Best Potting Soil for Lemon Trees (Top 5)

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Lemon trees really are the best. You can have homemade lemonade, for one thing. Graft on limes and you’ve got a ‘cocktail tree. Then there are the tiny lemon trees that you can grow in your home so that your living space is pervaded with the intoxicating smell of fresh lemons year-round!

They won’t grow very well if you don’t take care of them, however, and so today we’re going to have a chat about the best potting soil for lemon trees. I’ll tell you about the best commercial potting soils, along with a couple of excellent fertilizers, and also what you need to know if you’re going the DIY route.

If you’re in a hurry, here are our top 3 picks.

  1. Miracle-Gro – Cactus Palm and Citrus Potting Soil Mix
  2. Espoma’s Organic Cactus Mix for Succulents, Palm, and Citrus
  3. Gardenera’s Premium Lemon Tree Soil Mix (Best Value)

Without further ado, let’s talk about encouraging life to give you lemons!

A little history on lemon tree popularity

While lemons were largely considered ornamental plants until around the 10th century, their popularity for foods moved pretty fast from there. A quick version of the story would be something like this. The Arabs introduced lemons to Spain, Spain went with it and brought lemons along for their famous conquests across the world, and by 1493 Columbus had brought lemons to the New World.

While still largely ornamental, by 1751 they were a hot item in California and by the 1800s, Florida was also pushing their use in the culinary arts. Meyer Lemon trees, a sweet hybrid of Mandarin oranges and lemons even helped to usher in the current joyous trend of hosting small, indoor lemon trees.

It’s quite the history and it’s safe to say, there sure is a lot of love for lemon trees!

What makes a good lemon tree potting soil?

Ideally, you want a blend of a good compost, along with perlite or vermiculate for proper drainage, and peat moss or coconut coir for a healthy microbial environment that also ensures proper water retention.

Many commercial citrus and cactus soils will have just about a perfect blend for this, or you could always go the DIY route if preferred.

The best potting soils for lemon trees

As far as commercial potting soils go, our long history with lemons means that you’ve got a lot of excellent choices out there that will do the trick nicely. Let’s look at some of the best options on the market so that you can purchase a ‘tried and true’, ready-made medium.

1. Miracle-Gro – Cactus Palm and Citrus Potting Soil Mix

Since 1951, Miracle Gro has pretty much been a household name for folks who have and exercise their green thumbs. Miracle Gro’s Cactus Palm and Citrus Potting soil mix continues the tradition with a fine soil for coaxing your lemon tree to grow. This soil is made up of the basics – quality sphagnum peat moss, perlite, and sand in just the right amounts that you need for your lemon trees to thrive.

Review Highlights – Best and Worst

Miracle Gro got great scores in the user reviews, with 83% giving it 5 stars and 11% opted for 2. Of the remaining 7%, only 2% gave it 1 star, and we got a rare ‘101%’ total from this particular review pool. While most were using this soil for Cacti, we did get a 5-star from ‘Selena’ who says that her citrus trees love the mix and from the 1% category, we did have one alarming complaint from ‘Lemon Bear’, who stated that her mix came contaminated with mites!

Checking into this, there were more reports of infestations from ‘Elana’ and ‘David Clausen’. While we can’t confirm if there was a particularly bad batch involved, we felt it was worth noting. 

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2. Espoma’s Organic Cactus Mix for Succulents, Palm, and Citrus

Espoma has their own Cactus and Citrus mix that has also met with excellent reviews from many happy customers. Their own blend includes 40-50% peat humus, perlite, sand, earthworm castings, dolomitic limestone, and peat moss. Add in that it also boasts a proprietary blend of ecto and endo mycorrhizae. And we’re definitely looking at a hearty soil that’s enhanced for successful growth.

Review Highlights – Best and Worst

This soil scored a 4.6 out of 5, with 80% awarding 5 stars and another 11% giving it 2. The remaining 9% rated 1 – 3 with 3% of that giving it only 1 star. Searching the best and the worst reviews, we found an interesting 5-star from ‘Benjamin G. Kernan’ who praised the product and – get this – said it doesn’t have any bugs like Miracle Gro! ‘Debbie Moseley added nice feedback, too, stating it brought her dead Christmas Cactus back to life.

On the flipside, despite Benjamin’s assurances, we did have reports from ‘Kaara’ and ‘theof’ stating that their own packages had a soil gnat infestation, with another reviewer citing gnats and mushrooms. So far, no soil seems completely safe from this, but let’s see as the reviews continue!

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3. Dr. Earth – Exotic Cactus and Succulent Soil

Next up is Dr. Earth’s Exotic Cactus and Succulent soil but don’t let the name fool you – it says right on the package that it’s also good for palm, tropical, and citrus containers. So, what’s in? Well, the good Doctor advises that this soil contains aged fir bark,composted green waste, dolomite lime, perlite, peat moss, fishbone meal, sawdust alfalfa meal,  bone meal, feather meal, kelp meal, kelp flour, gypsum and wetting agent.

Color us impressed, but there’s more, with probiotics, pro-moisture hydrate, ecto and endo mycorrhizae, and TruBiotic – making this definitely some stand-out soil!

Review Highlights – Best and Worst

The doctor’s work seems well-received, with 82% giving it the 5 star treatment, and another 5% admitting that they’d give it at least a 2. We had 7% give 3 stars and for 1 star ratings, we had the remaining 5%. While this only totals 99%, we’ll go with that and discuss what these reviews had to say.

 The positive reviews were pretty resounding, with phrases like ‘as good or better than anything I’ve ever used’ popping up from time to time, while the most negative reviews we had one complaint that it couldn’t be returned and ‘Greg’ didn’t feel there was enough drainage. Not bad as far as negative reviews go, although this might call for keeping a little extra perlite handy just in case you need it!

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4. Soil Sunrise Citrus Tree Potting Soil Mix

Soil Sunrise makes our list with their hand-blended citrus tree potting soil mix. Inside the bag you’ll find a soil comprised of peat moss, perlite, sand, lime, and worm castings, so that you are getting the basics with a little extra zest.  With no additives or chemicals, what you get is a 100% natural good, clean soil that will do your lemon trees right! 

Review Highlights – Best and Worst

Perusing the reviews, only 72% gave it 5 stars, although before you worry another 11% gave it 2. Of the remaining 13%, 7% gave the product 3 stars and 4% of those were in the 1 star category. Reading through, the most popular praise included one from Mr. Carl that said it was ‘Exactly what he needed to plant his lemon tree’ and advised it was doing well, while ‘Carbonmaster’ injected a little humor with a simple 5 star rating and ‘It was good, but tasted like dirt!’.

Rolling on into the 1 star territory, we had 2 reports of inadequate drainage, so it might be prudent to add a little perlite just to be on the safe side. Aside from this, one complained about the smell, but as we didn’t see this appear again in the reviews then it might be a one-off. 

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5. Gardenera’s Premium Lemon Tree Soil Mix

Worm castings, peat moss, perlite, and lime make up Gardenera’s Premium Lemon Tree Soil Mix and while this is pretty basic, the reviews for this soil were actually quite good. Let’s take a peek and we’ll give you a synopsis of the best and the worst.

Review Highlights – Best and Worst

Gardenera got a solid 4.7 out of 5, with 80% of those reviews being 5 stars, while 15% settled for 2. The remaining 5% were 1 and 2 star ratings, and of that 5% only 2% were the 1 star lot. In the happy reviews, quite a lot of customers were mixing this into their gardens, commenting on the nice fluffy texture of the soil and with ‘Andrea C.’ adding that her gardens were ‘producing like crazy’.

Oddly enough, of that 2% the only written review appears to be talking about Gardener’s vermiculite, so we’ve been stymied a bit here and will have to settle for the basic facts – with 95% comprising positive reviews, this one looks like a keeper. 

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The best commercial fertilizers for lemon trees

The right soil is a good start, but you always want to coax your lemon trees along to ensure that get the chance to grow up healthy, as well as colorful, sweet, and sour! 

From late march and on until early August it’s your lemon tree’s growing season, and during this time  Savvy Gardening recommends that you go with a liquid organic fertilizer – fish emulsions, seaweeds, and kelps are all good options, although you could also use a granular organic fertilizer if you aren’t so fond of the fishy ones. You’ll want to fertilize your tree every 2 to 3 weeks and this should be optimal for maximizing health and growth.

In this section, we’ll share a couple of commercial fertilizers that you can look for in order to prepare for the growing season as well. Let’s take a look!

6. Down to Earth Organic Citrus Fertilizer Mix

Down to Earth Organic Citrus Fertilizer mix brings some wholesome ingredients to the table, with feather meal, fish bone meal, sulfate of potash, alfalfa meal, langbeinite, greensand, basalt, zinc sulfate, and kelp meal. They advise that it’s good for other fruits trees, along with ornamentals and vines, and with a list like that we tend to believe them! Let’s see how they fared in reviewland.

Review Highlights – Best and Worst

Overall, Down to Earth got a 4.5 out of 5, with the 5 star ratings scoring at 73%, while 2 star ratings made up 16%. For 2 – 3 stars we had a total amount of 8%, and 3% decided that it was only worth 1 star. Checking through the reviews themselves, ‘Scott L.’ said it got his citrus ‘back on track’ and ‘Dolly’ thought her plant was a goner until this fertilizer turned the tables.

Taking a walk to the darkside, Pcdoctor and DrReneigh said they got gnats with their fertilizer, while SKB didn’t like the scent. Beyond this, there were some reports of mold, so be advised, but keep in mind also this was out of over 2700 ratings – you know how it goes! 

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7. Dr. Earth Natural Wonder Fruit Tree Fertilizer

Dr. Earth makes the list again with their Natural Wonder Fruit Tree Fertilizer, and we have to say it has quite the wide assortment of ingredients. Boasting Feather meal, fish bone meal, kelp meal, potassium sulfate, cottonseed meal, alfalfa meal, soft rock phosphate, seaweed extract, ‘seven strains of Pro-Biotic beneficial soil microbes’, and finally, Ecto and Endo Mycorrhizae.

So, how did it rate? Let’s see!

Review Highlights – Best and Worst

Well, it got a 4.8 overall, but we should point out that this is out of 17 total reviews on Amazon. That said, Dr. Earth does pretty well on the more saturated review pools and we hear about it a lot from folks, so we tend to believe the hype in this case. Of the reviews, they were all 1 and 2 stars, with 77% making up the 1 star reviews – make of that what you will.

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How do I make a homemade lemon tree potting soil mix?

According to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural sciences, a good basic mix for your soil is simply a mix of equal parts of the following:

  • Peat
  • Sand
  • Perlite (or bark)

Four Winds Growers also has a nice, little 5-part recipe for a 5-1-1 mix:

  • 5 parts of fine bark (which should be ½ inch pieces)
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part potting soil

With citrus plants like your lemon tree, you have a little bit of an advantage. These trees are highly adaptable, so as long as you’re going with the basics, then you are off to a fantastic and promising start. 

What is the best homemade fertilizer?

You can whip up some homemade fertilizer-lovin’ fairly easily for your lemon trees quite easily. For potassium and phosphorous, kelp, bone meal, and banana peels work a treat, while nitrogen gets a boost from coffee  grounds, grass, and leaves. 

Just be sure to spread it AROUND the tree, but not touching it, and you’ll be good to go!

Quick tips on encouraging healthy lemon trees

Some quick extra tips for helping your lemon trees along include the following:

  • Lemon trees need full sunlight, so make sure with an indoor tree that you put it by a south-facing window – that will get it a good 6 to 8 hours of good, direct sunlight. If it’s just been potted, though, start gradually with a little shade until new leaves make an appearance and THEN full sunlight will be ideal.
  • If you’re not sure whether you watered your tree already, check the top 2 inches of soil with your finger – if it’s dry, then give it some water.
  • Citrus trees like it humid – with indoor trees, a humidifier or a little daily misting can help to keep your lemon tree happy and healthy.

Selecting the right commercial soil at your local nursery

The most important of the equation is easiest to remember as ‘PSP’ – Peat, Sand, and Perlite. The good news is that it’s actually very difficult to go wrong, as citrus soils are popular and you’ll have plenty of choices. Do take advantage of that amazing wonder in your pocket – your cellular phone. 

It only takes minutes and you can instantly review a soil that you are considering right off the bat. The feedback will be from people just like you and we suggest that you skip right to the 1-star reviews—that’s really where you’re going to get all of the ‘dirt on the dirt’, so to speak. 

Don’t be afraid to ask nursery employees for their opinions, either. More often than not, Nursery staff really do love plants, and they have excellent advice of their own and also the occasional amazing trick that they’ve picked up from a local expert. It only takes a second and sometimes you’ll get a tip that’s a real doozy!

FAQ

How can you tell if a lemon tree is stressed?

It’s all about the leaves. Ideally, they should be green and perky, but if they start to droop then this is typically the first sign that your lemon tree is stressed.

How do you tell if a lemon tree is over or under watered?

Leaves that are inwardly-curled are an early warning sign of underwatering, with browning and dropping leaves usually soon to follow. On the flipside, if the leaves start turning yellow, then that means you are overwatering your lemon tree. 

Should you cover an outdoor lemon tree in a freeze?

Yes, covering your outdoor lemon trees when the temperatures will drop below freezing is a good idea. You can make a makeshift tripod out of PVC pies quite cheaply and drape a blanket over this for a little extra protection for your tree when it’s chilly out.

How do you winterize an indoor lemon tree?

Aside from ensuring that the tree is close to a south-facing window, be mindful of any nearby vents and try to maintain a temperature range of 55 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit on your thermostat. A humidifier is also a good idea, so that it’s not too dry for your lemon tree.

In Conclusion

Today we’ve talked about the best potting soil for lemon trees and while there are certainly a lot of formulations, the best foundation is present across the board consistently – PSP. We don’t mean ‘Playstation Pro’ (although that helps this author to remember it), but rather the holy citrus trio of Peat, Sand, and Perlite. 

Fertilizing should also be done every 2 to 3 weeks during the growing season and don’t forget that you’ve got a lot of natural fertilizers around if you don’t have any commercial types on you – banana peels, grass, and other simple DIY options we’ve mentioned today have been growing happy lemon trees for as long as they’ve been around.

Now that you’re prepared, what are you waiting for? There’s really nothing quite like the scent of lemon trees that you’ve carefully coddled and grown yourself and as we mentioned before – you’ll be enjoying them practically all year round!

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