They’re sweet. They’re tart. They’re pretty. Lemons are a tasty fruit to eat, practical for cleaning and make colorful decorations too.

Most often used for cooking and to flavor food and drinks, lemons are great sources of Vitamin C, potassium and folate.

So what’s it take to produce the juicy citrus on your own? For good growing, buy a young tree approximately two to three years old. Or plant one from seeds. Know that growing lemons from seed to mature fruit-bearing trees, can take anywhere from a few years up to 15.

Here’s what to expect:

Starting from seeds

You can plant your own lemon tree by washing the seeds of a freshly cut lemon. Clean the seeds to make sure they’re damp but not sugary, since sugar can cause fungus.

Plant them wet, about a half-inch deep, in pasteurized soil in a pot with drainage holes. Cover the pot with plastic wrap and punch a few holes in the top so it can breathe. Water the plant so it’s damp. After germinating for a few weeks when the tree starts to grow, remove the plastic wrap. 

"Once your lemons are ready, you can use them for a variety of things like cleaning your home, as food and drink garnishes and making lemonade."

Be sure to place the plant in bright light most of the day, not necessarily direct sunlight.

Since cold weather can kill them, lemon tree saplings need to be warm. They can be planted outside in temperatures warmer than 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Growing season

In the cooler months (the early part of growing season), bud induction determines how many flowers and fruit the tree will produce. When warmer weather starts, flowers open and begin to bloom. That’s when fruit forms. Make sure your lemon tree gets lots of water now so the fruit will be big and juicy. But don’t over-water since that could cause root rot. Ideally the soil is moist.

Ready to pick

You’ll know the lemons are ripe and ready to pick when they turn a gorgeous yellow. Depending on where you live, the tree will either go dormant after one season each year or it will start the growth process all over again. In climates like Southern California where the weather is warm year-round, lemons can grow throughout the year. California is the largest producer of lemons in the U.S.

Once your lemons are ready, you can use them for a variety of things like cleaning your home, as food and drink garnishes and making lemonade. Cheers to lemons!