Growing Lemon Tree from Seed

cfraser3March 29, 2010

Hi there,

I am trying to grow my Mom a lemon tree from seed, she just wants it as a house plant, it doesn't need to grow lemons. But I have read many ways to propagate the seeds and I am wondering if anyone has some personal experience at what works best for them. So far I have taken the seeds from a lemon, washed them, put them in paper towel and have soaked them in water for almost 6 days, and there is no sign of a plant starting. I have also read to plant them directly into the soil.

Any thoughts would be great here.



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My son started an orange tree once from a grocery store orange. He was only small at the time and just put it in soil. It grew for a few years until I ran out of a sunny spot to keep it. In about 5 years it never grew higher than 4 feet and never bloomed.

I think there has been more hybridization since that time and some grocery store seeds are sterile and some fruit doesn't even have seeds. If you've soaked them for that long and no signs of life then I'd say they are likely sterile.

I would try one of the warmer state's forums (like california or Florida)where they naturally grow lemons and see if you can get some seed from them that is an old variety. They could probably give you some growing tips too.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 5:43PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Christine, I've started Meyer lemon seeds - winter can be long and gray here :)

I scrubbed the seeds of pulp, started at the narrow end with a very sharp knife and removed/peeled that outer seed coating...but you don't have to, they just take a little longer to germinate with it on. Sow them approx 1/2" deep, moisten, cover the pot with saran and place on bottom heat. After a few days, start checking every day and remove the saran wrap when the first seed germinates, without looking back for notes, seems like it was about 12 days but as with most seeds, fewer or more days would still be normal.

You can do key limes and kumquats the same way, the kumquats make a nice, compact, dark green tabletop 'house tree'. If looking for plants with reliable fruit in a reasonable amount of time, you'll want a grafted plant though.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 7:24PM
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So since I posted earlier, I took a good look at the wet seeds, and saw a wee little bit of success. One kind of had a leaf emerging! So I took off their outer shells and I put them back into a moist paper towel and into a plastic bag so that they can hopefully continue growing! I'm so excited now haha, my Mom has been trying to grow one for a while, so I thought it would be nice for me to at least give it a go. I'll write back with my findings

Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 8:04PM
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I directly sow seeds in soil and keep soil moist. They take a week or two or more but they sprout. I don't soak or nick.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 8:20PM
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I am still patiently waiting for them to sprout in the bag, so if they arn't growing by next week, I think I will just put some new ones in the soil like you said. I was hoping to have a sprout with a few leaves before May 20th. I am still hoping that will happen!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 1:16PM
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I have grown tangerines [both honey, satsuma, and working on dancy] from seed.

I have not tried the towel method ; but I have tried these two methods. Some seeds were directly planted after being washed; and some were washed and then let dry. Granted these are not lemons but all related in the citrus family. You may want to try both to see what works for you.

The important thing is not to give up cause they do take 2-3 weeks to germiniate.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 7:47PM
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Woohoo, so today I have 3 little lemon seedlings! Such an accomplishment. I planted there little roots into a pot and am going to see which one takes the best and thin the others. I can only hope they survive now! Thanks for your help everyone, I'll try to keep updated on their progress.


    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 2:25PM
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