The lemon pulls us under its spell with unique attributes, such as furious fruit shapes, fragrant flowers and evergreen, shiny leaves. Their extravagant blend of varieties brings us eye-catchers, such as Buddha’s hand in a distinctive finger look or Maxima with giant fruits. The Mediterranean origin and its breathtaking appearance already indicate that a conventional care program will not satisfy the floral jewel. In order for a Citrus medica to meet the high expectations, the right combination of location, water and nutrient balance as well as a carefully balanced wintering is essential. The following care instructions bring all the relevant details to the point.


  • Important genus within the diamond family (Rutaceae)
  • Name of the species: Citron Lemon (Citrus medica)
  • Common trivial names: cedrate, Buddha’s hand, cedar fruit, Median apple
  • The main distribution area is the Mediterranean area
  • Evergreen shrub or small tree
  • Height in culture: 200 to 300 cm, rarely higher
  • Shiny green, oval leaves on reddish, later brownish, thorny branches
  • White, fragrant flowers with reddish buds in the leaf axils
  • Blooms several times from May to October
  • Yellow fruits with a very thick, intensely fragrant skin in various shapes
  • Typically a very small volume of tart or sweet pulp
  • Use as an ornamental plant as well as for the production of lemon peel

The botanical adjective ‘medica’ is often incorrectly interpreted as an indication of a medicinal meaning for the plant. In fact, the name Citrus medica refers to its origins in the historical land of media. The area was located between what is now Iran and Iraq in ancient times. The name cedar fruit, on the other hand, refers to the intense scent that the fruit peels give off. This is reminiscent of the aroma of cedar fruits.

Care instructions

The bar for the successful cultivation of a lemon is undoubtedly high. The chances of a planned maintenance process are significantly improved if you purchase the preferred variety from a specialist company. From the hand of a quality supplier, you can be sure that you will actually receive the desired hybrid and that it has been used under the appropriate framework conditions.

Location in summer

One of the main pillars of the exemplary care program is the choice of location. The Mediterranean jewel comes with high demands on light and warmth , which in our part of the world require special attention.

  • From May to October on the sunny balcony , the light-flooded terrace or in the garden
  • In mild winter locations from April to November, as long as the freezing point is not reached
  • Ideally in front of a south or west wall that stores heat during the day and gives it off at night

Please choose the location so that the sun’s rays shine evenly on the treetop so that a harmonious growth pattern develops. The bucket, on the other hand, should not be left in direct sunlight for hours so that the roots do not heat up too much. Heated root strands become inactive, so that the transport of water and nutrients comes to a standstill. The result is wilting even though the substrate is moist.

Tip : A bucket made of reflective material prevents overheated roots in summer. Light-colored terracotta pots, whose porous structure ensures ventilation of the root ball, are well suited.

Location in winter

In order for the lemon to survive the winter time healthy and happy, it depends on the right combination of light and warmth. Although you will not generate the ideal state of Mediterranean regions in our latitudes, the framework conditions should at least come close to it.

  • Sunny and bright location in the winter garden or behind uncovered window panes on the south side
  • Temperatures of 15 degrees Celsius and higher
  • humidity of at least 50 percent

If there is only a cool location available for wintering, the mercury column must not fall below 10 degrees Celsius. The higher the temperatures, the brighter the lighting conditions are required . Still, the Citrus medica will most likely shed much of its foliage. If the plant is well cared for and healthy, there is nothing to worry about. The new shoot starts in March / April and compensates for the loss of leaves in no time at all.


The slow growth of a lemon means that its magnificent varieties, such as Buddha’s Hand or Maximus, linger in the substrate for several years. You should therefore pay special attention to the quality so that there is no bottleneck in cultivation because the potting soil compacts or leaches out. This is how the ideal soil for Citrus medica should be structured:

  • A balanced mixture of humus and inorganic components such as lava granulate or perlite
  • Ideally with little or no peat

The addition of leaf mold or needle compost ensures that a sufficiently large supply of nutrients is present. In the end, a structurally stable substrate should be available that, on the one hand, has good water storage and, at the same time, is loose and well permeable.

Watering in summer

In summer , the cedar lemon calls for a lot of water . If the substrate dries out during the growth and flowering period, the tree indignantly sheds its flowers and leaves. If the location is in a sunny place under the open sky, at least one watering is usually necessary a day to quench the great thirst. In the large pot, a single watering can only partially covers the need. How to water your Citrus medica with expertise:

  • The substrate is allowed to dry out, but the core should always be slightly moist
  • Let the water run on the root ball until the saucer fills
  • Water alternately with collected rainwater and normal tap water

If the potting soil is already dry enough that small cracks appear on the edge, penetrating watering is necessary. In this case, the water in the coaster can exceptionally remain 1 cm high for 1 to 2 hours.

Tip : Play it safe with a moisture meter if you have any doubts about the water requirements of your valuable lemon. The device is simply inserted into the substrate and provides reliable information on whether the plant should be watered or not.

Watering in winter

A constantly slightly moist substrate is also desirable in winter. Since the evaporation rate drops noticeably at this time, the watering can is no longer used every day. Check every 2 to 3 days with a finger test whether the surface of the earth is dry. In this case, pour enough so that the substrate is soaked through to the bottom of the bucket. If the pot is on underfloor heating, there is a higher water requirement, which cannot be covered with one dose per week.

If a cedar sheds its leaves in the cool winter quarters, it is only watered in sips, as there is no longer any evaporation. Only when the new shoot begins does the normal supply of water resume.


In contrast to the water requirement, the nutrient balance of a citrus medica is easier to regulate. How to do it right:

  • Fertilize weekly from March to October
  • A special fertilizer with an NPK formulation of 20 + 4 + 14 or similar is perfectly suitable
  • As long as the wood is growing, continue the supply of nutrients

If the noble wood is allowed a warm, light-rich wintering, it may not pause for growth. In this case, continue adding fertilizer seamlessly. Under the influence of suboptimal framework conditions with cool temperatures and little light, fertilizers will no longer be administered from mid-September.

To cut

Strictly speaking, neither the Buddha’s hand nor any other citron does not require regular pruning . Nevertheless, you benefit from a compact, shapely habitus if you use scissors every now and then. Since a Citrus medica grows slowly and only sparsely branched, we advocate the following pruning measures:

  • Slightly shorten shoots that are too long or out-of-shape crowns during the summer
  • The clean, sharp scissors 2-3 mm above a bud or a sheet fix
  • Avoid cutting into old wood in the middle of the growing season

If you have a more extensive pruning measure in mind, this should be done in late winter. At this time, keep the stress level for the cedrate at a manageable level.


The leisurely growth means that you only repot a Citrus medica every 2-3 years. The decisive factor for the choice of date is the degree of root penetration. If the potting soil is completely traversed by a network of root strands, the change to a larger container has a beneficial effect on vitality. Please use a bucket with a maximum diameter of 5 cm larger. This is how the maintenance measure goes according to plan:

  • The ideal time window is open from March / April to June / July
  • In the new bucket on the floor made of potsherds or expanded clay, create a drainage system
  • Pour in the fresh, loose substrate halfway up to form a hollow in it with your fist
  • Drain the lemon and shake off the old earth thoroughly or rinse it off

Put the root ball in the center so deep that the plant is no lower than before. While filling the cavities, press the substrate down repeatedly with your fist or spoon to prevent air holes from forming. Finally, pour plenty of water. In the next 8 to 10 days, the Citrus medica should regenerate in the partially shaded location before it takes its original place again.

The most beautiful varieties at a glance

Maxima – The Giant Citron Lemon
This variety gives us such large fruits that even two hands cannot grasp them. In our latitudes, the Cedrat lemons understandably need 2 years to ripen, so that they overwinter on the tree and are not harvested until the following summer.

Buddha’s hand
The unmistakable fruits are not only shaped like a large hand, but also exude a bewitching scent that is reminiscent of a flowery-sweet perfume and less of citrus fruits. If the bizarre fruits caused a sensation throughout the summer, they can be useful in the household after the harvest. The dried pods provide a pleasant scent in cupboards and keep pests away.

Diamante – Etrog Lemon
The premium variety delights with its flawlessly shaped fruits and smooth skin. This citrus medica hybrid plays an important role at the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. In addition, after special processing, Diamante supplies the citron, which is known as a baking ingredient.


To emulate the magic of Mediterranean gardens, the lemon is a first-class choice. Its shiny, evergreen leaves, fragrant flowers and distinctive fruits leave no doubt that expert care is required here. If you dig deeper into these tried and tested instructions, it becomes clear that the requirements can be met. A warm, sunny location in the summer garden, and in winter a bright place behind glass with a temperature of at least 15 degrees set the course for the cultivation program. If the substrate does not dry out at any time of the year and if a high-quality citrus fertilizer is added to the watering water every week from March to October, you can look forward to a blooming work of art.

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