While you might immediately think of a conifer or a pine for bonsai trees, it’s not impossible to grow fruiting trees as bonsai, but you will need to pick the right type.
In most cases, Citrus x meyeri, or the Meyer lemon tree, is the easiest option. It’s already got a compact growth habit, which makes it easier to shape as a bonsai, and it will grow inside, which is perfect for those of us who live in temperate climates.
Let’s take a look.
At A Glance: What You Should Know About Growing Lemon Trees As Bonsai Trees
You might also know the Meyer lemon tree as the improved Meyer lemon, the dwarf lemon, or the Chinese dwarf lemon.
It’s capable of producing lemons even when grown as a bonsai tree, but expect a lot less of them.
If your tree is very small, you may be lucky enough to get one full-size lemon or several smaller ones. The bigger your tree, the more lemons it is likely to produce.
It helps that this plant has evergreen leaves, making a striking statement no matter the season, and before it fruits, it produces white or purple blooms.
Another thing worth knowing is that this plant produces sweeter fruit than a normal lemon, and the color of the lemon skin is darker, too.
Depending on the shape you grow this particular bonsai tree into, it will reach about 35 to 45cm tall, and about 15cm wide.
It requires the brightest position possible to thrive and produce fruit and will bloom in spring. If you give it enough care, this particular type of bonsai tree may live until it is 50 years old, or even longer!
Can You Grow A Lemon Tree Bonsai From Seed, Or Should You Propagate An Existing Plant?
You can grow a lemon tree bonsai from seed, though it is much easier to start by taking a cutting off an existing plant.
Once the cutting has rooted, you can use bonsai wire to bend and train it into your desired shape.
How To Grow A Bonsai Lemon Tree
Sunlight And Position
Outdoors, a lemon bonsai tree will survive in USDA zones 8b through 10. Whether indoors or out, it requires plenty of heat and full sunlight to reliably fruit.
When To Water A Lemon Bonsai Tree
Lemon bonsai trees like plenty of water, but you should always err on the side of the plant being a little too dry, as they can tolerate some drought, but not soggy soil.
It’s also important to avoid irrigating the plant with water that is high in lime or chemicals. If in doubt, use filtered water.
When You Should Feed A Lemon Bonsai Tree
Use a citrus-tree-specific fertilizer, every two weeks during the growing season, using a very weak dose.
Make sure that the soil is not dry when you feed the plant, otherwise the fertilizer will burn the roots.
How And When To Repot A Lemon Bonsai Tree
Generally speaking, a lemon bonsai tree needs fresh soil and root pruning every couple of years, but this does depend on the growing conditions as to exactly how quickly it needs new nutrients and space.
How To Prune A Lemon Tree Bonsai
When grown as bonsai, lemon trees will need pruning after about six months of being trained. Trim the top two leaves to encourage the plant to grow outward.
As long as the tree is healthy, there’s no reason why you can’t prune it at any time of year, besides winter.
Growing A Lemon Tree Bonsai: Pests And Diseases To Watch Out For
There are many pests and diseases a lemon tree bonsai can fall prey to, so it’s worth keeping a vigilant eye on this plant.
You might see aphids, red spider mites, mealybugs, or other pests making themselves at home. Prevention is the best cure, by keeping the plant in as healthy a state as possible.
Where To Buy A Lemon Bonsai Tree
It’s worth considering a lemon tree that’s already been trained as a bonsai, as all the hard work has been done for you, so choose a specialist bonsai tree seller to make sure the plant is as healthy as possible.