Citrus fruits and especially lemon trees are fruit trees that adapt very well to growing in pots. Being ideal for growing on terraces or balconies. Although they can grow up to five meters tall when planted directly into the ground, they can live very well in pots. But it will need some care and that you know how to choose the best pot for the lemon tree, both in its material and its size. We will analyze all those key points in this post, so that you can harvest the best lemon trees on your balcony. 😉
Just because it can be grown in a pot does not mean it is a houseplant. Lemon trees need many hours of sun a day, especially if you want to grow their fruits. Therefore, in the previous paragraph, I clarify that they are very good to grow on terraces or balconies, since they are places where the lemon tree could be exposed to direct sunlight for several hours.
1. Tips for growing lemon trees in pots
Before we dive into talking about the best pots for growing lemon trees, I consider it important to see some tips on how to care for these citrus fruits when grown in pots. Remember that although they can grow in pots, this is not the most common, these fruit trees always prefer to be planted directly in the ground.
- Soil: needs a slightly acidic, well-draining mixture. Peat is an element that can work very well in soil mixtures for this citrus. If you want to buy a ready-made mix, cactus soil mixes can be good, although it would be better if you add a little more organic matter.
- Irrigation: it needs large amounts of water. Always make abundant waterings but do not flood the soil of the pot. During the summer is when the greatest amount of water is needed. The best way to know how often to water is by looking at the soil. A good way is to insert a thin wooden stick into the soil of the pot, if it comes out completely clean it means that the soil is quite dry, therefore you must water.
- Fertilization: fertilization should be carried out from spring and throughout the summer. You can use organic liquid fertilizers and reinforce it with guano in early spring.
- Pruning: In fruit trees, pruning is generally very important. And if they are grown in a pot even more. Correct pruning will ensure good development while controlling growth. You should do it at the end of winter, cutting dry, weak, diseased branches and those that have developed too much.
2. Potting material for lemon trees
As we mentioned, there are two key points when looking for a lemon tree pot. One of them is the material and the other the size, in this section we will take care of analyzing which are the best materials, and we will leave the analysis of the size for the last section.
We will mention the most common materials that are usually used as flower pots. And we will see what are the pros and cons of each of them to use with this citrus. Thus we will come to the conclusion of which is the best material for pots for lemon trees.
2.1 Terracotta pot
Terracotta pots are one of my favorites, especially aesthetically, they are very beautiful on any balcony or terrace. Being a fairly porous material, they absorb a lot of water, which is very good for plants that need good drainage, such as lemon trees.
The disadvantage that we can mention in this type of pots is that they weigh a lot. So if you’re going to use a terra cotta pot for your lemon tree, place the plant in a spot where you don’t need to move it very often.
2.2 Wooden pot
Wooden pots have quite a few similarities to terracotta ones. This is because they are made of a 100% natural material, with a good ability to evaporate moisture from inside the pot.
The wood makes the pots quite sturdy and heavy. So again, you need to put it somewhere where you don’t plan to move it on a daily basis.
2.3 Concrete pot
We have been mentioning sturdy and heavy pots, so concrete pots cannot be missing from this list. They are one of the heaviest pots so it will not be very easy to move them.
Given their high resistance, they are excellent pots to place outdoors. Its low porosity makes it highly retain moisture. Make sure it has very good orifices, otherwise you could have excessive watering problems in your lemon tree.
2.4 Plastic pot
They are the lightest pots you can find on the market. This will allow you to move the pot more easily. In addition, the zero porosity of the plastic makes it essential to control the holes in the pot.
In case you choose this material for the pot of your lemon tree, you should look for a hard plastioc. Make sure you have enough resistance to lift and move the pot without breaking the plastic.
As I just told you, you should check that it has a good number of holes. At least at its base it should have 4 or five holes of not less than 2 cm in diameter.
As you will realize, only analyze four materials, there are many other materials that are often used in pots. But most of the materials I don’t mention are because I don’t directly consider them to be good options for use in lemon tree pots. Some examples are glass, wicker, fabric pots, etc.
3. Lemon tree pot size
As you can imagine, the size of the pot will depend directly on the size of the plant. If you buy a lemon tree that is already quite developed in the nursery, about a meter high, it is not logical that you plant it in a pot with a diameter of 20 cm. The pot should be of a size that allows you to comfortably place the entire root system of the plant and also leave enough space for it to develop without the need for transplantation for at least a year.
For a small citrus, no more than 40 cm high, you can use a pot with a diameter of 20 cm. Find a pot that is similar in diameter and depth so that the roots can spread the same in width as they are in depth. Year after year it is convenient to change the pot to give it space to grow. In ripe lemon trees you will need pots of up to 60 cm in diameter.
3.1 Consequences of choosing an unsuitable pot size
Planting your lemon tree in a pot that is not the right size will have consequences. Knowing these consequences will make you understand the importance of this point.
Let’s first analyze what happens if you put your lemon tree in a pot that is smaller than necessary. The lemon tree will have no place to develop its roots. Therefore, their roots will accumulate more and more inside the pot as they grow. In addition, the little amount of soil will make it impossible to retain much moisture, so it is likely that your lemon tree is always thirsty. Both root crowding and poor moisture retention will cause the plant to grow very slowly, which can affect its health.
Now, if the opposite happens, that is, if you plant your lemon tree in a pot that is too big, the problem will be another. The large amount of soil inside the pot will greatly increase water retention, there will be places in the pot that will always be wet. This in some cases can end up causing root rot.
4. Best pot for lemon tree
We have already seen which are the most suitable materials and what size pot to use in lemon trees. So what is the ideal pot to use with these citrus fruits?
Answering that question is something that depends on several factors, some objective and others subjective. For example, if the pot is going to be outdoors, in a place where you will hardly ever move, it would be best to opt for very resistant materials such as concrete or terracotta.
On the other hand, if you place it in a more protected place such as a balcony, where you will need to move the pot with some regularity, it will be better to opt for lighter materials. In those cases, the best would be plastic.
The examples we have just seen are fairly objective analyzes. But other aspects such as aesthetics are totally subjective. In a place where you think it is better to put a green plastic pot, it may be more beautiful for me to use a pot.
4.1 Additional tips for potted lemon trees
Before finishing this post I want to leave these extra tips to keep in mind:
- No need to add stone or gravel to the bottom of the pot. It is enough to use a soil with good drainage capacity.
- It is good to place the pot with its bottom off the ground, so that it allows a correct runoff after watering.
- Do not water with the same frequency and amount of water when transplanting your lemon tree and transferring it to a larger pot. If you water the large pot as regularly as the small one, you may be overwatering. Remember that the more soil in the pot, the greater the water holding capacity.
- Remember that you must transplant your lemon tree as it grows. Therefore, avoid the use of pots with a narrow mouth design. Since it will be very difficult to remove the root ball from the ground at the time of transplanting.
And with this we finish the post, I hope it has been useful to you. 😉
- Growing Citrus Indoors – wisc.edu.
- How to grow citrus indoors – colostate.edu.
- Lemon Growing in the Florida – ufl.edu.