How long does it take for a lemon tree to grow? What you need to know about lemon trees reaching maturity

If you can't tell whether your lemon tree is fully grown or not, follow these easy tips

lemon trees in pots
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How long does a lemon tree take to grow? You'll be asking yourself this question, perhaps a little anxiously, if you're new to growing citrus trees or are just beginning to explore Mediterranean garden ideas

Lemons are beautiful and rewarding trees to grow – eventually, you'll be able to enjoy homemade lemonade – but they do take their time. If there is one top tip for growing lemons, it is this: be patient. Let them do their thing, provide them with the correct conditions, and eventually you'll have beautiful trees full of lemons.

How long does it take for a lemon tree to grow?

Lemon tree

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The answer to this question depends very much on what type of lemon tree you're growing and whether it's a regular lemon tree growing in the ground or a dwarf lemon tree grown in a container. 

A standard lemon tree that grows in the ground in your backyard will reach anywhere between 20 and 30 feet tall – it will take it 10 or 15 years to reach that full height. Standard lemon trees often don't produce any fruit in the first six years of their life. Find out more about landscaping around trees if you're growing tall trees in your garden.

If you're growing a dwarf lemon tree such as Meyer or Eureka, they will reach maturity at some point in the first six years of growth. Dwarf lemons can reach up to eight feet in height. Crucially, if you've bought a lemon tree that already has fruit on it but it's under four feet tall, it's still an immature tree that will keep growing. Dwarf citrus trees typically don't produce edible fruit in the first three years, so if you've bought a tree that has large, edible lemons on it, it's at least three years of age. 

This is important for repotting lemons if you want them to reach their full height. However, lemons don't mind being a little root bound, so you can keep dwarf varieties more compact if you wish.

Find more container gardening ideas in our gallery. 

Why is my lemon tree not growing? 

growing fruit in pots: lemon trees

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A healthy lemon tree will grow by between 10 and 25 inches a year. If yours is not even doing the minimum, it's probably not getting inadequate amount of light (they need at least eight hours a day), has poor draining soil, or is being affected by disease. According to SFGATE, 'while no quick fix forces your lemon tree to grow abnormally fast, proper growing conditions do encourage the tree to grow properly. Poor drainage, lack of sunlight, improper irrigation and lack of care can slow the growth of your lemon tree, causing poor production of fruit.'

If your tree is growing well and flowering but producing no fruit, don't worry: it's just not mature enough to produce fruit yet. 

If you live in Southern California, you need to be aware of a deadly citrus disease called Huanglongbing (HLB). There's a dedicated website where you can find more information about identifying and preventing the disease. 

Don't forget, there's top tips on growing fruit in pots in our dedicated guide. 

Anna writes about interior design and gardening. Her work has appeared in Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, and many other publications. She is an experienced outdoor and indoor gardener and has a passion for growing roses and Japanese maples in her outside space.