Propagating Lemon Seeds: Can You Grow A Lemon Tree Seed

A Slice Of Lemon And Lemon Seeds
Image by Sasha Brazhnik

I would venture to say that we all grasp the concept that seed planting yields produce. Most of us probably buy prepackaged seeds from the local nursery or online, but did you realize that you can harvest your own seeds from fruits and vegetables to propagate? How about citrus fruits? Can you grow a lemon tree from seed, for example?

Can You Grow a Lemon Tree From Seed?

Yes, indeed. Propagating lemon seeds is a relatively easy process, although you may need to pack your patience and realize that you may not get the exact same lemon from your experiment in lemon seed propagation.

Commercially grafted citrus trees are identical to the parent tree and fruit within two to three years. However, trees produced via seed are not carbon copies of the parent and may take five or more years to fruit, with the resulting fruit generally inferior to those of the parent. For that matter, your growing lemon tree seeds may never produce fruit, but it is a fun experiment and the resulting tree will no doubt be a lovely, living citrus specimen.

How to Grow Lemon Trees from Seed

The first step in propagating lemon seeds is to select a good tasting, juicy lemon. Remove the seeds from the pulp and wash them to remove any clinging flesh and sugar that can foster fungal disease, which will kill off your seed, by the way. You want to use only fresh seeds and plant them immediately; letting them dry out will decrease the chance that they will germinate.

Fill a small pot with pasteurized soil mix or a mix of half peat moss and half perlite or sand and pasteurize it yourself. Pasteurization will also aid in removing any harmful pathogens that can kill your seedling. Plant several lemon seeds about ½ inch (1 cm.) deep to increase the chance for lemon seed propagation. Moisten the soil lightly and cover the top of the pot with plastic wrap to aid in water retention. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy.

Keep your growing lemon tree seeds in an area that is around 70 degrees F. (21 C.); the top of the fridge is ideal. Once the seedlings emerge, move the container into brighter light and remove the plastic. When the seedlings have several sets of leaves, transplant them to larger, 4 to 6 inch (10-15 cm.) pots filled with sterile potting medium. Fertilize them with a water soluble fertilizer high in potassium every two to four weeks and keep the soil moist.

The propagated lemon seedlings should have at least four hours of direct sun with temps between 60 and 70 degrees F. (15-21 C.). As the tree gets larger, prune it in the early spring and repot as needed to encourage new growth and fruiting. Cease fertilizing and reduce water in the winter and keep the tree in a draft free area.

There you have it; a lemon tree from seed. Remember though, it may take as long as 15 years before you are squeezing those lemons for lemonade!

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