How to Plant and Grow a Meyer Lemon Tree

A cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, this citrus variety offers juicy, flavorful fruit.

You get the best of all worlds with Meyer lemon trees. They grow pretty blossoms, add a splash of sunny color, and produce delicious fruit. A hybrid of a lemon and mandarin orange, they're juicy and less tart than other varieties. They're also on the sweeter side, which makes them a favorite for desserts and cocktails. They're not high maintenance, but they require patience. It may take two to seven years for flowers to form.

The first Meyer lemon tree (Citrus x meyeri) was introduced in China in 1908. The variety we know today (which is less susceptible to viruses) came from the University of California in 1975.

Meyer lemon trees belong to the flowering citrus family. They are broadleaf evergreen trees with shiny dark green leaves that remain on the plant year-round in warm climates. These plants can grow to reach 6 to 10 feet tall. The dwarf variety grows to be about 5 to 7 feet, ideal for a small garden or accent in a room with limited space. Meyer lemon trees bloom in the fall or early spring with fragrant white blossoms.

You can find Meyer lemon trees at retail nurseries, garden centers, and online stores.

Meyer Lemon tree growing in California
Getty Images / Barbara Rich

Where to Plant a Meyer Lemon Tree

Meyer lemon trees require a warm climate to thrive outdoors, surviving winters in hardiness zones 9-11. If you live in a colder region, you can keep your lemon tree outside during the warmer months in a large container. Then, bring the tree inside once temperatures drop below 50°F. Meyer lemon trees are slightly cold tolerant, and they need a period of cooler temperatures (around 60°F) to encourage flowering.

Growing your Meyer lemon tree indoors allows you not to worry about the outdoor climate, but you have to make sure it's getting enough sunlight. Place it near a south-facing window, or you can "chase the sun" throughout the day by moving it around.

How and When to Plant a Meyer Lemon Tree

In the garden, plant a Meyer lemon tree in early spring after the last frost in your area. Select an area of loamy, well-draining soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5, amending if necessary to reach this pH. The tree needs eight hours of direct sun for the best fruiting performance, although it can survive with only six hours of direct sun a day. Dig a hole that is twice as wide as the tree's rootball and the same height. Place the tree in the hole at the same level it was in the nursery container. Backfill with the soil dug from the hole and water the tree.

Plant a Meyer lemon tree in a container in areas where the temperatures reach freezing, and move the tree into a home or sheltered area during cold weather. Use a planting mixture of peat moss, potting soil and perlite. Position the plant where it gets as much sun as possible. Without sufficient sun, fruit is unlikely.

Meyer Lemon Tree Care Tips


The key to maximizing growth and fruit production is lots of sunlight. Meyer lemon trees prefer direct sun but can survive in partial shade. Whether you've planted your tree indoors or outdoors, it needs at least 6 to 8 hours of sun per day. Consider investing in grow lights for indoor trees if your home doesn't get a lot of natural light.

Soil and Water

Plant your Meyer lemon tree in loamy, sandy, well-draining soil. Keep the top inch of soil consistently moist but not soggy. The pH of the soil should be between 5.5 and 6.5. To lower soil pH, add sulfur; to increase soil pH, add garden lime according to package directions.

Temperature and Humidity

Meyer lemon trees love humidity. Indoors, the levels need to be kept at 50 percent or above. Use a humidifier or mist the leaves several times a day (especially during the drier months). You can also fill a tray with stones and an inch or two of water and place the pot on top to increase humidity levels. Make sure to place the tree away from air vents or drafty windows.


Use a fertilizer high in nitrogen made specifically for citrus trees. Apply it two or three times throughout the growing season, from April to September. Yellow leaves are often a sign that it's time to add fertilizer.


Pruning will help keep your Meyer lemon tree healthy and attractive. It can also stimulate the growth of larger lemons. Wait until the tree is 3 to 4 feet tall and the lemons are ripe (if there are any) before pruning. Begin at the base and trim off any dead or dying branches and thin stems that won't be strong enough to hold fruit. It's also important to prune any areas that may have been affected by infestations.

Potting and Repotting a Meyer Lemon Tree

If you're bringing your tree inside for the winter or if it has outgrown its current container, repotting is simple. Choose a container that's slightly larger and has drainage holes. Fill it halfway with a peat moss, potting soil, and perlite mixture. Gently spread out the roots, place the tree in the soil mixture, and water immediately.

Pests and Problems

Mites, whiteflies, aphids, leafminers, mealybugs, and spider mites tend to target citrus trees, and they can cause substantial damage to young trees. Use a neem oil spray to prevent pests from spreading.

How to Propagate a Meyer Lemon Tree

To propagate a Meyer lemon tree, cut off a healthy new stem with no fruit or flowers in the late spring or early summer. Bury it (cut side first) in a 1-gallon pot with high-quality potting mix, and set it in a bright spot. Keep the soil moist and mist the cutting until it starts growing roots (which should take about two months).

meyer lemons on metal plate on blue background
Hector Sanchez

How to Harvest Your Meyer Lemon Tree

Meyer lemon trees need to be a few years old before they flower. Grafted rootstock nursery plants may flower in as few as two years but may take longer. The more care you give your plant, in terms of sunlight, water, pruning, and pest control, the better. Fertilizing and letting the tree have a period of cooler temperatures in winter can speed things up.

Once the fruit begins growing, you can expect an abundant harvest in the fall and winter each year. Outdoor trees can flower year-round if in a warm climate. Make sure the lemons are ripe before picking; they'll be orange-yellow (like an egg yolk) and feel slightly soft. Use a knife or scissors to cut the fruit from the branch. Don't pull, or you may damage the branches.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do you need two Meyer lemon trees to produce fruit?

    No, the trees are self-pollinating, so all you need is one. If the tree is planted outside, bees and other pollinators travel from blossom to blossom. If the tree is growing inside, help the pollination process along by swabbing inside each blossom one after another with a cotton swab or small paintbrush, transferring pollen.

  • Can you grow a Meyer lemon tree from seed?

    Although you can grow a tree from seed freshly harvested from a Meyer lemon, the Meyer lemon tree is a hybrid, so the resulting tree may differ from the parent.

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