How Long Does it Take for Lemon to Bear Fruit?

It’s natural to look forward to fruit when you plant a lemon tree. But, expecting lemon trees to bear lemons within a year is wishful thinking! The lemon tree may even take a year or two extra. It depends on a few factors.

Usually, it takes 3 years for a lemon tree to bear fruit. If your lemon tree does fruit in its first two years, fruit taste and quality will be poor. 

How Long Until A Lemon Tree Bears Fruit? 

If you are planting a lemon tree you are probably looking forward to harvesting full and healthy lemons.

However, let us warn you that it will be a while until that happens! But, exactly how long does it take a lemon to bear fruit? 

A lemon tree will not bear fruit until it becomes a mature tree. It takes between 1 and 3 years for a lemon tree to fully mature. Even if you experience fruit during the 2nd and 3rd years, the fruit will be of poor size and taste! 

After the three years when the lemon tree is mature, it can refocus its energy. It will route all resources to stems where flowers and fruits will develop. But, until then all energy will be put to growth to ensure the tree can support its own fruits.  

Is your lemon tree over three years old and still not producing any fruits? Read this to get to know why your lemon tree isn’t producing lemon fruits. 

How Often Do Lemon Trees Produce Fruit?

When you are lucky enough to harvest lemons from your tree your next question would be, “how often do lemon trees produce fruit?”

The truth is there is no strict hard and fast rule about when a lemon tree produces fruit. 

Some lemons produce lemons once and year and others produce lemons twice a year. Then there are those lemon varieties that appear to have lemons year-round! 

Mind you lemons take a few months from the time of development to maturity. This may give off the sense that the lemon tree is continuously producing lemons but actually it isn’t!

Additionally, these lemons can take anywhere between 6 and 9 months to fully ripen. 

Check out – Are Lemon Tree Leaves Poisonous to Dogs?

Will My Lemon Tree Produce Lemons Every Year? 

During the first two to three years, lemon trees don’t really produce lemons.  Even if by chance they do, the lemons won’t be anything to be pleased about!

They will be small and not as intense as a healthy lemon fruit. A lemon tree will be ready to produce lemons in its third year.

Most lemon trees produce fruits every year. But, there are certain exceptions to the rules. Here are some exceptions and possible outcomes to consider. 

  • An extremely generous harvest of lemons may lead to a dulled-down lemon production the following year. 
  • Health issues and damage to the tree may also affect the lemon tree’s lemon production.
  • Over pruning and over-fertilizing may delay lemon tree fruiting by more than a year.
  • Lemon trees grown from seeds may never produce lemon fruits.

Sometimes lemon trees can take a ‘gap year’ from lemon production. The reason is abundant lemon production. The tree has exhausted its energy and resources and will take a year off to recuperate. 

The tree may decide to keep producing every two years, this is called biennial bearing. It is not unheard of in fruit trees. 

Isn’t it about time to find out if coffee grounds are good or bad for lemon trees?

How Many Lemons Can A Lemon Tree Produce? 

The number of lemons a lemon tree produces may vary year by year. There are a few factors that will affect output. Some of the factors contributing to lemon production are as follows:

  1. Lemon tree’s age
  2. Health of tree
  3. Care and resources provided
  4. Season
  5. Climatic conditions 

Location may also influence lemon output. Find out where is the best place to plant lemon trees.  

You may be getting a bit too happy when you see your lemon tree full of developing lemons. But, all it takes is some frosty weather or premature falling of fruit (also known as June Drop) to greatly decrease your lemon harvest. 

June drop is not such a bad thing. It helps to assure a certain amount of fruit will ripen. Also, it is a mechanism enabled by the tree to ensure resources are not finished before ripening and that the branches won’t break.

This would be disastrous and lead to little to no fruits. 

A lemon tree only starts producing fruit in its 3rd year, a better yield may be seen in the years to come. Large, more established lemon trees are most capable of delivering the best lemon harvest. 

Lemon production corresponds to the age of the lemon tree. Take a look here:

Age of Lemon Tree1 to 2 years3rd year4 to 5 years10+ years
Lemon ProductionLittle to no lemons20 to 40 pounds 100 to120 poundsApproximately 300 pounds
Lemon tree fruit production according to the age of the tree.

Why Your Lemon Tree Isn’t Producing Fruit

A lemon tree that doesn’t produce fruit is as good as not having a lemon tree! This is especially bad news if you are someone who loves using lemons in the kitchen and elsewhere. 

If your lemon tree has surpassed the three-year mark without seeing a single lemon it is time to ask questions. Why isn’t my lemon tree-producing fruit is the most common question people will ask.

The question is not that straight forward and there could be a range of reasons for the lack of lemons. Some of the most common reasons for the lack of lemon fruits are: 

  1. The lemon tree was grown from seed (in which case it will never fruit!)
  2. It is the wrong season or climate to support lemon trees.
  3. The tree hasn’t got enough resources to produce flowers and ultimately fruits. 
  4. Enough care has not been given to the tree and it is in poor physical health. 

When and How to Harvest Lemons?

It can take anywhere between five and twelve months from blossoming to fruit ripening.

Picking your lemons at the right time will greatly affect the lemon quality. That’s why knowing when is the best time and under which circumstances you should pick your lemons. 

Lemon fruits develop from the flowers and initially, the lemons will be green. Green lemons are increasingly vulnerable to dehydration and thus they won’t last long. Not to mention the taste is not quite there yet. 

Ripe lemons will be yellow in color. They can be kept for longer than green lemons under specific conditions.

Regarding how to harvest lemons, they should be perfectly yellow or very slightly green. This doesn’t matter much because the lemons will eventually ripen in a few days. 

To actually harvest the lemons, you need to twist the lemon off the tree rather than plucking it off the tree. The latter could be difficult.  

Once picked, lemons can be kept for almost three months. But, the lemon peels are not resistant to dehydration. For longer keeping times, put them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator or in a bowl of water. 

Tips to Increase Lemon Fruit Production

Wondering if there is anything you can do to make your lemon tree produce more fruit? Actually, lemon output mostly depends on the care and conditions provided to the lemon trees.

Below you’ll find some helpful tips to care for a lemon tree and increase the chances of a high lemon yield.

  1. Make sure you have the right climate that supports lemon trees. This is usually a warm climate.
  2. Soil for lemon trees should be fertile as these trees are heavy feeders. It should be especially rich in nutrients such as Phosphorus.   
  3. Water your lemon tree well in spring and summer. Avoid the formation of puddles near the tree’s roots. 
  4. Fertilize and prune your lemon trees appropriately and at the right time. 
  5. Protect the lemon tree in winter. Cover young growth and flower buds/fruits during extreme weather. 

Eager to know more about a lemon tree’s tolerance to cold? 


Naturally, a citrus fruit tree including lemon trees will not begin to bear fruit until it is mature and capable of physically supporting its weight. 

This means lemon trees only start to bear perfect lemons after 3 years. Any lemons the tree bears before this time will be poorly developed and will not have the distinct lemon taste.

Lemon trees can produce lemons twice a year. However, because of the development and ripening time (3 to 12 months), it may appear that they produce throughout the year.

Some lemon trees such as the Lisbon lemon tree produce lemons sporadically throughout the year. 


What time of year do lemon trees produce fruit?

The time of lemon fruit production varies as per variety. Examples are the Eureka lemon whose prime fruiting time is late winter to early summer.
On the other hand, the Lisbon lemon tree fruits in winter to spring. However, it is very possible to find ripe lemons on a lemon tree year-round. 

Will my lemon tree produce fruit after 1 year?

No, it is very likely your lemon tree will not produce lemon in its first and even second year. Only in its third or fourth year will it bear a good yield of lemons.