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Complete Guide to Meyer Lemon Tree Care

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It can be easy to raise animals and grow plants successfully when you provide proper care. Like us, plants and animals are living things. They need to be cared for, often in special ways, to stay healthy and thrive.

Of course, if you intend to grow a Meyer lemon or have one already, you want it to remain viable and healthy.

For the best results, you have to be thorough with the care you offer to your Meyer lemon tree. You have to take factors like soil, pruning, fertilizer, and much more into consideration.

fresh meyer lemons on a dark table

This article is a compilation of the various practices that add up to a complete Meyer lemon care guide. Let’s get to it.


Before we delve into caring for Meyer lemon trees, let’s talk about their origin.

Meyer lemons have a mixed origin. They are a hybrid – the product of a cross between an orange tree and a lemon tree.

Meyer lemons are not as sour and acidic as many other types of lemons. Their relative sweetness can be attributed to the orange half of their parentage.

The discovery of the Meyer lemon tree is credited to Frank N. Meyer. Meyer was on assignment from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Peking, China, when he discovered the tree.

Following the discovery of the tree by Frank Meyer, the Meyer lemon was introduced to the USA in 1908. It thrived and became popular, but at one point, it was banned because of its susceptibility to citrus diseases and its ability to harbor them.

During the 1940s and 1950s, virus-free varieties were developed.

Then in 1975, the University of California assessed, certified, and released an improved, virus-free variant. The said variety was called Improved Meyer Lemon Tree.

meyer lemon tree

Unlike the initial Meyer lemons, the Improved Meyer lemons were free of viruses like tristeza.

Of course, the old Meyer lemons (virus carriers) are still banned today in various citrus regions for obvious reasons.

If you intend to plant Meyer lemon trees for commercial purposes, you may want to think about a second option.

Meyer lemons have soft, tender skin that usually does not withstand shipping well.

Most of your harvest will likely go to waste before it gets to its destination.

Best Soil

Virtually all types of plants get their nutrients from the soil. Like every other living thing, nutrients are essential to the health of Meyer lemon trees.

In fewer words, the type of soil you use in planting your Meyer lemon tree is vital.

The good news is, Meyer lemon trees can survive in almost all types of soil, provided the soil has good drainage. Obviously, since good drainage is very vital, this tree does well in loamy and sandy soils.

Besides good drainage, another soil factor to consider is the pH. Like most citrus trees, Meyer lemon trees need slightly-acidic-to-neutral soils, so soil pH between 5.5 and 6.5 is optimal.

If the soil pH is above the said level, you may add sulfur to reduce it. However, if the soil pH is below the said level, you may add lime to raise it.

Potted vs. Planted

When planting a Meyer lemon tree, you may choose to plant it directly into the ground or into a pot. However, the size of the tree you’ll get will differ depending on the planting medium you choose.

holding a meyer lemon

If you plant your Meyer lemon tree in the ground, you can get a tree that grows as tall as 10 feet.

Conversely, if you choose to plant it in a pot, it most likely will not grow as tall as that.

The growth of a potted Meyer lemon tree is dependent on the pot’s size. That being said, let’s move on to choosing the right pot size.

Choosing the Right Pot Size

If you decide to pot or repot your Meyer lemon tree, choose a pot that can contain enough soil and support the tree’s growth.

Generally, you should get a container with a volume of at least five gallons. The container should also measure at least 13-14 inches in height.

Remember we said the soil you plant in should have good drainage? Well, you have to ensure there are holes in the container for sufficient drainage, and if there are not, you will need to drill some.

If you are planting your tree from a seed, plant the seeds while they are still fresh. Also, plant the seeds about half an inch into the soil, then cover them up.

You could also grow your Meyer lemon tree from a cutting. Cut 3-6 inches of the stem just below a leaf node. Then remove all leaves and fruits attached to it. Insert the cutting in a moist soil mixture, cover it up, then place the pot in a plastic bag.

When repotting, fill the pot halfway with the soil mixture. Then place the tree inside the pot and cover the vacant spaces with more soil mixture and water thoroughly.

meyer lemon flower closeup

Where to Plant

For your Meyer lemon tree to thrive, you have to place it in the right environment. Such an environment will have sufficient shade, sufficient sunlight, and the right temperature.

Place your Meyer lemon tree in a place where it can get around eight hours of sunlight. This applies whether you are potting or planting in the ground.

If you cannot get a spot with full sunlight, you may also place it in partial shade. Morning sun and late afternoon sun each day works very well.

Temperature is also vital when choosing a spot for your tree. So, opt for a place with temperatures between 33 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit when indoors. Do not plant the tree in a hot, indoor place.

Outdoors, temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit are perfect for Meyer lemon trees.

Generally, citrus plants thrive when humidity is at least 50%. If you are planting indoors, you could use a humidifier when the air is dry due to winter heating or lack of air circulation.

Another option to increase humidity is to use a tray filled with rocks and water. Place some rocks in a shallow tray, then fill the tray with water up to the top of the rocks.

Then place the pot atop the rocks. The water will evaporate into the canopy of the tree, raising the local humidity for the Meyer lemon.

Winter Care for Your Citrus Tree

frosted lemon tree

When winter comes, you won’t be the only one to feel it. Your Meyer lemon tree will feel it too.

Meyer lemon trees are hardy and can tolerate temperatures down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, you should still put measures in place to help them get through winter.

To get your indoor lemon tree through winter, do the following:

  • Place the tree in a spot with the highest exposure to the sun.
  • If needed, set up a fan around the tree to improve the circulation of air.
  • When humidity falls below 50%, turn on a humidifier or use a rock tray to raise it above 50%.
  • Water the soil regularly. Do not leave it dry, and do not make it too damp.
  • When spring comes, do not rush the plant back outside. Gradually reintegrate it into the outside environment. You can do this by exposing it to a couple of hours of sunlight daily outdoors for one-to-two weeks.

To get your outdoor lemon tree through winter, do the following:

  • Pluck the ripe fruits before the frost comes.
  • Water the trees to keep the roots from getting damaged. The older the tree, the more water it will need.
  • If the leaves turn yellow, the trees may need fertilizer. Get some balanced citrus fertilizer and apply it to the tree.
  • You may wrap the trunk of the tree with multiple cardboard layers to keep the frost out.
  • Pests like scales and aphids commonly attack lemon trees in winter. Ensure you keep them off.
  • Do not prune the trees until winter temperatures are past.

When and How to Prune

Pruning your Meyer lemon tree goes a long way in ensuring it grows well. It also ensures that the tree remains attractive.

So, when do you prune your Meyer lemon tree?

When you notice long, thin branches, prune them out. Such a stem cannot support or bear fruit.

So, get them out of the way for the viable ones.

You should also prune out damaged, dead, or infected branches. This helps prevent the spread of disease and keeps healthy stems strong.

If you keep your Meyer lemon tree indoors, you should prune it when it starts outgrowing its allotted space.

You could also trim off branches growing around the center of the tree to allow better ventilation.

Growth Rate

The growth rate of a Meyer lemon tree depends on the method of propagation used in planting it.

In general, those propagated with seeds take longer to fruit than those grown from cuttings.

If you are growing your tree directly from seed, you can expect fruit in four to seven years. However, if you use a graft/cutting, expect fruit in two to three years.

Considering how fast grafted plants fruit, it’s no wonder they are the more common method of propagation.

unripe lemon

Do Meyer Lemons Need Fertilizer? What Kind and How Often?

Meyer lemon trees would benefit from fertilizer application during their growing season. Since these trees typically grow between spring and fall, you can apply fertilizer between April and September.

When applying fertilizer to your Meyer Lemon trees, you can make do with three applications. Space these treatments evenly over the growing season.

What kind of fertilizers can you use on Meyer lemon trees?

A high-nitrogen fertilizer is most desirable for your trees. But besides that, you can also use liquid fertilizers or slow-release all-purpose fertilizers.

Examples of liquid fertilizers include fish emulsion, liquid kelp, and compost tea.

In some situations, the leaves of your tree might go yellow when they need fertilizer, so take note of such changes.

Can You Grow Meyer Lemons Indoors?

Yes, you can grow Meyer lemon trees indoors. As long as you provide the right conditions as stated above, the tree will thrive.

Where to Buy?

You can buy your Meyer lemon trees from any of the following stores:


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