So you got your own lemon tree and you’ve been looking forward to slices of fresh lemon in your tea and lemonade made from fresh-squeezed, homegrown lemons. There’s just one problem…you tree isn’t producing any lemons. If your tree is looking green and healthy, that can be especially frustrating. So what can you do about it? Can you do anything about it?
Some reasons a Eureka lemon or other variety of lemon tree might not be bearing include poor watering practices, poor cultivating practices, incorrect temperature, insufficient light, lack of nutrients in the soil, disease or pest infestation, and/or a bad rootstock.
If you’re wondering what zone do lemon trees grow best in the US, USDA zones 9-11 are what’s needed for lemon trees to thrive outdoors 24/7. For the purposes of this article we’re going to assume your rootstock is fine, your tree is old enough to bear fruit (3-5 years), and your tree is a dwarf variety (such as a Meyer lemon dwarf tree) that you can move around or keep indoors when it gets too cold.
Why You Might Not Be Getting Lemons
Let’s forget the fruit for a second to ask this…is your lemon tree bearing flowers? No blooms means no fruit, so you’ll want to address this first.
Here are some reasons why your lemon tree might not be flowering:
- You’re tree isn’t getting enough light. The best type of lemon tree to grow indoors is a dwarf variety, and many of them do very well – but getting enough light is essential. Find a spot that gets at least six hours of continuous sun per day. If you don’t have one, you’ll want to consider getting a grow light.
- Your tree is getting too little/too much water. Proper watering practices are key to Eureka lemon tree care and Meyer lemon tree care. To know your potted lemon tree needs water, a good rule of thumb is to stick your finger into the soil up to your second knuckle. If the soil is dry, water it thoroughly (rather than frequent light watering). Potted Meyer lemon tree care means not leaving the tree sitting in a dish of water – the soil should be able to drain easily.
- It’s not humid enough for your lemon tree. Lemon trees prefer a tropical/sub-tropical climate, so be sure there’s no dry heat blowing on your potted indoor lemon tree. You can help your tree get some much-needed humidity by filling a tray with stones, adding water, and setting the tree on top of the stones.
- Your tree is nutrient-starved. Good dwarf Meyer lemon tree care includes feeding your tree from time to time. Grow Kits from Citrus.com not only include lemon tree fertilizer, but a calendar that lets you know when the best times are to fertilize your tree.
- Your tree is under attack. Lemon tree pests and diseases can really do a number on your tree, and the more time your tree spends outside, the more you have to be on the watch for them. Some disease-resistant citrus tree varieties are the best option for preventing many issues, but even for an improved Meyer lemon tree, care that includes proper watering, pruning, spraying, weeding, and removing fallen fruit can help control most insects and diseases. It’s a good idea to keep a copper fungicide spray on hand so you can deal with most issues right away.
Flowers That Don’t Bear Fruit
Lemon trees don’t need much pruning, so be judicious when you do trim them back, avoiding the ends of branches. Also, lemon trees are self-pollinating, but indoor trees sometimes need a little help…if you’re getting flowers but no fruit, use a dry paintbrush to transfer pollen from one blossom to the stigma of another blossom to help fertilize the blooms.
And don’t give up – these are hardy little trees in their way, and if you follow these trips, chances are you’ll be lemon harvesting in no time!