Lemon Seedling Air Freshener

February 11, 2013

We are having my (hyper-locally) famous chicken picatta tonight.  It is my good excuse for cutting open the lemons in the fridge and harvesting their seeds.   I am in need of a green fix, and something to put a new olfactory twist on the over dry winter air in the house.
planting lemon seeds for natural air freshener
Rumor has it that lemon tree seedlings smell wonderful.  I am looking forward to trying it out.

My only dilemma is what to do with them later.  I am not sure that if I plant them close enough to make for a pretty natural air freshener if I will later have trouble successfully pulling them apart to give them the proper homes that they will need to survive long term.  Any citrus seedling experts in the house?

image from homeinteriordesignpins

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  1. Matt Mattus says:

    I love this idea. It reminds me of the first plant I grew – a grapefruit tree from a seed, when I was 7 years old or so. I kept the tree for 10 years, until I went to college ( I later discovered that seedling raised citrus will rarely bear fruit, and that most citrus are grafted onto stronger rootstock ), but I never threw out my thorny beast of a shrub ( they will generally produce thorny specimens, which rarely will bloom, and if they do, it can take 15 years). One exception are species forms of citrus, but try and find one at a nursery. The closest I can find is the tiny fruited Fortunella hindsii, which you can sometimes find at Logee’s. Fortunella is the Latin name for most Kumquats, and some, although used for above-mentioned root stock, will bloom and fruit in ones lifetime ( 5-10 years?). That said, lemon, grapefruit and other citrus seedlings can indeed be fragrant, but only when the foliage is crushed, which releases the scented oils which smells a bit like orange or lemon blossom oil to me. And that alone, is worth it. Not to mention, allowing ones children to try raising citrus trees – look what it did to me!

  2. Wow, those photos are so inspiring! I didn’t know you could get grocery store lemon seeds to germinate but now I’m tempted to try.
    I have about a year of experience as a citrus plant owner – so not much. Here’s what I know, FWIW. I have a small Meyer lemon (impulse-bought by my fruitophile husband and then abandoned for me to tend) and a large-ish Moro blood orange tree (gifted). I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of them now. They definitely like lots of water (as in, they don’t want to dry out or get close to drying out between waterings…that makes them drop their leaves!). The lemon bloomed in the summer (I put it outside) and I got three lemons from it at Thanksgiving that were on it when I got it in the spring. Now it has three more tiny green lemonlets that I am coaxing along. (We made a lemon cake for Thanksgiving dinner with the first “crop”.) I don’t know whether it needs a pollinator and whether it got pollinated when it was outside it the summer but I wonder about that. The orange had a tiny orange on it when I got it nearly a year ago. It gradually got bigger and is now full-sized and starting to change color. It is also blooming like crazy now and starting to replace some of the leaves it dropped when I inadvertently underwatered. I think it likes being in a cold sunny place (I have it in the sunroom) and maybe the cold triggered the blossoms. The flowers smell great but you have to get right up to them and sniff…though maybe they are just being overpowered by my Osmanthus fragrans, adjacent, which is blooming like there’s no tomorrow, scenting the whole room and some of the staircase.
    I feel like it’s worth trying to germinate some lemon seeds if you have room and the inclination to care for some lemon plants. They could be a great “homemade” (Christmas?) gift in a year or two.

  3. Laura Cook says:

    As noted in the other comment, most citrus we eat is grafted on rootstock (I believe it is called flying dragon) to make it hardy and disease free. You may or may not get usaable lemons from your seedlings, and it is a long investment of time and care before you will know. The Meyer lemon mentioned in the other comment would have been already grafted. If you want to grow seedlings for fragrance and greenery, why not, but then if you really want to try a lemon tree, go for the dwarf variegated pink lemonade Eureka lemon, pre-grafted, and you will have a graceful, pretty little ornamental tree with striped lemons. Or a Meyer. Have fun!

  4. Jacqueline Gilles says:

    Hi! What a great idea! How did this work for you? Does it give off a lemony scent? Thanks 🙂

  5. Roxanne says:

    I am a little confused about the first 3 pictures. In the first picture there are 2 different size seeds. Are these both lemon seeds? In the 2nd picture, are the seeds being cut in half? In the 3rd picture, are they soaking in something? Thank you

  6. Brittany says:

    I am with Roxanne on this one…any way you can provide more detailed instructions please?

  7. Cyndi Patton says:

    I am with Brittany, I would like to try this but I need more detailed instructions. I have dried lemon and orange seeds and would like to get them both started in a pot inside, to possibly be put in the ground or large pot outside and a later date. Can you help me with this please?

    Thank you,

  8. Liz says:

    More detailed instructions please

  9. ady says:

    Instrucciones más detalladas,

  10. gale says:

    to everyone asking, the picture is not hers. She posted the link to the source below the pic but here’s a direct link:

  11. Patricia says:

    Need more info. The top pictures don’t explain what is happening.

  12. Jamie says:

    Hello, I really want to do this but I am unsure of the specific directions (green thumb I have not). Can someone provide specific directions for harvesting the seedlings or provide a website where they can be found? Thank you!!

  13. Jamie says:

    Thank you Matthew, I just checked the link and it works. Thanks for posting!

  14. Mary MacDonald says:

    I know I’m late to the party here, but when I first saw this post, I immediately started collecting the seeds from my lemons and oranges. I had several family members over for dinner one night, and they saw my little shot glasses of seeds (That I hadn’t planted yet). As happens in my family, they started collecting for me too. I’m teeming with seeds! Anyway, I planted them, and nothing much happened. I was disappointed. But now, about 2 1/2 weeks after I started ignoring them, I’ve noticed that there are a bunch of them growing! Oh happy day!

  15. Judy Mathena-Fishell says:

    I just stumbled upon this and I am very interested in doing this too. @Mary MacDonald, just reading your comment. I would LOVE to hear your process. What did you do, step by step, as I am a new beginner of growing any kind of fruits. I appreciate it!

    • Mary MacDonald says:

      Hi, Judy!
      I collected up lemon seeds into a little glass (washed off the goo that surrounded the seeds, and just let them sit there for a while. Srsly, it was probably about 3 weeks).
      I removed the leathery hull of the seeds by carefully cutting around the side of the seed and slipping the actual seed out.
      I filled a few small planters with soil (broken terra cotta pot on the bottom for drainage, then just piled in the soil) Then I put the seeds in (as in the original picture – although maybe not quite so many so they were touching. There were maybe 20 of them in a 25 square inch area)
      I scattered just a little more soil on top of the seeds, then covered the whole thing with little pebbles. I watered it until it felt saturated, and then I sat it on a windowsill that gets morning sun. Then, I waited. I sprinkled more water on there when it seemed dry, and mostly left it. It’s now about a month after I started the seeds, and they’re about 2-3 inches tall. Not all the seeds sprouted, but I see when I move the pebbles around that some are still trying. I’ve still got a bunch in my little glass, so in a week or two, I might pull the pebbles aside and plant some more seeds.
      When I rub one of the little leaves between my fingers (gently), it really does smell lemony.
      Good luck, Judy! I’m not particularly doing this to get lemon trees, I’m doing it for the air-freshener aspect. But, if they seem to be taking off, then I might replant a few and see what happens.

  16. Angela Carter says:

    Ur pictures don’t explain how to do it. #1 put them in cup. #2 put them in soils add rocks. I’m unsure

  17. Etta To says:

    Is it a must to add rocks

  18. Michele says:

    I have 10 baby lemon trees about a year old that I grew from a store bought lemon. I washed the seeds and made sure they were clean of juice and pulp. Planted them in a pot of dirt covered with Saran Wrap and within a few weeks the started growing. Now they’re all around inside and out in separate pots and a few in the ground. The leaves smell like lemons although the trees have no lemons yet. They like to have moist soil. I let them dry out between watering suit seems to make them really thrive. W

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