A lemon tree is a beautiful addition to any garden. The pale blossoms against shiny, dark green leaves are a pleasure to behold, the sent is magic and you get fruit too!

Citrus trees are reasonably hardy plants and will fare well in a range of conditions. A little care, though, will go a long way, so help your tree live a long and healthy life with these lemon tree care tips.

Where to Plant Your Lemon Tree

If you have the luxury of starting from scratch, plant your lemon tree where it will get plenty of sun and be protected from frost in the colder months.

Ensure the soil is well drained in your planting area.

Mulch in a ring around the tree. This helps keep moisture in the ground, but more importantly prevents grass and weeds, which lemon trees dislike, from encroaching on your plant. Care should be taken, though, not to mulch right up to the trunk as this can promote collar rot.


The shallow root system of a lemon tree can become dehydrated during dry periods so water regularly. If flowers, leaves or unripe fruit begin to drop it’s a good indication that your tree is too dry.

Pruning Your Lemon Tree

Lemon trees can be left pretty much unattended as far as pruning goes, just cut out dead wood every so often and prune away lower branches to aid the circulation of air throughout the tree structure.


The most important aspect of lemon tree care is feeding. Generally, lemon trees like a lot of nitrogen, so use a fertiliser that’s high in this element. Blood and Bone (if you can stand the smell) and Thrive are good options. One of the reasons mature leaves turn yellow is nitrogen deficiency (though there are many others).

If leaves turn yellow but still have a green skeleton structure running through them your lemon tree probably needs iron. To remedy, add iron chelates or similar to your fertiliser.

Magnesium deficiency, indicated by yellowing leaves which maintain a green wedge at their base, can be treated by feeding with Epsom salts.

Lemon Tree Pests

Inspect your lemon tree for pests regularly. Early detection minimises pest damage and makes it much easier to deal with an infestation. Look out for:

  • Citrus Leaf Miner – if the leaves of your lemon tree look distorted and have silvery trails running through them you’ve probably got a citrus leaf miner infestation. These pests live inside the leaf, so treat by cutting away the affected areas. You can also spray with white oil preparation.
  • Sucking insects – mealy bug, scale and aphids can create a black discoloration on leaves. Aphids can be hosed off with a strong stream of water. Mealy bugs and scale will require a systemic insecticide, the gentler the better – remember, you’re going to eat that fruit.
  • Gall wasp – these nasty pests lay their eggs in stems and branches which then swell and become lumpy (these deformities are known as galls). Cut out the galls before September, when the insects hatch, and destroy by burning.

Happy Lemon Trees

A lemon tree that is well watered, adequately fertilised and protected from pests will return the favour year after year with it’s beauty and an abundance of zesty fruit.

Lemon Tree Care, 3.7 out of 5 based on 18 ratings

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  1. Columbia County Arborist says:

    This blog post on lemon trees was very informative. Thank you for the tip about not mulching all the way up to the trunk. Thanks for sharing.

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    Rating: 2.9/5 (12 votes cast)
  2. Amanda says:

    Hi, My lemon tree is in a large pot with drainage. It has lost alot of leaves and doesn’t seem to grow healthy branches. It’s a young plant just a metre in height. There doesn’t seem to be any infestation of bugs and i’ve sprayed it and put citrus around the base. What’s wrong with it do you think? Its not looking healthy :( Thanks heaps :)

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    Rating: 2.6/5 (127 votes cast)
  3. liz says:

    My gift of a lemon tree was wound around a frame, badly. I have untied it but it is very song and ‘whip-like’ with flowers at the very tip. can I prune it back and will it grow on from side shoots?

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  4. I have a lovely little potted citrus tree which I purchased from a home-improvement center. I have kept her in my sun porch (which has windows with screens and an overhead fan) during the winter. Now she is covered in gorgeous buds, and although the weather here is quite warm, I have left her where she is. I am so afraid that moving her outside will make her drop the blooms. So I am opening the windows and using the fan. She gets plenty of sunshine where she is. Am I being cruel to keep her inside? It is also rather hard on my back to carefully move her.

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    Rating: 3.2/5 (47 votes cast)
  5. My lemon trees have dark colored leaves and fruit. My lime trees have fruit too, but the leaves are yellowing quickly. May I use Epsom salt on my lime too. If so, what is the amount to use on my trees and should I wait until the fruit is done?

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    Rating: 3.0/5 (57 votes cast)
  6. Chris Blanchfield says:

    My lemon tree is well estabilished but and has always had good friut and plenty of it. Lately this has changed and the friut is scaley and small, not getting to any great size. Any tips

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  7. Eileen Pinnock says:

    My lemon tree has been replanted to a new location and is doing well but the lemons that have appeared have not grown and remain small and green. Could you advise on what I need to apply to produce healthy yellow fruit.

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  8. Adriaan says:

    I have an well-established lemon tree, more than 3 meters high, and bearing exceptionally well. Only problem is that all the fruits are bitter, and can not be used! Most of the fruit fall off when ripe.
    I do give a little Epsom salt, and some fertilizer like 2:3:2 or 3:1:5, but no extra iron.

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  9. jo says:

    I cut the leaves off my lemon tree all except two because they have white spots on them it is indoors in ct in a window next to heat and gets cold poland spring water. Was giving it water with organic plant food going to buy some citrus food. didnt cut the fruit but will cutting back the leaves kill the tree? I have awful luck with plants probably because I react to the littlest thing.. but anyhow will no leaves kill the tree? It has fruit or the beginning stages of what i think is fruit. May just go buy a new tree

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