Botanical Name: Citrus limon 'Meyer'
You can count on Meyer lemon tree to produce an abundance of sweet lemons every year, with good care.
This perennial shrub is actually a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. The fruit is rounder than a true lemon, with a thinner skin. It is also sweeter and less acidic, making Meyer lemon a favorite among cooks.
The woody stems of this dwarf citrus tree are densely covered with oval, glossy green leaves.
You can expect clusters of small, white flowers to appear in late winter and spring on Meyer lemon trees that are 3-4 years old. Highly fragrant flowers are followed by fruit that turns from deep green to bright yellow as it matures.
Shed some light. Indoor citrus trees need as much light as you can give them. Place your plant directly in front of a window where it will get several hours of direct sun each day. You can move it outdoors for the summer, if you want. Just be sure to bring it back indoors before the first frost.
Pollinate your plant. A lemon tree that is grown indoors will need to be hand-pollinated to trigger fruit production.
Use a small, dry paintbrush to dab each flower. Wiggle the brush around the center of each flower, moving from flower to flower. This carries the pollen from male to female flowers, just like bees do it.
Prune branches. You can maintain an attractive shape for your Meyer lemon tree by pruning long branches. The best time to prune your tree is when new growth starts in spring. Pruning citrus trees' long branches will encourage new branches to emerge from just below the cut. Cut at an angle just above a leaf node (where a leaf stem attaches to a branch). Try to avoid cutting off branches with flower buds or flowers if you want the tree to produce fruit.
Repot young plants every 2 years, moving them to a pot no more than 2-inches (5 cm) larger than the old pot. Citrus trees won't bloom well if they are over-potted.
Watch for bugs. Scale insects may invade citrus trees. Look for these brown, round-shaped insects on the leaves and stems. You may be able to pick scale off by hand; if they are difficult to remove, try loosening them by dabbing scales with a cotton swab dipped in vegetable oil.
Buy a tree from a reputable grower. I recommend dwarf citrus for indoor growing. This Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree from Gardener's Supply only reaches about 6' tall.
Height: Up to 6 ft (2 m)
Light: Full sun. Turn the plant a quarter turn every week to give all sides equal light for good growth. You'll get more flowers on your lemon tree if you put it outside for the summer and fall. A few months of hot, sunny days followed by cool fall weather will promote flowering.
Water: Water thoroughly, allowing the surface of the soil to dry between waterings.
Humidity: Average room (around 40% relative humidity). Put the container on a tray of wet pebbles and mist the foliage to increase humidity. Dry indoor air can cause flowers to fall off without growing fruit.
Temperature: Warm room temperatures (65-80°F/18-27°C) are ideal year-round.
Soil: Well-draining potting mix works best for citrus trees. Use a peat moss-based mix with added perlite and/or vermiculite.
Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks in spring and summer. I highly recommend this organic fruit tree fertilizer. It contains all the nutrients citrus trees need for healthy root growth and promotes flowers and fruits.
Propagation: Take stem cuttings in early summer. With a sharp knife or razor blade, take 4 in (10 cm) stem tip cuttings with at least 2-3 leaf nodes without flowers or fruit. Dip cut end in hormone rooting powder before inserting in moist potting mix, then enclose in a plastic bag to maintain humidity. Stem cuttings will root in about 6-8 weeks.