Here’s a fun gardening project you can do with your kids to connect them to nature and teach them a bit about how food is grown. Growing a lemon tree from scratch is super easy! All you need is a lemon and some potting soil and Mother Nature will take care of the rest. I have grown about 10 different citrus plants with my Kinder-gardener Petey, and I love the quick pay-off of getting a baby plant to sprout within just a couple weeks. This works equally well for lemons, grapefruits, oranges and, I assume, probably any other citrus plant!
MATERIALS YOU WILL NEED
– 1 lemon
– a little pot
– some potting soil
– a clear plastic bag
– 1 rubber band
STEP 1: Buy a lemon
Ideally, look for an organic lemon.
STEP 2: Remove a seed from your lemon and suck off the fruit
Alternatively, you can rinse the fruit off under a faucet. The seed needs to stay moist and all of the fruit needs to be off of it – don’t let it dry out!
STEP 3: Fill a small pot full of potting soil
Make sure your pot has holes in the bottom for proper drainage of water.
STEP 4: Make a small hole in the dirt & drop the seed in!
You want the seed to be just covered by about 1 centimeter of soil – it shouldn’t be buried too deep.
STEP 5: Cover the seed with soil
You want the seed to be just covered by about 1 centimeter of soil.
STEP 6: Water completely
The soil should be thoroughly moistened by not soggy.
STEP 7: Cover with a clear plastic bag and secure the bottom with a rubber band
This is to create a warm, moist atmosphere for the seedling with a sort of “greenhouse effect” from the plastic bag.
STEP 8: Put on a windowsill in the sunshine & wait for it to sprout!
You want this seedling to get a good amount of light, so a south- or east-facing window is ideal.
STEP 9: Water every 4-5 days
When the baby lemon plant sprouts, you can remove the plastic bag. You’ll want to water it every 4-5 days or whenever the soil seems dry or the lemon tree seems droopy. This will depend on your individual climate and the temperature of the room/location of the lemon.
You can place outdoors when the risk of nighttime frost has passed.
STEP 10: When your lemon plant has outgrown its little pot, repot in a bigger pot!
You will know if your lemon has outgrown its pot if it seems very big in proportion to the pot, and/or it seems unhappy/sick (like if it’s dropping leaves) and you can’t tell why. You’ll also want to repot with new potting soil every year or so to make sure the plant is getting enough nutrients, and be sure to fertilize regularly during the growing season.
NOTES ON CARING FOR YOUR LEMON
In order to keep your lemon in tip-top shape, be sure to water and fertilize regularly. Citrus plants sometimes experience yellowing of the leaves when they’re not getting enough nutrients, so if you experience this, look for an acidic fertilizer just for citrus. Citrus indoors can also occasionally get pests, such as mealybugs (the most disgusting little bugs you’ve ever seen!) so if you notice any problems with bugs, try making a natural not-toxic-to-people pesticide with a mixture of 2 tablespoons of neem oil mixed with 2 tablespoons of dish soap and a quart of water. Spray this on your plants and it helps stave away pests as well as fungus. If your lemon blossoms flowers, they will smell wonderful and look beautiful, so hope you can get some flowers! Of course you also need flowers to bear fruit. I have personally not had any of my citrus bear fruit yet, but I’ve read that they don’t generally start bearing fruit until they are at least 3 years old and sufficiently large. They also need to be well-fertilized to produce flowers and fruit, and they need insects like bees to fertilize the flowers in order to produce fruit, which means they need to be outdoors and accessible to insects if you’re hoping to get some edible lemons out of your tree!