CAN I GROW A LEMON TREE IN THE UK?

Can you grow a lemon tree in the UK?

Harvesting lemons from your own lemon tree is usually just a fantasy for many English men and women. However this ambition is generally only realised by those adventurous or lucky enough to move abroad to warmer mediterranean climates. But if you really want to make it happen, can you really grow a lemon tree in the UK?

Well, depending on where you live in this climate varied country it may be possible, even if it is with the benefit of modern technology. But let's look into it a little more deeply. You can certainly purchase grafted lemon trees, in fruit, in the UK, usually arriving from Italy for Mothers day, or you can grow your own plants quite easily from seeds, although subsequent seedlings may not produce fruit for approximately ten years or so. Container grown plants can be hardened off and kept outside once the threat of late frosts have passed and overnight temperatures remain above 10 degrees Celsius. Once these temperatures drop these plants will need to be brought in under the protection of a heated greenhouse or unheated conservatory. Avoid heated conservatories as this will encourage citrus to produce soft, extending branches which usually become a haven for aphid species.

Lemon Meyer variety
Of all the citrus species and cultivars available, lemon trees are among the hardiest although not the hardiest. Now while you may believe that a lemons are a naturally occurring species it is not and the true parents of this cultivar have been lost to antiquity. That being said, modern  genomic techniques have indicated that modern lemons are a hybrid between bitter orange (itself a cross between the pomelo, Citrus maxima, and the mandarin orange, Citrus reticulata) and the citron - Citrus medica. the good news is that this means that within this genetic diversity some cultivars will be hardier than others.

One of the hardiest around and reasonably available is the Meyers lemon, a cross between a citron and a mandarin/pomelo hybrid. It has a certain level of tolerance to frost, although it will suffer from tip dieback in hard frosts although providing frost protection such as horticultural fleece and bubble wrapping the container will mitigate this. This makes it an ideal choice for for the milder regions of the UK. In fact, the meyers lemon can be planted outside all year round so logas it can be provided with a sheltered south-facing wall. Again additional frost protection may need to be put in place if colder weather is expected.

If you live further north in the UK and are determined to grow a lemon tree outside in the ground then there is an even hardier choice, so long as you are not too worried about the culinary qualities of the non-traditional fruits. This is the Rough lemon - Citrus jambhiri, a reliably cold-hardy, large tree cold-hardy citrus usually grow for use as a citrus rootstock.

In text image - By Debra Roby - originally posted to Flickr as Meyer Lemon, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9701422

For related articles click onto the following links:

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GROW A LEMON TREE FROM SEED

HOW TO GET RID OF BLACK MOULD ON A LEMON TREE
HOW TO GROW A LEMON TREE FROM CUTTINGS
HOW TO GROW KIWI FROM SEED
HOW TO GROW MANDARIN ORANGE FROM SEED - Citrus reticulata
HOW TO GROW AN ORANGE TREE FROM SEED
HOW TO GROW PLANTS
HOW TO MAKE LIMONCELLO
COLD HARDY CITRUS VARIETIES FOR OVERWINTERING OUTSIDE
RHS How to grow citrus
RHS Citrus
SORRENTO LEMONS
THE CITRON - Citrus medica
WHY ARE MY LEMON LEAVES CURLING?
WHY ARE THE LEAVES ON MY LEMON TREE TURNING YELLOW?
WHY ARE MY ORANGE TREE LEAVES TURNING YELLOW?
WHY IS MY LEMON TREE DROPPING LEAVES?
WHY IS THERE BLACK MOULD ON MY LEMON TREE?


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