Lemons will take an average of 6 months to grow from a bud to fully ripen on the tree. Lemon trees have their main flowering period in spring and the lemons are usually ready to pick in fall. You can leave ripe lemons on the tree for another 2-3 months but pick them off before the next spring to get new flowers.
Lemons will ripen quicker on the tree if the tree is growing in full sun. It will help the natural sugars in the fruit to develop and turn the skin bright yellow. As the fruit ripens further the color of the skin will turn to a darker yellow and the fruit will feel heavier as it develops more juice.
A lemon left to ripen on the tree for longer will generally taste sweeter and have a thinner skin. Leave the lemons on the tree for longer if you like a sweeter lemon taste. Once lemons have been picked, they will not get any sweeter. While the skin color might change the taste generally doesn’t.
Once the lemon tree is mature then you can have lemons growing and ripening on the tree all year round. Pick lemons when you are ready to use them or off when they are fully ripe to encourage your tree to grow more.
This article will explore all you need to know about how long it takes for lemons to ripen on the tree as well as tips for getting fruit to ripen quicker.
When lemon trees bloom
Lemon trees will have their largest bloom in spring but can have a second flush of flowers in fall. This means that they can start to produce small fruit by the end of spring and then they will ripen over the next 4-5 months.
Large, mature lemon trees grown in mild weather conditions can produce a continuous supply of flowers and fruit so you always have lemons ready to use at home. Lemon trees grow best in areas that are free of frost an have mild winters.
Picking mature fruit will allow the tree the space and energy to grow more flowers. Give the tree a feed of citrus food or phosphorus based fertilizer in spring to encourage flowering. This will give the tree the extra nutrients needed to continue to continuously produce fruit.
Leaving ripe lemons on the tree
You can leave ripe lemons on the tree for another 2-3 months after they have turned yellow.
Picking fruit regularly will allow the tree to prepare and rest getting ready for the next time they will flower. If fruit are left on the tree for a long time, the lemon tree can produce less flowers in the next season as it is supporting the fruit.
We always had a large lemon tree growing fruit at our family home. There were always lemons on the tree ready to pick. The tree was large, approximately 10 feet high and wide. This large, mature tree was able to keep producing blooms while carrying fruit. This tree produced enough lemons for our family with some extra to share.
Smaller, younger lemon trees will benefit from having their fruit picked off regularly. Smaller trees will not be able to support as much fruit as larger more mature trees. Picking fruit off regularly will allow the tree to focus on establishing a healthy root system and stems to support more fruit in the long term.
Tips for ripening lemons quicker on the tree
These tips will help you to ripen lemons quicker on the tree. These easy tips will give you bright yellow lemons at home as fast as possible.
1. Trim excess leaves
Trimming off excess leaves from your lemon tree will help it to ripen lemons quicker. Prune the tree lightly after harvesting lemons to remove excess leaves and to tidy up the shape of the tree. This will let more sun in to reach the fruit and ripen it quicker.
Trim off stems that are rubbing together or that have been bent or broken. Take care not to prune the tree in spring because new buds will be forming on the ends of the stems.
2. Plant the tree in full sun
Another great way to get your lemon tree to ripen fruit quicker is to plant the tree in full sun. Move potted lemon trees into a sunny position in spring. Leave it there until you see the fruit ripen completely.
For trees that are already growing in the ground you can trim any nearby trees and shrubs to let more sun in. It is important to pick the sunniest position possible when first planting out your lemon tree.
3. Water the tree regularly
Another important step to get lemons to ripen quicker is to give the tree regular water during spring and summer. Lemon trees that are getting consistent water will develop their fruit quickly and will drop less fruit as they mature.
If the tree dries out then it will divert its energy and water back to the center of the tree slowing the growth of the fruit. I like to water my lemon tree with a hose deeply once or twice per week in summer. This can be reduced to once every 1-2 weeks in the cooler months of fall and once per month in winter.
Why lemons are not turn yellow on the tree
Sometimes lemons will stop developing and not turn green on the tree. This can happen due to a sudden change in weather, particularly if it gets very cold rapidly in summer.
The main reason why lemons will not turn yellow is due to a lack of sun. It is essential that lemon trees get at least 6 hours of sun during spring and summer. Trim away nearby branches of other trees or move potted trees into an open, sunny position.
You can leave the green lemons on the tree for longer to wait for it to start to turn yellow. Usually if you wait a little longer the lemons will eventually turn yellow.
How Long Lemons Take to Ripen on the Tree | Summary
Lemons will take anywhere from 4-7 months to grow and ripen on the tree. Most lemons tree varieties will take an average of 6 months to ripen their fruit from a tiny green lemon to bright yellow. You can leave ripe lemons on the tree for another 2-3 months after they have ripened until you are ready to use them.
Pick the lemons off the tree when the skin gets darker and the fruit feels heavier. This will free up the tree’s energy to focus on producing new flower buds in spring.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.