Lemon tree not fruiting – Causes and solutions

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How long has it been that you’ve been waiting for your lemon tree to fruit? If it’s been a while now, since you’ve planted, pruned, and waited patiently for your lemon tree to grow and fruit and it’s not happening, it’s time to do some research.  
So, your lemon tree is not cooperating? Looks like you’re going to hold off on that idea of homemade lemonade and find an answer to your “why is my lemon tree not fruiting?” question 
There are a few possibilities, so keep reading to find the answers. . 

What causes a fruit tree not to produce fruit?  

There could be umpteen reasons as to why a fruit tree may not bear fruit and these will make you scratch your head.

But don’t worry, I am pretty sure there is a simple solution right in front of you that hasn’t revealed itself yet. 
The first thing that you should check for is, do the trees bear flowers?

We all know that flowers will lead to fruits. But if there are no flowers on your tree at all, chances are your tree cannot bear fruit.

The explanation for this could be bad cultivation, insufficient water, a bad root system, or lack of nutrients. 

If your lemon tree fails to flower, this could be because of  

  • inconsistent watering, 
  • insufficient light, 
  • lack of feeding 
  • or even low temperatures.  

There could be many reasons why a lemon tree may fail to produce fruit. 

Let’s go through each cause along with the solution, to make sure you get ample lemons for yourself and to share with your neighbor or maybe put up a lemonade stand.  

Solution of Each Cause 

1. Lemon Tree is Not Old Enough  

If you are a proud lemon tree parent, you will have to be patient before your lemon tree matures and bears fruit. If your tree does bloom but fails to bear fruit, it could be that your lemon tree is too young.  

If you’ve been wondering, “when do lemon trees produce fruit?” This might take about 3-5 years. Yes, you will just have to wait and watch till your full-grown, healthy lemon tree reaches its reproductive maturity duration. 

Once your tree bears fruit, I assure you it will be in plenty. Not just that, in the lemon tree fruiting cycle – the lemon tree bears fruit all year round if it is properly taken care of and climatic conditions are favorable.  
The good news is, you’ll have a supply of this vibrant fruit until the tree dies. The average lifespan of a healthy well-nourished citrus tree is approximately 50 years, but they can live as long as 100 years as well.
Yes! Your plant baby could outlive you

2. Improper Tree Vigor 

One of the reasons lemon trees do not produce fruit is excessive or improper tree vigor. A fully grown healthy lemon tree splurges all its energy in growing wood, preventing the budding of flowers.   
This could happen because of two reasons: excessive fertilization and over-pruning.  
Now, this may puzzle you as you might have never had to fertilize the tree.

But think carefully, have you fertilized the lawn around the tree?

Oh wait, that could be it! Fertilization involves the application of nitrogen, and fruit trees are not aware that it is not meant for them but only for the grass.  
When it rains, the nitrogen settles down and this is absorbed by the tree roots which take it up.

This stimulates excessive growth at the cost of flower production and your answer to- “why is my lemon tree not fruiting.” 
So what can you do?  You will have to be extra cautious while applying fertilizer.

Make sure you are 5-feet away from the lemon tree and its branches.

Pruning differs from tree to tree and it needs to be done at the right time. In the case of citrus trees, pruning is best done soon after harvest in winter right up to early spring before bud break, whereas other fruit trees should be pruned every winter.  

3. Right Temperature 

You know Sean Paul wasn’t wrong when he crooned ‘Temperature’ – “I got the right temperature to shelter you from the storm” he sang and he could have been talking about your lemon tree. Because lemon trees need to be sheltered from the storm in this case, specifically, frost damage. 
The tart fruits of the citrus lemon get damaged when temperatures drop below 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Lemon trees thrive in warmer weather but an extended deep freeze will kill even the strongest of citrus trees.

The blooming buds are more susceptible to frost and flowers are even more sensitive and delicate. 
While the flowers may open the next day, you will need to inspect the damage by stepping out in the frosty weather.

If the flowers have black to dark brown centers, it will mostly not bear fruit that year.  
There are a number of solutions you could try. 

Just before the temperature drops, you can keep the tree warm by wrapping the tree trunk. You can avoid frost damage by watering the tree before the cold season begins.  
Even before the fruiting season, planting a lemon tree needs careful planning to avoid damage from frost.

Make sure to plant where you can avoid a frost pocket and a windy slope.  
While lemon trees do not need to be pollinated, fruit trees that do need to be pollinated cannot withstand extreme cold weather, or else the flowers will not open.

Not just that, remember flowers are in full bloom for about 3-4 days. The perfect temperature for bumblebees to be out is 8 degrees Celsius and 12 degrees for honeybees. Pollination will not occur if the bees don’t get out.  

How to Encourage Fruit on Lemon Tree

Lemon tree not fruiting


If you’re thinking, “How do you get a lemon tree to bloom?”, make sure you deep water the tree often during winter and fall. Continue deep watering during the heat of the summers and spring as the trees need moisture for growth.  
Fertilize your lemon tree appropriately making sure it is not over-fertilized or under-fertilized or your tree won’t bear fruit.

Choose a fertilizer after careful research and study to make sure it contains phosphorus to stimulate blooming of buds and fruiting. 
Prune your trees in the fall to cut off dead branches or those infested with insects. 
Another reason there may be no fruit is because of insects and diseases eating away at the lemon tree trunk. Insects that attack the fruit will make it inedible. So, protect your tree from insects, and take corrective measures early on.  

Still No Fruit on Lemon Tree After Several Attempts? 

How big does a lemon tree get? 

An average lemon tree grows to a height of 6-10 feet tall, while the dwarf trees grow to be 5-7 feet.

If your tree grows to a good height but does not give fruit, you will have to change your fertilizer to one which is high in nitrogen. 
Application of fertilizer needs to be done in spring especially for citrus trees like the lemon. However, make sure you do not use this new fertilizer rich in nitrogen during the flowering season as it will hamper the blooming of flowers resulting in no fruit.    
If your lemon tree still does not bear fruit despite all the things you may have done, another possibility could be poor rootstock. It might happen that after a good crop one year, it may not produce any in the next.

You will need to wait a year before you are rewarded with an abundant crop of golden lemons and you’ll know that the wait was worth it. 


The only lesson you can learn here is that great things come out of patience.

And if you just wait it out, you will be rewarded with a tall, cool glass of fresh lemonade to quench your thirst, perfect to beat the scorching summer heat.