Yes, There Will Be Lemons

I talked last Friday about lecturing on house plants and how I always talk about the importance of interesting leaves in a house plant collection.

Another thing I mention–although it’s not as important as colorful leaves–and it’s much more elusive–is fragrance.

Fragrance can be tricky. The classic example of this is paperwhite narcissus. I’ve mentioned that I like the smell of those, but many people don’t. In fact, many people find the scent downright objectionable.

Jasmine is another one (Jasminum officinale). In small doses, it’s a heavenly scent. But once the whole plant starts blooming, it can be so overwhelming, it can actually give me a headache.

There’s a whole science to what goes on behind scent–I won’t get into it because I am not qualified and would make a muddle of it. I’ll simply repeat what I said at the beginning–scent is probably our most visceral sense. We know immediately what we like and what we don’t.


One of these small flowers–a lemon blossom, but it’s true for other blossoms in the citrus family as well–perfumes a whole room in my home. I need only to walk into a room and I can tell when this plant–or my other citrus–is in bloom.


This plant has bloomed quite a bit this winter–winter is the normal bloom time for many citrus–and already you can see small lemons beginning to form at the end of the branches. So long as I transition this plant gently outside in the spring–and gently back inside this fall–by next winder I should have edible lemons.

All of this is accomplished with no additional pollination from me. I have heard of folks who hand-pollinate their citrus with paintbrushes and I have seen small mechanized devices sold for such purpose.

As I have repeated many a time, in my house, it’s every plant for itself–and clearly this lemon is doing just fine. Bring on the lemonade.

4 thoughts on “Yes, There Will Be Lemons

  1. Jeanne March 13, 2020 / 9:20 am

    How do you manage to get your jasmine to bloom? I have had mine for over 5 years.
    It was all budded when received for the holidays, but I have not been able to get it to bloom since.
    I enjoy your posts very much. Thanks for doing them Jeanne

  2. gardendaze March 13, 2020 / 9:44 am

    Hi Jeanne,
    Reblooming jasmines is tricky. They like very cool temperatures in the evening–as low as 35 degrees. The growers keep them in cool greenhouses and that’s how they bud them up. But it’s very hard for us to do it at home!

    The optimal thing to do would be to keep it right next to your coldest (but sunny) window to see if you can get it cold enough in the fall and early winter to set buds. I have managed to do it once or twice–but it’s hard!

    Thanks for the compliment!


  3. tonytomeo March 15, 2020 / 4:56 pm

    When I grew citrus years ago, there were some cultivars that were appreciated more for the fragrance of their bloom than others, regardless of the fruit. Some of the Mandarin oranges were not very fragrant. Lemons and all of the oranges were the most fragrant, and of course, ‘Meyer’ lemon, which is a hybrid of the two, produces a fragrance that is like a combination of both. ‘Bouquet de Fleur’ bitter orange produced the most fragrant bloom of the forty or so cultivars that we grew. It is used in perfume and to flavor cordials. The foliage, fruit and bloom is also very appealing visually. Unfortunately, the fruit is wickedly bitter. I have never found a use for it besides flavoring tea. Ick!

  4. gardendaze March 15, 2020 / 6:30 pm

    You would think ‘Bouquet de Fleur ‘ would be fragrant. I guess the name doesn’t promise taste.

    This lemon is a ‘Meyer Improved.’ It’s been great for me in containers.


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