Harvesting Lemons – How Long Does A Lemon Take To Ripen

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By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener

There is nothing fresher smelling or tasting than a ripe lemon from your very own lemon tree. Lemon trees are a lovely addition to any landscape or sunroom, as they produce fruit and flowers all year long. Harvesting lemons at the right time means checking your tree regularly. Keep reading for information on when to harvest a lemon as well as how to pick lemons from your tree.

How Long Does a Lemon Take to Ripen?

Healthy lemon trees produce an abundance of fruit, so be sure that you are taking good care of your tree at all times. From the time a small green lemon appears on your tree, it will generally take several months to ripen depending on the variety.

When to Harvest a Lemon

Lemons are ready to pick as soon as they are yellow or yellow green in appearance and firm. The fruit will be 2 to 3 inches in size. It is better to wait until they are the right size and not worry so much about color than to wait for them to be completely yellow.


Lemons that are ready to be picked also have a slightly glossy appearance to them. Lemon picking is better too early than too late. If lemons are greenish-yellow, they will more than likely ripen off of the tree. If they are squishy, you have waited too long.

How to Pick Lemons

Picking lemons from a tree is not difficult as long as you are careful not to damage the tree. Take the entire fruit in your hand and twist it gently until it breaks free from the tree. You can also use clean and sharp hand nippers if it is easier.

Lemon picking is not difficult once you know a little about when to harvest a lemon, making this an easy undertaking for even the most novice of gardeners.

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