The Meyer Lemon Tree, is believed to be the result of a cross between an orange and a lemon tree. This sun-loving tree is robed with attractive green foliage, fragrant flowers and is self-pollinating.
It produces delicious tangy citrus fruits as long as it receives enough sunlight and proper care.
Where Did The Meyer Lemon Tree Come From?
The original Meyer lemon tree came to the United States from China in 1908.
After the introduction, the dwarf-sized plant became very popular. However, due to being highly susceptible to disease, the Dwarf Meyer lemon tree was banned.
In the 1960s, the majority of Meyer lemon trees in California were destroyed by a virus they carried, which threatened the entire citrus industry. Fortunately, one stock was deemed free and clear of disease and became the source for a newly developed “Improved Meyer Lemon” tree. Via npr.org
In 1975, the University of California introduced the “Improved Meyer Lemon Tree.” A cold hardy plant, which bears thin-skinned fruits and grows well in the right conditions.
Meyer lemon trees grafted on to a rootstock will produce fruit in about two years. Seed grown Lemon tree plants can take 4-7 years to start bearing fruit.
These fruit trees can grow as an indoor cold tolerant plant in colder zones but grows well outdoors year-round in USDA Hardiness Zones 8-11.
When comparing the fruits of Meyer lemon trees to other citrus fruits varieties such as lime, mandarin orange, and regular lemons, you will see very distinct qualities.
In appearance, fruits of the Meyer lemon tree look smaller and rounder. The fruits’ color ranges from deep yellow to orange with dark yellow citrus pulps.
Fruits of the Meyer lemon trees contain moderate levels of acidity. It does not give a strong tang, unlike the regular lemons.
Moreover, they have a sweeter taste which makes a lot of people prefer adding this sweet lemon to different dishes.
Some of the Meyer lemon recipes include Meyer lemon curd, lemon meringue pie, and candies. It also serves as a great addition to salads and dressings.
Meyer lemon’s spice and sweetness can make a recipe more palatable.
If you will substitute citrus lemon for the Meyer lemon juice, it is recommended that you start with smaller amounts and test. Gradually add more citrus drops according to taste.
The Meyer Lemon Tree is one of the simplest fruit trees for homeowners to care for and grow. Follow these tips carefully for a successful tree.
Quick Tips For Proper Growing Of Meyer Lemons
The first step in successfully growing any plant is knowing what they like. Let’s run down what Meyer Lemon Trees like:
- Correct Watering – Water soil thoroughly. These citrus trees need properly watered ground. Soil should not stay soaked or soggy
- Rich and good drainage when growing in a large container with drain holes.
- Full sun (direct sunlight 6 hours per day) and protection from the wind
- Temperatures between 50° to 80° degrees Fahrenheit and no lower than 32° degrees Fahrenheit.
- Regular feeding with an all-purpose slow-release fertilizer, a high nitrogen fertilizer or specialty citrus fertilizer. Do not feed this citrus tree during winter.
What Meyer Lemons Don’t Like
- Avoid keeping their feet wet and overwatering.
- Temperatures below freezing. Move the citrus tree indoors during the winter, especially if temperatures fall to freezing
- Too little or too much fertilizer
- Not enough sunlight
Finding The Right Soil and Container For Your Meyer Lemon Tree
Although the citrus tree does well in almost all potting soil types, the tree does well in loamy soil.
Ideally, use a three-gallon pot for a non-mature plant and a seven-gallon pot or larger pots for a mature plant. The tree grows to a full height of 7-10 feet.
Provide Trees With Plenty Of Sunlight
Citrus trees do well in warm locations and a sunny spot. Make sure the Meyer lemon tree will receive plenty of sunlight daily.
If you live in an area with freezing winters, bring the citrus trees inside to avoid damage. Take them outdoors in the spring.
When indoors, place the tree in a south-facing window for it to receive sufficient sunlight. Ensure that the tree receives at least six hours of sunlight every day.
Fertilizing And Feeding Lemon Trees
The Meyer lemon tree needs regular feeding to improve blossom growth as well as fruit production, as soon as the tree starts producing new growth in spring.
Reduce the frequency of feeding once the tree finishes producing fruit. During the first year of planting, provide the tree with 0.4 pounds of a balanced 6-6-6 fertilizer or a specialty citrus fertilizer. Split the amount into six spaced applications.
In the second year use a pound of the same fertilizer divided into five equal proportions.
Use about 1.9 pounds of fertilizer split into four application during the third year.
Progressively use about 4.4 pounds divided into three application during the fourth year and 6.1 pounds split into three equal application during the fifth year and the years after that.
Lemon Tree Watering
To grow healthy citrus trees proper watering is essential.
The key – DO NOT overwater. For potted plants you can check the moisture level by dipping your finger to the second knuckle into the soil. If the soil feels damp, wait another day before watering.
Recheck the moisture level the following day and if the second knuckle comes out dry, water the plant.
Provide the citrus tree with 4-6 cups of water and check the dampness.
If the water is not enough, add two more cups. The frequency of watering will depend on the temperature and season. Keep on rechecking the soil dampness and water only when necessary.
NOTE: Meyer Lemon trees, Key lime, grapefruit and other citrus trees growing in large pots will require more water.
The Meyer Lemon tree will do well with a relatively cool room temperature.
To be specific, the plant does well when maintained in an average of 65° degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 55°-60° degrees Fahrenheit during the night.
However, the tree will do well with much higher temperatures, especially during the summer. The Meyer lemon does not like freezing temperatures.
Aid In Pollination Of The Meyer Lemon Tree Using A Cotton Swab
Although the Meyer’s Lemon self-pollinates, indoors pollination may not occur because of no breeze or insect for pollinating.
Collect pollen (the yellow powder found in the center of a flower) by rubbing a cotton swab against a stamen. Rub the stigma with the cotton swab covered with the pollen to help pollinate the flowers.
Pruning The Trees
To keep the plant in shape, avoid overcrowding and prune as needed. Look for long, dead branches and branches that grow towards the tree trunk.
Pruning will allow proper airflow around the plant, encourage growth and help reduce potential diseases.
For large size lemons snip off all but one budding fruit to allow the tree to produce larger fruits.
Protecting Meyers Lemon From Pests
Some of the pests that affect Meyer lemon includes aphids, spider mites, and leaf borers. This pest can cause the plant stress and other problems making the citrus tree weak, reducing the fruit yields.
Proactively protect the young tree against these pests starting in spring when peak activities typically start.
Practicing good hygiene such as picking fallen fruits and keeping the garden weed-free.
When you find pests, use horticultural oils spray as well as applications of insecticidal soaps to eradicate the pests safely. Removing affected branches or leaves will help get rid of stem and leaf borers.
Guard The Fruit Tree Against Diseases
Brown rot and bacterial cankers start appearing in spring. To tackle these problems before they get out of hand, inspect your plants every week and take action if you suspect any signs of a disease.
Use a standard citrus fungicide spray made of fifty percent-concentrated fixed copper available in garden centers and nurseries. This spray works as an effective all-purpose fungicide for most common diseases affecting this fruit tree.
If you live in Florida, California or Arizona you will need to purchase citrus grown in those states due to agricultural restrictions.
Meyer Lemon Fruit Tree Q & A
Grow the Meyer lemon tree in a pot so it can be moved indoors if a freeze is predicted.
Question: I saw a Meyer lemon tree for sale, and I am considering getting one for our backyard. Will this plant survive the northern winters in our area?
Answer: No. It will have to be protected indoors during hard freezes, but I think Meyer lemons are worth the effort. Grow it in a container so you can move it inside when needed. Via dallasnews.com
Question: I have a productive 8-year-old Meyer lemon that’s been in the ground for about two years. When and how can I transplant this tree to a more suitable location? R.C., Houston
Arborist and permaculture designer M.C. Swearing offers this advice about the citrus fruit tree:
Answer: Dig a rootball with a circumference equal to the dripline of the tree. This should preserve a viable portion of the roots. Keep the rootball in tact as you move it to the new planting spot. The new hole should be a well-draining area and dug as deep as the rootball. Preferably, soil in the new area is comparable to that in the old. If you transplant from light, loamy soil into heavy, poorly draining clay, the tree may suffer, possibly die. Via chron.com