Originating in the warmer climes of China, the lemon tree, or any citrus tree for that matter, is hardly the kind of plant you would expect to find growing in the United Kingdom where summers are short, rain is frequent and cold spells can be severe. Nevertheless, using artificial growing conditions and lots of care and attention, the British gardener can produce lemons to be proud of.
Put a layer of broken pots or large stones into the bottom of the pot to provide drainage. The pot should be about 3 inches deeper and wider than the sapling's root system.
Cover the broken pots with a layer of soil. Choose soil with a pH of 6.2 to 6.5 and, if possible with a 25 per cent volume of horticultural grit or perlite to improve drainage. Lemon trees do not like to stand in damp soil.
Place the sapling into the pot and cover the roots with soil. Pat the soil down firmly, taking care not to damage any roots. There are a number of varieties of lemon tree from which to choose but favourites for size and productivity include La Valette, Meyer lemon and the larger Quatre Saisons.
Water liberally. If your plant pot has a hole in the bottom, ensure to put it in a tray to catch any run off. You will only need to water once a week, but during the growing season which runs from March to October, use a high-nitrogen plant feed.
Keep your lemon tree in the green house or conservatory over the winter months. Green houses are often preferable as a constant temperature can usually be maintained more easily. This means that the tree won't be stressed by sudden fluctuations in temperature. In the summer, you should take your lemon tree outside for better ventilation. Keep it in a shady spot initially to allow it time to acclimatise.
Re-pot every two or three years, increasing the pot by one size each time.