Lemons are versatile fruits, perfect for cooking and baking. Did you know you can grow them from leaves? While growing from seeds works, using the leaf-cutting method is faster. If you dream of picking lemons from your backyard, let’s discover the secrets to this citrus-scented journey.


Step 1: Select And Propagate The Leaf

1. Select Lemon Leaves

Choosing the right leaf is the first step. You should opt for a healthy, vibrant leaf, ideally from a mature and thriving lemon tree. The selected leaf should exhibit vitality, free from diseases or pests. Once chosen, trim the leaf at a slight angle, about six inches from the stem. Ensure your cutting includes a sliver of the stem.

2. Propagate

Dip the severed end in rooting hormone to increase the rate of success. Insert it into a moist and well-draining potting mix, making sure to bury the stem at least an inch deep. Cover your leafy with a plastic bag or a clear plastic dome, creating a mini-greenhouse. This microclimate encourages the leaf to develop roots and shoots.

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Step 2: Transplant The Leaves

The moment your leaves shows signs of self-sufficiency, it’s time for the transplant. Gently extract the newly rooted plant from its nursery pot, being mindful of the fragile roots. Transition it into a larger pot filled with nutrient-rich soil, offering ample room for growth. Position the little lemon where it can bask in sunlight.

Water your young citrus generously, allowing the soil to remain consistently moist but not waterlogged. As your lemon tree grows, continue the periodic transplantation, ensuring it always has ample space for its ambitious roots.

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Step 3: Take Care Of New Lemon Trees

1. Water

Nurturing your fledgling lemon tree demands attention to its every need.  Lemon trees need a steady supply of water to take in the fertilizer’s nutrients and grow well. You should aim for a balance in watering – neither drought nor flood. For lemons tree growing in containers, you should water when the top two inches of soil are dry.

2. Fertilizer

Fertilize your lemon tree during its growing season, typically spring and summer, with a balanced fertilizer. When applying fertilizer to a potted tree, it is best to place it as close to the edge of the pot and away from the tree trunk as possible.

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3. Pruning

Pruning is also essential to encourage a robust structure by snipping away wayward branches and encouraging a central leader. You should remove suckers or basal shoots at the base of the tree, as they are from the rootstock and do not produce the desired fruit variety as well as any dead or damaged branches.

4. Overwinter

When winter comes, shield your lemon sapling from the coldness. If frost threatens, wrap its tender trunk with burlap and apply a layer of mulch around its base. This protective embrace ensures your lemon tree emerges from winter unscathed, ready to burst forth with fragrant blossoms.

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Step 4: Harvest And Storage

1. Harvest

Harvest your lemons when their color transforms into a radiant yellow and give them a gentle twist to detach from the tree. Lemon picking is better too early than too late. If lemons are greenish-yellow, they will more than likely ripen off of the tree.

2. Storage

Lemons should be kept in a cool, dark place to preserve their freshness. For longer storage, consider freezing lemon slices or juicing and freezing the liquid in ice cube trays to make them ready to use throughout the year.

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  1. Mindful Watering: Strike a balance in watering. Allow the soil to partially dry between watering sessions, preventing both parched roots and waterlogged soil.
  2. Mulch: A layer of mulch around the base of your lemon tree not only retains soil moisture but also keeps weeds at bay.
  3. Guard Against Pests: Keep an eye out for pests, especially aphids and spider mites. A blast of water or neem oil can deter these unwanted visitors without harming your citrus tree.

We hope that with these insights, you’re armed to cultivate a flourishing lemon tree from a leaf cutting. Growing a lemon tree can be surprisingly easy if you provide it with the right conditions and sufficient water, regardless of whether you choose to grow it indoors or outdoors.