We asked garden bloggers for their favorite “high-maintenance” plant—that plant they’ll bend over backward to keep healthy. Here’s what Jean McWeeney of Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog had to say:
I don’t live in citrus country. I live in a part of the U.S. that experiences occasional freezes in the winter and the only way a lemon tree would survive here is in a very sheltered spot. But I’ve never been able to resist the sweet scent of lemon blossoms and so, many years ago, I purchased a little stick of a tree about 12 inches tall, an Improved Meyer Lemon, and planted it in a terra-cotta pot.
I’ve schlepped that pot in and out of my garage in the winter, to a different state, in and out of a temporary greenhouse, and sometimes into my home in winter. I’ve sprayed soap on it to combat swarms of whiteflies. I’ve pruned it and coddled it. I even managed to make lemon marmalade with the largest number of lemons it ever produced one year – nine little beauties.
But probably the craziest thing I ever did for that plant was last year when it came down with a severe case of sooty mold. I did what any mother would do – I gently scrubbed each leaf by hand. An hour later and with hand cramps, I had the cleanest little lemon tree you’ve ever seen.
Improved Meyer Lemon Requirements
USDA Zones: Does best in Zones 9-11 (may survive Zone 8 if you’re lucky)
Botanical Name: Citrus limon ‘Improved Meyer’
Light: Full sun, some light shade
Soil: Well-drained, slightly acidic
Size: Depending on root stock, may reach 10-12 feet tall in the ground, although many are grafted on dwarf or semi-dwarf root stock. My tree is about 3.5 feet tall in a large pot.
Bloom Time: Off and on, all year long
Water: Average but regular