A lemon tree (Citrus limon) adds a splash of color and heady fragrance to its surroundings, whether cultivated as a houseplant, in a container on a patio or deck, or grown outdoors as a shade tree. This noninvasive evergreen is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11 and can persist for 50 years or more. In warm climates, a lemon tree blooms year-round. The white, sweet-smelling blossoms are purple underneath and open singly or in groups of two or more. The light yellow, oval-shaped fruit is edible with a pungent taste. A lemon tree offers a variety of uses, including the solid, fine-grained wood, which can be easily carved into toys, chess pieces, spoons and other wooden items.
Juice extracted from lemons helps to remove stains. It has been used to lighten freckles and is added into some facial cleansing creams. Oil from the lemon peel is often an ingredient in soaps, shampoos, detergents and furniture polishes and is blended into perfumes and colognes. Cattle feed on the dehydrated lemon peels.
The reddish-colored leaves on a young lemon tree turn to deep-green on top and pale green beneath. They can be blanched and then used to steep tea. The aromatic leaves, along with lemon tree branches, may be burned as kindling in outdoor grilling.
Outdoor Lemon Tree
A lemon tree prefers full sun exposure and moist, rich, well-draining soil in a site protected from the wind. Water generously during the growing season and regularly apply small amounts of high-nitrogen fertilizer. Bring the plant inside during colder months when the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Indoor Lemon Tree
An tree needs eight to 12 hours of bright sunlight daily. Add 2 inches of water to dry soil. Fertilize with a loose potting mix made for citrus plants. Set outdoors in summer when temperatures rise above 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 55 degrees at night.
Meyer Lemon Tree
A Meyer lemon (Citrus x meyeri) grows to 3 inches in diameter and is thought to be a hybrid cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata). The round-shaped fruit has smooth, thin skin that differs from the bumpy texture of a true lemon, and it is juicier, sweeter and less acidic. A Meyer lemon tree reaches 6 to 10 feet tall and 4 to 8 feet wide.
Ponderosa Lemon Tree
A Ponderosa lemon tree (Citrus 'Ponderosa') grown outdoors can produce grapefruit-size lemons. The skin is thick and rough, and the juice emits a sour taste. A Ponderosa lemon tree can grow to a height of 25 feet and a spread of 15 feet. When cultivated indoors, the fruit are smaller and less abundant.
Scales, mealybugs and other pests may cause damage to a lemon tree. In many cases, natural enemies restrict pest populations, but methods are available to control possible infestations. These include a thorough spray of water or horticultural oil on the affected plant parts and insecticidal soap applications.