Native to China, Meyer lemon trees are naturally shrub-like but can easily be pruned into true tree form. When planted in the ground, they can grow up to 10 feet tall, though when grown in garden pots they'll generally be smaller and grow accordingly with the size of the pot. Seedlings develop at a moderate pace and can be expected to bear fruit in about four years. These trees are best planted in the early spring after the danger of frost has passed. They need warm conditions year-round to produce a good harvest, or they will need to be overwintered indoors.
Unlike the more common Eureka and Lisbon lemons, the Meyer is actually a hybrid fruit and is thought to be a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. The Meyer lemon fruit is sweeter than the fruit of other lemon trees, and even the peels are tasty and great for cooking. They are also smaller and have a rounder shape. Consistent with other citrus fruits, the fruit's skin and plant materials are toxic to dogs and cats.
Meyer Lemon Tree Care
These trees don't do well in saturated conditions, so pick a spot that has excellent drainage. If you are concerned about standing water, build up a wide mound of soil to plant your tree on or position it on a slope.
All citrus trees love the sun, and the Meyer lemon tree is no different. It will grow and fruit best when located in full sunlight, though it can survive in a slightly shady spot. This tree prefers at least eight hours a day of direct light.
Meyer lemon trees can grow in almost any type of soil, as long as it boasts good drainage. They prefer a soil pH between 5.5 and 6.5 and thrive in a loamy or sandy mixture. It's a good idea to test your soil ahead of planting to determine whether or not it needs adjusting. You can add lime to increase the soil pH or sulfur to lower it if necessary.
Proper watering is one of the keys to growing any citrus plant, particularly those grown in pots. The aim is to keep the soil of your Meyer lemon tree moist but not soggy. To determine whether it's time to water your plant, stick your finger into the soil at least up to the second knuckle. If you feel dampness at your fingertip, wait to water. If it feels dry, water your plant until you see water run out the bottom of the pot.
If your Meyer lemon tree is indoors, particularly in the winter when the heat is on, misting the leaves with water can also help keep it healthy. It's a good idea to use pot feet, which allow water to drain out of the pot and prevent the plant from becoming waterlogged.
Temperature and Humidity
Meyer lemon trees are happiest in temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. That means that, unless you live in USDA growing zones 9 to 11, you should bring your tree indoors when temperatures start regularly dipping below this range. Even in zones 9 to 11, the tree should be protected when temperatures drop below freezing. Be sure to use a covering that reaches all the way to the ground to help trap the heat from the earth.
Citrus trees do best with humidity levels of 50 percent and above. If you don't have a humid enough spot indoors, fill a tray with rocks, pour water just below the top of the rocks, and place your pot on top of the rocks so that humidity will rise up around the plant. You can also consider placing a small humidifier nearby.
During the growing season (early spring through fall), feed your Meyer lemon tree with either a high-nitrogen fertilizer or a slow-release all-purpose fertilizer. Typically three applications evenly-spaced throughout the growing season should be enough to keep your plant happy, growing, and producing. Citrus trees also respond well to additional feeding with a liquid fertilizer, such as compost tea, liquid kelp, or fish emulsion, but it is generally not necessary.