Can Lemon Trees Grow In Shade? Explained

Have a rather shade-excessive garden and wonder if the citrus tree grows in shade? 

Yes, Lemon trees can grow in shade. Among all citrus trees, they can tolerate more shade than most other members in this group. 

Lemon trees will occupy areas in your shady garden while providing you with lemons for the kitchen! Find out everything about lemon tree shade requirements. 

Can You Plant Lemon Trees in Shade? 

Now for some important questions regarding lemon tree shade tolerance. Can lemon trees grow in shade?

While lemon trees can be placed in the shade, it depends on how much shade they are getting. Plus, how much sun are they getting in accordance with shade? 

While it is possible to plant lemon trees in shade, they may not bloom and produce their citrus fruits. This is a sign of too much shade! 

If you notice your lemon tree has slowed its growth and is not flowering and producing fruits, you have to change its location.

It will need a lot more sun and less shade. Only when it receives the right conditions will it begin to grow and fruit. 

Is something feeling wrong with your lemon tree leaves? Read: Why are my lemon tree leaves sticky?

How Much Shade Do Lemon Trees Need? 

Shade is essential for growing lemon trees, they handle shade better than your conventional garden plant. However, full shade 24/7 will not yield the healthiest and most productive of lemon trees. 

Partial Shade

Like the previous conditions relating to the sun, partial shade doesn’t really have a set amount of hours. The only rule is that whatever amount of sun is received, should be very mild. It should definitely not be direct sun and very intense.

Partial shade makes the most appropriate setting for mature lemon trees. There is a balance between the amount of sun and shade. 

Full Shade

A full shade setting will require 3 hours of sunlight or less with the majority of the day being a shade.

This is not the ideal setting for plants seeing as they are photosynthetic and need sunlight. Full shade basically means a lot more hours of shade than sunlight. 

Lemon trees will not take well to full shade. A decent amount of sunlight, as well as shade, is necessary. Full shade and lack of high temperatures could come with other problems relating to humidity under the tree’s canopy. 

How Much Sunlight Do Lemon Trees Need? 

Lemon trees need shade, but sometimes they need sunlight. Here are some sun conditions and the effects it has on lemon trees.

Have a look at them to know when and how much sun to give your lemon trees.

Full Sunlight

Anything more than 6 hours (anywhere between 6 to 12 hours) a day is considered full sunlight.

Realistically speaking, 6 to 8 hours is what a lemon tree will consider as full sunlight. Anything less than six hours of weak sunlight will not be considered a good day of full sun!

Lemon trees cannot receive full sun when just planted or transplanted. Also, plants that are young, unestablished, and vulnerable cannot have full sunlight.

Partial Sunlight

Usually, 3 to 6 hours of sunlight a day can be defined as partial sunlight. But, when the number of shade hours surpasses the number of sun hours, it’s not really a partially sunny day.

You must make sure these few hours of sunlight are of direct and intense sun.

Lemon trees don’t like partial sunlight. What matters is the intensity of the sun during these short hours.

It should be rather intense sunlight to satisfy any requirements for growth and chemical reactions within the tree’s leaves. 

Get Solutions to Why Are Lemon Tree Leaves Turning Brown? 

Lemon Tree Sun Requirements Compared to Other Citrus Trees

The citrus tree family is famous for having juicy fruits which can be either sweet or sour. If you are looking to grow sour fruits like lemon trees, you’ll wonder how its sun requirements differ from the rest. 

Sour citrus trees including lemon trees can tolerate more shade than sweet citrus fruit trees. However, this does not mean that lemon trees can grow in full shade!

  • Sour citrus trees are lemon trees, lime trees, kumquat trees, and mandarins.
  • Sweet citrus trees are oranges, tangerines, 

Why Lemon Tree Positioning Matters 

If you are planning on planting your lemon tree in the ground, positioning does matter a lot! Why does this matter so much?

The garden position does influence how much sun lemon trees get. It is also of interest because of two other factors: 

  • Lemon trees are cold-sensitive 
  • All lemon trees need sun (at least a good amount of it!)

To protect your lemon trees from the cold and frost, position them near your house. Avoid positioning it in the open where it is in the way of wind. 

When it comes to sunlight, your lemon trees need full sun. There are a lot of misconceptions as to what ‘full sun’ means! People often think this means that your trees have to be in the path of direct sunlight the whole day.

This is not possible. Every garden or space of land will experience both sun and shade. Moreover, sunlight intensity varies throughout the day. 

Place your lemon tree behind your house and your trees will get shade (shadow) for a great deal of the day. But put them too far away from some structures and they may become overly sunburnt!

Observe Your Garden Scape 

As mentioned, one spot in your garden may not receive only sun or only shade throughout the day. Shade exposure varies in any one spot in the garden or plot of land you are growing your lemon trees. 

You must observe a particular spot and the shade it gets to truly determine if your lemon tree will be happy in that spot. Sun and shade patterns alternate.

This is especially so since sun and shade differ from location to location and from season to season.

Shade may not be as appreciated in winter as it is in summer! Also, as climate changes, so could the desired growing conditions of lemon trees. 

Sessions of shade and sun will have a hugely beneficial impact on your young lemon trees. Older trees may have a higher preference for more shade.

But, even then, every lemon tree tends to differ. Thus, making them unique from the next lemon tree. 

How Much Shade Lemon Trees Require? 

A few factors will influence your lemon tree’s tolerance to shade, here they are:

Lemon Tree Type

There are two types of lemon trees that you can choose to grow. They are the Meyer lemon tree and the Eureka lemon tree. 

  1. Meyer lemons are known to be very versatile in terms of how to grow lemon trees faster. They can be planted in pots indoors or the ground outdoors. They are relatively easy to grow and are popular for a flavorful lemon rind!
  1. Eureka lemons are a great dwarf-sized lemon tree for growing in pots indoors. They are more adaptable to different climates (drought tolerant) and more pest resistant. These juicy lemons are most appropriate for lemonade and in cooking.  


Lemon trees will have very different shade or sun requirements based on their age. While young they are very intolerant towards excessive heat. But, when older, they may have a poor ability to withstand a bit more shade. 

  • Signs of too much sun are wilting or discoloration of lemon tree leaves. 
  • On the other end, signs of too much shade are lack of growth, no flowers, and no lemons.

Growing Location – Indoor or Outdoor

Growing lemon trees in pots requires you to put them near a south-facing window. Having to provide indoor lemons with shade will not be that necessary as being in the house shades them enough. 

Outdoor lemon trees will need you to carefully plan out the hours of shade the plants will receive. More shade is better than less when it comes to outdoor lemon trees.

Unlike indoor potted lemon trees, these trees have to also deal with high temperatures accompanied by the sun.  

Indoor lemon trees can be repositioned to get more shade. While it is a bit more difficult to find the perfect outdoor spot for your trees! 


Lemon trees are able to grow in the shade, in fact, they may prefer it over the sun! However, too much shade or just not enough sun will not suit your lemon tree well.

Lemon trees can grow in shade but still need some direct sunlight for growth. Symptoms of too much shade for lemon trees are stunted growth, no flowers or fruits with possible leaf discoloration. 

Before planting lemon trees, observe your garden to find a spot that does not have too much sun but adequate shade.

Now that you know where your lemon tree should be, go ahead plant it and enjoy your lemons!


Can you plant lemon trees in the shade? 

Provided the lemon trees are the right type and age and it is the right season, you can plant them in the shade.

Is growing lemon trees in pots better than in the ground? 

If you grow lemon trees in pots, you have the advantage of moving them indoors in winter. Also, you get to move them near the sun or shade whenever necessary. 

Can lime trees grow in shade? 

Like lemons, lime trees also grow in shade well. Their sun requirements are much lower than other members of the citrus family. Thus, they also make for great additions to the house or on the patio.