Meyer Lemon Trees Buying & Growing Guide
Gardeners and foodies alike love the Meyer lemon tree for its fruit that combines the tart taste of lemons and the sweetness of mandarin oranges. The popular Citrus x meyeri bears delicious sweet-tart hybrid fruits just two years after transplanting. Brought from China to the U.S. in 1908, Meyer lemon trees were initially harder to grow and susceptible to disease. To the delight of growers everywhere, the modern version self-pollinates, is insect-resistant, and can even be grown indoors. Here are some Meyer lemon trees highlights:
- Produces sweet-tart fruits all year, especially in fall and winter.
- Can live up to 50 years with proper feeding and pruning.
- Needs at least eight hours of full sun daily.
Where to Buy Meyer Lemon Trees
- Fast Growing Trees – Starting at $49.95
- Brighter Blooms – Starting at $99.99
- Garden Goods Direct – Starting at $79.95
- Citrus – Starting at $40.00
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|
|Growing zones||Indoor: 4-11, Outdoor: 8-11|
Growing Zones: 8-11
|Planting and Care|
|Sunlight||Meyer lemons love sunlight: plant them where they will get 8-12 hours of sun each day.|
|Watering||Water deeply when the top two inches of soil is dry. Mist trees daily if grown indoors.|
|Fertilizing||Fertilize in spring and summer with a slow-release, nitrogen-rich fertilizer, preferably one made for citrus trees.|
Meyer lemon trees can be grown outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11. Choose a location that receives up to 12 hours of sun daily. Transplant the tree to a well-draining pot one size larger than the original container. For dwarf varieties, keep in the original pot. Gently remove the tree from the container and loosen matted roots. Line the bottom of the new pot with loose stones for drainage. Add peat moss mixed with potting soil and perlite, then plant the tree in the center.
Watering and nutrients
Meyer lemon trees do best in loamy soil (high sand and low clay content) at a pH level of 5.5 to 6.5. If soil acidity is too low, add sulfur. Add lime if soil is too acidic. Feed the tree at the base once a month from April through September with either a nitrogen-rich or kelp-based fertilizer. Soil should be kept moist but not soaked. Test soil with a finger and when the top inch is dry, water deeply and allow to drain well. Potted trees may dry out faster, so check for dryness frequently.
A well-maintained Meyer lemon tree will produce fruit all year, with heaviest growth in the fall and early winter. Branches that do not produce lemons should be cut back near the trunk. Clear out smaller, tangled branches in order to provide good airflow. When first buds form, cut off every bud in each cluster except the largest. This will direct nutrients to the fruit with the best chance of growing. Alternatively, all but one lemon can be cut from a cluster when the fruits have grown to marble-size.
Pests and diseases
Meyer lemon trees are hardy against disease but can attract pests that feed off the leaf sap. Mites are common, but will rarely do permanent damage to a lemon tree. Aphids feed off very young trees that have not yet attracted natural predators. Scale insects can be a larger problem, as they excrete a sweet liquid called honeydew which attracts other insects and may encourage the growth of mildew. Scale insects resemble small bumps and are often mistaken for part of the tree branch. Physically wiping the stems and leaves afflicted by scale with a soft rag soaked in horticultural oil and neem oil can help to dislodge them.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you pollinate Meyer lemon trees?
Meyer lemon trees produce both male and female flowers, so hand-pollination is not generally necessary. However, if you choose to hand-pollinate a Q-tip or small paintbrush can be used to gently remove pollen from open male flowers. Lightly brush the collected pollen into open female flowers, which can be recognized by their bulbous stamens in the center. Do not pinch open or otherwise disturb the flowers. They are not mature and ready for fertilization until they open naturally.
How large do Meyer lemon trees grow?
Outdoor trees that are given plenty of root space can grow between six and 10 feet tall. For indoor trees, or to line a stoop or walkway, a dwarf tree that reaches a maximum height of five to seven feet may be best. Tree growth can also be limited by the size of the pot regardless of the variety. A smaller pot will produce a shorter mature tree.
How are Meyer lemons used as a food?
Meyer lemon fruit has a unique taste that is sweet and slightly sour at the same time. This is due to its hybridization of lemon trees with mandarin orange trees. Meyer lemons can be peeled and the juice squeezed onto salads. The pulp, juice and zest are also used in baking or savory recipes. Chefs prize the peel of the Meyer lemon for its fragrant aroma and subtle flavor. While they are not as sour as some lemon varieties, Meyer lemons are not usually eaten as a raw fruit the way one would eat an orange.
How are Meyer lemons different from other lemons?
Meyer lemons were originally produced as ornamental plants because the fruits are smaller than commercially-grown grocery lemons and have a somewhat rounder shape. The skin is also smoother. When ripe, the rinds are deeper with an orange hue. The fruit is also more deeply colored than some other lemon varieties.