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How to Pick Lemons from a Lemon Tree

18 January 2014 7 Comments

yellow lemonsA neighbor saw me picking lemons from my lemon tree last year, and told me, “What beautiful limes!”   When I told her they were actually lemons, she laughed and told me, “I think you’re picking a little early, dear!”    I probably would have thought the same thing a few years ago.   People often see photos of lemon trees full of gorgeous bright yellow lemons.  The truth is, if you allow your lemons to get that yellow on the tree, you’re going to have buckets of rotten lemons pretty soon.

So how do you know when to pick lemons from a lemon tree?

Generally speaking, lemons have a diameter of 2″ – 3″.    Instead of picking lemons when they are the correct color, you should pick your lemons when they are the correct SIZE.    Once your lemons reach a diameter of 2 1/2 inches, wait a day or two and then pick them.  At this point, they should be entirely light yellowish green.

If you happen to see any lemons that are already turning yellow on the tree, remove them immediately, and use them as soon as possible.  If you don’t have any desire to use them for cooking or lemonade right away, squeeze the juice from the lemons and freeze it in ice cube trays.

Here’s how to pick lemons from a lemon tree:

Take the entire lemon in your hand.  Twist gently, breaking its hold to the tree.  Do not pull too hard, or you will damage the branches of the tree.   If you prefer, you can use hand clippers to cut the lemons from the tree.

Originally posted 2009-09-11 17:24:39. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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  • Bob said:

    I’m reading conflicting answers all over the internet. Some say to wait until they’re fully yellow, and other say the opposite. Some say they keep well on the tree and there’s no hurry to pick’m, others say to pick’m when they’re still green.

    I just don’t know what to believe.


  • Edible Container Gardening (author) said:

    Bob, I’ve been growing lemons for some time now, and I learned from my grandmother (who grew them for decades before I was born). Technically, all answers/methods are correct. Or they can be. I’d say that when to pick depends on how large your tree is, and how many lemons you have. The more you have, the earlier you need to pick, although you don’t need to pick them all at once. Pick some, let them ripen, eat them, then go back for more. If you have just a handful of lemons on the tree, you can safely wait until they are yellow to pick them, as you’ll probably eat them quickly. If you have a large tree with dozens (or hundreds) of lemons, you simply don’t have the luxury to wait. If you wait until they are all yellow to pick them, they will rot long before you eat a fraction of them.

    I hope that helps.


  • K said:

    I bought a little lemon and orange tree earlier this year. (They’re so pretty) And now I have this huge green lemon growing on it.. It’s about the size of a small grapefruit. I read somewhere that the lemons will turn yellow on the tree, so I didnt know if I should wait until it turns yellow. There’s no signs of it turning yet. But it’s huge.


  • Lemon love said:

    I looooove lemons,yesterday,my sisters lemon tree grew and lookked absoulutely beautiful! Lemons came out great.We made fresh lemonade an walllllla!


  • Rainoshine said:

    I have one dwarf lemon tree and one dwarf orange in a container, so my production is small. I leave them on the tree until they have the perfect color and the flavor is absolutely wonderful. I have never had a piece of fruit long enoug to have it spoil.


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