How to Grow Lemon Trees Indoors: 6 Easy Steps to Growing Bountiful Citrus Trees in Containers by Elisa Schmitz

How to Grow Lemon Trees Indoors: 6 Easy Steps to Growing Bountiful Citrus Trees in Containers

For our anniversary, my husband and I picked out two baby Meyer lemon trees at our local nursery. It wasn’t something we planned, but as we strolled the abundant aisles looking for gardening inspiration, we saw the lemon trees shining bright, and their light stopped us in our tracks.

We live in Chicago, which is hardly the right climate for growing lemon trees. Still, we picked out two, and brought them home with us – not having a clue about how to grow them successfully. But, we quickly learned that you actually can grow lemon trees in blustery Chicago, and it’s a wonderful mindfulness (and anniversary) activity. All you need are a few tips – and a lot of love.

Here’s how to grow lemon trees indoors, in six easy steps:

  1. We planted the trees in large containers with good drainage, and lots of room to grow. Our baby lemon trees were 14 to 16 inches tall, and we planted them in 12-inch pots. We drilled holes at the bottom of the pots for drainage. We also put a 2-inch layer of stones at the bottom of the pots, to help with water flow. We will re-plant them in larger containers when they outgrow the ones they're in.
  2. We filled the pots halfway with quality potting soil and we added fertilizer. We planted the trees in the pots, then covered it with more potting soil and fertilizer.
  3. We use fertilizer spikes, once every eight weeks, to ensure the trees have a steady, nutritious diet. (We use Jobe’s Organics Fertilizer Spikes for Bountiful Container-Grown Fruit & Citrus.)
  4. We keep the trees outdoors during summer, and water them regularly. On extra-hot days, we make sure to extra-water them to ensure the soil doesn't dry out.
  5. In the fall, we bring the trees inside. We place them in a very sunny spot near some windows, where they get a steady stream of sunshine.
  6. This may be our best tip: We mist our lemon trees, almost every day. Using a sprayer that allows for a steady stream of mist, we coat every single leaf and lemon with a fine mist of water. (We use the SOLO portable handheld sprayer.) As soon as we started doing this, I noticed that the leaves and the lemons all perked up. The lemons turned from green to yellow even faster. It's clear that the trees love the mist.

We thought maybe our avocado plant might enjoy the mist, too, so we started to mist it as well. And, it has never been happier. Ever since we started misting our avocado plant, it has grown more new leaves and is standing taller than ever before. I even mist my other plants now, just in case they might enjoy a little “rainforest feel” as well.

Growing tropical plants like lemon trees and avocados has made a big difference in my state of mind, especially during the winter. Being in snowy Chicago, the cold and gray can get you down. But misting a bright yellow lemon tree can bring a smile on even the darkest of days. 

Cutting a slice of lemon from a fruit you grew by yourself makes just about anything taste that much better (and more tropical). Growing and gardening (and cooking and eating) are some of my favorite mindfulness activities!

If you can’t get hold of a lemon tree this time of year, be sure to snag one when they’re available this spring or summer. It’s so fun to pick one out on your own. But, if all else fails, you also can order them online.

If you have experience with growing lemon trees, please share it with me. I would love to know how it’s going for you. Can’t wait to hear your experiences and tips with growing lemon trees (or avocado plants) at home!

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Elisa Schmitz
Love my little lemon trees, which are already bearing a lot of fruit. I thought of you as I wrote this, Donna John , my fellow gardener!
Dieter Schmitz
Though I miss seeing our lemon trees on the patio (lemon trees aren’t really made for Chicago winters), it’s been sweet to watch with Elisa A. Schmitz 30Seconds our lemon trees thriving in our sun room. And, guess what - Spring will come!
Julie Rose
❤️this big time
Such a wonderful idea! 🍋

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