How to grow lemons from seed

Growing lemons from seed is easy. All you need is a lemon, some soil and a suitable container.

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A lemon:

It’s recommended that you buy organic lemons since some non-organic varieties have seeds that will not germinate. The “Meyer” variety are preferred because they are small and are better for ornamental purposes in containers or indoors.


Use a mixture of peat, vermiculite and organic fertilizer. Normal potting soil will also suffice.

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A container:

Choose one with drainage holes. To germinate your seeds the container only needs to be 15cm deep. Lemon trees have strong root systems and will prefer a container that is wider than it is deep so rather plant the seedlings in a container 30-45cm wide and 25-40cm deep. This will be sufficient for a few years.



  1. Moisten the potting soil by adding water until it’s damp all the way through.
  2. Fill the container with the potting soil leaving a 3cm space below the rim.
  3. Slice the lemon (it’s best to cut the lemon slightly off-centre to avoid damaging the seeds). Pick the seeds out and rinse all the flesh off them.
  4. Plant them 1cm deep and cover completely with soil, then water well.
  5. Cover the container with a plastic bag and poke some holes in it to allow for the exchange of gasses. This keeps the seeds warm and moist. Use a rubber band to keep the plastic bag in place.
  6. Take note: seeds need warmth and moisture to germinate. But you don’t want too high temperatures nor do you want to allow the seeds to dry out. So keep an eye on them. If you think the soil temperature is warm enough rather remove the plastic cover. Too much warmth and moisture combined will rot the seeds.
  7. The germination period can take up to two weeks. You can remove the plastic cover when you see the little sprout emerging. Place the little ones where they can get some sunlight and check on them regularly.
  8. Once they are large enough to manage you can transplant them into larger containers.

Tip: Remember, lemon sprouts need light. Set the plant in full sun or in a sunny windowsill and check regularly to make sure it isn’t drying out or infected by diseases.

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  • Citrus is normally grown by grafting a bud onto a rootstock to encourage a stronger root system, however, growing citrus from seed will more than suffice for the general home owner and gardener’s needs.
  • Always ensure the young lemon tree has damp soil but isn’t sitting in water. Allow for 8 hours of sunlight each day and supplement with a grow light if necessary.
  • An organic fertilizer will replenish the nutrients lost over time; but be sure not to over feed. Whilst the plant is young feed with fertilisers which encourage foliage and root growth rather that the production of fruit and flowers.

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