The Story of a Lemon Tree in Tennessee

Many years ago back when I was in college I brought home a lemon from the store. On a whim I decided that I would plant a couple of the seeds from that little lemon into a cup and see if I could grow a lemon tree. The seeds sprouted and several little lemon trees grew. The little lemon trees were sustained in pots inside the house which gradually grew larger and larger. This past winter I decided that I was done with the lemon tree experiment. I was tired of lugging the tree indoors every winter. I was tired of the thorns and spikes constantly sticking me as I walked by. I was also tired of the lack of fruit or flower on this experiment. In all the years it only flowered once and consequently only fruited once, only to have the baby lemon terminated prematurely by a severe case of spider mites! Citrus trees have their problems and spider mites are a big one, at least when it comes to growing them indoors.

As I mentioned, I was tired of the thorny little lemon tree that hadn't produced anything in the 13-14 years I grew it. Last fall rather than bring it indoors I left it outside. I didn't protect it. I didn't water it or take care of it in any way. It sat on my front porch waiting for its demise. I abandoned it...completely. There was no way that lemon tree could make it through one of the harshest winters in many years to come to Tennessee.

I couldn't have been more wrong about the outcome! This spring my abandoned lemon began sprouting new growth along the branches. I trimmed up the dead branches and cut back a few of the larger branches to make a more compact tree and now here is how it looks:

Shiny, green, glossy leaves! Does this mean my lemon tree is hardy in Tennessee? Probably not but you never know. Most lemons are hardy in zones 8 or warmer not here in zone 6b. Maybe I have a lemon tree that could regularly survive our mild winters but I doubt it would make it through too many of the extreme winters. My lemon got lucky. Since my little lemon tree fought so hard to stay alive I think I'll store it in the garden shed in future winters. Who knows, I might one day find myself with a lemon!

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