Lemon tree care — tips and things worth knowing

How do I repot my lemon tree?

You can repot young lemon trees that are growing strongly every 2 years. Large solitary plants with little growth are planted in new soil at intervals of 3 to 4 years. It is important that you only use high-quality special soil for repotting. With Kölle Organic Peat-Free Citrus Plant Soil, you give your potted plants the best conditions for healthy growth and plenty of fruit. The special soil has a pH value of 5 and contains a high proportion of clay minerals, which in turn ensure optimal storage of water and nutrients.

Repot a lemon tree in 5 steps:

  1. Choose a pot that is 5 to 10 cm larger than the previous pot. Make sure the pot has a water drainage hole.
  2. First fill the pot with expanded clay drainage. Then put a layer of fleece on the expanded clay to separate it from the potting soil.
  3. Put some citrus potting soil on the fleece and then place the well-watered lemon tree in the new pot.
  4. Fill the cavity between the root ball and the pot with the special soil and press it lightly.

Finally, water the lemon tree penetratingly. Our gardening tip: The best time for repotting is spring, so the tree can sprout again . Be careful not to injure or cut the roots when repotting . Lemon trees quickly give balconies and terraces a Mediterranean flair. With fragrant flowers, ripe fruit or decorative foliage, the evergreen plants are attractive all year round. From April to October, the fascinating Plant in a sunny spot outside. Lemon trees can be cared for without much effort and are a feast for the eyes. With a high content of essential oils, which are contained in all parts of the plant, they exude a fine scent in summer. The genus Citrus belongs to the Rutaceae family. Breeding has resulted in a large number of species, which are often offered as hybrid varieties. Experience the holiday feeling at home and enjoy this interesting Plant species with all senses.

Useful information Location Watering Fertilizing Pruning Repotting Overwintering Species Pests & Diseases FAQ

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Interesting facts about the lemon tree

Botanical name: various types of citrus, especially citrus limon
Other names: lemon tree, lemon, real lemon
Use: Mediterranean plant for patios, balconies, gardens and conservatories, container plants, fruit trees
Origin: India, China
Flower colours: creamy white, fragrant
Flowering period: mainly in spring, but there are often after-flowers, so that fruits and flowers can be on the plant at the same time
Fruit: green at first, then yellow or orange, rarely red
Special features:Special features with an exotic flair. Large variety of species and special shapes such as espaliers, pyramids and columns. Easy to care for with the right knowledge and loyal companions on the balcony or terrace for decades. Yellow leaves on the lemon tree are usually the result of a lack of fertilizer or a location that is too cold. The fruits of the lemon tree are suitable for consumption. Attention the lemon tree is not hardy.

In which location does the lemon tree feel most comfortable?

Place your lemon tree in a sunny, warm and sheltered spot outdoors from mid-May to September. Places near walls or house walls are ideal, here the Mediterranean plants are protected from drafts and rain and benefit from the nocturnal heat emission. It is important that you put the lemon tree back inside in good time before the first frost in autumn. The exotic species tolerates low temperatures down to around 0 °C for a short time, but longer cold phases are unfavorable . Lower temperatures damage the roots first, then the wood. It is recommended that you set up the lemon tree near seating areas or paths, so you can enjoy the delicate scent of the lemon blossoms and observe the growth and thriving of the fruit up close.

If your lemon tree is in the apartment, a sunny window seat is important. Make sure that it is always in a light location. Basically, it is better for the plant to stand outside in summer, because citrus plants are light-hungry. A year-round place in the room is possible, but not optimal because the plant grows more loosely. A lack of fruit set is also often the result if the lemon tree grows all year roundis indoors and the location is too dark. Citrus plants indoors are more susceptible to pests and should therefore be placed on the patio, garden or balcony in the summer months.

Our gardening tip: In spring, only place the lemon tree outside after the last night frosts. The lemon tree must not get frost after hibernation and should be gradually accustomed to the sun.

How do I water my lemon tree?

If possible, water your citrus plants with low-lime water (e.g. rainwater). Ensure an even water supply, because waterlogging will damage the roots. If the bales are too dry, leaves can fall on the lemon tree. How often you should water depends on the air temperature, the amount of sunlight, the size of the root ball and the growth of the plantsaway. Let the soil dry out a little between waterings and pour off the excess water after watering. Watering every 1 to 2 days may be necessary in summer, and lemon trees require less water in winter. Especially in the winter quarters, the wood does not tolerate waterlogging. You should therefore make sure that the lemon tree is only moderately watered over the winter. If there is too much water, the citrus tree reacts with leaf fall.

Our gardening tip: Regularly spraying the leaves with lime-free water increases the humidity and thus increases the vitality of the plant. With this simple measure you take care of the lemon tree and the pest infestation by spider mites is minimized. Hard water causes unsightly white spots to form on the surface.

How do I fertilize my lemon tree?

Fertilize your lemon tree weekly from March with Kölle Organic Citrus Fertilizer. This special fertilizer is tailored to the needs of citrus plants and contains vitalizing humic substances in addition to minerals and trace elements . These improve metabolism and promote nutrient absorption. _ It also contains natural iron, which is mainly responsible for the color of the leaves in citrus plants. From October you can fertilize at intervals of 2 to 3 weeks with a lower dosage. Are practical to use Kölle’s Beste fertilizer sticks for citrus plants. These provide all the nutrients necessary for the lemon tree for 3 months and thus help to optimally nourish the tree. Bright leaves on the lemon tree are primarily a sign of a lack of fertilizer. Well cared for and healthy plants produce young, dark green leaves throughout the summer. If the leaves on the lemon tree are chlorotic with lightening, this is usually a result of iron deficiency.

Our gardening tip: prevent iron deficiency on the lemon tree! To prevent chlorosis due to insufficient iron, spray the plants every 3 months with the biological plant additive Kölle’s Bio Eisen-Vital. The plant is revitalized in a natural way and symptoms of deficiency occur less frequently.

How do I prune my lemon tree?

The lemon tree tolerates pruning well and the wood sprout reliably after pruning . In principle, however, you should only cut the citrus plants carefully, because cutting back too much will lead to many new shoots. In autumn, before putting them into winter quarters, remove stunted, thin shoots that are growing inwards. However, pruning too hard in the fall is not advisable. It is better if you prune your lemon tree in the spring. Pruning before flowering stimulates growth and flowering.

3 tips for pruning the lemon tree:

    1. To cut back your lemon tree, use clean, sharp pruning shears and be careful not to crush the wood during the cut.
    2. Make sure you cut branches at an angle and as close to the trunk as possible. Avoid leaving stumps on the lemon tree. The smooth cut on the wood reduces the risk of infection. For large cuts, you can use tree wax to treat the wound .

Remove especially dry and inward growing branches. If the crown is too dense, fruit formation is reduced. Therefore, you can thin out the crown carefully. Furthermore, lemon trees can be kept in the desired shape by the targeted pruning. Training methods such as trellis form or high trunk are achieved through regular pruning. Fact : The so-called topiary is used for the lemon tree to achieve an even shape and promotes branching. The citrus limon, once out of shape, can be pruned throughout the growing season.

How do I overwinter my lemon tree?

Depending on the climatic conditions, you should place the lemon tree in a bright, frost-free winter quarters from October onwards. Temperatures of 5 to 10 °C are ideal. Overwintering lemon trees in unheated stairwells or frost-free garden houses or garages with light is well suited . If the citrus plant is too dark, the evergreen tree loses a disproportionate number of leaves. A warm hibernation of lemon trees is possible, but not optimal. Basically, the warmer the wintering place, the more light should be available. You can also use plant lamps to help your lemon tree survive the winter better.

Tips for wintering lemon trees:

      • Place your citrus plants in their winter quarters in good time in autumn.
      • Ensure a frost-free and bright place throughout the winter.
      • When hibernating lemon trees, it is important that the roots never get frost. If necessary, you can protect the pots with fleece and other materials. A styrofoam plate under the pots as an insulating layer has proven its worth.
      • Reduce watering in winter quarters. The lemon tree needs significantly less water in winter than in summer. The water requirement essentially depends on the room temperature, the radiation, the size of the plants and the volume of the soil.
      • Leave the container plant in one place and do not change the conditions during the winter.
      • Check the winter quarters regularly for pest infestation. Lice or scale insects on the lemon tree usually occur during the winter.
      • With cold hibernation, the lemon tree needs less fertilizer from October to March. It is ideal if you fertilize your lemon tree every 2 to 3 weeks with a lower dosage.

In the spring it is important to gradually get used to the outdoor conditions. From the end of April, place your lemon tree in a shady spot outdoors on warm days. At night, protect the citrus plant with garden fleece or move it closer to the house wall. Slowly getting used to the winter quarters is important to avoid unsightly leaf burns on the lemon tree. Fact: The orangeries known from castles were built specifically for the overwintering of lemons. In addition to the frost-free location, they ensure sufficient light in winter. With the right knowledge, overwintering the lemon tree is easy.

What types of citrus are there besides the lemon?

The popular trees are usually referred to as lemons. In addition to the classic citrus limon, there are a large number of varieties and varieties. Due to complex breeding, a wide variety of types have emerged in recent decades. The original types were Citrus medica (citron), Citrus reticulata (tangerine) and Citrus maxima (grapefruit). The main distinguishing feature between the groups is the shape of the fruit.

Known variants in the group of citrus fruits are

        • Lemons
        • limes

Oranges Also known are clementine, grapefruit, grapefruit, tangerine, kumquat, fragrant orange/chinotto, calamondin and kucle. Basically, a place in the sun, even soil moisture and regular fertilizing are important for all citrus plants.

Fact: When the citrus set the first fruit depends on the type. Basically, grafted plants bear fruit much faster than specimens grown from seeds.

What pests and diseases can the lemon tree get?

With optimal site conditions and the right care, lemon trees are impressive potted plants with incomparable flair. But especially when overwintering under unfavorable conditions (too warm and little light), the citrus plants can be infested with pests and diseases or lose leaves. Undercooled roots also lead to problems, which you can mainly recognize by leaf fall, yellow spots or lightened leaves.

spider mites

The affected leaves have silvery spots on the upper side and webs are visible on the underside of the leaves. It is usually sufficient to rinse the lemon tree with water and treat it with a plant strengthener. These bio-active agents contain natural plant extracts that contribute to the vitalization of the plant. In the case of severe infestation, oil-based plant protection products can be used. A bright location and sufficiently high humidity are important for care.


Especially in phases with less light and less growth, lemon trees are more susceptible to aphid infestation. Check your plants regularly in winter quarters. Rinse the plants thoroughly with water at the first infestation. This measure usually helps. Then strengthen the plant with a plant strengthener. In this way, the immune system is strengthened in a natural way.

Yellow leaves

Yellow leaves with dark green veins are often a result of iron deficiency. If the pH value is too high, the lemon tree cannot absorb iron. It is therefore important that the pH value is controlled. This can be remedied by special iron fertilizers. In addition to overcooled roots, other causes can also be drafts or a pot that is too small.


FAQ – Frequently asked questions about the lemon tree

Why is my lemon tree losing leaves?

When a lemon tree loses leaves, there can be a number of reasons.

Possible causes are:

          • lack of light
          • waterlogging
          • dry air
          • lack of water

a root area that is too cold Improve the conditions and young shoots will form quickly in the right location. Especially young plants that are bought new drop leaves due to the change of location. In the cold season, make sure you have adequate protection during transport.

When can lemon trees be taken out of winter quarters?

From the end of April you can bring your lemon trees out of winter quarters with a gradual acclimatization to outdoor conditions. Avoid clearing out on sunny days. More suitable are overcast days with 15 °C to avoid leaf burns. After 2 to 3 weeks, the lemon tree will tolerate full sun and will produce new shoots and new leaves.

Can lemon trees be propagated by seed?

Lemon trees can be propagated by seed. It can take many years for small seedlings to grow into fruit-bearing trees. The lemon trees propagated by seed do not always bear fruit. It is an exciting experiment, also for children, to grow small plants from lemons. However, you need a little patience and the right site conditions.

Is it possible to grow a lemon tree from cuttings?

Lemon trees can be propagated by cuttings. As in the case of propagation by seeds, it is very troublesome and not certain that the lemon tree will bear fruit later.

Why are citrus plants grafted?

Refining citrus combines the properties of two types of citrus. Many citrus plants only form flowers and fruit after 8 to 12 years. In order to have plants with fruit earlier, many varieties are grafted and flower at the age of 4 to 5 years. Grafted citrus plants are also more robust.

Can fruit from your own lemon tree be used?

If the citrus plant already has fruit when you buy it, you should first clarify whether the trees come from organic farming before you use the fruit. If your Mediterranean shrub bears fruit after a while, it is possible to use it in the second year. It is important that you have not treated the plants with pesticides. You can find edible citrus in the green square pot at Plants Kölle. These plants are cultivated according to food standards and can be eaten immediately, as only organic crop protection has been used. Look out for the labels that say: edible citrus!

When are the lemons ripe?

As soon as the lemons have the typical color and stop growing, they are ripe. Cutting off the fruit is recommended for harvesting.

Can the lemon tree be kept as a houseplant all year round?

Basically, the citrus plant can be in the house all year round. In most cases, however, fruit formation is lower and the susceptibility to pests is greater. Ideally, the lemon tree should be outdoors in summer.

Can the lemon tree stand outside in winter?

The Mediterranean wood needs a frost-free place in winter. Lemon trees tolerate temperatures around freezing point, the trees suffer damage when there is frost. Overwintering lemon trees on the balcony is risky. In climatically favorable regions it can work with sufficient protection, but it is not recommended.

Lemon Tree Blossoms Fall Off — Why Is This Happening?

Possible causes can be an infestation by spider mites, drafts, waterlogging, drought or a change of location.

Are lemon trees easy to care for?

As container plants, lemon plants only need an even supply of water and a sunny location. The wintering of lemon trees must take place indoors.

What is meant by the term ‘Buddha’s hand’?

The strikingly shaped fruits of the lemon give it its name. The shape is reminiscent of the fingers of a hand and the fruits have a symbolic meaning as they are reminiscent of the hand position during prayer. As a traditional New Year’s gift, Buddha’s hand is considered a symbol of good luck and long life in China.

Blog and guide to citrus

Have you ever wondered in autumn what to do with your own stems and potted plants in winter? Trust in our many years of horticultural expertise and bring your potted plants to the winter quarters at Pflanzen-Kölle. Here your darlings can enjoy the hibernation in special greenhouses with optimal conditions and care.


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