Lemons are a slightly sour citrus plant that originates from China, northeast Myanmar, and northeast India in Asia. People started cultivating different types of lemons as early as in the first century AD, and Argentina, Brazil, India, China, and Mexico currently hold the title for being the top five countries for different types of lemon production. This is a lovely ornamental tree that will grow all year round, and it can easily survive between 50 and 100 years in the correct growing conditions. You can get indoor and outdoor types of lemon trees too, so there is a flexibility available, depending on your environment.
As a bonus, you don’t need a whole grove of lemon trees to produce a lot of lemons. No matter the type of lemon your tree produces, you’ll be able to harvest them between 6 and 10 times every year. One tree can give you almost 600 pounds of lemons, so consider this when you’re deciding on which type of lemon tree you want to have. There are dozens of types of lemons available, and I’m going to walk you through the most popular ones. Luckily, almost every type has similar growing conditions, and this makes it easy to mix and match.
1. Eureka Lemons
The first type of lemon on the list is one of the more predominant around the world. Eureka lemons look very similar to hybrid varieties that growers have produced over the years. However, there is one big difference. This lemon will have a very prominent nipple when they finish growing rather than being smooth and round. The trees will bear fruit all year-long, and there aren’t any thorns to worry about working around when you tend to your tree. It’s a very beginner-friendly lemon that is very popular with growers, and it has a reputation for putting out large yields. They do best outdoors as they do get slightly bigger.
Going Okay for Eureka Lemons by Miss Shari / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
2. Ponderosa Lemon
This type of lemon is very hardy due to the bumpy and thick skin it has. Many people believe that they are a cross between a citron and a lemon. It’s a nice low-maintenance landscaping addition to your yard, but it’s very sensitive to the cold. It has a very citrusy taste to it, and it’s not a true lemon since it’s a cross between two fruits. This makes it a nice addition to desserts because you won’t get those extremely sour notes when you eat it. This lemon has a slightly smaller size than traditional lemons, and it was thought to originate in Maryland sometime in the 1800s.
Ponderosa and Meyer Lemons by Forest Starr and Kim Starr / CC BY 2.0
3. Finger Citron
This is a misshapen but extremely fragrant type of lemon that grows in the lower portion of the Himalayas. This is a traditional temple offering in China, and it’s a symbol of good fortune, longevity, and happiness. The fingers on this lemon are all rind, but you can use them in a huge range of culinary dishes, and you can also use the pith. The tree can get between 5 and 15 feet tall at full maturity, and the lemons are also slightly larger due to their unique shape. They have a bright yellow coloring, and you’ll get a nice white shade when you cut them open to use them.
Untitled by goatling / CC BY-SA 2.0
Native to India by Burma’s border, this type of lemon grows wild throughout the valleys by the Himalayas. This is a larger variety that can produce fruit that can easily weigh between 8 and 10 pounds. This weight can cause the branches to break on this fruit tree as it grows. It lacks the juiciness in the pulp, and it’s a very dry lemon. You use it for the rind, and the thicker white pith is what you want to cook with. You can make gourmet treats or candy it, and it produces an oil that is popular in fragrances. It has a long history of medicinal use, including helping alleviate digestive upset and nausea.
Citron, presse by abby chicken / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
5. Corfu Etrog
Better known as the Green Citron, this type of lemon comes from the Ionian Islands. It has a slight pear shape to it with one wider end that narrows to a slight point, and it has a long history of being exported from Greece to be part of the Jewish Sukkot ritual. It has a slightly bitter taste that isn’t as strong as some lemons, but it also produces very little juice. This dry lemon has a very light and peasant smell both before and after you cut into it. It’s small enough to keep as an indoor lemon plant, and it has a very thin profile with bright green leaves.
Etrogs for Sale by zeevveez / CC BY 2.0
6. Meyer Lemon
This is another type of lemon hybrid, and it’s a cross between a mandarin or sweet orange and a lemon. It can be round or egg-shaped, and it has a very soft, thin, and smooth light orange rind on it. The pulp of this lemon is an orangish-yellow color, and it has a lot of juice with a very sweet taste. It’s also very acidic. You’ll get a pleasant floral aroma with this lemon, and it works very well in sorbets or tarts. You’ll find it growing in California’s Central Valley, Texas, and Florida. They only get picked when they’re fully ripe, and they’ll give you fruit all year-round. They do well in larger container gardens.
My very first Meyer Lemons! By Melinda / CC BY 2.0
7. Verna Lemon
This type of lemon is very similar to the Eureka lemon. You’ll get a very thick skin on the fruits, and the fruits tend to have a much larger size than most lemon cultivars. It produces very few seeds, but they do have a lot of juice. Under the correct growing conditions, this tree will give you fruit twice a year. They could also potentially give you a third crop with a boost of fertilizer. It has links to Spain for the origins, but it’s not concrete. It can get between 10 and 12-feet high with a 3 to 4-foot wide spread at full maturity, and it likes to be planted in areas that get plenty of sunshine.
Limones Verna by Andrés Guerrero / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
8. Bush Lemon
This is a wild type of lemon that comes from Australia, and it’s a very hardy species that comes with a very bumpy and thick skin. The rind will give you a very strong lemon flavor with a very low juice output, and this makes it great for seasoning your smoker recipes to get a strong citrus flavor flowing through it. Since this cultivar is so hardy, you’ll typically see it as rootstock to graft other species. This is a self-seeding type of plant, and the seeds will germinate and grow wherever they fall during the end of the year. It can get between 6 and 10-feet tall, and there are dwarf varieties that only get up to 5 or 6-feet tall.
Lemon by Areeb Anwer / CC BY-ND 2.0
9. Pink Variegated Lemon
This is another type of lemon that is a very attractive ornamental addition to your landscaping due to the pink flowers it produces before lemons form. The lemons from this tree have very few seeds, and they have a low acid content. The fruits have a round shape to them, and the young lemons have green striping that is very eye-catching. The inner flesh is a pale pink color, and you can use it as a garnish or in your dishes to give a sweet but slightly bitter taste. They do start out a yellow-green color when they’re young before turning bright yellow as they mature.
Variegated Eureka Pink Lemon by Tom Christensen / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
10. Primofiori Lemon
Originally from Spain, this type of lemon is better known as the Fino lemon, Mesero lemon, or the Blanco lemon. It grows very well in meditteranean regions, and it has a very quick growth habit. You get very dense foliage with a pale yellow fruit. The lemon has a very smooth and thin skin, and it can come in round or oval shapes. It produces a lot of juice, and the trees are heavily thorned. You can grow them in raised garden beds without a problem, and they’re also one cultivar that does well inside as long as you routinely trim it back. This is a very heavy fruit producer.
Photo1735688 by G! 37 / CC BY-SA 2.0
11. Lisbon Lemon
This type of lemon has a tree that can grow an impressive 30 feet high at full maturity, and it can spread out up to 25-feet. But, you can control their growth by keeping them in a container. They have origins in Portugal, and you could find them growing in the United States since the 1840s. This tree will bear fruit throughout the year, and you should plan to harvest in spring and winter. It does take three years to produce fruit after you plant it. This is a hardy variety of lemon that will tolerate cold, wind, and heat without a problem. It has glossy deep green leaves with eye-catching white flowers.
Lemons by Susanne Nilsson / CC BY-SA 2.0
12. Organic Lemons
You’ll use this type of lemon if you want to add the peels, rinds, or juice to your super cheap meals. You can get organic lemons in a huge range of cultivars, because this just means that the producer doesn’t apply pesticides or other chemicals during the growing process. This can make them healthier overall to eat, but it does drive the price up because it can be significantly harder to grow lemons and keep them healthy without using some type of chemical. They come in several sizes and shapes, and most of the packaging will tell you whether or not they’re organic if you look at it.
IMG_5655 by Marielle / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
13. Mediterranean Sweet Lemon
When you pick out lemons, you’ll learn that there are two main types of lemons available. You can get acidic lemons or sweet lemons. Sweet lemons don’t have the same bite that acidic ones do, and this can make them more palatable. You could hear this lemon referred to as Sweet Lime or Sweet Limetta. You can eat this lemon like you would a fruit instead of squeezing the juice. The peel comes packed with an impressive amount of lemon oil too. These lemons come in a huge range of sizes and shapes, and they can be different shades of yellow or light orange.
Vegan Lemon Curd by Ella Olsson / CC BY 2.0
14. Interdonato Lemon
This type of lemon originates from Italy and Turkey, but you can find them growing very well in California. These are some of the first lemons to bloom in the spring months, and they can bear a decent amount of fruit. It’s a lemon-citron hybrid that has a very mild bitter taste, and it will produce a very small amount of juice. They have a slightly rounded shape with a bright yellow coloring on them, and they produce fruit in the early fall and winter months. They like cooler weather conditions without a lot of humidity, and the fruit is slightly smoother and larger than you usually get with other types of lemons. It works well as a landscape edging idea because it has very dense foliage.
My mum’s lemons are round 😐 by Leni Murphy / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
15. Lemonade Lemon
This is a popular lemon cross in Australia and New Zealand. It’s a hybrid between a lemon and a mandarin orange, and this gives in a slightly sweet flavor with very low acidic content. So, it’s perfect to make fresh lemonade with. They produce a lot of juice, and they have a slightly thinner skin that is very smooth. The fruit has a rounded shape, and the skin color varies from bright yellow to green. They can grow year-round under hot and dry conditions, and they have lush, green foliage to make it an eye-catching addition to your yard. This lemon tree can get between 8 and 12-feet tall at full maturity.
Lemonade by mgstanton / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
16. Otaheite Lemon
If you’re looking for an indoor type of lemon that doubles as a pretty decorative plant, look no further than the Otaheite Lemon. It develops very small fruit that is purely for decorative purposes. It’s an acidless fruit that has a very sweet taste to it, and it has an orange coloring with a lighter orange and white interior. You’ll get pretty flowers in the early summer months that turn to the small fruits around three months later. You will have to cut it back periodically to stop it from getting too tall or gangly, but it will look very nice all year-round. Other than that, it’s relatively low-maintenance and hard to kill.
Chùm ruột, còn gọi là tầm ruột by Duy Thuong Ngo 吳 惟 尚 / CC BY-ND 2.0
Parts of the Lemon You Can Use
You can use all of the parts of the lemon for different things, and it’s important that you know which ones work best for your application. If you use wrong, it could ruin whatever you’re trying to do with it, and this is a waste of the different types of lemons.
- Lemon Blossom – First up is the lemon blossom. These are pretty, fragrant flowers that the types of lemon trees will produce right before they produce the fruit. The lemon fruit will slowly appear amongst the blossoms. Unfortunately, lemon blossoms are not edible. However, you can use them for pretty decorations in cakes and other foods.
- Lemon Juice – You can squeeze the juice directly from the lemon and use it in several recipes. However, you do want to make sure you get types of lemons that are known for their juice quantities because some are on the dry side. You can use quartered lemons to garnish food, and the juice adds a nice acidic bite to fish or poultry. You also see it on salad, and you can use it in place of salt when you cook low-sodium dishes.
- Lemon Oil – Generally speaking, you’ll add lemon oil to processed or frozen lemon juice to increase the flavor profile. You can also use it as a scent for personal care or household items, and it works well in perfume, furniture polish, shampoo, and soap.
- Lemon Rind – The rind is the yellow skin on the outside of the lemon. You can cut strips and candy it for cake or sweet decorating, but most people usually zest it. The grated rind shouldn’t contain any of the white layers, and it’s a popular flavoring for desserts. It works well in meats and savory dishes, as well as salads.
- Lemon Peel – The peel is the yellow rind with the white pith attached. You’ll get the lemon oil out of this part of the lemon, and it also contains pectin and citric acid. Lemon oil goes into hardy candy for flavoring, and it also gets cut and candied into a sugar syrup to make candied lemon peels. It’s also common as an espresso garnish, and all you have to do is run the pith around the rim of the cup to stimulate the release of the oil.
Lemon tea by Yeoul Choi / CC BY-ND 2.0
Growing Types of Lemons Outside
Now that you know what to use the various parts of the lemon for, it’s time to understand how to grow them. You do want to double-check with the label when you buy it to ensure it’ll survive in your particular planting zone because some are more cold-hardy than others. However, you can use the following as a general guideline to grow the different types of lemon outside.
Lemons are more sensitive to the cold than almost any other type of citrus tree. You can cater to the need for higher temperatures by planting your types of lemon trees near the south side of your home. You’ll have to protect your lemon trees from frost as well because they don’t do well in below freezing temperatures. Growing your lemon trees right by your home should help ward off the frost, and you can also pack on a two or three-inch layer of mulch to provide more insulation.
When you think of types of lemons, you usually think of the tropics. This means that your lemons need plenty of sunlight to grow, bloom, and thrive. Ideally, you’ll play them in a place that gets plenty of sun with little shade. Full sunlight will encourage multiple crops throughout the year, and some lemon varieties can produce up to three individual crops in a 12-month period. If you don’t get them enough light, this can stunt their growth.
Most types of lemons are very forgiving when it comes to the soil type. However, most of them do prefer to have a well-drained and slightly acidic soil. They should also be on slightly higher ground when you plant them. You want to dig a hole that is slightly shallower than the root ball length. Put the plant in the hole and backfill the soil, tamping it firmly in place as you work. When you finish, the lemon tree should be slightly above the ground level.
Keeping the soil adequately moist is easier if you put down a layer of mulch. You’ll have to set up a schedule to water your types of lemons once a week, and water them deeply to saturate the soil. This will encourage healthy and steady growth.
Hay limones by Keith Williamson / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The nice thing about growing different types of lemons outdoors is that you can slack on the maintenance a bit without it looking too bad. Most outdoor varieties are bigger, but you can still prune and trim them to get them to take on your desired shape and height. Prune them once or twice a year at most. Make sure you don’t cut too much off, and use the correct gardening tools to make neat cuts.
Growing Types of Lemons Inside
Did you know that you can easily turn different types of lemons into wonderful houseplants? They do very well in containers if you make a point to provide them with excellent drainage. The container should also be slightly larger to give the plant room to grow and flourish. When you grow your lemon tree inside, you can expect it to get between three and five-feet high at full maturity, and you can always trim it to help control the height if it starts to get out of hand. For the soil, keep it slightly acidic and well-draining. The soil should be evenly moist, and you can apply a liquid fertilizer as needed.
Lemons do very well with a temperate range that hovers around 70°F during the day and drops down to 55°F during the night. If the temperatures in your home routinely get below 55°F, this will encourage your lemon tree to go into a dormancy and it won’t produce fruit or continue to grow until you bring the temperatures back up to a higher range.
These plants do need a high amount of light to be happy, and you can supplement sunlight with fluorescent grow lights during the darker winter months. If it warms up, you can move your container outside to increase the chances that it’ll produce a full load of fruit. Bees and other pollinators are unable to get to your plant if it’s inside, so setting out outside periodically will stop you from having to hand pollinate them.
Different types of lemons have a broad usage range, and you can easily grow them indoors or outdoors. Looking at the 16 types of lemons I showcased will give you a good idea on the small sliver of options that are available to you. I encourage you to pick out one or two varieties and try you look at growing this pretty and useful ornamental tree in your yard or home.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.