Growing Meyer Lemons

Question: What can you tell me about growing Meyer lemons? I know it is too cold where I live for a lemon tree to survive the winter outside. Can I grow it indoors, in a pot?

Answer: Lemon trees are happy in containers, provided they have enough root room and good drainage. We recommend ‘Improved Meyer’ (USDA Zones 9–11) as one of the best varieties to grow in a pot, because it is naturally dwarfed. It will mature to 3 to 5 feet. Grow it in an all-purpose potting mix, in a 10- or 15-gallon container, in full sun.

You can move the pot outdoors once nighttime temperatures are reliably above 55˚F. Move it out into full sun gradually, setting it in a shaded location for a few days, then partially shaded, then full sun. This way the foliage will not be scorched. Although the tree was placed in full sun indoors, the intensity is lessened by window glass.

Water when the soil begins to dry out, giving it a deep, thorough drink. You may need to water every day when the tree is outside for the summer. In winter, increase humidity by misting around the tree or setting the pot on a tray of moist pebbles.

Your lemon tree will produce fragrant white flowers. Pollinate the tree by dusting a small paint brush or a Q-tip from flower to flower.

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Extend your growing season with The Winter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman

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12 thoughts on “Growing Meyer Lemons

  1. I have a Brown Turkey Fig tree outside and am concerned about pruning and winter protection. I live in northern VA just outside Washington, D.C. (Zone 7). Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    • Hi,
      I was just yesterday looking at the Brown Turkey Fig at Starkbros dot com. There is a helpful article on the website. Click on the heading ‘Grow with Us’ and scroll down to the article ‘Figs on Wheels’. HTH.

  2. There are many cultivars of lemons, although I don’t know what traits the “new and improved” varieties are bred for. For cooking, I went for Meyer lemons because that’s what Alice Waters (chef/owner, Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA) specifies in her cookbooks.

  3. This is the second winter indoors for my meyer lemon tree (we live in zone 5), which I ordered by mail in the spring of 2008. It is a dwarf variety, and produced 2 lovely lemons this year. It spends the summer on our sunny front porch. In the early spring indoors it begins to produce fragrant flowers. It’s been a fun plant to grow. No problems with pests here thus far…

    • This is the 2nd winter indoors, zone 5 for me too. Dwarf variety. Last year no lemons, this year: 5. Taking forever to turn yellow though, I think one is just starting.

  4. I have been growing citrus in my Rhode Island greenhouse for the last eighteen years and regularly get enough oranges to make marmalade, enough key limes to give them away and a lot of lemons including Meyer. Some of my trees are seven/eight feet tall and live in 36″ pots. The citrus can take winter temps to 40 degrees in the greenhouse, but much below that they drop their leaves. The leaves grow back in spring. Organic insect control is by spraying with dormant oil when the plants are outside in summer. In winter in the greenhouse there is some scale, but an alcohol spray takes care of most of it. White fly in the greenhouse can be a problem but spraying with Safer’s soap holds them in check until the plants go outside again. I find that I cannot completely eliminate pests in the greenhouse, but can bring them to manageable levels.

    • Roger,
      I have a new meyer lemon tree/bush. It was growing splendidly outside. after bringing it in, I noticed some worm boring into the flowerbuds and some scaley bug on the underside of the leaves.I picked them all off and sprayed it with Safers but it doesn’t seem to do the job. there is a sticky substance on the leaves and all around it. Any suggestions for me? Thanks. Karalee Kiser

      • I have had scale on my Meyers, and my Bayers Lime. Remove with alcohol on a q tip, then scratch the little beast off. Each one by hand works. View it as a meditation exercise. Remember to fertilize once per week in high season w/ miracid for a good crop.

    • Robert, thank you for the insect control tips. I need the alcohol for scale potion for my Meyer lemon. Right now there is no problem but a couple of years ago, I almost lost the tree. Finally found out how to control the ants that were causing the problem and then was able to get the scale under control too but it was a battle. The alcohol treatment sounds simpler. Thanks.

  5. Meyer lemon trees grown indoors are plagued by scale insects, which don’t seem to harm the tree very much, but cause a sticky mess, and enable the scale to spread to other plants. Extreme vigilance with a spray bottle of half isopropyl alcohol and half water can keep the scale invasion in check, but I have never been able to eliminate them.

    • has an excellent product called Ced-O-Flora Plant Spray. I had heavy infestation by scale (brought by ants!) that lead to leaf drop. After two sprays I managed to kill all scale and my lemon tree sprung back to life. Highly reccomend to try it

  6. I have a Meyer lemon tree that is about 10 years old, it is about 3 feet tall and I get big lemons off it every year. One problem I have is Spider Mites that get on the leaves in the winter. I keep wiping the leaves off but that is a real job, I am afraid to put anything on the leaves because we eat the lemons. I try to mnist it regularly but that doesn’t seem to help…Any suggestions ???

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