Repotting a Lemon Tree: Care Tips & Instructions

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We mainly plant lemon trees in pots. Learn when and how to repot your lemon tree.

Repotting a lemon tree: care tips & instructions on how to proceed

Lemon trees, young and old, should be moved regularly to a new pot and given fresh soil [Photo: Sandra Dangl /]

The lemon tree ( Citrus x limon ), which is sensitive to the cold, is usually cultivated in pots in our latitudes. In the ground, trees usually develop a dense, extensive network of roots that is about the size of their crown. So it’s no wonder that a potted lemon tree quickly reaches the limits of its pot.

When repotting, not only is the pot or bucket enlarged by one step, thereby giving the roots more space. The fresh, nutrient-rich potting soil that gets into the pot in this way is also particularly important for the lemon. Regular repotting is therefore an important measure to create new space for the roots and to ensure a supply of nutrients.

When do you repot lemon trees?

Young lemons are vigorous and should be given a new container and fresh soil every year up to the age of five. However, with increasing age it is not necessary to move the tree into a new pot every year. Older, slow-growing lemon trees should only be moved every two to three years if the existing substrate has been completely rooted. The right time to repot the lemon tree is in spring. From March to April, repot your lemons in their winter quarters, as the Mediterranean plant is already starting to grow. At this time, the tree gradually wakes up from its winter dormancy and the nutrient replenishment from fresh potting soil supports leaf and flower formation.

Tip : The lemon tree should only be put outside unprotected from mid-May. Before that, the spring temperatures are too cool and there is a risk of late frost.

Repotting a lemon tree: care tips & instructions on how to proceed

A drainage layer improves the flow of water and effectively prevents waterlogging at the roots of the lemon tree [Photo: Miriam Doerr Martin Frommherz /]

Repotting the lemon tree: instructions

Repotting lemons is not complicated and quick. When choosing a pot, you should note that clay vessels retain moisture better, but the bigger they are, they are more difficult to handle. A pot made of light plastic is therefore a good alternative for heavy, old lemon trees, even if the clay does not store water. But which pot size should you choose for repotting?

Basically, it is important that the lemon gets a pot one third larger than the size of the root ball. There should be a hand’s breadth of space between the wall of the pot and the roots on all sides. Above all, it is crucial that the tree is not set lower than in the previous container. The pot should also have good water drainage. An approximately 5 cm high drainage layer made of expanded clay, sand or gravel at the bottom of the pot also improves water drainage and prevents waterlogging.

Repotting the lemon tree – step by step:

  • Choose a larger, new pot with good drainage.
  • Fill in a 5 cm high drainage layer made of gravel, expanded clay or sand and put a hand’s breadth of fresh potting soil on top.
  • The root ball is carefully removed from the old planter.
  • Loosen the root ball with your fingers. Soil that is not rooted can easily fall away. Damaged or diseased roots are cut out.
  • The root ball is placed in the middle of the new pot. Fill in the gaps with fresh substrate and press lightly all around.
  • Finally, the lemon is watered.

Repotting a lemon tree: care tips & instructions on how to proceed

Lemons prefer nutrient-rich, but well-drained potting soil [Photo: Miriam Doerr Martin Frommherz /]

Repotting the lemon tree: which soil is best?

The easiest way to get a suitable substrate for your lemon tree is to buy special citrus soil. A good substrate for citrus plants can also be easily mixed yourself. A high-quality potting soil, such as our Plantura organic universal soil, contains essential nutrients and promotes root growth thanks to the high compost content. To increase water permeability, you also need sand, perlite, expanded clay or clay granules. Mix the two components in a ratio of about 2: 1.

After repotting the lemon tree, you should do the first fertilization about four to six weeks later. After this time, the lemon has established itself in the new pot and fresh roots have already formed. A primarily organic liquid fertilizer, such as our Plantura organic citrus & mediteranean fertilizer, can be easily applied via the irrigation water. Fertilize your lemon trees about once a week through September to keep them well supplied with nutrients.

Tip : If the lemon tree has not been repotted, you should always wait until the leaves have sprouted before applying the first fertilizer.

In spring, in addition to budding, the lemon will soon begin to bloom and produce fruit. A good supply of nutrients is particularly important during this time for healthy plants and a rich harvest. You can find more tips on how to fertilize your lemon tree in our special article.

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