Lemon Tree Growth Stages Guide + Unbelievable Growing Trick

If you’re a fan of freshly squeezed lemon juice and love gardening, why not try growing your very own lemon tree? And the best part is, you don’t even need a big backyard to do it! Lemon trees can thrive both indoors and outdoors, making them a great addition to any space.

But before you start growing, it’s essential to understand the life cycle of a lemon tree. Unlike other fruit trees, lemon trees grow much faster and can even bear fruit in as little as two years.

We’ll cover the seven stages of lemon tree growth stages, each with its own unique characteristics. By understanding these stages, you can better monitor and care for your tree, ensuring its optimal growth and fruit production.

So, let’s dive in and explore the exciting journey of a lemon tree!

Quick Overview of Lemon Tree Growth Stages

Lemon trees undergo five distinct growth stages, each crucial for healthy development and yield. The first stage is seed germination, where the lemon tree begins its growth journey. Next, sprouts emerge and mature into young seedlings.

As these seedlings develop, they enter the vegetative growth stage characterized by robust foliage and a strong root system. The third stage is the reproductive phase, where the tree produces fragrant flowers that eventually transform into juicy lemons.

Finally, the fruit ripens and peaks in size and flavor. It is essential to understand these growth stages to optimize the care and cultivation of lemon trees, ensuring a plentiful and delicious harvest.

By providing the right conditions, such as ample sunlight, well-draining soil, and proper watering and fertilization, you can help your lemon tree thrive and enjoy its tasty fruit for years.

Lemon Growth Time Lapse Video

If you’re like me and are a visual learner, here is a video showing a lemon tree growth time lapse:

The 7 Stages of Lemon Growth From Seed

stages of lemon tree growth

Did you know that every magnificent citrus tree starts from a tiny seed? It’s true! But for that little seed to transform into a thriving seedling, it must germinate first. And that’s just the beginning!

As the seedling grows, it requires the proper care and environment to thrive. But if you provide it with everything it needs, your new lemon tree will mature into a stunning plant that produces delicious fruit. And the best part? Also, you can grow lemons year-round in the right climate (USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11).

Of course, caring for a lemon tree takes some effort. First, ensure it has well-draining soil, is watered regularly, and is exposed to warm temperatures. And, you can give it an extra boost by fertilizing it with lemon tree-specific fertilizers.

But trust me, it’s all worth it. Seeing your little tree grow and flourish into a mature lemon tree is a rewarding experience. So, let’s explore the exciting stages of growth that your lemon tree will go through!

1.) Germination: Let the Magic Begin!

Lemon tree seeds are small, smooth, and have a milky white hue. If the environment is optimal, they can germinate into a new plant in 5 to 7 days. At this stage, you will observe the emergence of roots and tiny leaves as your lemon plant begins to form.

2.) Seedling Stage

Once your lemon seed has germinated successfully, you will see small green leaves emerging from the soil. The sprouts will continue to grow and produce new leaves, eventually developing into established stems and leaves.

It’s important to remember that during this early stage, your plant is delicate and needs plenty of water, especially the hot summer. After three months, you can then transplant the seedling to a full-sun location in your garden, as lemon plants require ample sunlight to thrive.

3.) Youth & Maturity

As the young seedling grows, it will gradually become a sapling, and during this phase, it is important to shield it from cold temperatures. Over time, the sapling will develop denser leaves, more robust trunks, and branches with thorns.

Now, your lemon tree has grown into a mature plant with a sturdy trunk and branches! Nevertheless, you still need to take good care of it to ensure it stays healthy during this lemon tree growth phase.

Ensure it receives plenty of sunlight, sufficient nutrients, and water. However, take care not to overwater it, as this can result in root rot and completely destroy your plant.

Although they are not frost-hardy, mature lemon trees are more tolerant of colder weather.

4.) Flowering & Fruiting

lemon tree growing buds
Buds starting to form on this lemon tree.

At two years of growth, your tree should begin forming buds during winter. Then, as temperatures rise in early spring, beautiful flowers will begin to emerge from the flower buds, producing little white blooms.

One great thing about lemon trees is that they are self-pollinating, which means they don’t need help from other pollinators to produce fruit. As the flowers fade, they will give way to young lemon fruits that eventually ripen into juicy treats.

Remember that your lemon tree needs the proper amount of water to produce those delicious fruits. If you’re growing a container lemon tree, be sure to provide the pot with adequate drainage to prevent root rot.

5.) Ripening Lemons

It takes around 4 months for lemons to mature. You’ll want to make sure to keep your citrus tree well-hydrated and fertilize it regularly. Also, be mindful of pests, particularly aphids, which can harm your tree and impact fruit production.

If you spot an infestation, quickly prune off affected branches or leaves to prevent further spreading and apply pesticides as needed.

Mature lemons have smooth, yellow skin and are oblong in shape. The fruit size can vary based on growing conditions and the type of lemon tree you have. 

Note: Meyer and Eureka lemon trees typically produce the tastiest fruit.

If you come across a particularly large lemon with thick skin, it may have originated from a type of grapefruit or tree rootstock. Keep an eye out for these unique varieties in your lemon harvest!

6.) Harvesting The Lemons

It’s essential to wait until lemons are fully ripe before harvesting them. Green lemons are still unripe; if you pick them prematurely, they will not continue growing and developing.

Instead, wait patiently until the lemons have ripened to a rich, sunny yellow color. At that point, you can confidently harvest them and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Difference Between Immature Lemons and Mature

An immature lemon is a lemon that has not yet reached its full size and has not fully ripened. Immature lemons are typically green in color, smaller in size, and have a more tart taste than mature lemons.

On the other hand, a mature lemon is a lemon that has reached its full size and has ripened to a yellow color. Mature lemons are larger than immature lemons, have a sweeter taste, and are typically juicier. The skin of a mature lemon is also smoother than an immature lemon’s.

It’s essential to wait until lemons are fully ripe before harvesting them to ensure they have the best flavor and texture.

7.) Drying


If you don’t pick the lemons, they will become discolored and withered. Ultimately, these lemons will detach from the tree.

Your tree will keep producing fruit until it reaches a ripe age. After that, cultivators usually save the seeds and promptly begin cultivating a new lemon tree.

Unbelievable Trick: How to Grow Lemon Tree From Seed Using Eggs Shells & Carton

Check out this trick to growing citrus trees using egg shells and carton:

FAQ About the Growth Stages of a Lemon Tree

How Tall is the Average 1 to 2-Year-Old Lemon Tree?

A 1-2-year-old Eureka Lemon tree is typically 1-2 feet tall. Eureka lemons are the type you would usually find in grocery stores.

How Long Will it Take to Grow a Lemon Tree Fully?

When starting a lemon tree from a seed, you should be prepared to wait up to 7 years for the tree to produce fruit. However, if you opt for commercially sold lemon trees, they are usually grafted onto the rootstock, which can shorten the time it takes for the tree to bear fruit. 

Typically, a grafted lemon tree takes around 2 to 3 years to start bearing fruit. However, the exact timeline can vary based on several factors, including the conditions, lemon tree variety, and the age of the lemon tree when it was planted.

How Many Times a Year do Lemon Trees Produce Fruit?

Again, this depends on the type, but a Meyer lemon tree can yield fruit up to four times yearly.

What Environment is Best for Lemon Trees to Grow?

Lemon trees thrive in a warm, sunny environment with plenty of water and well-draining soil. They prefer temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (21-29 degrees Celsius) and cannot tolerate frost or extreme cold. Growing lemon trees in containers that can be moved indoors during winter is suitable if you reside in a colder climate.

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.