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Everything You Need to Know About Meyer Lemon Trees

Meyer lemon trees combine the best of lemons and mandarin oranges into one hybrid, fruit-bearing tree.

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If you haven’t heard of a Meyer lemon before, you’re missing out on this farmers market favorite. Meyer lemons are a thin-skinned hybrid fruit, part lemon and part mandarin orange, making them much sweeter than the kind of lemon you’d see at a grocery store.

You can’t find Meyer lemons on your grocery run, since they aren’t grown commercially. If you want to get a taste of these sweet-tart fruits, you need to consider getting your very own Meyer lemon tree.

Meyer Lemon Trees at a Glance

Meyer lemon trees can yield fruit in just two years after planting them. Whether you choose to place one in your lawn or in your patio, your Meyer lemon tree can be both ornamental and a source of citrus sweetness.

  • Cross between lemons and mandarin oranges
  • Chefs use the sweet-tart skins
  • Self-pollinating
  • Can bear fruit in as little as two years
  • Will fruit indoors and outdoors
  • Heavy harvest in winter
  • Require consistent misting

History of the Meyer Lemon Tree

The first Meyer lemon trees were introduced from China in 1908. Unfortunately, this initial variety was very susceptible to disease, especially a fast-spreading virus that threatened the citrus industry in California in the 1960s by infecting nearby healthy citrus trees.

In 1975, the University of California introduced an all-new variety, called the “Improved Meyer lemon tree.” That’s the one we know and grow today. It’s more disease-resistant, and insect-resistant.

Appearance of Meyer Lemon Trees

Standard Meyer lemon trees grow to be 6-10 feet tall, while the dwarf variety grow to be 5-7 feet. If you grow your Meyer lemon tree in a garden pot, it will grow according to the size of the pot and be smaller.

Meyer lemon trees have glossy, dark green leaves and fragrant white blossoms that are purple at the base. When they’re ripe, the skins of Meyer lemons will take on the color of an egg yolk—yellow with a faint orange tinge. Meyer lemon skins are fragrant and a popular ingredient among chefs.

Appearance Details & Characteristics

Characteristic Details
Characteristic Details
Appearance Glossy green leaves, white blossoms, yellow-orange fruits
Height 6-10 feet tall, with dwarf variety of 5-7 feet tall
Hardiness Zones 8-11
Type of tree Fruit
Sunlight requirements 8-12 hours of direct sunlight per day
Soil composition 5.5-6.5 pH level
Lifespan Up to 50 years

Growing Meyer Lemon Trees

Here’s what you need to know before you decide to grow your own Meyer lemon tree.

Ideal Hardiness Zones

Meyer lemon trees flourish in USDA Hardiness Zones 8-11, which are regions on the southern coastal margins and deep southern half of the US. Hardiness Zones are the standards gardeners use to determine the best growing regions for their plants and crops.

Planting Meyer Lemon Trees

These are the steps to follow to plant your Meyer lemon tree in a pot.

  • Select a sturdy container with drainage holes that is 1-2 sizes larger than the container the tree arrived in.
  • Place a 2-inch layer of stone at the bottom of the pot.
  • Create a potting mixture with peat moss, potting soil, and either vermiculite or perlite in the pot.
  • Slide the tree out of the container.
  • Cut off dry roots and fluff matted roots.
  • Place the tree in the center of the pot.
  • Place the potting mixture in the pot so that the crown of the roots rest just above the line of the soil.
  • Add water slowly.
  • Place the tree by a south-facing window.

Soil Requirements

The trees require soil with good drainage and do well in loamy and sandy loam soils. The soil can range between 5.5 and 6.5 pH. You can amend your soil to reach the desired pH level, either adding sulfur to increase soil acidity or lime to lower overly acidic soil.

Sunlight Needed

Meyer lemon trees thrive in full sunlight, requiring 8-12 hours of direct sunlight per day, preferably from the southwest, whether indoors or outdoors. If this isn’t possible inside, consider investing in grow lights.

Watering a Meyer Lemon Tree

Citrus trees need soil that is moist but not wet to thrive, especially if they are grown in pots. The best method is to water deeply but infrequently. Water when the upper two inches of the soil is dry. You can test this by pressing your finger into the soil down to your second knuckle and seeing if the soil feels dry or moist.

Citrus leaves crave humidity. If you have an indoor Meyer lemon tree, mist it daily. It’s also a good idea to place rocks and water in the saucer beneath your garden pot, so that humidity will rise up.

Optimal Temperature

Meyer lemon trees thrive between roughly 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, you should bring your Meyer lemon tree indoors until it heats up again.

Pollination Tips

One major benefit of Meyer lemon trees is that they are self-fertile. You only need one of these self-pollinating trees to get fruit. Planting several will increase your overall harvest, but isn’t necessary.

Meyer lemon trees start bearing fruit at different times, depending on how they were grown. Trees grown from grafted rootstock can start bearing fruit in as soon as two years, while seed-grown trees, which tend to be less healthy in general, start bearing fruit at three to seven years old.

Meyer lemon trees will fruit either indoors or outdoors once or twice a year, with especially abundant harvests in fall and winter.

If your Meyer lemon tree is located outdoors, pollination should take care of itself. But if you have an indoor Meyer lemon tree—or an outdoor one that you bring inside during cold temperatures—you can assist with pollination. Take a paintbrush or cotton swab and ease it into the center of a Meyer lemon blossom and swirl it, collecting the pollen. Then, repeat the process with every other blossom on the tree.

Pruning a Meyer Lemon Tree

You should prune your Meyer lemon tree periodically to keep it in its best health, maintain its structure and shape, and ensure that its branches can support fruit. Cut back the branches that do not produce fruit—called long leads—as they grow. The side branches will spread into that space and strengthen so that they can bear the weight of the fruit. Cut any branches that are growing toward the trunk to increase airflow between the branches.

Pruning your Meyer lemon tree before its fruit develops—cutting off every bud in a cluster except for one—can help stimulate the growth of larger lemons.

Fertilizing a Meyer Lemon Tree

Your Meyer lemon tree can benefit from monthly fertilizations from April through September. Select a slow-release nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Some are created specifically for citrus trees. You can also use organic emulsions or kelp.

Yellowing leaves can be a sign you need to fertilize your Meyer lemon tree.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

The amount of time it takes depends on how the tree was grown. A grafted tree can bear fruit in as little as two years, while seed-grown Meyer lemon trees can take anywhere from three to seven years to produce fruit.

How do you take care of a Meyer lemon tree?

Caring for a Meyer lemon tree involves watering the soil deeply but infrequently and misting its leaves, promoting good soil drainage, allowing your tree to get at least 8 hours of direct sunlight, and more.

How big do Meyer lemon trees get?

Standard Meyer lemon trees grow to be 6-10 feet tall, while the dwarf variety grow to be 5-7 feet tall.

Are coffee grounds good for Meyer lemon trees?

It depends on the acidity or alkalinity of your soil. The ideal soil pH for your Meyer lemon tree is between 5.5 and 6.5 pH. Coffee grounds can increase the acidity of the soil if needed.

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How To Grow a Giant Lemon Tree Absolutely Anywhere

Have you seen citrus trees and wondered how you could have one too? It’s not so hard to grow a giant lemon tree. The caring, planting, maintaining steps and instructions below are going to make this a possibility that you are going to love harvesting!

Believe it or not, you don’t have to live in the tropics to enjoy tangy, sweet citrus at any time of the year.

You can easily grow your own giant lemon tree. Lemon trees are easy to grow indoors and, though it takes a long time for the fruit to ripen, you’ll be able to enjoy fragrant white flowers (each of which gives off a delicious citrusy scent) while the tree is growing, too.

Table of Contents

How to Grow a Giant Lemon Tree

There are many reasons why you should grow a giant lemon tree indoors – and learning how to grow a giant lemon tree is simple and uncomplicated. No matter what your goals may be, you can turn that dream into reality when you follow these tips.

Interested in more gardening projects? You might appreciate these items you can upcycle in a garden and even what types of flowers you can grow in a vegetable garden. There is no lack of gardening hacks and tips we can share, and below you can start with the lemon tree and learn even more!

1. Choose the Right Cultivar

When you’re choosing what kind of lemon tree to grow in your home, you have a few options. You can buy a tree from the local nursery, order seeds, or simply save the seeds from your favorite lemon variety.

Believe it or not, growing a giant lemon tree from a seed is not difficult to do. Starting with organic seeds is best.

Beyond that, you’ll have a few options. Meyer lemon trees are the most common type grown indoors, but these generally old yield trees that are six to seven feet tall, at most.

Ponderosa lemon trees, on the other hand, grow more slowly but can reach heights of up to 24 feet. While these also produce large fruits, they might not be ideal for indoor growing. They are often grown as ornamental plants.

If you want to grow a giant lemon tree, go ahead and choose a Ponderosa lemon, but make sure it is a nursery cultivar that has been grafted to a dwarf rootstock so it can maintain a more manageable size for container growing.

Other lemon tree options that grow well in containers include Meyer Improved Dwarf and Lisbon lemon trees.

2. Plant Your Tree

If you purchase a tree that is already started, you can skip this step. However, if you want to grow your tree from seed, you will need to first plant your seeds.

You’re going to need a large pot, ideally one that is 12 inches deep and 24 inches wide. You will also need a smaller pot that’s roughly six inches wide and six inches deep. When you are selecting your container, make sure you choose one with good drainage holes. You can also use a self-watering planter, which will prevent the disastrous effects of overwatering.

The extra water will, instead, be filtered into a chamber and kept separate from the plant.

Fill your pot with organic all-purpose potting soil. Moisten the soil so that it is damp, though not soaked, all the way through. Then, fill the smaller pot with this soil up to one inch below the rim.

Make sure your seed is completely clean and lightly moist. Put it about half an inch deep in the center of the pot.

Spray the soil above the seed with water, using a spray bottle to do so. Then, cover the container with clear plastic wrap, making sure the edges are sealed with a rubber band. Poke a few holes in the plastic wrap.

Put your pot in a warm, sunny location, spraying it occasionally with water to prevent it from drying out. Do not allow water to puddle but instead keep the soil moist. Your seedling should emerge in two weeks when you can take the plastic cover off. You may be interested in checking out these tips for hardening off your seedlings for more tips on this process.

3. Position it Properly

Lemon trees are tropical plants, so it’s important that you plant them in south-facing windows. If you don’t, your tree will not yield lemons and your tree will fail to thrive. Lemons love sunshine – the more sunshine, the better!

Your lemon tree will need at least eight full hours of sunlight per day. You may have to use a grow light to supplement some of this light.

When choosing a location for your lemon tree, you may want to select one with plenty of natural air movement. Growing citrus trees outside is often easier than growing them indoors since they’ll have access to natural wind movement. If that’s not an option, consider placing a fan near your lemon tree to keep things moving.

The room you choose to grow your lemon tree in should also be relatively warm. Ideally, your tree should be no cooler than 55 degrees Fahrenheit at night and 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.

4. Fertilize and Water Regularly

It is also essential that you keep your tree well-fed throughout the year with fertilizer. You can use worm castings, seaweed and kelp fertilizer, fish waste, or other natural amendments. Citrus trees require a lot of nutrients, ideally in the form of well-balanced fertilizers used throughout the year. Dr. Earth Natural Wonder fertilizer is a great kit to start with if you are new to fertilizer.

If you notice that your lemon tree has yellow spots, it’s a sign of stress – fertilize immediately! Here are some DIY organic fertilizer options that might be of interest.

You will also need to keep your lemon tree well-watered. Whenever the soil dries out, give the tree a thorough watering, adding water until it drains out of the bottom of the container. It’s important to note that young lemon trees need more water than older ones. Depending on if you have this lemon tree indoors or outdoors, you may want to check out these self-watering irrigation methods.

Humidity is just as important for a lemon tree as actual water. In fact, most citrus trees need up to 50% humidity to thrive. You can increase humidity without increasing the likelihood of mold and mildew developing in your home by placing it on a tray of stones and wetting the stones from time to time.

Lemon trees, when grown indoors, aren’t usually affected by diseases and pests. However, you can prune off dead, brown leaves whenever you notice them. This will encourage the plant to grow.

5. Repot As Your Plant Grows

As your lemon tree gets bigger, you will need to repot it. While you may be able to go several years before repotting a tree that you purchased already started from the nursery, your seedling tree will need to be moved to the larger pot within just a few months.

Your tree may produce sucker branches as it grows, too. Sucker branches generally grow from the rootstock of the tree, and if your tree is under stress, the rootstock can rapidly overtake the rest of it. If you notice one, prune it immediately.

Why You Should Grow a Giant Lemon Tree

A better question would be, “why shouldn’t you grow a giant lemon tree?” These plants are not only easy to grow, but they’re fun to cultivate, too.

Grow your own lemon tree, and you’ll find that your home is quickly filled with a fresh lemon aroma. It will smell fresh and clean at all times, even when your tree is not yet in bloom.

Not only that, but the lemons you grow on your tree will be so fresh that you won’t ever want to buy them from the grocery store ever again. It can take a long time for the fruits to ripen, but lemon trees are so easy to grow that they are more or less “plant and forget” kinds of trees.

Finally, giant lemon trees are absolutely gorgeous. With their glossy dark leaves and lacy white and pink flowers (and don’t forget – the bright yellow fruits!), there’s something to be said about the ornamental value they add to your home.

You don’t have to have a massive green thumb in order to grow a giant lemon tree! All you need is a bit of practice – and of course, the right knowledge of how to grow your own giant lemon tree, too. When you follow these tips, you can enjoy refreshing lemonade, lemon bars, and other tasty lemon treats at any time of the year.

Facts About Lemon Seeds

Lemon seeds are usually considered an afterthought, if that, when it comes to the actual fruit they are contained in. Plump, bright and flavorful, lemons serve as the stars in many beverages and meals. But the tiny seeds are ultimately responsible for all of those flavorful tarts, cold summer drinks and seafood toppers. The seeds traveled far to reach America. Many lemon varieties are now grown in orchards and home gardens alike.

Structure

Lemon seeds nestle within the pulp near the center of each fruit. Their numbers and size vary according to variety, but most are hard, wrinkled, white, elliptical or oval and measure about 3/8 inch long. “Rough” lemons with sturdier rinds are usually grown from seed. Some hybrids are grafted onto root stocks or grown from large cuttings.

  • Lemon seeds are usually considered an afterthought, if that, when it comes to the actual fruit they are contained in.
  • Rough” lemons with sturdier rinds are usually grown from seed.

History

No one really knows where lemons originated, according to Purdue University’s department of horticulture, but they have been tied to northwestern India. They are thought to have appeared in southern India in 200 A.D. and spread south and east from there. Christopher Columbus is credited with bringing lemons to Hispaniola in 1493, and the Spanish then probably introduced them to Saint Augustine, Florida along with oranges and other citrus. Florida and California began commercially growing them in the 1830s, but competition, hard freezes and disease in Florida in the latter part of the century scaled back production there. Lemon trees are more sensitive to cold snaps than oranges because their growth is more constant.

Varieties

Lemon varieties grown today are primarily the result of horticulturalists weeding out weaker plant varieties in search of vigorous, hardy producers after the Florida freezes. Not all fruit has seeds, nor do they even have a yellow hue. For instance, Armstrong is a seedless variety while Meyer is a mandarin hybrid with light orange, sweet tasting fruit.

  • No one really knows where lemons originated, according to Purdue University’s department of horticulture, but they have been tied to northwestern India.

Consumption

The oil from seeds is extracted and used for various medicinal purposes, from digestive detoxification to acne treatments, none of which have been scientifically proven to work. The ASPCA states if animals or people consume seeds in large quantities, they could cause “irritation and possibly even nervous system depression,” but if eaten in small amounts or accidentally, will most likely cause nothing more than stomach upset.

Growing

Lemon trees can be grown from the seeds in the fruit that you eat, as long as they are planted immediately, according to New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service. Wash them to remove sugar clinging to the seed coat. Do not allow the seeds to dry. Plant the moist seeds in potting soil about ½ inch deep, then cover the top of the pot with plastic wrap to create a greenhouse effect. Place in warm location, and in the sun when the seeds sprout. Unless you graft seedlings to a mature lemon tree, you will have to wait 15 years for lemons to grow. Grafting will reduce the wait by about 5 years.

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