How to Care for a Meyer Lemon Tree

Updated February 21, 2017

A Meyer lemon tree is actually a dwarf fruit tree that doesn't really produce lemons at all but rather a natural hybrid of a lemon and sweet orange. Meyer lemon trees originated in China and were introduced in the United States by Frank N. Meyer in 1908. Since then they became diseased and banned from the U.S., but have made their return in 1970 with an improved version that is virus free. Meyer lemon trees are hardy and will survive under most conditions. However, you should adhere to the following steps, especially if you want them to bear large juicy fruits.

Plant your Meyer lemon tree in a container. A 10- to 15-gallon container will allow the tree to grow up to 10 feet tall. If you want your tree to be smaller, keep the roots "root bound" by planting it in a smaller container that is slightly larger than the root ball on all sides. Before planting your tree, place a layer of stones along the bottom and fill with a soil that is a slightly acidic and sandy. At first, use enough soil so that when you put the root ball in, the soil will barely cover the top. Place your tree's root ball in straight and fill the rest of the container with soil.

Keep your Meyer lemon tree in ideal weather conditions. Your tree will thrive in temperatures that are 21.1 degrees C during the day and 12.8 degrees C at night. Below 12.8 degrees C, your tree will become dormant and stop growing. Keep your tree in full sunlight at least 8 hours per day or use 40-watt fluorescent lights 10 to 12 hours per day if you are growing your tree indoors. Some people keep their Meyer lemon tree on the porch during ideal weather conditions and move it indoors for cold and extremely hot weather.

Keep your Meyer lemon tree well watered. Keep your soil moist at all times. Do not let it dry up and do not overwater it. Also, spray your tree with water or wipe its leaves with a wet sponge every once in a while if you are keeping your tree indoors.

Pollinate your Meyer lemon tree. If your tree is indoors, every once in a while, you will need to rub the pollen in the flowers with a paintbrush or cotton swab. This will increase the tree's chances of producing fruit.

Consistently remove the little shoots, often called "suckers," that grow out of the soil near the trunk. Gently break at the trunk or clip with small clippers or scissors.

Prune your Meyer lemon tree. You really can prune this kind of tree any way you'd like since damaging the tree is difficult. Wait until winter when all the fruit is ripe and pick any leftover fruits off the tree. Clip all dead, damaged and weak branches and stems. Take a step back and see if your tree looks even and prune some more if it isn't. You can prune your tree into different shapes; however, if you prune the tree so it is smaller on top and larger on the bottom, more light will reach all the branches, which will help your tree and its fruit thrive better. If you want lots of fruit, remove more lateral branches, which may not be as aesthetic but will increase airflow and sunlight to the middle branches.

Fertilise your Meyer lemon tree. Buy a citrus or avocado fertiliser. If you cannot find this kind of fertiliser, purchase one that has two times the amount of nitrogen than phosphorus and potassium. Citrus trees thrive on nitrogen. Follow the manufacturer's directions for fertilising since fertilisers come in different strengths and release rates.

Harvest your fruits when ripe. Meyer lemons are ready to be picked about 3 to 4 months after the first bloom when the fruit turns a complete yellow and no green is visible.


If you leaves start to turn yellow, this could mean poor water drainage or that your tree needs to be fertilised. Replace your soil every 3 to 5 years. You can plant your tree outside in proper climates (U.S. zones 9,10, 11); however, it may not do as well as a tree planted in a container.

Things You'll Need

  • Container
  • Stones
  • Soil
  • Light
  • Sponge
  • Paintbrush or cotton swab
  • Clippers
  • Fertiliser
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About the Author

Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.