When Life Hands You Lemons…

A while ago I promised to tell you more about my lemon tree. Well, today’s the day. I have to admit, I tried dragging the plant pot to various locations in an effort to get a half decent picture. Unfortunately everything is covered in vines so it was almost impossible to get a picture against a neutral/flat background (well, I love the vines, so I guess it’s fortunate that they’re there, just not when it comes to taking pictures). Anyways, as you can see it’s a pretty big plant; I’ve had it for about four years now and it’s grown quite a bit in that time.


Potted lemon plant


It’s a fairly healthy plant that’s surprisingly easy to take care of. During the summer I water it very deeply once or twice a week (depending on how hot/windy/rainy it’s been) and fertilize it with an all-purpose mix when I remember, probably every other week or so.

That being said, it does require a lot of attention over the winter. I usually bring it inside in late August/early September after carefully inspecting it and trimming it back a bit. Once it’s inside I place it at our biggest and brightest window and mist it with water almost everyday, plus I have an actual humidifier going once we get into deep winter and the heat kicks on. Despite my best efforts it usually gets pretty leggy over the winter, so I cut back that weak winter growth before it goes back outside in the summer. Of course, it doesn’t go straight outside right away – I start by opening the window that it’s at during the day for a few days, then place it just outside the window for a few hours a day for several days (gradually increasing the length of time), eventually it goes outside permanently, remaining in a sheltered spot for while before I eventually move it to its summer home.

The scent of citrus blossoms is one of the best things I’ve ever experienced. When the plant is outside I just let the pollinators do their job, but when it blossoms inside over the winter I use a Q-tip and pollinate the flowers by hand. I know it seems like a lot of work when it’s spelled out like that, but it is so worth the effort.


Lemon blossoms – these smell heavenly!

They’ll eventually turn into these. I know there are a lot there, but in my experience many in the cluster will fall off as they get bigger, leaving me with two or three (rather than the nine currently in the image).


Itty bitty lemons


After many, many months of waiting I end up with usable lemons. This is the part where I confess to the fact that I don’t know if these are actually lemons or limes. I lost the tag years ago, but I’m 95% sure that I bought a lemon. Plus they taste like lemons. But they’re green – and no matter how long I leave them on the tree they never seem to get truly yellow. They taste good though, and that’s all that matters.





Ready to eat


And of course, when life hands you lemons you make lemonade! I like to make a concentrate and then add water or club soda when I’m ready to drink it. For this batch (using five lemons) I started with two cups of sugar (one white, one brown), added enough boiling water to that to dissolve the sugar, and then once that cooled down I added that lemon juice.


Making lemonade


As a general note, everything I’ve written about growing this lemon tree is based on personal experience. I’m not sure whether it’s standard or correct, but these methods have worked well for me. 


3 thoughts on “When Life Hands You Lemons…

  1. How great to have a lemon tree up north. I live in Northeast Ohio when not cruising on our sailboat in the Caribbean and Bahamas. I thought it would be great to grown one once I was home for good. Glad to know that it works.

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