How to Grow and Care For Meyer Lemon Trees
The Meyer lemon tree is a result of pollination between a lemon tree and mandarin. This hybrid fruit bearing tree is one of the easiest fruit trees to grow and care for. Every spring, the beautiful white flowers of this tree bring a wonderful citrus scent to many homes. And within a matter of 2 years, the yellow fruits finally make an appearance. If you can’t wait to grow your own Meyer lemon tree at home or in the garden, follow our guide carefully for a successful tree.
Meyer Lemon Tree Overview
|Name||Citrus x meyeri|
|Fertilizer||Apply high-nitrogen feed from spring to fall|
|Max growth||6 to 10 feet tall and 4 to 8 feet wide|
|Poisonous for||Dogs, horses and cats|
|Light||Full sun, 6-10 hours per day|
|Water||Two or three times per week for young trees|
|Temperature||Between 50° and 80° degrees Fahrenheit|
|Soil||Well-draining sandy loam|
|Humidity||50% or more. Regular misting if indoors|
|Propagation||By stem or grafting|
|Pests||Mites, scale insects, aphids, whiteflies|
Meyer Lemon Trees at a Glance
Cross between mandarins and lemons
Sweet-tasting fruit with moderate acidity
Can bear fruit in as little as 2 years
Will fruit indoors and outdoors
Heavy harvest in winter
Require regular misting indoors
Lifespan of up to 50 years
Glossy dark green leaves
White fragrant blossoms
Meyer Lemon Tree Care Guide
Optimal Temperature and Humidity
Meyer lemon trees love temperatures of between 50-80 degrees fahrenheit. If you live in growing zones 9-11, it’s best that you bring your lemon tree indoors when temperatures fall below 50 degrees. You can always take your tree outside again once spring arrives and temperatures stay above 50 degrees. Just make sure you place the pot in a sunny area away from strong winds.
All citrus trees need humidity levels of 50% or more. If your home lacks humidity, fill a tray with pebbles and pour water to just below the top of the pebbles. Place the potted tree on top of the pebbles for optimal humidity around the plant.
Meyer lemon trees prefer their soil to be moist but not soggy or muddy. Water the plant deeply until the excess water comes out of the drainage holes. To prevent flooding, wait until the topsoil is dried out before watering again. It’s always better to underwater this type of tree rather than overwater since too much water can drown the roots and attract bacteria or insects.
Young lemon trees require more watering during their first two years. Water them twice a week during hot weather. Once the tree has matured, it will require less frequent watering, like every few weeks between 3-6 inches of water. Older trees will benefit from deep and slow watering using a drip irrigation system.
Meyer lemon trees are citrus, thus requiring at least 8-10 hours of sunlight in order to produce fruit. For best growth, choose a location, where the plant receives full direct sun in the morning and indirect sun in the afternoon all year round. If growing your tree indoors, opt for the sunniest room or use grow lights to supplement sunlight.
These trees can grow in almost any type of soil as long as it has good drainage. They prefer sandy or loamy soil with pH levels of between 5.5 and 6.5. Always test your soil’s pH levels first using a home kit. You can then add lime to increase the pH levels of your soil if necessary.
Meyer lemon trees are heavy feeders. During spring and fall (growing season) feed your Meyer lemon tree with an all-purpose, slow-release fertilizer or a high-nitrogen fertilizer. As a rule of thumb, fertilize your young tree once a month but be sure to follow the product’s instructions. Use a fertilizer that’s specifically for citrus fruits as it will contain high nitrogen or a balanced amount of nutrients like a 6-6-6 formula.
Once the tree has finished producing fruit, reduce the frequency of feeding. In the second year, use 1 pound of citrus fruit fertilizer divided into 5 equal proportions. In the third year, use more fertilizer but less frequently (4 applications). From the fourth year onwards, use about 4 pounds of fertilizer divided into 3 applications and increase the amount with the tree’s age.
Meyer lemons grown from seeds rarely produce fruit, and even if they do, it can take up to 7 years! For a quicker result, consider propagating by grafting or stem cuttings. The best time to propagate is during the growing season when the lemon tree is active. Follow this easy propagation method to get started:
What you’ll need
A container with ample drainage holes
A moist paper towel
A sharp knife
Step 1. Use your clippers to cut a healthy branch from an existing Meyer lemon tree. Your cutting needs to be long enough to have 2 or 3 lead nodes.
Step 2. Wrap the cutting in a moist paper towel to prevent it from drying out.
Step 3. Using a sharp knife, remove all the excess buds and leaves, leaving the top 3 or 4 leaves intact.
Step 4. Place the end of the cutting in a rooting hormone before sticking it in moist soil inside a pot.
Step 5. Make sure the soil remains moist and the cutting receives indirect sunlight. The roots will begin to grow within 8 weeks.
When to Plant
The best time to plant your lemon tree outside is in late winter or early spring before the growing season. This gives the tree enough time to adjust. In colder regions, plant the tree in a pot and keep it indoors for the winter duration.
Planting Meyers Lemon Tree outdoors
Follow these quick steps to plant your Meyer lemon tree outdoors:
Step 1. Dig a hole twice as wide as the tree’s root ball and at the same height as the root ball. Choose a sunny site in the garden with a well-draining soil.
Step 2. Press down the soil around the tree firmly and water the hole thoroughly from the base of the plant to the outer edge of the hole.
Step 3. After placing the tree in the dug hole, water it regularly and make sure the soil remains moist through spring and summer. During winter, allow the soil to dry a little in between waterings.
Step 4. Protect your Meyer lemon tree during its first winter as freezing temperatures will stunt its growth. Since it’s not possible to bring the tree indoors, cover the young tree with a tarp in order to prevent frost damage.
Tip: If planting multiple Meyer lemon trees, space them at least 8 feet apart for adequate air circulation. Lastly, check the trees regularly for signs of disease or pests and treat them immediately.
Most people prefer growing Meyer lemon trees in containers, especially if they live in cold climates. To plant your lemon tree successfully in a pot, follow these steps:
Step 1. Choose a sturdy pot with ample drainage holes. Make sure the pot is twice the size of the original container the plant arrived in.
Step 2. Layer 2-inches of rocks at the bottom of the container.
Step 3. Now create a potting mix using potting soil and peat moss.
Step 4. Gently slide the tree out of its nursery container.
Step 5. Detangle the roots and cut off the dry ones.
Step 6. Place the tree in the container and add water.
Step 7. The container should be close to a south-facing window.
Note: if you’re planning to keep your lemon tree exclusively indoors, it may take longer than 2 years for the fruits to ripen. However, you can speed up the fruiting process by repotting the tree in a larger container after the first year has passed. A bigger pot helps the root system to develop better.
When repotting a Meyer lemon tree, choose a large container that’s at least 12 inches in height. The new pot must have adequate drainage holes. Otherwise the tree’s roots will rot.
Fill the container partway with citrus tree potting mix.
Remove the tree from its nursery pot and detangle the roots if necessary.
Place the lemon tree in the center of the container and fill any gaps with some potting mix. The crown of the roots should still be visible.
Press down the soil and water the lemon tree immediately after repotting.
Pruning your Meyer lemon tree is necessary to ensure it thrives. You must keep the size and branches of the tree contained so that it remains strong enough to hold the weight of the fruit. Here are some quick lemon tree pruning tips:
Begin pruning from the second year
Ideally, keep the tree height to around 8-10 feet for easier harvesting
Trim non-fruiting branches that grow inward or upward
Get rid of crossing branches
Keep the center of the lemon tree trimmed to boost air circulation
Remove any ground-level shoots from the trunk
Never prune more than one third of the tree within one year
Indoor grown lemon trees typically fruit in spring only while outdoor grown trees will fruit all year round, especially if the climate is warm. Lemons will only continue ripening while still on the tree so make sure you wait until they are fully ripe before picking. The lemons should be egg yolk color and the peel will be a little soft to the touch. Meyer lemons are best consumed fresh, but they are also ideal as refreshing lemonades!
Common Problems, Diseases and Pests
Yellow leaves: if the Meyer lemon tree has yellowing leaves, it is either because of lack of water or fertilizer. If it’s under-watered, don’t saturate the tree with too much water as this won’t solve the problem. Water the plant gradually. The same goes for fertilizing. Simply add some liquid fertilizer on top of your regular fertilizer schedule for extra boost.
Lack of flowering or fruit: this is a common problem with indoor grown Meyer lemons. It is most likely because the tree is not receiving enough sunlight. Place the container in a porch or room that gets plenty of natural light. You may also use a grow light to supplement natural light.
Wilting leaves: this is a sign of too much water. Overwatering can damage the internal system of plants so always make sure the soil is well-draining and the top few inches dry out before watering.
The above were the most common problems faced by Meyer lemon trees. But there are also pests and diseases that can cause damage to these citrus trees. You are most likely to see your lemon tree get pestered by scale, aphids, whiteflies and citrus mites. These insects feed on the leaves and cause yellow spots or curling leaves. Treatment can be in the form of spraying insecticide on the leaves of the tree in spring and fall.
The most common diseases of Meyers lemon trees are:
Greasy spot: the symptoms of this disease are brown blisters on the leaves. To cure, spray copper fungicide on the surfaces of the leaves.
Citrus canker: this is another disease that can be devastating to citrus trees. The symptoms include leaf loss, dying twigs and textured blisters. To cure, remove all the infected sections of the tree before spraying fungicide for the first few months after flowering.
To keep your Meyer lemon tree happy, the easiest option is prevention rather than cure. Remove all the dead leaves or overripe fruit regularly plus prune the twigs for optimal air circulation.
Once you plant your Meyer lemon tree indoors or in the garden, it’ll need time to adjust to its new environment before the tree starts producing fruit. A well-draining soil, plenty of sunlight, regular watering and fertilization will ensure a thriving lemon tree, with years of dark yellow citrus fruits to look forward to!