Grow a Lemon Tree

Sweet, juicy fruit isn't the only thing that's delicious about Meyer Lemons.

Story by Gene B. Bussell
Meyer Lemon Tree
Ideal for use as container plants, Meyer lemon trees can be brought inside when temps cool.
Photo: Hector Sanchez

You will be tempted by more than just the fruit of this citrus tree; the scent of its prolific flowers is amazing!

The Meyer lemon (Citrus x meyeri) has rounder fruit and fewer seeds than most lemons, with a smooth, thin skin that turns deep canary yellow when ripe. Sweeter and less acidic than other lemons, the Meyer is a hybrid between a lemon and a sweet orange or mandarin, so it's more versatile in the kitchen. You can use it in desserts, drinks, and salads, or roast slices with fish, chicken, or vegetables.

Meyers love sunshine, warmth, and well-drained, slightly acid soil. They are more cold tolerant than true lemons. In the Coastal and Tropical South, use them as specimens or large hedges in ornamental and edible gardens. They grow 6 to 12 feet wide and tall and respond well to pruning. In the Upper, Middle, and Lower South, grow them in containers and bring them inside during cold weather.

For containers, choose a well-drained potting mix and a fertilizer specially made for citrus. Water consistently to keep soil slightly moist but not wet. Never leave your container in a saucer of standing water. Use a soil moisture meter if you're unsure whether your plant needs watering. When your tree is actively growing and fruiting (early spring through late summer), feed it regularly. Meyer lemons prefer temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees. Once temps begin to drop below 50, prepare to bring your tree inside and stop feeding. Place your lemon tree near a south-facing window in a sunny location. Keep it away from heating vents, which can dry out the leaves and make it attractive to spider mites. Deter these pests by regularly misting foliage with water, or treat them using an insecticidal soap or applying organic neem oil (

The best selection to grow is 'Improved Meyer.' Purchase Meyer lemon trees from your local nursery, or buy online from or