Are Lemon Trees Deer Resistant?

Deer, deer! Someone’s been nibbling on your lemon tree! Or maybe you don’t have a lemon tree yet, but you do have pesky deer that love to partake of your garden and you’re worried they WILL nibble on your lemon tree. Let’s come back to the deer in a moment…first we’ll talk about you getting your first lemon tree!

So, you want to get a lemon tree.

We get it…you have questions. “Do I need to live in Florida to grow my own lemons? How many types of lemon trees are there? What does a lemon tree look like? How long does it take to grow a lemon tree? How long do lemon trees live? Do Meyer lemon trees have thorns? How much space do I need to grow a lemon tree?”

Lemon trees are beautiful landscape trees with glossy, evergreen leaves and an attractive shape. Lemon tree flowers give off a sweet, fresh fragrance, and lemon trees produce a delicious fruit that is a must-have for cooks and bakers. What’s not to love? Before you go looking for a lemon tree for sale, however, you should answer a few of the following questions:

Which growing zone do you live in?

Lemon trees are subtropical: they do well in warm climates, tolerate drought and are highly sensitive to frost. They are best suited to United States Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 9 to 11.

If you don’t live in one of these growing zones, however, take heart – lemon trees also adapt easily to potted life (particularly dwarf lemon tree varieties), so can play the role of a houseplant as long as you keep them in a sunny spot and take care of them!

Which lemon tree is right for you?

There are many lemon tree varieties, but here are a few popular choices for first-time growers:

  • The Eureka Lemon Tree. Eureka lemons are among the typical lemons you find at the grocery store, suitable for cooking with or using in drinks. Eureka lemon trees are attractive plants with bright green leaves that can produce fruit all year. Eureka lemon tree care is fairly simple, though they do need 10 to 12 hours of sun each day.
  • The Ponderosa Lemon Tree. The Ponderosa Lemon is a tropical hybrid that produces jumbo-sized lemons. Seriously, these guys are giants – a cross between the citron and the traditional lemon, Ponderosa Lemons can reach the size of a grapefruit and weigh over a pound!
  • The Meyer Lemon Tree. The Dwarf Meyer lemon tree is one of the most popular choices of indoor gardeners, but Meyer lemon trees in general tend to be smaller than other varieties. The Meyer lemon is a hybrid lemon, a cross between a true lemon and a mandarin. This gives them a sweeter flavor and slightly more golden color than the true lemon varieties. The fruit is also smaller and rounder. Meyer lemon tree care is quite simple, making the tree a very popular choice for home growers. You’ll usually have more luck finding a Meyer lemon tree for sale online.
  • The Lemon Lime Hybrid Tree. A cocktail tree (lemon lime is the most popular) refers to a tree that’s been grafted to produce more than one type of fruit of the same variety (citrus or stone or apple, etc.). A lemon lime tree brings together lemon and lime tree varieties so gardeners can grow more types of fruit in a smaller space.

Is it difficult to deal with lemon tree pests and diseases?

If you grow your tree outdoors, you may run into a number of lemon tree that can affect how, or if, your lemon tree bears fruit. Knowing how to identify lemon diseases and the treatment for diseases of lemons will allow you to take immediate action to mitigate potential negative impact on fruit.

Proper citrus tree maintenance such as watering, pruning, spraying, weeding, and removing fallen fruit can help control most insects and diseases. has tips for dealing with the more common lemon tree problems; you can also reach out to your County Extension Office, which will be full of volunteers eager to give you helpful gardening advice.

Now, about those deer…

If you’ve had problems in the past with deer helping themselves to your tulips and other plants, you may have trouble if you keep your lemon trees outside. The good news is that there are plenty of plants deer prefer over citrus. The bad news is that they WILL eat citrus from time to time.

Many lemon tree varieties have thorns when they’re quite young (these disappear as the tree grows older), but lemon tree thorns won’t stop a determined deer. You can help your young trees out by surrounding them with deer-resistant plants like onion, sugar maples, and strong-smelling herbs like oregano, rosemary, sage, and mint varieties. And of course, if you get a lemon dwarf variety, you can keep it in a container you can move indoors or closer to the house at times when the deer will be active – or keep it indoors full time!