The Q&A Archives: Lemon Tree Hardiness

Question: I got a lemon tree from my friend. A little note attached to it read the following: hardy for a short time to 18*F. What does that mean? Should I keep it indoors or outdoors? What care and feeding should I give it to maximize fruit production?

Thank You

Answer: You need to bring the tree indoors for the winter. Not all varieties of lemons adapt well to containers (some such as Eureka grow to 20 feet, while some such as the dwarf 6 foot Meyer will do better), so your success will also depend on which kind you have. The note means it will tolerate that temperature without dying, but it is certainly not recommended to stress it like that unnecessarily -- these trees are very cold sensitive. To grow fruit you will need a very bright location for it, and a cool greenhouse would be preferable! During the winter, citrus trees need a cool (60 degrees would be great), very bright indoor spot with ample humidity and these conditions can be difficult to provide in the average home. They should be set outside each summer to take advantage of the sun. Keep the plant evenly moist but not soggy and use a balanced fertilizer which also contains zinc, iron and manganese to keep up the micronutrients. The tree should grow fairly slowly so be prepared with some patience.

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