9 Lemon Tree Growing Stages (A Guide)

Lemon trees have a rather complex life cycle, and the growth stages from bud breaking to the harvesting of Lemon are delicate.

Lemon trees grow slowly and must be spaced well to avoid overcrowding — and to make harvesting easier (Stage #9).

If you live in an area with winter temperatures, lemon trees may be more resistant to pests than others.

You can also consider growing lemons from seeds — if you can’t afford a full-grown lemon tree.

lemon tree

Here are the 9 growing stages of the lemon tree:

Stage #1: Bud Breaking

The Bud breaking stage of Lemon growth is a critical time when the tree competes for energy and carbohydrates needed for its development and growth.

At this time, the buds fall off because the tree believes winter is approaching.

During this time, it is best to keep the tree in a warm location and avoid exposing it to cold conditions.

The new bud starts growing on the stock a week after the previous one.

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It will suppress the other buds that were previously dormant. After this time, the remaining buds on the stock should begin to grow.

In addition, the new bud will be brittle, so it is better to cut all the other sprouts off.

Lemons are susceptible to several types of diseases. One is called citrus scab, which affects young stems and leaves.

It can damage young fruit and leaves, causing defoliation and weakening of the lemon tree. Copper-based sprays can help control this disease.

Foliar treatment with horticultural oil and copper is recommended for controlling the disease.

After the bud-breaking stage, the lemon tree will develop the fruit and flowers. It will need plenty of water during this period.

Stage #2: Start of Bloom

The Start of the bloom stage of lemon growth occurs when flower buds form in the spring.

These buds emerge during the winter and open during the spring, revealing a light purple flower with 5 white petals and a female-gendered pistil topped with many pollen-carrying stamens.

The flowers develop into fruits as the lemon tree matures. At the beginning of the flowering period, it is essential to provide plenty of water to the plant.

Lemon trees grow best when their soils are consistently moist, as this enables them to produce fruit throughout the year.

In areas that experience severe droughts, trees are not likely to bloom, resulting in longer gaps between ripe fruit.

In order to combat this problem, commercial lemon growers deliberately cause drought stress, forcing the trees to flower to promote fruit production.

If the lemon tree is in a cool climate, the citrus plant will enter a resting period, but in warmer climates, bud formation will begin.

Once the fruit has reached maturity, it will start to bloom and give off an intoxicating scent.

This stage is also essential for the development of the lemon, which needs plenty of water to mature into a juicy fruit.

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The Start of the bloom stage of lemon growth is crucial for healthy fruit development and production.

During this stage, the lemon tree produces multiple fruits at the same time. It is important not to overwater the tree, however, as it can cause root rot.

In addition, the soil must remain well-drained to avoid muddy conditions.

Stage #3: The Full Bloom

The full bloom stage of lemon growth is the time when flowers bloom on the tree and fruit develops.

During this time, the lemon tree needs plenty of water to continue to grow.

Watering lemon trees during this time ensures that the tree is healthy and produces a full crop.

The blooming stage of lemon trees lasts about two months, and it is the most exciting time of the year.

Lemon trees usually flower during the colder months of winter, but they can also flower in the early spring months.

The flower buds open as the climate warms and the leaves start to emerge.

Lemon trees are very productive and can repeat their reproduction stages several times within a year once they reach maturity.

To make sure your lemons grow to full maturity, water the lemon tree regularly, and don’t cut it back too early.

Lemons can take up to five months to reach full ripeness. The duration depends on the variety, climate, and water availability.

Ideally, they need at least three pounds of fertilizer twice a year. However, the best time to plant a lemon tree is in late spring or early summer.

Lemon trees require a lot of sunlight. If they don’t get full sun for at least eight hours per day, they won’t bloom.

To overcome this, you can place a full-spectrum light within twelve inches of the plant.

Remember, lemon trees should only receive twelve hours of sunlight per day, and sunlight above that amount can result in sun-scald.

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Stage #4: End of Petal Fall

During this stage, the petals of lemon flowers begin to fall from the lemon tree. However, if the conditions are right, they can continue to grow and form a full crop of lemons.

Lemon trees require a lot of water to grow and bear fruit. Water them regularly and make sure the soil is well-drained and not muddy.

The fruit of the lemon is oval and about 2 to 4 inches (7-12 cm) long. The peel is light yellow and sometimes variegated. It is dotted with oil glands.

The inner flesh is a pale yellow and contains eight to ten segments. The lemon has both a sweet and acidic flavor. Lemons bear fruit throughout the year.

The lemon tree may enter a resting stage during this stage if it is growing in a cool climate. However, in warmer climates, it will start to form buds.

The end of the petal fall stage of lemon corresponds to the beginning of the fruit-bearing season.

Lemon trees require plenty of sunlight to grow properly. If the weather is too dry, lemon trees may be defoliated.

To avoid this problem, lemon trees should be protected from the wind.

Lemons can be grown in either a humid or dry atmosphere, but humid climates are better for curing and storing.

In California, a large portion of the lemon-growing region experiences a range of annual rainfall from 25 to 125 centimeters.

Therefore, it is imperative to irrigate lemons during periods of drought or extreme heat.

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Stage #5: Jone Drop (Fruit-dropping)

Lemon trees reach the Jone drop stage of the fruit-production cycle in late spring or early summer.

The fruit-dropping process is an important energy management strategy for the lemon tree.

By dropping fruit during this stage, lemon trees will keep only as much fruit as they can support to maturity.

For example, a lemon tree might drop 100 half-ripe lemons, while growing another hundred fully-ripe ones.

The duration from flowering to fruit picking may vary from four to 12 months, depending on the cultivar, crop load, ambient temperature, and cultural practices.

Fruits produced in tropical climates tend to be larger and contain more acid than those grown in cooler climates. Lemons do not require cross-pollination.

As a result, they contain a high percentage of total acidity and low levels of total soluble solids.

The loss of immature fruit is a common occurrence in citrus trees.

This process narrows the harvest time and focuses energy on the remaining fruit.

Approximately 80% of the lemon fruit drops off during the juncture between the fall of the blossoms and the fruit diameter of 1/2 inch.

A tiny amount of fruit continues to drop throughout the maturity process.

While the early stage of lemon fruit drop is a physiological condition, the pre-harvest drop stage can reduce yield and cause the tree to convert its resources into non-harvestable fruit.

Lemon trees are susceptible to the Tristeza virus, which is transmitted by the brown citrus aphid.

To reduce the risk of purchasing diseased lemon trees, consider buying certified disease-free trees.

Also, lemons may be susceptible to nitrogen deficiency. This deficiency first affects older leaves, but if left unchecked, the leaves may turn yellow.

The tree may also develop stunted growth, sparse canopies, and a lack of fruit.

Stage #6: Cell Expansion (leaves change colors)

The cell expansion stage of lemons is an important part of the citrus growth cycle.

During this stage, the lemon leaves change from green to yellow and turn brown.

This process is caused by the fading of chlorophyll, which is present in young leaves.

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The fading of chlorophyll is accompanied by blotches of pale yellow color on the distal half of the leaf.

The leaves also show yellow-bronze chlorotic patterns and corky veins. In later stages of growth, lemon leaves develop an elliptical shape.

This stage is vital to the growth of lemons because it is during this stage that the tree will produce fruit.

Lemon trees need a lot of water during this stage. However, overwatering can cause root rot. Hence, it is crucial to ensure that the soil is well-drained and not muddy.

Lemons are an important category of citrus because they are rich in fiber and vitamin C.

They are widely used as food in many parts of the world, primarily for juice.

Lemons can be grown in various soil types, from light loam to slightly acidic soils.

However, the best conditions for lemon farming are light soils.

Stage #7: Color Break (Fruit changes from green to yellow)

The color break stage of a lemon tree is when the fruit changes from green to yellow. This happens when the rind reaches the middle of the fruit.

This is also the stage at which the tree starts to flower. The flowering stage can last from four to twelve months.

The more blooms the tree has, the more fruits it will produce. When the blossom is fully opened, the developing lemon will peek out from the center of the blossom.

It will continue to grow for 4 to 6 months and will eventually have multiple fleshy segments and seeds.

When the fruit is three to four inches in diameter, it will turn yellow.

The color break stage of a lemon tree may occur at different times.

While some lemon trees are at the same stage as other lemon trees, you should remember that the color break stage of a lemon does not necessarily mean it is ripe.

It is also possible that the lemons on your tree will be green for a few days before they turn yellow.

The best way to tell if lemon is ripe is to cut it and test its juice. It should be firm and have a lot of juice.

While lemon trees are susceptible to several diseases, one of the most common is a citrus scab.

This disease affects immature leaves and stems.

Early symptoms include small, brown spots on the surface of the leaves. In severe cases, the leaves may drop.

Stage #8: The Fruit Maturity of Lemon Tree

When growing lemons, it is important to understand when to harvest the fruit at its ripe stage.

The maturity stage of lemons influences both the quality of the fruit and its cold storage time.

Scientia Horticulturae 249:322-328. In general, lemons can last for up to 90 days at 10 degrees Celsius.

Lemon trees need a wide range of soils and pH levels but tend to be more productive when they have a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.

They should also be planted away from shady areas, which can hinder the fruiting and blooming of the lemons. For the best results, fertilize citrus trees at least twice a year.

Lemon trees generally reach fruit maturity in their second or third year of growth. At this age, they develop flower buds. In spring, the flower buds will open, and the tree will bloom.

The flowers will be five-petaled and contain a female-gendered pistil and several pollen-carrying stamens. The fruit of the lemon tree will be ripe within 2 to 5 years.

Depending on the climate, lemons can vary in size. They can be small or big, and there are also varieties of different sizes and colors.

Some types are smaller than others, such as mayor lemons, with smooth skins and deep yellow to an orange pulp.

If the fruit is very large or has thick skin, it likely originated from a tree rootstock or a form of grapefruit.

Stage #9: Harvest Phase of Lemon Fruits

The Harvest stage of the Lemon tree is the stage when the lemons are ready for harvest.

During this stage, the tree focuses its energy on storing nutrients and developing energy.

If there are no flowers on the tree, the fruit is not ready. This can be caused by improper cultivation, lack of nutrients, bad rootstocks, or insufficient time.

Lemon trees flower after bud formation and take up to a year to produce fruit. During this time, the tree needs continuous watering and a good amount of fertilizer.

Watering should be done at least once a week to ensure the fruits will be ripe and ready for harvesting.

The Growing Stages of Lemon Tree

Lemon trees are best grown in warm and sunny locations. Plant lemon trees away from other plants and buildings.

Select a sunny site where the temperature stays relatively constant throughout the year.

Lemon trees do not grow well in areas with harsh weather patterns or harsh winters, as the latter will damage the fruit.

Also, the area should have good air circulation and protection from the cold north winds.

Lemon trees are known for their large, juicy fruits. The Lisbon Lemon, which can grow to 15 feet tall, produces lemons from July to December.

Another popular variety is the Bearss lemon, which produces large, high-acid fruits.

This species is also available in dwarf varieties that are suitable for indoor growing.

Lemon Trees: Pests and Diseases

Lemon trees are susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases.

  • European brown rot: One of the most common diseases is European brown rot. Lemons infected with this disease will rot while they’re still on the tree.
  • Scale insects: Another common pest is scale insects. These insects live on the leaves and can appear as large white masses.
  • Aphids: You can also watch for Aphids, which feed on the base of leaves. These insects can cause the leaves to curl and fall off.


In this informative blog, explore the fascinating stages of growing a lemon tree, from seed to fruit-bearing. Learn about the crucial milestones and care tips to nurture your lemon tree successfully. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener, this guide offers valuable insights to help you cultivate healthy and thriving lemon trees. Unlock the secrets to achieving abundant harvests and enjoying the freshness of homegrown lemons. Dive into the world of citrus cultivation with PlantGardener and embark on a journey to grow your lemon tree with confidence and expertise.

Growing a Lemon Tree: Conclusion

One of the most important tips for growing healthy lemon trees is to fertilize them on a regular basis.

There are several citrus fertilizer blends available that contain all the necessary nutrients.

These can be applied to the soil 3 to 4 times per year.

The amount of fertilizer should be adjusted according to the type of lemon tree and the growing environment.

Lemon trees prefer loamy soil. They need a pH level between 5.5 and 6.5. If the soil is too acidic, add a small amount of organic fertilizer.

Lemon trees also need a constant supply of light.

Make sure they receive eight hours of direct sunlight daily and give them an organic fertilizer as necessary.


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