I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post, at no cost to you.

Meyer Lemon Tree Care

Citrus × meyeri, Meyer lemon, is a citrus fruit plant indigenous to China. It’s a hybrid cross between a mandarin/pomelo and citron.

Mature trees grow to 10 feet tall with dark green glossy leaves. There’s a dwarf version that grows about 7 feet high, but if the plant grows in a pot, it will grow as high as the pot allows it and will be smaller. The flowers are white on a purple base and very fragrant. The fruit is a lot rounder than a regular lemon, deep egg-yolk yellow, and a slight tint of orange when ripe, and is sweeter than the regular one. 

It was cultivated as an ornamental in China for thousands of years where is known as ”Xiangningmeng” before it was brought and cultivated in the US in 1908 by Frank Nicholas Meyer, of the US Department of Agriculture, who brought a sample of the plant back from a journey to China. It gets its popular name from him.

The tree is prevalently cultivated as an ornamental due to its size, robustness, and productivity as well as being decorative and thrives in containers. A major advantage of this tree is that it is self-pollinating. While it produces fruit all through the year, the bulk of the crop is ready for harvest in winter. New branches have thorns to protect the young growth but transform into branches as they get older. Grafted trees can start fruiting in 2 years, while trees grown from seeds are generally less healthy and can take 3-7 years to fruit.

It became a popular fruit in the US when a famous chef, Alice Waters, began using it in her recipes in the ‘70s, along with Martha Stewart, who featured this lemon in her recipes in the ’90s. It’s one of the sweetest lemons and is popularly used in cooking, along with its delicious skin.

The juice is used in lemonade, cocktails, and also as a meat tenderizer as it partially hydrolyzes hard collagen fibers. It is often substituted for vinegar in salad dressings while the zest (grated rind) is used to add flavor in cooking and baking. The leaves are used to make tea and in cooking.

sunlight-icon

Sunlight

This plant thrives in direct sunlight, needing 8-12 hours of bright sunshine every day. If this is not possible indoors, it would be best to invest in grow lights to fulfill its needs. It grows and fruits better in full sunshine, although it can handle in slight shade. 

watering-can-icon

Water

This plant requires a sufficient amount of water, but well-draining soil is necessary to prevent waterlogging. The soil should become a bit dry between watering and moist enough, but not too dry or too wet. 

Over-watering or under-watering can affect the production of fruit. It generally needs watering every 1-2 weeks. Leaves are a good indication of health – if the leaves seem to be drooping and heavy, then it’s over-watered. If leaves are crispy or curl upwards or dry, then the plant is under-watered. Don’t correct this immediately, add more water to your tree gradually as a sudden saturation of water will stress the plant.

humidity-icon

Humidity

This plant grows best in humidity ranges of 50% and over. Mist the plant every day. Placing a saucer of rocks and water near the pot will make humidity rise around the plant. You could also consider using a humidifier around the plant to keep it happy.

temperature-icon

Temperature

This plant will thrive in temperature ranges of 50-80°F. Temperature plays a role in getting the plant to bloom as it needs a short period of cool temperature (about 60°F) in winter to encourage it to bloom.  

soil-icon

Soil

The plant requires soil with good drainage capacity and grows well in loamy or sandy loam mixes, with a little perlite to help with drainage/aeration if necessary.

repot-icon

Repotting

Repot the plant when it outgrows its container, select a 5-gallon or larger one at least 12 or more inches higher with plenty of drainage holes. Fill it halfway with a suitable soil mixture, slide the plant out of its original home, and untangle the roots if they are tangled. Insert the plant in the pot, filling the empty spaces with soil. Push down the soil, and water it well. 

propagation-icon-2

Propagation

These plants are easy to propagate than other citrus species. This can be done by cuttings or from seed. Take a 3-6 inch-long cutting from a healthy new branch during its active growing period (April-October). The cutting must not have flowers or fruit growing on it. Remove all leaves other than the top 2-4 leaves. Dust the cut end in rooting powder to prevent rot or disease.

Take a 1 gallon (or larger) pot and fill it with a suitable soil mixture and thoroughly water it. When excess water drains away, insert the cutting, burying the cut end in the soil. Cover with a plastic bag to retain moisture and set it out in a bright location. Water occasionally, keeping the soil damp and mist occasionally until new roots develop (which is usually around 60 days). Once roots have been set, remove the plastic and care for it as usual.

Additional Care

This plant needs feeding with a slow-releasing fertilizer with a high content of nitrogen during its growing season (April-October). Don’t feed it in winter. Try and get a fertilizer specifically created for citrus plants. Yellow leaves indicate that your plant needs to be fed.

Pruning is very important in caring for this plant as it keeps the plant healthy and prevents overcrowding of unnecessary branches that don’t produce fruit to give space for fruit-bearing branches to grow. It also allows proper airflow around the plant which helps the plant grow strong and healthy, while also protecting the plant from potential disease or pests.

You can help pollinate the flowers if you wish, not that this self-pollinating plant needs it. Use cotton swabs or paintbrushes and insert them into the center of a blossom and twirl it gently to collect the pollen, repeating the action with other blossoms.

Common Problems

New leaves can attract Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars.

Most lemon trees are typically targeted by various pests like whitefly, scale, aphids, rust mites, and mealybugs. Usually, mature trees can resist being infested, however, younger trees can be destroyed by any one of these pests. Pest problems typically appear underneath the leaves or on fruit.

Prune any dead, infected or unhealthy parts of the tree to eliminate and control pests problems. Spray the plant diluted neem oil, frequently reapplying until all indications of infection have stopped.

Plant Mom Care is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, We make a small commission when you do purchase products following our links