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Wintering lemon tree: does it have to be indoors or can it stay outside? This is what you should consider!

Citrus trees love to be pampered by the sun in the summer, without question. But, as you can probably guess, exotic plants like these do not tolerate our winter cold at all. The only question is what are the minimum temperatures that the citrus plant can tolerate and at what point you should bring the lemon tree inside. We will explain how to overwinter the lemon tree, so that it does not suffer any damage, and what you should consider regarding the winter quarters.

When does the tree need to go into winter quarters and what is the best place?

The place for the lemon tree can be warm and bright

The above-ground parts of the plant are quite sensitive and run the risk of damage at the first frost. For this reason, the plant should be brought into the warm beforehand.

Where should the lemon tree be overwintered?

The lemon tree must be brought indoors. But what is the ideal location? Should it be dark or rather light? Does the plant like it warm like in its home country or does it prefer lower temperatures?

You may choose any place that is not prone to frost. But be sure to consider the following to make the lemon plant feel comfortable:

Provide constant temperatures for the lemon tree

When can the lemon plant go outside again

  • Most of the time, plants like cooler locations in the winter to be able to go into hibernation. With citrus plants, you have a choice: it can be cool and dark or warm and bright, BUT not all in combination! If the little tree loses its leaves, it could be for this very reason. So, you should avoid large temperature fluctuations.
  • If you overwinter the lemon tree in the apartment or in the house, where you of course also heat and it is bright, then pay attention to consistently over 20 degrees in the room. The living room or kitchen, where it is usually also nice and bright, are ideal. In the bedroom you usually keep it cooler, so this room is less suitable.
  • If you overwinter the lemon tree in the basement or garage, that is, in a room where it is quite dark (by no means pitch black) and cold, then pay attention to temperatures between 3 and 13 degrees, so that the plant feels comfortable.

Overwintering lemon tree - temperature fluctuations cause leaves to dry out.

Note: Also pay attention to the soil to avoid temperature fluctuations. If it is cold, the cold will naturally be transferred to the roots and they will go into hibernation. However, if the above-ground parts are warmed (e.g., by direct sunlight or the nearby heater), they will awaken from hibernation and want to start growing. But the roots continue to sleep and do not provide them with the necessary nutrients, so they dry up and fall off. Therefore, inexperienced people believe that lack of water is responsible for this drying. In desperation, they then water the tree more frequently, which in turn can lead to waterlogging and rotting of the roots.
Therefore, the rule is: the location is either cool and dark or warm and bright. You can place the pot on styrofoam or wood to insulate it from below.

Wintering lemon tree – the care in the winter quarters.

Lemon tree overwinter and care for it properly - How to water it


How to care for it in winter depends mainly on how you overwinter the lemon tree:

  • If it stands bright and warm, it continues to grow and thrive, so you continue with the care exactly as in the warmer months – water regularly and fertilize moderately.
  • In a cool and darker location, the plant goes into hibernation and just needs to be kept alive. For this purpose, watering is very sparing. The point is only to keep the roots from drying out.

In both cases, there is a threat of pest infestation. Therefore, regularly check whether your lemon tree has been attacked and, if necessary, take appropriate measures.

Is there a way to overwinter the lemon tree outside?

Lemon tree overwintering outdoors is not possible in our latitudes

If you care for your little tree on a balcony and lack space in the apartment, you may ask yourself whether there is not a possibility to overwinter the lemon tree outdoors. But there we have to disappoint you, because even winter protection would not be able to save this exotic plant, whether in the middle of the garden or hidden in a corner on the wall of the house on the terrace or balcony. All you can do is leave it outside as long as possible, and that is, as already mentioned, until the first frost.

When can you put the lemon tree outside?

Overwintering lemon tree - what location is best suited


The little plant has come through the winter well. Now the question arises, from when it can go outdoors. Even in spring, it is the frost that you should watch before you decide to put the tub outside again. In principle:

  • From March or April, the temperature is high enough to put the lemon tree back outside.
  • Still, frost remains a big enemy. Therefore, put it back inside at night until the frost period is over. If you don’t have the time or inclination to keep moving the tree, wait until there is no longer a danger of frost.
  • Slowly acclimate the plant to sunlight again. This is especially true if it has been standing in the dark during the winter, but not only. Initially, place it in a shady spot for a week or two, then in direct sunlight for a few hours in the morning. Slowly increase the number of hours until the tree can again stand in full sun all day.

A dark and cool location is suitable for citrus plants in winter