I was given a lemon tree (pictured) which is about 1.2 metres tall. It's currently in small yellow pot depicted that has edges of approximately 16cm in length.

Lemon tree in small pot

Ultimately I want to plant it in my garden, but I can't do that for about 10 months because the property is about to be renovated.

I know that lemon trees can do well in pots indefinitely, but is my current pot too small for the 10 month storage

I have a larger pot which is about 40cm in diameter. Should I transfer the plant from the small pot to the large pot, and then (in 10 months) to my garden? I was worried that multiple transfers would increase the chances that the plant would die.

Are there other factors that I should hold in mind? For example, my larger pot does not have drainage.

2 Answers 2


As presumably you do not know how long the tree has been in that particular pot I'd be inclined to leave it as is for now and just transplant once, in 10 months. Otherwise much of the new root growth encouraged by a larger pot will be highly susceptible to damage at its next move. The finer root hairs are very important for water absorption because of their relatively high surface area.

However, when relatively dry, you might see whether any roots are visible through the drainage holes and how easy it is to lift the entire plant with root ball out of its container. It may already be pot bound and if so, rather than stunt further growth over almost a year I would repot now, but not into such a large pot and into one with drainage holes. Another clue to whether or not pot bound is how much water is absorbed during watering - won't be much if the pot contains little but roots, which for a tree that large in that container is quite likely.


Judging by the lichen or moss growth on top of the potting soil, your lemon tree has been in the same pot for some time - turn it out of its pot, carefully, to check whether its rootbound. If it doesn't come out easily, water well and try again later. If the rootball is solid, with roots winding round the outside, then a larger pot is called for, but the larger pot, whilst certainly being as deep, should not be more than an inch bigger all round than the current rootball. I'm finding it hard to visualize a 40cm pot, but it seems like it will be too big for the lemon at this stage, particularly as you want to plant it out within a year, so you should find a pot just a size up, if it needs potting on.

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