Are Lemons Trees or Bushes? How to Tell them Apart?

Someone who doesn’t know much about lemon trees would ask if lemons are trees or bushes. This query becomes even more confusing for someone who has seen a standard lemon tree and a smaller potted lemon tree. 

Typically lemons are trees. However, some lemon variants such as the Meyer lemon are dwarf varieties that appear as bushes. 

Keep reading to find out more about lemon trees and bushes. 

What are the Differences Between Lemon Trees and Lemon Bushes? 

Lemon trees and bushes might not have the most striking of differences but to a trained eye, they are subtle!


Trees are definitely taller than bushes. To be precise, anything over 13 feet is usually considered a tree. 

Lemon trees commonly come in standard, dwarf, and semi-dwarf sizes. Dwarf lemon trees are actually lemon bushes because they fall well below the 13 feet mark!

Thickness of stems/branches

The thickness of each respective branch on a lemon bush will not be as thick as those on a lemon tree.

The short height of lemon bushes comes with some changes to structure as well. The thickness of the branches has to be an amount that the tree/bush can handle. 

Trees have thicker stems since the trunk can handle them. Meanwhile, bushes have thinner stems as the trunk is not strong enough for heavy branches/stems. 

Situation of branches 

If you look at a tree you’ll notice something very distinct about all trees. There are no stems or branches on the lower section. The majority of foliage is concentrated on the top portion of the tree. 

But with bushes, it’s much different. Stems are distributed from the bottom all the way to the top of the bush. But, most of them point downwards as opposed to outwards in the case of trees. 


One particular trademark characteristic of the lemon bushes is their dense foliage. The evergreen foliage is thick throughout the bush. This is especially true since bushes have stems and branches that start at the bottom section. 

Lemon trees have a distinct cut-off region only beyond which foliage will start to grow on branches. This trait helps to clearly differentiate between lemon trees and lemon bushes. 

Why My Lemon Tree Doesn’t Produce Fruit | How to Fix it?

How Big Are Lemon Trees?

Lemon trees grow to a height of 20 feet! With such a large height, lemon trees take a long time to mature and bear fruit. This means these big lemon trees will eventually only produce lemons after 2 to 10 years. 

How Big Are Lemon Bushes?

As stated, lemon bushes usually fall in the size range of 10 to 13 feet in height. Dwarf lemon trees fall within these ranges and can even be planted in pots to make maintenance easier.

Want other lemon variants that stay bush-sized? Read: 5 Best Dwarf Lemon Trees 

Although lemon bushes are not very tall, they will still take a long time to reach their mature height. 

The Meyer Lemon: Best Examples of a Lemon Bush

Most people who haven’t seen a lemon bush will probably wonder what lemon bushes look like. Well, to put your imagination to rest, we will tell you. The most common example of a lemon bush is undoubtedly the ‘Improved Meyer Lemon’. 

Here are some of the distinct features of the Meyer lemon bush:

  • The standard Meyer lemon size is 6 to 10 feet whereas the dwarf Meyer lemon size is 5 to 7 feet. Also, there are chances for this number to further decrease as they adapt to the pot size. 
  • They are evergreen and produce glossy leaves. 
  • Meyer lemon bushes have white blooms which are fragrant. 
  • These trees can start producing lemons in as little as 2 years. 

Why Does it Matter if Lemons are Trees or Bushes?

Many people wonder if they need to know if their lemon is a tree or bush prior to planting. The answer is yes!

The last thing you need is to find out after a few years that your lemon tree is planted too close to a wall or driveway. Trees can be destructive when you place them in the wrong place!

Besides knowing how big lemon trees grow will give you the edge needed to provide them with everything they need. Thus, you will be able to ensure a higher and healthier yield of lemons. 

Knowing which you have, a lemon tree or lemon bush will help to plan out how to care for your lemon tree. Additionally, it helps with the following:

  • Helps to decide and allot the right amount of space for your lemon tree/bush.
  • Avoids any chances of damage to infrastructure and accidents caused by lack of visibility.
  • Knowing which it is will tell a lot about knowing how much nutrients, and water will be required. Bushes are smaller and require less resources. 
  • If it is a bush and not a tree, you could then opt to plant it in a pot and bring it indoors or on the patio. 


So the query about lemons, trees, or bushes has been solved! They are both, trees in some instances and bushes in others.

  • Certain lemon variants such as the Improved Meyer, Eureka, Lisbon, and Ponderosa can be grown as bushes. They do not exceed a height of 15 feet and usually stay below 13 feet. 
  • Other lemons turn out to be regular lemon trees that are tall and can reach a height of 20 feet. 

Before planting and buying a lemon tree, make sure to find out if it really is a tree or if it is a bush.

Struggling to get your lemon tree to produce fruit. Read: Why my lemon tree doesn’t produce fruit. 


Is Meyer lemon a tree or bush?

A Meyer lemon is typically a bush or at most a shrub. Because of its much smaller size and other characteristics, it cannot truly be called a tree. 

How to know if your plants are lemon trees or bushes? 

Certain characteristics of lemon will let you know if it is a tree or bush. This includes height, foliage, the thickness of branches/stems, and the situation of branches.