Q If I buy a lemon tree, plant it in a big pot and bring it in my basement during winter months, will it grow outdoors in the spring? —Cathy
A Lemon trees are considered tropical for Kentucky gardeners. They are happy to live outdoors from late spring to early fall, but they are not cold-hardy and will need protection during winter.
Dwarf and semi-dwarf lemons are ideal for those of us not living in USDA hardiness zones 9-11 (we are gardening in zone 6). These varieties, like “Improved Meyer,” “Lisbon” and “Eureka,” do well in containers. Choose a container that is 1-2 inches larger than the nursery pot it is purchased in. Containers made of clay or a heavier material are the best options—when your plant produces fruit, you will want a container that can support the weight. Make sure the container has drainage holes and fill it with quality potting soil.
Indoors, they should be placed in the sunniest room of your home, near a south facing window, if possible. In late April or early May, the lemon tree can go back outside. It should be placed in a shadier location and gradually moved back into full sun. This will prevent foliage burn.
Once it’s back outside you can feed and increase your watering routine. Having a citrus tree indoors during the winter months is such a treat.