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Lemon tree

Cathy Asked

Can I buy a lemon tree plant it in a big pot bring in basement during winter months and it will grow ?

The Gardener’s Answer

Hi, Cathy: 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 the winter months. 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, such as, Improved Meyer, Lisbon and Eureka do well in containers which is helpful in terms of moving them indoors and out. After you purchase your lemon, 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 better options than those made of plastic. This is important because 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 good quality potting soil. Indoors, they should be placed in the sunniest room of your home; a south facing window if possible. Like all citrus, lemons will benefit from fertilizer during the growing months. During the winter months you will want to cut back on your watering and fertilizing routine. They will not put on much growth at this time. Late April or early May the lemon can go back outside. It should be placed in a shadier location and gradually moved back into the full sun. This will prevent foliage burn as the light levels are so much lower indoors than they are outdoors. Once it is back outside you can feed and increase your watering routine. Having  a citrus tree indoors during the gloomy, winter months is such a treat. They make wonderful gifts too!


Angie Oakley Kentucky Living-Ask the Gardener

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