Growing Dwarf Lemon Trees as House Plants

Dwarf lemon trees can be very enjoyable houseplants. An indoor lemon tree will delight you with its fragrant citrus blossoms and tangy fruit. Why the dwarf Meyer lemon is my preferred lemon tree dwarf.

Dwarf lemon trees in pots.

Dwarf Meyer lemons and a rosemary plant.

Unless you have a sunny Florida room or a conservatory in your home, lemon trees will be challenging houseplants. They like intense light, good air movement and higher humidity than is comfortable for most people.

They do, however, make lovely, easy care accents on a bright porch or patio.

If you can’t create the conditions they like indoors, try growing dwarf lemon trees as part-time houseplants. This is actually the best way to grow most houseplants.

Let them spend the summer outside and just bring them in for the winter. This is what I used to do with my Improved Meyer lemon tree.

Its fragrance and beauty kept my spirits up during the winter when most of my outdoor plants were out of bloom.

Of all the dwarf lemon tree varieties, Meyer Lemon Trees are my favorite potted lemon trees. Being natural dwarfs, they are compact growers.

The flowers are large (for a citrus blossom) and white with a twinge of purple. They bloom profusely when they are happy and the fragrance is heavenly. I used to keep one in a pot just so I could bring it inside when it was in bloom.

When growing lemon trees in pots indoors you’ll need to either hand pollinate them or take them outside before they finish flowering so that the bees can do it.

You can hand pollinate them by transferring the pollen from the anthers to the sticky yellow stigmas (each blossom contains a round stigma surrounded by several anthers) with a q-tip.

Indoor Lemon Tree Varieties

Meyer Lemon Tree Gift Set
from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.
Variegated Pink Lemon
from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.

Any plant sold to you as a dwarf lemon (except a Meyers lemon tree which is a natural dwarf) will have been grafted onto dwarfing rootstock to keep it compact.

This is not strictly necessary unless you want a very small tree which can be kept in a 10 inch pot. This is a good size for placing in a greenhouse window or on a desk or table.

Dwarf Lemon and Lime Tree 2in1

A lemon tree in a pot this size will still bloom and produce fruit. It just won’t give you as much fruit as a larger tree would.

If the variety of lemon you wish to grow indoors–and you can grow ANY lemon tree indoors–is unavailable as a dwarf, just buy the normal tree. It will grow more vigorously than it would if it had been grafted onto dwarfing stock but, if you want it to grow to a height of say 5 feet, this will happen much more quickly.

Cold Hardy Genoa Lemon
from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.
Lemon – Lisbon
from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.
Lemon – Eureka
from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.

Keeping any lemon tree in a pot will restrain its growth. If it is not on dwarfing rootstock, you will need to both top and root prune it more often to keep it small. Whereas, you may only need to root prune a dwarf lemon tree twice in a decade, you might find yourself pruning a regular lemon tree every other year.

I did not need to root prune my Meyer lemon tree once in the 7 years I kept it in a pot. I have also grown the Pink Eureka lemon tree in a pot. It too is a slow grower that will stay small all by itself.

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