How to Grow a Meyer Lemon Tree

Updated on December 2, 2017
OldRoses profile image

Caren White is a Master Gardener and instructor at Home Gardeners School. She has been associated with Rutgers Gardens for over a decade.

Source

Those of us in northern climates don’t have the opportunity to harvest fresh citrus from our backyards as so many of our southern neighbors do. Fortunately, Meyer lemon trees are small enough to be grown in a container and brought indoors during the winter.

What are Meyer Lemons?

Meyer lemons are native to China and thought to be a cross between lemons and oranges or mandarin oranges. In China they are grown in pots as ornamental trees. These small trees were brought to the United States in 1908 by Frank Meyer, for whom they were named. After their introduction, they were widely grown in California.

In the 1940s, it was discovered that the trees, most of which were cloned, carried a virus that was fatal to other citrus trees although the virus did not affect the Meyer lemon trees. To save the other citrus trees, Meyer lemon trees were destroyed.

A decade later, a virus-free Meyer lemon was developed in California. It was certified and released by the University of California in 1975. It was called “Improved Meyer lemon”.

The fruit gained in popularity in the 1990s as part of the California Cuisine Revolution. They were further popularized by Martha Stewart who featured them in her recipes.

Meyer Lemon Flowers
Meyer Lemon Flowers | Source

What Do They Look Like?

The trees grow only 6 to 10 feet in height. The leaves are a shiny green. The flowers are lovely. They are white with a purple base and a very fragrant. The fruit is deep yellow with a tint of or orange when ripe. The insides are a dark yellow. The fruits are rounder than other lemons. The rind is also noticeably thinner than true lemons. The flavor is sweeter than the lemons you see in the produce sections of grocery stores. The flavor gets sweeter the longer it is on the tree before harvesting. Meyer lemon trees bear fruit year-round as long as the temperature remains above 55⁰F, but bear most heavily in the winter.

How to Grow a Meyer Lemon Tree

If you live zones 9 through 11, you can grow Meyer lemons outdoors in the ground. Make sure you have well-drained soil to avoid root rot. They grow in full sun or light afternoon shade. Water regularly throughout the growing season. Allow the trees to dry out between waterings in the winter. They can be fertilized with a slow release fertilizer in the spring and summer. Use a fertilizer specifically for citrus. They contain less nitrogen which encourages foliage growth and more phosphorous and potassium which encourages fruit production.

If you live north of zone 9, you will need to grow your Meyer lemon tree in a container and bring it indoors during the winter when night time temperatures drop below 50⁰F. When you move your tree indoors, it is best to place it in a relatively cool room. Meyer lemon trees do not tolerate the hot dry conditions found in our homes.

Despite their size, they can be grown in relatively small containers because they like to be potbound. Too large of a container can result in overwatering and root rot. Your tree will need a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight per day. A south facing window or artificial lights are recommended. Use the same slow release citrus specific fertilizer that is used for trees that are grown outdoors.

Although mature trees can grow up to 10 feet tall, you should keep your container grown tree pruned to 6 feet tall to allow for easier handling as you move it indoors in the winter and then outdoors during the summer. In addition to pruning the top of the tree, you will need to root prune as well. This is the secret of the bonsai masters. They keep their trees tiny by drastic pruning of the roots. You will not need to prune the roots of your tree as much as bonsai. Gently lift the root ball out of the container and using a sharp knife, prune 1/3 off the length of the root ball. Put fresh soil in the bottom of the container to fill in the space from the missing roots and gently replace the tree back into its container.

Meyer Lemon fruits have a thin rind and up to 10 seeds per fruit
Meyer Lemon fruits have a thin rind and up to 10 seeds per fruit | Source

Can Meyer Lemons Be Grown From Seed?

Yes as long as you are using fresh seed. Dried seed such as you find in seed packets for flowers and vegetables will not germinate. Your best bet is to buy a Meyer lemon and harvest the seeds found inside the fresh fruit. The fruit can contain up to 10 seeds. Carefully wash off the pulp and plant your seeds ½ inch deep in a container. Keep the soil moist but not wet. Germination should occur in 2 to 3 weeks. Water and fertilize your seedlings as you would a full grown tree. Your tree should begin bearing fruit when it is four years old.

Questions & Answers

  • My Meyer lemon tree is four-years-old, but doesn't bloom. Instead, it has lots of long thorns. Why is this?

    My first thought is that you don't have a Meyer lemon tree. Meyer lemons do not develop thorns.

    Have you tried a fertilizer that is specifically formulated for citrus? It has the right balance of nutrients so that your tree will develop flowers and fruit instead of all foliage.

  • Do I need more than 1 lemon tree to produce fruit?

    No! Meyer lemon trees self-pollinate so you only need one.

  • I’m in zone 5 (Chicago), with a 2nd floor south facing the window. It has a large roof overhang, limiting the sunshine. What would be the best type of lighting to use? I cannot install any large “hanging” light system. It must be portable.

    Go to Amazon and search "plant grow lights." They have lots of options that are small and portable.

  • What kind of lemon tree has thorns?

    I don't know of any lemon tree that has thorns.

© 2017 Caren White

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • OldRoses profile imageAUTHOR

      Caren White 

      10 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ

      Fresh produce is such a treat. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      10 months ago

      I have a lemon in my water every day. Having a tree in my yard would be wonderful. I enjoyed your share on growing this tree.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, dengarden.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://dengarden.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)