How To Water My Lemon Trees Properly

Lemon trees can be sensitive to excessive watering. After the top two inches of soil has dried, water the tree generously with water. Lemon trees need more water in Summer, so they should be watered less frequently in Winter.

It is crucial to water lemon trees correctly as they are more susceptible to root rot. This can be caused by slow draining soils and overwatering.

Lemon trees require more water in summer because they like full sun. They also need less water in winter as they are still in dormancy

Continue reading to find out how to water lemon trees in containers and gardens so they can meet their water needs and prevent root rot …

How Many Times to Water Lemon Trees

Lemon trees can thrive in Mediterranean environment that has full sun and heat. However, their roots should be kept out of moist soil. This will cause water stress and encourage the fungal disease root-rot.

It is important that your soil around your lemon trees dries between waterings as this will replicate the natural watering cycle of their native environment.

Lemon trees need to be watered when two inches of soil feels dry.

You can easily determine how often you should water your lemon trees depending on the climate by measuring the soil down to one finger depth.

If the soil feels damp, delay watering for a few more days. However, if it feels dry out, then this is the best time to water ..

The frequency you should water depends on your climate.

Lemon Tree Branch

The following factors can influence how often you water your lemon tresses:

  • Heat and humidity (humidity reduces water loss from the leaves and slow evaporation from the soil)
  • Hours of direct sun (Lemon trees prefer full sun).
  • The size of the pot in which it is planted (Smaller pots can dry out much quicker).
  • The amount of airflow (Windy areas sap moisture from the leaves quicker).
  • The capacity of the soil to retain moisture. Good drainage is essential for lemon trees to avoid root rot.
  • The time of year for your tree (Watering frequency varies significantly from Summer to Winter).

Every climate, garden, and home is different. It is important to adjust the frequency of watering your lemon tree so that it meets its water needs without overwatering or promoting root rot.

As long as the soil’s top two inches feel dry before watering, you can avoid problems.

How To Tell If You Water Too Infrequently (Symptoms Of Over Watered Lemon Trees

The first indication of a lemon tree suffer from drought stress is when the leaves of your tree begin to curl with an overall drooping appearance.

Lemon trees that have curled leaves will recover very quickly if they are given a good soak. They will return to their original condition after about 2 watering cycles.

Lemon trees can lose their leaves when they are under severe drought stress. To reduce water loss, lemon trees may drop their leaves.

It should be noted, however, that lemon trees can drop leaves if they are experiencing drought stress.

(Read my article on lemon trees dropping leaves to learn why its happening and how to solve the problem).

How To Tell If You Water Lemon Trees Too Much …

Feeling the soil can tell if your lemon tree needs more water. The soil should be moist all the time and not dry out for more than a week. This will indicate that the lemon tree is stressed.

In this case, you can reduce the amount of watering and wait for the soil dry out.

It is important to note that the leaves of lemon trees can also become yellow due to low temperatures or nutritional deficiencies.

(Read my article why are my lemon tree leaves turning yellow for how to save it).

How Often to Water Lemon Trees in Pots

All lemon trees should wait until the soil is slightly dry before watering.

However, it is important to note that lemon trees grown in pots need to be watered much more frequently than lemon trees grown in soil.

Although it is impossible to give a universal recommendation on how often lemon trees should water in pots due to many variables, potted lemon trees should generally be watered once per week with a good soak.

Potted Lemon Trees should be watered more frequently because:

  • If the pot is relatively small then there is less capacity for soil and therefore the soil retains less moisture and dries out quicker. Pots will need to be watered once per day during the summer months.
  • Potted plants often have greater airflow around the leaves due to being raised higher then ground level which can sap moisture from the leaves.
  • Some lemon trees are taken indoors for Winter protection. Indoor heating can cause indoor temperatures to fluctuate, increasing evaporation and increasing water demand.

These variables should be considered when watering your lemon trees.

However, it is important to reiterate that the only way to establish reliable watering schedules is to continuously monitor soil moisture to a depth 2 inches.

This will help you to avoid stressing your lemon tree by not over- or underwatering.

How Often to Water Lemon Trees in Summer

The lemon tree’s need for moisture may increase in summer when it is actively growing and developing fruits. Therefore, you will need to water your tree more often.

  • Potted lemon trees that are in blazing sunshine and enduring high temperatures should be watered as frequently as once every 2 days.
  • Lemon trees in garden soil are more resistant to drought and can last up to a week without watering in Summer as long as they are watered with a generous soak and planted in soil with lots of organic matter to retain moisture.

Adjust your water schedule if you have particular fast- or slow-draining soils, or more wind. This can cause the leaves to lose moisture.

As long as the soil’s top two inches are dry, rather than damp before watering, you can avoid problems that may result from over- or underwatering.

Keep in mind that leaves can curl at times due to extreme heat. This is a way to conserve water during drought.

As long as your tree is properly watered, the leaves will recover in cooler temperatures.

How Often to Water lemon Trees in Winter

Lemon trees can be more susceptible to winter watering problems because they are still in dormancy, and therefore require less water.

Potted lemon trees should be watered once a month to ensure that the soil doesn’t dry completely.

Lemon trees grown in garden soil can get all the moisture they require from the environment in winter if they are mature plants. They will not need to be watered until the next spring.

It’s important to remember that lemon trees taken indoors may require more water if they are near heat sources or are in an area where forced air or air con can sap moisture from the leaves.

Keep an eye on your indoor lemon trees and check for signs of stress like leaves curling or dropping off, or too much moisture. Adjust your watering frequency accordingly.

How to Water Lemon Trees

Lemon trees need to be watered regularly with enough water to see water trickling out of the bottom. If they are planted in garden borders, you can soak the soil with a hose.

A generous soak promotes the growth of roots in your lemon tree, making it more resilient to drought and able to access the nutrients it needs.

If you water too sparingly, so that the soil is only about an inch moist, the water doesn’t penetrate the soil and reach the roots. This can cause symptoms such as leaf dropping and drought stress.

(If your lemon tree is dropping leaves read my article for how to save it).

Plant Lemon Trees In Pots With Drainage Holes in Base

Lemon trees should be planted in pots that have drainage holes at the bottom to let excess water escape after watering.

Watering your potted lemon trees so that water drips out the base is a great way to make sure you have used enough water.

If lemon trees are placed in pots that do not have drainage holes, water can pool around the roots. This causes root rot which causes the leaves to turn yellow and eventually dies.

Water may still accumulate around your lemon tree’s roots and cause problems if you:

  • The drainage holes becomes blocked with roots or compacted soil. If water is draining slowly from the soil, check the hole at the bottom of the pot. Clear any obstructions that may be slowing down drainage.
  • The use of saucers and trays under the pots of lemon trees. To prevent water from spilling indoors, lemon tree pots often have trays placed under them. Root rot can occur if the soil is too dry from excess watering.
  • The ground underneath the pot is damp. You can help your potted lemon tree to be elevated onto its feet when outside so water can escape the pot.

(Read my article, how to revive a dying lemon tree).

Well Draining Soil Mitigates Over Watering

Lemon trees are best planted in soil rich in organic matter, such as leaf mold or compost. Organic matter can retain water around the roots but also drain excess water well.

This provides the ideal moisture balance for lemon trees in order to get the moisture they require to grow healthy. It also prevents water from pooling around roots, which can cause root rot.

Root rot is more likely in soil that is clay or compact. You should water your lemon tree less often and transplant it to an area with good drainage.

If your soil is too clay-y, it’s best to plant lemon trees in pots. Pots are more suited for drainage.

Key Takeaways

  • Water lemon trees when the top two inches of the soil are dry to the touch and then water generously at the roots. When lemon trees are active growing, they should be watered less frequently in Winter.
  • Typically lemon trees should be watered once a week in pots in the Summer and watered once a month in Winter although watering frequency varies according to climate, weather and whether the plant is brought indoors for protection from frost in Winter.
  • Plant lemon trees in well draining soil that contains a lot of organic matter or compost. To improve drainage and prevent root rot, add grit.
  • Plant lemon trees in pots with drainage holes in the base to allow excess water to escape instead of pooling around the roots. To keep your lemon tree healthy, empty the saucers and trays often so that the soil doesn’t stay damp.


Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)