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How to Germinate Lemon Seeds – A Complete Guide

There is a saying, “When life gives you a Lemon, make a lemonade,” and here we are growing Lemon trees instead. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Moreover, it is easier to germinate Lemon seeds with much simpler germination needs compared to other plant seeds.

Generally, to germinate Lemon seeds, you can either directly sow seeds in well-draining, nutrient-rich soil or use the paper towel method. To promote faster germination, ensure to presoak the seed in lukewarm water overnight and peel off the top white layer.

lemon seeds
Growing Lemon plants from Lemon seeds might not bear the same parental characteristics.

Growing Lemon trees from seed are not that popular as it does not assure identical parental characteristics.

However, Lemon trees can be grown from seeds with gentle care and attention throughout the process.

So to savor the Lemon that you grew from scratch, follow this article thoroughly to germinate Lemon seeds successfully.

Can You Grow a Lemon Tree from Seed?

Lemon trees are popularly grown from their parent cuttings but can also be grown from seed.

Interestingly, the Lemon tree grown from seeds might not mimic their parents’ characteristics.

Moreover, growing a Lemon tree from seed takes almost six years to reward you with juicy lemons.

Hence, if you do not feel like waiting that long, you can cut some years of waiting by choosing to grow a Lemon tree from stem cuttings.

However, seeds take a couple of weeks to sprout when kept in a conducive environment.

Whereas, within a couple of months, a potted Lemon tree can get big enough to add aesthetic beauty to your space.

Lemon tree growing in a pot
Lemon trees can be grown from seeds. However, it might take more than six years to produce fruits.

Do you know you can eat Lemon seeds, and it is totally harmless? But still, do not start eating them like mashuga nuts or something, you know what I mean.

When I was a child, I used to imagine a type of Lemon with no seeds. Interestingly there is none, but it can be made by cutting off fertilization during fruiting.

Therefore, except for seedless Lemons, you can grow all types of Lemons, like Meyer, Eureka, Lisbon Lemon tree, etc., from seeds.

Besides that, you might wonder if store-bought lemons have usable seeds to grow a Lemon tree out of it.

Generally, the seeds’ viability might depend upon fertilizer applied during fruiting.

Organically produced Lemons without any use of chemicals have higher germination chances, whereas Lemons subjected to chemicals and pesticides have low viability.

How to Germinate Lemon Seeds?

Now comes a bit delicate part! That is, selecting a healthy Lemon with fat seeds.

But don’t worry! I will have you covered with all tiny care needs influencing Lemon seed germination.

Therefore, let us start by gathering the materials required for germinating seeds.

Materials RequiredPurpose
SeedsFor germinating
Seed Starter Potting MixFor growing the seeds
Germination TrayPotting medium
Gardening GlovesFor safety
Plastic bag or sheetTo make mini green house, so to maintain humidity and temperature
2-3 inches PotOrganic seed starting biodegradable peat pots

Step 1: Harvesting Lemon Seeds

First, take out the seeds from the pulp and thoroughly wash them off with clean water to ensure none of the pulp remains intact with the seeds.

Use fresh Lemon seeds for germination, and no need to dry the seeds as it drops the likelihood of getting germinated.

Put all extracted seeds in a glass of water for about 15 minutes, and check if the seeds sink.

harvesting lemon seeds
You can inspect the viability of the Lemon seeds by placing them in a glass of water.

You shall discard the floating seeds as they are unlikely to germinate but keep the sunken ones.

Step 2: Prepare the Starter Mix

Generally, there are many seed starter mix available in the market made up of organic and inorganic material.

Therefore, you can buy any of them or prepare yourself at home.

  • Mix peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, and organic fertilizer in equal proportion.
  • Fill in the mix in a 4-inch pot with drainage holes.
  • Thoroughly water the mix and with the help of a trowel, ensure the mixture is evenly moist.
  • Let the excess water drain out from drainage holes.

Pro Tip: Pasteurization soil mixes could be best for germinating seeds as they promote bacteria-less soil mix.

Step 3: Germinate the Seed

Now, you have two mediums for germinating your Lemon seeds, and they are: In soil and water towel method.

Germination in Soil Medium

Before sowing the seeds on the soil directly, you need to prepare the seeds ready for germination.

You can trigger the sleeping seed for germination by presoaking them overnight in lukewarm water.

lemon seeds on water test
Presoak Lemon seeds in lukewarm water overnight.

After soaking the seeds, wash them until the slimy coating is removed. The layers contain sugar which may cause seeds to rot.

Now, you are ready to start an adventurous journey with your Lemon seeds.

  • Poke half an inch deep hole in the potting mix using chopsticks or fingers.
  • Place the seeds into the hole and subtly cover them with the mix.
  • You can sow 5 to 10 seeds per pot to increase the chances of successful germination. 
  • Ensure to keep the pointy tip downward facing into the soil.
  • To maintain optimal humidity, you can mimic a mini greenhouse by covering the pot with clear plastic.
  • Make a couple of holes in the plastic to ensure air circulation inside the pot.
  • Ensure to keep the pot warmer at around 68°F to 82°F and slightly humid at all times.
  • Place the pot in a bright, indirectly lit place with proper air circulation.
  • Ensure to water every once in a while to keep the soil moist but do not make it soggy. Generally, watering after topsoil dries will do the work.
  • Keep seedlings a few feet under grow lights for 10 to 12 hours if there is a lack of sunlight.

The Lemon seeds will germinate with new roots 1.5 to 2 inches long after two weeks when provided with conducive conditions.

Meanwhile, let the seedling stay in the same spot till they develop about 4 or 5 leaves, and then only follow a normal care routine.

Generally, they won’t mind staying in the starter pot for a year.

But transplant them to a slightly big pot once the Lemon seedling outgrows the pot.

Germination in Paper Towel

I especially recommend you follow this technique because it will give a sense of contentment at every minor progress.

Also, seed germination via paper towels is slightly faster than in soil. Now, let us start without further ado.

  • Firstly, take a sterilized knife and peel off the first top white layer of the seed.
  • Be gentle and carefully remove the white layer. You will see a brownish layer of the seed.
  • No need to cut the brown layer, but if you have a steady rock hand, you may remove the brown layer without breaking cotyledons.
  • Lay the paper towel on the plate and dampen them using a mister.
  • Place a couple of peeled-off seeds an inch apart from each other on the towel.
  • Lay another paper towel on top of the laid-down ones while ensuring all seeds are covered properly.
  • Spritze over the paper towels with water to make them moist.
  • To keep the moisture and humidity intact, place a water towel along with the seeds in a Ziploc bag.
  • Put the Ziploc bag in a dark but warm place and ensure the towel is always moist.
  • Watch out for any visible or noticeable growths from the seeds.

Depending upon the seed quality, you might see some significant growth after a week on the seeds.

germinated lemon seeds
Transplant the new seedlings to a fresh potting mix after they grow over an inch.

Generally, after the sprouts grow over an inch, you shall consider transplanting them in a 4 to 6 inches pot filled with a fresh mix and follow after germination care routine.

Tips to Care for Seedlings After Germination

After the considerable root growth, you shall consider transplanting young seedlings in a light, nutrients rich potting mix.

During this stage of seedlings, they are exceptionally delicate and require extensive care routine to survive.

Therefore, without further ado, let us start caring for young seedlings.

  • Water your plant regularly to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Generally, two or three times a week will suffice.
  • Place your seedling pot properly where the sun shines throughout the day, i.e., 10 to 14 hours a day.
  • Use terracotta pots with multiple drainage holes to let out excess water.
  • Maintain the temperature at around 60°F to 70°F properly and protect your seedling from frost.
  • Use grow lights to avoid light deprivation conditions and to encourage efficient growth.
  • Provide optimal humidity at around 50% or more by misting the plant during the morning.
Growing seedlings
Provide optimum care to your growing seedlings.
  • Fertilize your seedling with a 6-6-6 fertilizer every two to four weeks to encourage healthy growth.
  • Before applying liquid fertilizers to the plant, ensure to dilute them to their half strength.
  • Try keeping the soil pH level slightly acidic from 5.5 to 6.5; to do so, add some coffee grounds.


I hope you succeeded in bringing a little yet fruity life from a tiny seed.

Now, another exciting journey awaits you where your care and hard work will be rewarded with fruity Lemons.

Good Luck!!

You may be interested in learning more about; Repotting Lemon Tree

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