar and more vitamins and nutrients than store-bought lemons!