Lemon Trees UK – Growing & Care Guide

You may be somewhat surprised to learn you can successfully grow lemon trees, and other citrus such as lime trees and orange trees, in the UK. They will need extra protection in colder weather though as they won’t fare well when the temperature drops. New varieties of citrus trees are being established all the time too which means they are becoming more robust to our winter months. They do best inside over the very cold months and for this reason containers are great for growing them.

lemon tree in fruit
Lemon trees grow well in the UK climate, but may need stored indoors in winter.

Lemon trees have a fragrant smell to them as well as producing wonderful fruit. Flowering can occur all year round and once the fruit appears it can take up to 12 months to fully ripen. Due to this, lemon trees make a lovely decorative addition to the garden boasting both fruit and flowers together. They do best as a container-grown tree so they will fit in smaller gardens too.

Dreaming of marmalade, curd, citrus desserts, and that fresh lemon slice to your summer drinks? Then perhaps lemon trees are perfect for your garden. They only grow to a modest 1.5 metres too.


How To Grow Lemon Trees

Lemon trees can be grown quite easily in UK gardens but they need care and attention throughout the year to maintain and protect their health. Lemons along with other citrus fruits such as oranges and limes are generally not hardy here in the UK and will need some winter protection. That said, new lemon varieties are being developed which may be successfully wintered outside in some areas.

Lemons alongside Seville Oranges are the easiest citrus fruits to grow and will thrive when placed in a sunny spot. Lemon trees can flower year round, but most blossom will appear in late winter. The blossom is delicately fragranced and with fruit taking up to 12 months to mature, you can often enjoy the plants fruiting and blossoming at the same time.


When To Plant Lemon Trees

You can pop your lemon tree container outdoors and plant your lemon tree when it has warmed up – mid-June until September. During the cold months keep it inside as it won’t do well in harsh weather. If you want to plant in the ground then do so during spring. To thrive, lemon trees need an overnight temperature of 10 degrees so it’s important not to have them outside during a cold snap.

Where To Plant Lemons

Lemon trees thrive in sunny positions in gardens – and as mentioned pots are best so they can be relocated in the winter months. They do well on patios, balconies, and also in conservatories away from radiators or draughts. They need a good drainage system in place as they won’t do well waterlogged.

How To Prune Lemon Trees

When you need to re-pot your lemon tree, this is best done during spring and will need doing every few years. You can prune your tree once it’s producing its new shoots. You should pay particular attention to the middle of the tree to ensure enough light is coming through. It’s safe to remove any unhealthy branches and you can remove suckers growing at the bottom of the plant. You may need to prune again in September just to ensure it’s the desired shape.

When To Harvest Lemons

Lemons can take up to 12 months to ripen so it’s just a case of harvesting them once fully grown and turned a richer yellow. They can remain on the tree until you are ready for them. Plucking a fresh lemon to enjoy with a G&T is a deeply satisfying experience.


Lemon Tree FAQ’s

Not up on your lemon tree knowledge quite yet? Then take a look at our very own lemon tree FAQs.

How Big Will A Lemon Tree Grow?

Your lemon tree won’t be huge which makes it much more manageable. You can expect it to reach around 1.5 metres in height. There will be some variation here as it largely depends on the rootstock used.

How Fast Will Lemons Grow?

Lemon trees are a fairly slow-growing type but you should see the fruit after two to three years. The fruit takes 12 months to be ready after the tree blossoms.

How Do You Pollinate Lemons?

Lemon trees are self-fertile so you only need the one which is great if your space is limited. However, if you are keeping yours indoors then hand pollination will be required by transferring pollen to the stigma using a paintbrush.

Do You Need Two Lemon Trees To Produce Fruit?

No, you only need one lemon tree to grow fruit successfully as they contain both male and female flowers.

How to Grow a Lemon Tree From Seed?

While results won’t produce you with the perfect lemon you had in mind, it is possible to grow one from its seed. You will need patience for this as it can take some years to bear fruit. You should remove the seeds from the pulp and then rinse them well. Lemon seeds should then be planted about 1cm deep into a pot. Soil should be kept moist at all times and wrap the pot in a plastic bag. Once they germinate you can remove the bag and pop them on a windowsill. Once multiple leaves start to grow you can transfer to a bigger pot and they will need daily sun.

Can you grow lemon trees in the UK?                   

Yes, lemon trees can do well in the UK but will need extra care in the colder periods of the year.

How to wrap a lemon tree for winter?                 

You will need to wrap your lemon tree over winter if you plan to keep it outdoors. You can use hessian fleece, wool, or other suitable winter coverings to wrap your plant with.

How to ripen lemons off the tree?                                         

You should ideally leave them on the tree to ripen but you can try popping them in a sunny location such as by the window. If this fails you can use the lemon as a cleaning aid or even as a natural air freshener.

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