Gardeners and foodies alike love the Meyer lemon tree for its fruit that combines the tart taste of lemons and the sweetness of mandarin oranges. The popular Citrus x meyeri bears delicious sweet-tart hybrid fruits just two years after transplanting. Brought from China to the U.S. in 1908, Meyer lemon trees were initially harder to grow and susceptible to disease. To the delight of growers everywhere, the modern version self-pollinates, is insect-resistant, and can even be grown indoors. Here are some Meyer lemon trees highlights:
Produces sweet-tart fruits all year, especially in fall and winter.
Can live up to 50 years with proper feeding and pruning.
Needs at least eight hours of full sun daily.
Meyer Lemons love sunlight: plant them where they will get 8-12 hours of sun each day.
Water deeply when the top two inches of soil are dry. Mist trees daily if grown indoors.
Fertilize in spring and summer with a slow-release, nitrogen-rich fertilizer, preferably one made for citrus trees.
by Jo Cosgrove | Ecological Gardener, Horticulturist, and Educator – Trees.com
Meyer lemon trees can be grown outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11. Choose a location that receives up to 12 hours of sun daily. Transplant the tree into a well-draining pot one size larger than the original container. For dwarf varieties, keep in the original pot. Gently remove the tree from the container and loosen the matted roots. Line the bottom of the new pot with loose stones for drainage. Add peat moss mixed with potting soil and perlite, then plant the tree in the center.
Watering and nutrients
Meyer lemon trees do best in loamy soil (high sand and low clay content) at a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. If soil acidity is too low, add sulfur. Add lime if the soil is too acidic. Feed the tree at the base once a month from April through September with a nitrogen-rich or kelp-based fertilizer. Soil should be kept moist but not soaked. Test soil with a finger, and when the top inch is dry, water deeply and allow to drain well. Potted trees may dry out faster, so check for dryness frequently.
A well-maintained Meyer lemon tree will produce fruit all year, with the heaviest growth in the fall and early winter. Branches that do not produce lemons should be cut back near the trunk. Clear out smaller, tangled branches to provide good airflow. When first buds form, cut off every bud in each cluster except the largest. This will direct nutrients to the fruit with the best chance of growing. Alternatively, all but one lemon can be cut from a cluster when the fruits have grown to marble-size.
Pests and diseases
Meyer lemon trees are hardy against disease but can attract pests that feed off the leaf sap. Mites are common but will rarely do permanent damage to a lemon tree. Aphids feed off very young trees that have not yet attracted natural predators. Scale insects can be a more significant problem, as they excrete a sweet liquid called honeydew which attracts other insects and may encourage mildew growth. Scale insects resemble small bumps and are often mistaken for part of a tree branch. Physically wiping the stems and leaves afflicted by the scale with a soft rag soaked in horticultural oil and neem oil can help to dislodge them.
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