The Extensive Guide to Lemon Tree Companion Plants
Growing different types of plants together is an advantageous strategy for the betterment of all your garden plants, and a good understanding of how different plants can help or harm each other will set you up for success in your garden.
Lemon trees like sun and warmth, slightly acidic, rich in organic matter, and somewhat moist, but definitely not wet soil. Also, lemon trees like the presence of some plants, but they also don't like the presence of some other plants.
Published: December 27, 2022.
Lemon Tree Companion Plants List
Here are the top lemon tree companion plants to keep in mind:
Now that you’ve got a rudimentary understanding of what plants are best with lemon trees, we’ll cover the growing profile of lemon trees, what they grow best with, and how you can set up the plants in your garden to grow in harmony.
What Is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is a type of polyculture, raising multiple different crops or plants together to create an ideal ecosystem.
For example, some plants, when combined together, are much more effective at warding off pests than they would be on their own. In a similar vein, companion plants thrive in similar conditions with similar sunlight requirements and soil pH.
Some companion plants attract predators, discouraging pesky herbivores that would otherwise wreak havoc in your garden, while others serve as an additional attractant to pollinators.
The long and short of companion planting is that both plants benefit from each other’s company, don’t compete for resources, and can, with their combined efforts, repel disagreeable pests.
Plants that have mutual benefits can also improve the fertility of the soil, offer shade for other plants, support crops that need trellising, and suppress weeds.
The benefits are numerous, whether you’re an amateur or a professional gardener, and with a little trial and error, you can find the perfect companion plants for your lemon trees.
Lemon Tree Growing Requirements
Before listing some names, it’s important that you cater your companion plants to the ideal growing conditions needed for your lemon tree.
If you understand what lemon trees can and cannot tolerate, then you’ll have a much better grasp on what plants also thrive under the same conditions and thus make for excellent companion plants.
When planting your lemon trees, you will need to put some serious thought into how you’re going to handle the cold during the winter. Lemon trees are extremely cold-sensitive, suffering at temperatures below 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
As such, if you live somewhere that gets sustained temperatures near freezing, it’s probably best to keep your lemon trees in containers and bring them to the safety of the indoors during the winter.
Lemon trees love full sun, but you also need to consider a location that has some degree of cold and wind protection. In addition, the blazing hot sun isn’t ideal for lemon trees if you want the best ripeness from their fruits.
Cooler summers are perfect for the freshest fruit, so if your climate gets really hot summers, plant them somewhere that affords a little shade from the heat of the afternoon.
Watering and Fertilization
Lemon trees are partial to deep, infrequent watering, typically one deep watering a week in the spring and summer.
Newly planted trees need a bit more frequent watering in the first spring and summer growing season, particularly if there’s not much natural precipitation.
For fruits to grow, you’ll need to apply balanced fertilizer regularly, about 3 to 4 times, sometimes even more often, in spring and summer.
Adding organic compost and worm castings not only fertilizes the soil but also improves the soil quality.
Lemon trees can grow in a variety of soil conditions, including sandy, clay, or even infertile soil.
Ideally, you want to plant your lemon trees in a well-draining mix that won’t get waterlogged easily. The soil pH should be between 6.0 and 6.5 for best-growing conditions.
Weeding and Herbicides
Another common issue with lemon trees is handling weeds. Left unattended, weeds can outcompete lemon trees and damage the tree’s chances of success; however, lemon trees are also extremely susceptible to herbicides.
The best approach for controlling weeds is to spread a layer of bark mulch around the tree, kept about 1 to 2 inches from the base.
The Best Companion Plants for Lemon Trees
It’s important to set up your lemon plants and initiate your watering and fertilizing schedule before considering companion plants.
While they can be extremely helpful, companion plants will not save a lemon tree that’s in particularly unfavorable conditions.
Once you’re up to date on your lemon tree care regimen, you can start adding companion plants to bring out the best in both of them. Doing so can improve pollination chances, make your lemons grow better, protect them from pests, and improve the overall quality of the soil.
Yarrow is one of the best ways to attract lemon tree pollinators, largely thanks to the perennial’s perfect bloom time.
Yarrow will flower just at the start of the blooming season for lemon trees, inviting a bunch of pollinators to the party just in time.
Fruiting quality and quantity are somewhat dependent on pollination, so if you want to have the best fruits possible, getting all the pollinators, you can is important. Plus, yarrows add a gorgeous splash of color to a garden, coming in red, purple, orange, white, yellow, and pink.
These pretty perennials can bring a beautiful aesthetic to your garden and serve as a great pollinator companion plant for your lemon trees.
One of the most popular and most beautiful lemon tree companion plants are violas. They’re simply gorgeous, planted in the fall and growing in the spring seasons with a burst of hundreds of small flowers.
These attract bees, which can pollinate your lemon tree. Just make sure to plant your violas out of the lemon tree root zone to avoid interference.
Violas are a great way to add aesthetics to a garden without interference since they creep across the ground. This tendency also makes them great for covering space to keep weeds away, shading the soil, and keeping it moist for a longer period of time.
Another great companion, society garlic, serves double duty in enticing pollinators and warding off insects.
Pesky insects that would otherwise prey on your lemon trees hate the scent of garlic, and the beautiful purple flowers can bring in bees to pollinate.
The African daisy is another great flowering plant that works well with your lemon tree.
They manage well with deep, infrequent watering conditions like lemon trees and will cover the ground to prevent the soil from drying out. Naturally, the gorgeous daisies will attract bees for pollination.
If you’re opting for African daisies, make sure to choose a hybrid that won’t self-seed since these daisies can become a weed if you’re not careful. Keep your plants a few meters away from the root zone of your lemon trees but near enough to attract bees.
Marigolds can both attract pollinators and deter pests. These gorgeous companion plants thrive in similar conditions to lemon trees and can shade the soil.
They are particularly effective at deterring nematodes and roundworm pests that can grow in the ground and cause damage to your lemon tree.
Mexican Bush Sage
With violet-purple flowers, the Mexican bush sage flowers from summer to fall, requiring full sun. You can use them as wind and cold protection around your lemon bush, but the real beauty of the Mexican bush sage in a garden is its ability to attract butterflies.
In addition, this bush wards off herbivorous pests like rabbits and deer, who might otherwise occupy their time chewing the leaves of your trees!
Also called Starflower, borage is an annual herb that flowers in late summer or early fall. It manages full or partial sunlight well enough, and it makes a great pollinator attractant.
It entices bees, butterflies, and potentially even hummingbirds. Borage can also repel certain soil diseases to create healthy, biodiverse soil and draw in predators who’ll keep pesky insects away.
Part and parcel of making your garden look beautiful is filling space. The challenge is filling it with something nonaggressive and practical to the soil pH. Pansies make a decent flowering companion plant for your lemon tree.
As well as attracting pollinators, these gorgeous plants make for a great way to fill space in a garden, filling gaps and protecting the soil underneath from drying out too quickly.
Lemon thyme is an ideal companion plant if you need to grow it neatly outside of your lemon tree root zone. It’s an excellent ground cover, looks great, and is versatile when planting.
You can put type in pots around your garden or just plant it in the soil. As always, just make sure to position it 2 to 3 feet away from the root zone of your plant.
A lemongrass is a great option in your garden for one simple reason: it wards off mosquitos.
The shaded trees of a lemon tree are the perfect place for mosquitos to shade themselves in the afternoon, so adding some lemongrass can help deter pests from visiting your garden and keep your lemon trees pest free.
Peas and Alfalfa
Legumes can be a good option as a companion for lemon trees.
They serve the purpose of enriching the soil by feeding it nitrogen, an essential nutrient that lemon trees rely on.
Just make sure to cut back your legumes regularly so that they don’t get out of hand.
Chives work wonderfully near lemon trees since they do a pretty good job of deterring insects with their strong smell.
In particular, their smell wards off aphids. Chives are also a suitable choice since they will only grow up to 12 inches tall, not interfering with your lemon tree’s growth.
Another great anti-pest plant to consider is rosemary, which has great properties that can deter pests from your garden.
It’s hardy, reliable, and doesn’t require much attention, making it a good option for beginners to gardening.
Just make sure to plant it outside of the watering area of your lemon trees since rosemary will generally need less watering than your lemon trees.
Sometimes called the butterfly bush, Gaura is a great way to fill space, provide wind cover, and attract pollinators to your garden.
They’re easy to manage, and their tall flowers are a great way to draw in all kinds of pollinators.
They flower in the spring and summer, just like your lemon trees will, allowing the two to flower and attract pollinators with their combined efforts.
Companion Plants to Avoid
There are a number of companion plants that, when paired with lemon trees, allow both to benefit from each other mutually.
The following plants are very poor when paired with lemon trees, whether it’s because they disturb the root system or compete too much for resources.
Any Root Vegetable
Potatoes, carrots, turnips, and other rooted vegetables are not meant to be grown with lemon trees.
The main reason is that harvesting these veggies requires disturbing the root system, which is especially harmful to lemon trees since their roots are pretty shallow.
In addition, the root system of these vegetables can compete for resources and cause the lemon tree to be nutrient starved.
Other Fruit Trees
Growing fruit trees together in shared soil is a recipe for disaster. These trees need a good amount of resources to grow, and they can be quite fussy about sharing space with others.
In order to avoid competing for resources, consider potting your fruit trees individually if you want to grow them nearby one another. Or, at least, give them enough space for both roots and canopies.
Few Final Thoughts
Growing lemon trees can be a challenging task. Getting the soil pH, watering requirements, sunlight, and fertilization down to science might take a little trial and error, but if you want to improve your chances of success significantly, then consider adding some of these companion plants to the mix.
All of them have their benefits and can help improve the soil quality for your lemon tree, provide nutrients, offer shade, provide wind cover, ward off pest, and attract pollinators.