Being both pretty and practical, lemon trees (Citrus limon) make a great addition to any garden. They boast evergreen leaves that retain color and life in your garden all year long. Yellow fruits are an excellent source of vitamin C and are a popular ingredient for many culinary dishes.
Lemon trees are the easiest of the citrus trees to grow and care for. If you wish to get the most out of your lemon tree, I strongly recommend companion planting. The correct pairing can result in a higher yield and improve the overall health of your tree.
This article lists some of the best companion plants for lemon trees and I’ve highlighted the benefits of each species to help you pick the perfect partner.
- Companion planting with lemon trees offers numerous benefits, including improved pollination, natural pest control, enhanced flavor, weed suppression, and eco-friendly gardening practices.
- Selecting suitable companion plants that thrive under similar growing conditions is crucial to ensuring the success of the lemon tree and its companions.
- Avoid planting deep-rooted, water-demanding, or competing plants near lemon trees, and instead opt for flowering annuals, perennials, and herbs that attract pollinators and contribute to a diverse and healthy garden ecosystem.
- Key Takeaways:
- Companion Planting Explained
- Companion Planting Benefits
- Considerations When Selecting Companion Plants
- Characteristics of Lemon Trees
- Good Lemon Tree Companion Plants
- Bad Companion Plants For Lemon Trees
- Final Thoughts
- FAQs About The Best Companion Plants For Lemon Trees
- What Can I Plant Around A Lemon Tree?
- What Not To Plant Next To A Lemon Tree?
- Do Lemon Trees Need A Partner?
- Can You Plant Lavender Near Citrus Trees?
- Why Should I Plant Companion Plants Near My Lemon Tree?
- Can I Grow Lemon Trees In Pots?
- Which Plants Can I Grow As Companion Plants For My Lemon Tree?
- Can I Grow Flowering Plants Near My Lemon Tree?
- Can I Plant Other Types Of Citrus Trees Near My Lemon Tree As Companion Plants?
- Are Companion Plants Easy To Grow?
- How Many Companion Plants Should I Plant Near My Lemon Tree?
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Companion Planting Explained
Companion planting is the process of growing different species of plants close together so that they provide mutual benefits to each other. Traditionally, companion planting was implemented to improve crop yield, but it provides a number of other benefits too.
Dating back to around 10,000 years ago, companion planting was first used to grow squash, beans, and corn. It’s known as the “Three Sisters” method and each plant crop benefits another in some way.
The squash has large leaves that provide the soil, beans, and corn with shade. Shading helps maintain moisture in the soil, therefore, reducing evaporation. The dense foliage also helps to suppress weed growth, which would otherwise be in competition with the crops for resources.
Beans are legumes and all legumes are nitrogen-fixing. Plants that fix nitrogen take atmospheric nitrogen and convert it into a fixed form in the soil. Nitrogen is essential for plant growth, so the other crops can take it up from the soil and utilize it.
Corn grows strong, tall, and sturdy. It acts as a natural climbing structure for the beans to climb up. In return, the beans help anchor the shallow roots of the sweetcorn firmly into the soil, protecting them from adverse weather conditions.
Companion planting is not only used for crop plants but is now commonplace in many ornamental and landscaping gardens.
Companion Planting Benefits
There are many different benefits that can be obtained through companion planting. The ones you’ll receive depend on the combination of plants you grow. Some of the biggest benefits of companion planting with a lemon tree include:
Aids Pollination: Colorful and highly fragranced flowers are attractive to a variety of pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and birds. In order to produce fruit, lemon trees need to be pollinated. Companion plants attract pollinators and increase the chances of obtaining lots of juicy lemons.
Pest Control: Fruit trees are particularly vulnerable to pests that may attack the leaves, flower buds, or fruit. Instead of opting for chemical-based pesticides, companion planting can repel pests in a natural way.
Some plants release chemicals or have pungent scents that deter pests. Other species attract predatory insects that will consume the pest insects.
Improves Flavor: Surprisingly, companion planting can be used to enhance the taste of edible plants. Chemicals released by surrounding plants help improve the flavor of many herbs, fruits, and vegetables.
Suppress Weeds: Growing groundcover plants around the base of lemon trees create a stunning carpet of foliage. Dense groundcover plants can suppress the growth of weeds which would otherwise compete with your lemon tree for water and nutrients.
Eco-Friendly: Companion planting is a natural and organic technique. It removes the need to use chemical-based pesticides and herbicides which can harm wildlife. Growing plants close together will help conserve water by shading the soil.
Polyculture, rather than monoculture, best mimics the natural environment. Having a diverse range of plants will improve flora and fauna biodiversity.
Improves Soil Quality: Legumes, which include beans, peas, and lentils, are known as nitrogen fixers. They take nitrogen from the air and put it into your garden’s soil. Your lemon tree can take up this nitrogen and use it to grow.
Aesthetic Appeal: As well as the many practical benefits, companion planting may be used simply to create a beautiful display. Lemon trees are attractive on their own, but their beauty can be enhanced through the addition of various colors, shapes, and textures.
Considerations When Selecting Companion Plants
Finding the best companions for your lemon tree will take a bit of thought and planning. The wrong pairing may result in detrimental consequences for your lemon tree.
Good companions will thrive in the same growing conditions. A plant that loves acidic soil should not be paired with one that loves alkaline soil. Similarly, a plant that thrives in full sun would not grow well next to one that needs lots of shade.
You also should think about each plant’s characteristics when you pick garden companions. For example, if you plant a very fast-growing species next to a slow growing one, it’s likely to become invasive and suppress other plants’ growth. Additionally, competition for water and nutrients will increase if your companions have roots of the same depth.
Think about what your display will look like throughout the seasons. By growing plants with varying bloom times, you can prolong the time your garden is in bloom. Evergreens make great background plants all year round. Decide if you want to grow flowers of complementary or contrasting colors.
Characteristics of Lemon Trees
Well-draining soil, keep consistently moist
Typically 10-20 feet tall, can be pruned to desired height
Well-draining, sandy loam soil; pH 5.5-6.5
Tender to frost; thrives in USDA zones 9-11
Spring to early summer
White or pale pink
Glossy, dark green leaves
Seeds, cuttings, or grafting (more common for specific varieties)
|Pruning and Maintenance
Prune to shape the tree and remove dead or diseased branches; regular light pruning to maintain size
|Common Pests and Diseases
Aphids, scale insects, citrus leaf miners; root rot, citrus canker
Herbs like rosemary and thyme; avoid planting close to other citrus trees to prevent disease spread
Edible fruits (lemons)
Lemon blossoms attract pollinators like bees and butterflies
|Special Care Instructions
Protect from cold temperatures (especially young trees); regular fertilizing for healthy growth
Good Lemon Tree Companion Plants
The ideal growing conditions for lemon trees are full sun, a warm and humid climate, acidic and well-draining soil, and shelter from the wind. Native to Asia, lemons are subtropical fruits. They do best in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11 as they are not cold tolerant.
Although citrus trees are not hardy, lemon trees are one of the easiest to grow and companion planting will help keep your lemon tree at its best. The best companions will be those that thrive under the same conditions.
Some great plant pairings for your lemon tree are:
These vibrant, fast-growing flowers make great ground cover around lemon trees. Nasturtiums attract pollinators whilst also repelling aphids that are prone to attacking lemon trees. They are also hardy to poor soil conditions meaning they won’t compete for nutrients.
This plant grows tall and fast and when it falls over provides mulch for surrounding plants. Comfrey also fixes nitrogen into the soil which lemon trees will gladly absorb, helping with foliage growth. Additionally, comfrey attracts a lot of pollinators.
These yellow flowers will add a complementary splash of color near the base of your lemon tree. They are also great at attracting hoverflies which prey on insect pests that like to feast on lemons.
Scented geraniums release strong scents which do a great job of repelling insect pests. The vibrant flowers also attract pollinators and look stunning planted around your lemon tree.
This flower belongs to the legume family so is capable of fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil. Lupine also attracts pollinating insects. You should plant lupine around the base of your lemon tree so that its canopy can cast some shade at ground level to protect the roots.
Wildflowers such as daisies make great companions for citrus trees because they attract a variety of beneficial insects, including pollinators.
Native to the tropics and subtropics, hibiscus thrive in the same growing conditions as lemon trees. Hibiscus attracts lots of pollinators and can grow up to 8 feet tall.
This plant blooms around the same time as lemon trees, aiding its pollination. The strong scent not only attracts pollinators but can mask the scent of the lemon tree from pests. Rosemary grows best in hot and dry conditions.
This aromatic plant attracts pollinators and repels pests with its fragrance. Lavender is a hardy perennial, and its tough and oily foliage deters browsing mammals. Both plants require the same growing conditions.
Chives, onions, and garlic have natural anti-fungal properties so will help protect your lemon tree from diseases. Alliums’ pungent aromas also deter pests. Chives specifically bloom purple flowers which attract pollinators. Alliums have lots of uses in the kitchen.
This herb is renowned for its natural pest control. The strong scent of basil is great at keeping pests away from your lemon tree. Lemon and basil make a great combination in the kitchen too.
This herb draws in pollinators to help pollinate your lemon tree. Lemon balm also attracts beneficial insects that will feast on insect pests.
Bad Companion Plants For Lemon Trees
There are a few plants that you should keep as far away from your lemon tree as possible because they can inhibit its growth and development. Bad lemon tree companions include:
Deep Rooted Plants: Lemon trees, like all citrus trees, have shallow roots. Avoid growing deep-rooted plants alongside them as they can compete with and damage the citrus tree roots.
Thirsty Plants: Species that have high watering requirements make bad companions. They will be in competition with your lemon tree for water, which will potentially hinder the growth and development of your lemons.
Root Vegetables: Around 90% of citrus tree roots are in the first 2 feet of the soil. When harvesting root vegetables such as potatoes or carrots you could easily damage the lemon tree’s shallow roots.
Incorporating companion planting when planting lemon trees can be a game-changer for both novice and experienced gardeners. By selecting the right companions, you can create a harmonious garden ecosystem that enhances the health and productivity of your lemon tree.
Companion planting is not just a gardening technique; it’s a way to mimic the natural growing process, creating biodiversity and sustainability. As you carefully select different plants this growing season, remember to pick the right companion plants, while considering their growing requirements and how they can complement and support each other throughout the seasons.
By avoiding incompatible plants and focusing on flowering annuals, perennials, and herbs that attract beneficial insects, you can create a stunning and eco-friendly garden around your lemon tree. With thoughtful planning and implementation, you’ll enjoy the beauty, abundance, and health of your lemon tree and its vibrant companions for years to come.
FAQs About The Best Companion Plants For Lemon Trees
What Can I Plant Around A Lemon Tree?
Companion plants for lemon trees are other types of plants that are grown near your lemon tree. These plants are excellent companions because they provide various benefits to the lemon tree. A few examples would be herbs like mint and basil, flowers like marigolds and nasturtiums, and groundcovers like clover and creeping thyme.
What Not To Plant Next To A Lemon Tree?
While there are many plants that make great companions for lemon trees, there are a few that should be avoided. Plants that compete for resources or have invasive tendencies, such as mint and black walnut, should be avoided. Avoid planting water-loving plants or those with deep root systems next to a lemon tree. Plants like ferns or waterlogged-tolerant plants can lead to overwatering and root rot for the lemon tree. Large trees with aggressive root systems can also compete for nutrients and water, potentially harming the lemon tree’s growth.
Do Lemon Trees Need A Partner?
Lemon trees are self-pollinating, meaning they do not require a partner tree to produce fruit. They have both male and female reproductive organs in their flowers, and pollination occurs within the same tree. However, having multiple lemon trees nearby can improve cross-pollination and potentially increase fruit yield.
Can You Plant Lavender Near Citrus Trees?
Yes, you can plant lavender near citrus trees. Lavender is generally a good companion plant for citrus trees. It attracts beneficial insects that can help control pests and contributes to a diverse and healthy garden ecosystem. Lavender’s aromatic properties may also help deter some unwanted pests from citrus trees. Just ensure that the soil drainage and sunlight needs of both plants are adequately met to promote healthy growth.
Why Should I Plant Companion Plants Near My Lemon Tree?
Planting companion plants near your lemon tree has several advantages. These plants attract beneficial insects that can help control pests, improve soil health, provide shade and wind protection, and even assist in tree pollination.
Can I Grow Lemon Trees In Pots?
Yes, lemon trees can be grown in pots. In fact, growing lemon trees in pots are a popular option for those with limited space or for those who live in colder climates where the trees need to be protected during winter.
Which Plants Can I Grow As Companion Plants For My Lemon Tree?
There are many plants that make excellent companion plants for lemon trees. A few of those include bee balm, marigolds, lavender, thyme, rosemary, and basil.
Can I Grow Flowering Plants Near My Lemon Tree?
Yes, you can grow flowering plants near your lemon tree. In fact, flowering companion plants can attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, which can help with lemon tree pollination.
Can I Plant Other Types Of Citrus Trees Near My Lemon Tree As Companion Plants?
Yes, you can plant other types of citrus trees near your lemon tree as companion plants. Citrus trees are compatible with each other and can benefit from being grown together.
Are Companion Plants Easy To Grow?
Yes, most companion plants are easy to grow. Many of them are herbs or flowering plants that thrive in a variety of garden conditions. They can be grown from seeds or young plants and require minimal care.
How Many Companion Plants Should I Plant Near My Lemon Tree?
The number of companion plants to plant near your lemon tree depends on the available space and your preferences. Planting a few different types of plants together is generally recommended to provide maximum benefits.