How to Raise Meyer Lemon Trees


The lemon remains a culinary standout in kitchens around the world. The Meyer lemon in particular, a mandarin hybrid, is favored because of its sweetness. The dwarf trees which bear them can be grown inside and out in many parts of the United States and are suitable for container growth. Agricultural explorer Frank Meyer is responsible for their introduction to the U.S. in the early 20th century.

Step 1

Buy a healthy tree that is two to three years old.

Step 2

Plant the tree outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 11 or grow them in pots outside and bring them indoors during colder months in colder zones.

Step 3

Wash away any non-soil medium from a tree's root ball before planting it. Set an outdoor tree in a hole that adequately accommodates its roots, fill the hole halfway, water to settle the soil around the lower roots, and then backfill completely.

Step 4

Fertilizer an established outdoor tree with a slow-release, nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Apply an evenly balanced fertilizer to a container tree in the spring and early summer.

Step 5

Buy peat moss-based growing mix or another sandy, well-drained soil for a container tree. Use a 10- to 15-gallon container with drainage holes.

Step 6

Cover the container bottom with a gravel layer. Place the tree in the container so that the added soil barely covers the root ball top.

Step 7

Set the potted tree in a window that receives full sun, or install a 40-watt fluorescent light to ensure the tree receives eight to 12 hours of light each day.

Step 8

Water outdoor trees about two to three times each week for a total of 5 gallons per week during the summer. Water a container tree about the same amount during the spring, and nearly every day during the summer. Ensure that soil around either an outdoor or potted tree remains slightly moist to dry, but not parched and cracked.

Step 9

Pollinate a potted tree that always remains indoors by transferring flower pollen with a cotton swab or paint brush.

Step 10

Pick all of the ripe Meyer lemons that have no green on the rinds. Harvest from the lower branches first.

Step 11

Prune the potted tree with pruners by removing suckers from the trunk base. Also remove diseased and damaged stems and any weak stems that are as thin as or thinner than a pencil. Cut branches within the tree that are crossing over each other and prohibiting air flow and sunlight from reaching the area.

Step 12

Thin young fruit clusters to one fruit in the spring when they are no larger than golf ball sized. Ensure each fruit is at least 6 inches away from the others.

Step 13

Move the potted tree to a sunny but protected spot outside during warm days in the spring, summer and fall, when the low temperatures reach above 40 degrees F.

Step 14

Replace nutrient-depleted potted soil after three or four years. Keep the tree in the same pot and allow it to become root-bound to control its growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Meyer lemon tree
  • Sandy, slightly acidic soil
  • 10-gallon container
  • Slow-release fertilizer
  • Gravel
  • Cotton swab or paint brush
  • Pruners


  • The Master Gardeners: Growing Citrus Indoors
  • Purdue University Extension Service: Lemon
  • Texas A&M University Department of Horticulture: Home Fruit Production -- Lemons
Keywords: Meyer lemon tree, lemon tree growing, growing Meyer lemons

About this Author

Joy Brown is a newspaper reporter at "The Courier" and in Findlay, Ohio. She has been writing professionally since 1995, primarily in Findlay and previously at the "Galion (Ohio) Inquirer" and "Toledo City Paper." Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and history from Miami University.