With the right conditions you can grow lemons in containers, or you can grow them in the ground. If you give a lemon plenty of sun – protection from the wind – protection from winter frost, then there’s a variety for you!
I personally love the unique flavor and easy production of the Meyer lemon; plus, they grow so well in my mild northern California climate, and are practically always producing.
For a more traditional lemon flavor, look to the more tart: Santa Teresa, Eureka, Lisbon or Ponderosa lemons.
Evergreen Lemons and Fragrant Blooms
1. Santa Teresa Lemon – This classic Italian lemon tree ( aka: Sorrento Lemon or Italian Lemon) is the same fruit that the Italians use to make their world famous limoncello drinks. The rind is high in lemon oil, which is the essential ingredient in so much Italian cooking, and for recipes that call for lemon zest, Santa Teresa, is perfect. Lemons size is large to medium; Its rind is a thick golden-yellow and has a high oil content. Flesh is acidic, very juicy, and has few seeds. Conditions? Regular water and full sun. Size: 10 – 25′ tall and wide. Zones: 9 – 11.
2. Meyer Lemon – This lemon is a prolific bearer and very popular in home gardens where the climate is favorable. Flavor-wise, Meyer lemon is lightly acidic, and has a juicy fruit that’s slightly sweeter than other lemons (it has orange in its breeding background – and is considered to be a hybrid between a lemon and an orange or mandarin). When fully ripe, it’s soft skin develops an orange hue. Meyer lemon is so desired by chefs and gourmets; I make sure to pack some every time I see my mother in New York. If I forget the lemons, I end up bringing a gift of Meyer lemon olive oil or something else made with Meyer lemons. Does great in containers. Zones: 9 -10. Improved Meyer Lemon is more cold hardy.
3. Eureka Lemon – Eureka is considered to be a California classic lemon. This citrus bears yellow fruit that is juicy and is high acid. Like the Meyer, it blooms year round. Unlike the Meyer – it grows a prolific crop of commercial quality fruit. The Eureka lemon is a nice looking tree, which can be kept more compact with pruning. It also is easy to espalier. Tree has thorns, though fewer than Lisbon; Eureka has a low heat requirement.
4. Lisbon Lemon – This lemon is a good choice in desert and inland areas. Similar to Eureka – it is a major commercial variety. Good choice where heat, cold and wind is an issue. Lisbon is an upright grower with dense foliage and thorns.
5. Ponderosa Lemon – This lemon is a conversation starte with huge lemons. Just show your friends your gigantic, soft ball-size, Ponderosa lemons. These taste pretty much like you would expect – but each one weighs 2 to 4 pounds. The fruit of this lemon has many seeds. Size: 10 to 25 feet tall and wide.
How to Plant a Lemon in a Container?
In general, lemons are grafted onto either dwarf or standard root stock. Rarely in the marketplace are they grown from seed, which would take much longer for them to mature and produce fruit. With grafted lemons it can take only 3-years for the citrus to produce fruit. As for planting in a container, this benefits you where space is limited or you need to grow the plant indoors during the winter for protection (lemons are sensitive to cold).
It’s been said that both types of citrus, (standard and dwarf) can do well in containerized plantings. The reason is that the container acts to control root growth, so a standard or a dwarf may not grow to the size it would if grown in the ground. To plant in a container, use a light well drained potting mix. Make sure the container has sufficient drainage with plenty of drainage.. Water weekly, or more frequently if necessary during the summer months – and don’t let the tree dry out; it’s in a container – so it’s relying on you, or the rains. 🙂
** TIP – PLANTING A LEMON TREE INTO A CONTAINER **
What size Container to Buy?
– Transplant a 5 gallon nursery pot into a 20″ diameter container
– Transplant a 15 gallon nursery pot into a 24″ diameter pot