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How to Germinate Lemon Seeds? [Updated 2024]

For someone wondering how to tang up the whole lemonade experience, how about we germinate the Lemon seed and grow your tree?

It might sound absurd, but the process is not as complicated.

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, pre-soak the seed in lukewarm water overnight and peel off the top white layer.

Germinating this citrus seed, growing a seedling, and then into a tree might test your patience. The feeling, however, is satisfying.

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 or grafting. But it is easy to germinate and grow Lemon from the seeds.

Interestingly, the Lemon tree grown from seeds might not mimic their parents’ characteristics, and waiting for the zesty Lemon can go as long as six to ten years, which gives your homes/gardens a fresh lemony smell.

Now, you might wonder if the seeds from store-bought Lemons qualify for germination. Well, yes, some might be viable.

A lemon cut into half with some seeds removed on a paper towel.
When life gives you a Lemon, germinate its seed.

Moreover, organically produced Lemons without chemicals have higher germination chances, whereas Lemons subjected to chemicals and pesticides have low viability.

You can germinate all types of Lemon, like Meyer, Eureka, Lisbon Lemon, etc., from seeds.

Within a couple of months, a potted Lemon seedling can get big enough to add aesthetic beauty to your space.

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.

How to Germinate Lemon Seeds?

Germination involves various processes, from harvesting the seeds to preparing them to germinate by different methods. 

This crucial yet easy-to-operate process requires a few materials like seed starting mix, germination tray or pots, gardening gloves, zip lock bag, and paper towels.

1. Harvesting Lemon Seeds

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

It is not necessary to dry the seeds to keep them from dropping the likelihood of getting germinated.

Now, inspect the viability of the Lemon seeds by putting them in a glass of water for about 15 minutes.

Seeds that float on the water are hollow and incapable of germination, so discard them.

While the remaining ones that sink to the bottom are your healthy, viable seeds. 

2. Germinate the Seed

There are two methods to germinate your Lemon seeds: the soil and the paper towel.

Germination in Soil Medium

For the classic soil germination method, you will easily get a seed starting mix with many organic and inorganic options.

However, making the potting soil at home allows you to adequately cater to your plant’s needs. For that, incorporate an equal proportion of peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, and organic fertilizer.

Before sowing the seed, it is essential to trigger the sleeping Lemon seeds (break the dormancy) by pre-soaking them overnight in lukewarm water. 
lemon seeds on water test
The hard outer seed coat would soften as it is soaked overnight.

Then, take the seeds out and wash them until the slimy coating is removed. The layers contain sugar which may cause seeds to rot.

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 with a pointy tip into the soil and subtly cover them with the mix.
  • You can sow 5-10 seeds per pot to increase the chances of successful germination. 
  • Use clear plastic to cover the pot to maintain optimal humidity, mimicking a mini greenhouse.
  • Make a couple of holes in the plastic to ensure air circulation inside the pot.
  • Keep the pot warmer at around 68-82°F and always slightly humid.
  • Place the pot in a bright, indirectly lit place with proper air circulation.
  • Keep the soil moist but not soggy by occasionally watering after the top soil dries.
  • Keep seedlings a few feet under grow lights for 10-12 hours if there is a lack of sunlight.

When provided with conducive conditions, the Lemon seeds will germinate with new roots 1.5-2 inches long after two weeks.

Meanwhile, let the seedlings stay in the same spot till they develop about 4-5 leaves before you transplant them.

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

Rather than just planting the seeds into the soil, seeds germinate quicker in a paper towel. 

Besides being time-friendly, the paper towel method allows you to control the seeds’ requirements (heat and temperature), helping them to sprout only in a few days.
  • Take a sterilized knife and gently peel off the first top white layer of the seed. 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 on the towel.
  • Lay another paper towel on the top, ensuring all seeds are appropriately covered.
  • Spritz the paper towels with water to make them moist.
  • Transfer the paper towel with the seeds to a ziplock bag to keep the moisture and humidity intact.
  • Put the ziplock bag in a dark but warm place and ensure the towel is always moist.
germinated lemon seeds
Watch out for any visible or noticeable growths from the seeds.

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

Only when the sprouts grow over an inch, consider transplanting them in a 4-6 inches pot filled with a fresh mix and follow after germination care routine.

Germinating Lemon seeds in a banana is the best technique to speed up the process. Ethylene gas produced by bananas is the reason for seed germination.

Tips to Care for Seedlings After Germination

During this seedlings stage, 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., 10-14 hours a day.
  • Use terracotta pots with multiple drainage holes to let out excess water.
  • Maintaining the temperature at around 60-70°F adequately protects 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.
  • 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 to avoid yellow leaves.
  • Try keeping the soil pH level slightly acidic, from 5.5-6.5. Add some coffee grounds to maintain the soil’s acidity.

From Editorial Team

As long as you get the seeds from a good source, you’ll not struggle to germinate them.

However, you can grow lemon seeds in coffee cups and place them inside your room for a refreshing aroma.

For successful germination, you must optimize external factors like temperature, humidity, watering, and light.

Moreover, add eggshells to the substrate where you grow the lemon seeds.

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