Meyer Lemon Tree Care: It's sweeter than you suppose!

If life gives you lemons, plant a tree to grow more! With the right care of Meyer lemon trees, lemons are a delicious delicacy that you can grow in your own home, no matter where you live.

Meyer lemons are less acidic than traditional grocery stores. This gives them a sweeter taste that cooks and lemonade drinkers go crazy for. The tree itself is lively and colorful with its abundant yellow-orange fruit and lively, evergreen foliage. Twice a year there is a show with white tufts of flowers that refresh the room with their citrus scent.

All of these exciting properties and easy maintenance make the Meyer lemon tree the most popular citrus fruit grown in the United States. It is rarely sold in grocery stores, so gardeners strive to grow it themselves. As soon as we are finished discussing this striking tree, you can join in and have fun!

This post is sponsored by Fast growing trees, a source of quality for Meyer lemon trees and many other species.

Good products for growing a Meyer lemon tree:

quick start Guide

The Meyer lemon is a sweet-fruity relative of a traditional lemon tree. Source: Steve Wedgwood

Common names Meyer lemon tree, Improved Meyer lemon tree, Perfect lemon tree, Dwarf Meyer lemon tree
Scientific name Citrus x meyeri “Improved”
Month (s) of harvest 4-8 months
light Full sun
water Pour deep when the top of the soil has dried out.
ground Loamy and well draining.
fertilizer Apply once a month from spring to autumn.
pests Mites, scale insects, aphids, whiteflies
Diseases Grease stain, citrus crab, phytophthora gummosis, root rot

About Meyer Lemons

Meyer lemon blossomsMeyer lemon blossoms are light pink before opening and turn bright white after being rolled out. Source: Life in Monrovia

Meyer lemon trees are suspected of being a cross between traditional lemon and tangerine. They were originally imported from China, but contained a threatening citrus virus. In 1975, the University of California produced the type we grow today. These are often referred to as "improved" or "perfect" lemons because they are resistant to the citrus virus found in earlier Meyer lemon varieties.

Meyer lemon trees grow like shrubs, but can be trained to grow as full trees. When planted in containers, they usually adapt to the size of the pot (about 4 feet tall or less). When planted in the ground, they can grow 8-10 feet tall and 12 feet wide.

Since they are hybrids, these citrus trees bear fruit best if they grow on existing rhizomes instead of seeds. Newly grafted trees usually take around 2 years to bear fruit. Meyer lemon trees sold by nurseries are usually grafted onto rootstock.

Plant Meyer lemon trees

Plant your lemon tree in late winter or early spring before the growing season begins. This gives you a little time to find your way around before work. If you live in zones 8-11, you can put it directly in the ground. In colder climates, you need to use a container and keep it indoors at least in winter.

When you've purchased your baby lemon tree and looked for a spot, gently push it out of the original container. Take a second to loosely massage the root ball and remove dead or dying roots. Spread out the root ball so that the roots are not twisted together. Plant it so that the top roots are barely visible on the ground surface. Then dab the bottom and give it a good drink.

Meyer lemon tree care

Meyer flowers begin to produce fruitTiny fruits form from the flower ovaries as small green ovals. Source: Rockin’Rita

Maintenance is usually simple, but offers little room for deviations. If you want to make the most of your Meyer lemon tree, you must follow these care tips.

Light & temperature

Since they are citrus trees, Meyer lemons need at least 8-10 hours of sunlight to fully grow and produce fruit. This tree can develop sunburnt leaves. Therefore, pay attention to the corresponding symptoms. For optimal growth, choose a location where the morning sun and indirect light shine in the afternoon heat. Make sure it gets the right amount of light all year round.

The temperature should be between 50 and 80 ° F for optimal growth. If the tree grows in containers, it should be brought indoors if the temperature drops below 50 ° F for an extended period. Protect the tree from strong and cold winds.

How often to pour

Meyer lemon trees like their soil moist but not soaked. Pour it deeply until the water comes out through the drainage holes. Wait for the top part of the soil to dry before watering it again to avoid flooding the tree. With this fruit tree, it is much better to leave it under water than above water.

Make sure that extra water comes out of the pot and check the drain regularly. Too much water can drown the roots, attract insects and lead to bacteria and fungal attack.

In the case of trees that are planted directly in the ground, measuring the soil moisture is important. They prefer moist soil, which is not, however, mushy or mushy.

Young trees need more water as they develop and should be watered at least once a week. In hot weather, more water is required to keep young seedlings alive. Older trees are less likely to be watered, but will still like between 3 and 6 inches of water every few weeks. For these older trees, deeper and slower irrigation with a drip irrigation system is best.

ground

Soil is one of the most important components for keeping a plant alive. If you grow Meyer lemons, you need loamy and well-draining soil. Make your own clay mix by mixing equal parts of soil (a sandy soil or slightly muddy soil is fine), perlite and peat moss. Alternatively, look for a pre-mixed potting soil for citrus trees.

Meyer lemon trees prefer a soil pH of 5.5-6.5 (slightly acidic to neutral). This is very typical of citrus trees and easy to accommodate. If you don't know the pH of your soil, have it tested and adjusted if necessary.

Fertilize

Meyer lemons are heavy feeders, so you need to fertilize frequently. Fertilize your tree once a month during the growing season, depending on which fertilizer you choose. Use a nitrogen-rich citrus fertilizer.

If slow release is more your style, apply a balanced dose at the beginning of the growing season. Use the product as often as the package requires throughout the season. Regardless of your fertilizer choice, you can give the tree an extra boost by adding a diluted liquid fertilizer such as compost tea or fish emulsion.

pollination

Immature Meyer lemons on the treeThe dark green, unripe fruit of a Meyer lemon under development. Source: laurenipsum

Meyer lemon trees are self-pollinating, so you don't have to worry about finding a companion for you. In nature, they are often pollinated by the wind or insects.

If your tree lives indoors in spring and summer, you need to replenish the bees. Using a cotton swab or brush, gently collect pollen from one flower and dust it on another. Pollination is absolutely critical if you want to get lemon fruit from your tree.

Grow in containers

Meyer lemon trees are very often grown in containers – especially in cold climates. You need at least a 5 gallon container with drainage holes. If it is too heavy to lift with the tree in it, use a dolly or ask a friend to help you with the transportation. Repot the tree every two years as necessary so that it does not bind to the root.

When it's inside, place your lemon tree against a window that gets constant sunlight all day. Keep in mind that these trees need a lot of light. If necessary, add a growth light. Rotate the tree from time to time to get even exposure.

Only move the tree in or out when the temperatures are relatively the same. Otherwise the sudden temperature difference can shock the system. If you just brought it outside, leave it in the shade for a few weeks so that it can adapt to the amount of light.

In addition to the temperature differences, zones 8 to 11 often have a higher humidity than cooler areas. You can add additional ambient humidity to the room with a humidifier. A pebble shell under the tree can provide additional moisture.

Keep in mind that if your tree is only indoors, it can take a whole year for the fruit to ripen.

Pruning / training

Prune your Meyer lemon tree to keep the size and branches strong enough to support the weight of the fruit. Here are some quick trimming tips:

  • Do not remove fruiting branches that are growing.
  • Remove branches that cross or grow inwards.
  • Keep the middle of the tree thin enough to promote air circulation.
  • For tree-like growth, remove shoots near the ground so that a single stem remains.
  • Meyer lemons can be trained as a trellis tree!

You can help your tree produce better fruit by redirecting its energy by pruning as well. Grow larger lemons by thinning each fruit group down to one or two lemons. Instead, the energy that the tree would have put in each of the removed lemons flows into the few you chose to store. It may be a shame, but this will focus the tree's energy on producing high quality fruit and vegetative growth.

Propagation Meyer lemon trees

Meyer lemons grown from seeds rarely ripen and bear fruit. Instead, most gardeners prefer propagation through cuttings or grafting. Here you will find everything you need to know.

Propagation during the growing season when the tree actively uses its energy. You need the following materials:

Use your hair clipper to cut the end of a healthy branch. It should be mature, but not burdened with flowers and fruits. The cutting must be long enough to have 2-3 leaf knots. Immediately wrap the cut side in a damp paper towel so that it does not dry out.

Remove all but the top 3-4 leaves. Also remove all buds. Cut the end with a sharp knife at an angle of 45 °.

Dip the end of the cut in root hormone and then stick it upright in damp, well-draining soil. The bottom and the pot must be sterile to prevent citrus diseases.

Keep the soil moist and the sunlight indirect. In about 8 weeks, the cutting takes root and new leaves begin to grow.

Harvest & store Meyer lemons

Comparison of Meyer lemon and Eureka lemonOn the left a Meyer lemon, on the right a standard lemon. Note the smaller size and slightly different shape. Source: Maggie Hoffman

This must be the most exciting and rewarding part of growing a fruit tree. The harvest is easy and the fruits are wonderful!

harvest

This citrus tree blooms and bears fruit twice a year, usually in early spring and autumn. The lemons can take 6 months or more to ripen. So you have to be patient. The lemons only ripen on the tree, so don't pick them too early. When ripe, they have the color of an egg yolk and the skin feels slightly soft. They should be similar in weight to other lemons.

Cut or pinch the fruit from the tree so that it does not cause any damage when plucked. Meyer lemons are best eaten fresh and are fantastic in almost every dish. They are also perfect for lemonade!

storage

Meyer lemons left on the kitchen counter usually don't last longer than a week. However, if you keep them in a sealed bag in the refrigerator, their lifespan will be extended by one month! Sliced ​​lemons should also be kept in the refrigerator and will last a few days.

Lemons can be frozen, but can become mushy when thawed. They are usually frozen and their juice is used in drinks. Only leave them in the freezer for 3-4 months when they are whole. When juicing, the juice can be frozen for up to 6 months.

You can store Meyer lemons long-term by canning them as jam, jelly or jam. In addition, there are many techniques for preserving candied or salted Meyer lemons, many of which are used in Mediterranean cuisine.

The lemon peel is often one of the most valuable parts of a Meyer lemon. This outer layer of the skin contains many of the oils that create a lively lemon taste. Some choose to dehydrate or freeze lemon peel for later use, but it will never be as strong and bright as fresh peel.

Try pouring a lemon directly into a sugar bowl to get a nice hint of lemon for later baking. Massage the sugar and lemon with your fingertips and put them in a warm place until the peel has dried. A dehydrator to keep herbs fresh (just below 100 degrees) is ideal for drying lemon sugar. After drying, dissolve the lumps and store them in a mason jar. This technique works well for salts that can also be used for savory cooking!

Troubleshooting

Meyer lemon treeMeyer lemons have a bushy shape, but can be cut into a single-stemmed tree. Source: Kirsty S

Improved Meyer lemons are free of citrus fruits, but have no problems. Here are some common problems.

Growing problems

If your fruit tree has yellowed leavesIt will probably need more fertilizer or water. If underwatering is the problem here, the leaves are also dry. You may be in a hurry to fix the problem, but don't douse it as a solution! Give your tree more water gradually. The same applies to the addition of more fertilizer. If your plant is already fertilized regularly, add some liquid fertilizer for an extra boost.

A common complaint about Meyer lemons growing indoors is that they do not bloom or produce fruit, This is probably because the tree is not getting enough sunlight. It has to absorb as much as possible for fruit production. Find a sunnier place to place the tree and consider adding a growing light to it.

Wilted leaves are a symptom of too much water. Over-watering can lead to internal damage to plants. So be extra careful. Make sure the top few inches of the bottom are dry before watering. If the floor is wet all the time, try replacing it with another one that drains better.

pests

There are many pests that can infect citrus trees, but the ones you are most likely to see are citrus mites. Insects with citrus scales. White flies. and aphids, All four feed on the leaves of the tree by sucking out the sap. They can cause the following symptoms:

  • Yellow spots
  • Let the leaves fall
  • White cotton or wax material (scale insects)
  • Brown, curling leaves

Prevention is the easiest way to keep your lemon in a good mood. Keep your tree clean by removing dead leaves or branches, overripe fruits, and other debris. Prune the branches to allow enough air to circulate between them.

If your tree is already infested with pests, using horticultural or neem oil can remove most of the eggs and larvae. An organic pesticide like pyrethrin can also be used to kill pests.

Diseases

The defense against pests also prevents diseases in your plant. If your tree is still showing symptoms, check our table for how to treat them:

illness symptoms Prevent Heal
grease spot Deadly greasy, brown blisters on the leaves. Spray copper fungicide on the leaves before and after summer. Spray copper fungicide on all leaf surfaces.
Citrus Canker Dying branches, leaf loss and brown, cork-structured blisters. Spray the copper and fungicide on the tree and fruits for the first few months after the flowers have faded. Remove the infected sections.
Phytophthora gummosis Juice infected by fungi that seeps from the rind can cause lesions or cause the rind to peel off. Keep the trunk dry and the temperature warm. Use well-drained soil and check the tree regularly for diseases. Dilute the granular fungicide Fosetyl-Al according to the instructions on the pack and spray or spread it on the trunk. Copper fungicide is an organic option.
root rot Roots turn brown and mushy. The rot can spread to the branches and leaves. Use well-drained soil and not above water. Remove dirt from the ground, keep the trunk dry and cut it off for air circulation. Remove the infested root sections (for container plants) and replace the soil.

frequently asked Questions

Q: Are coffee grounds good for Meyer lemon trees?

A: Coffee grounds are a great addition to most trees. They won't acidify the floor, so don't rely on them to help! However, they provide small amounts of nitrogen when they decompose.

Q: How long does it take for a Meyer lemon tree to bear fruit?

A: If you bought your tree that is already grafted and growing, it takes about 2 years for fruit to grow. If you grow Meyer lemons from cuttings, you have to wait 3-5 years for fruit.

Q: Why are the leaves of my Meyer lemon tree turning yellow?

A: Your tree may be under water or need more nutrients. Determine which one is by checking the soil moisture. In some cases, yellowed leaves can be a sign of a pest or disease. So look for other symptoms.

Are you ready to try your newly discovered citrus knowledge? It may take some time to get used to the needs of the Meyer lemon. Maintaining this tree should be relatively easy, however. If you do it right, you will be rewarded with vibrant leaves, fragrant flowers and the best lemon you have ever tried!

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