Lemon trees (Citrus limon) produce bright yellow, tart fruits that are used around the world in drinks, desserts and other recipes. Where do lemons come from? The tree originated in Asia, likely in Northern India. The trees grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 to 11, and you will find them growing in many countries with tropical and subtropical climates.
What Conditions Do Lemon Trees Need to Grow?
Lemon trees are not tolerant of freezing temperatures and aren't produced in colder climates. They are evergreen trees that keep their leaves year-round in good growing conditions. Grow the trees in full sun. In areas that tend to get high winds, the trees need to be protected from windy conditions.
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They need soil that drains well, as waterlogged soils can lead to disease. Dry soil can also damage the tree and reduce fruit production. Lemon trees need consistent moisture throughout the growing season to produce a good harvest. The trees tolerate a wide range of soil pH levels, including alkaline soil. However, they prefer acidic soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.0.
Fertilize the lemon tree with a nitrogen fertilizer during the tree's growing season. You can prune the tree to shape it each year, but pruning is not required for the tree to produce fruits.
Where Do Lemon Trees Grow?
Lemons are produced in several countries besides the lemon-origin country of India. In fact, India is not one of the top producers of the fruit as of 2021/2022. The country that produces the most lemons is Mexico.
Argentina, the European Union and Turkey are the next largest producers of lemons. Within the European Union, Spain and Italy grow the most lemon trees, although they are also grown in Greece, Portugal and Cyprus. Other countries that are top lemon producers include Turkey, the United States, South Africa and Israel.
While most of the lemons produced globally come from these countries, lemon trees can grow in any country with suitable growing conditions. It isn't practical for commercial growers to produce lemon trees in other climate zones, but you may be able to grow a lemon tree even if you live in a cooler climate.
Where Can You Grow Lemon Trees at Home?
If you live in a southern state such as Florida, you may have already seen lemons growing in your area, and you can plant a tree in your home landscape. Make sure to conduct a soil test before planting and amend the soil to ensure it drains well and has the nutrients your new tree will need to grow. Even in Florida, temperatures can drop, so be prepared to protect the tree to help it survive a freeze.
You can also grow a lemon tree up north. If you live in a state with a colder climate, you can still grow a lemon tree with a bit of extra work. Rather than planting the tree in your garden, grow the tree in a container and keep the tree outdoors in full sun during the warm summer months. As temperatures start to drop in the fall, move the tree indoors to a well-lit room.