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Everything You Need To Know about Meyer Lemon Trees

Meyer lemon trees combine the best of lemons and mandarin oranges into one hybrid, fruit-bearing tree.

Author Image Written by Brenda Woods Updated 05/29/2024

If you haven’t heard of a Meyer lemon, you’re missing out on this farmers market favorite. Meyer lemons are a thin-skinned hybrid fruit, part citron and part mandarin orange, making them much sweeter than a standard lemon you’d see at a grocery store.

While Meyer lemons have become more popular in recent years, you’re still somewhat unlikely to find them on your regular grocery run. If you love the taste of these sweet-tart fruits, your best bet is cultivating your very own Meyer lemon tree. We’ll give you all the information you need on this citrus tree and offer some tips and tricks for growing a healthy tree.

Meyer Lemon Trees at a Glance

Meyer lemon trees can yield fruit in as little as two years after planting. Whether you choose to place one in your lawn or in your patio, a Meyer lemon tree is both ornamental and a source of citrus sweetness. Here are some basic facts about this species to get you started.
Cross between citrons (a lemon-like citrus fruit) and mandarin oranges
Chefs use the sweet-tart, edible skins
Can bear fruit in as little as two years
Will fruit indoors and outdoors
Heavy harvest in winter
Require consistent misting

History of the Meyer Lemon Tree

The first Meyer lemon trees were introduced from China in 1908. Unfortunately, this initial variety was very susceptible to disease, especially a fast-spreading virus that threatened the citrus industry in California in the 1960s by infecting nearby healthy citrus trees. Most Meyer lemon orchards were destroyed to protect other crops.

However, a farm in northern California had an isolated crop of Meyer lemon trees not infected by the disease. Using this crop, in 1975, the University of California introduced a modified, disease-free variety, called the “Improved Meyer lemon.” That’s the one we know and grow today. It has been carefully cultivated to be more disease-resistant and insect-resistant.

Appearance of Meyer Lemon Trees

Standard Meyer lemon trees grow to be 6–10 feet tall, while the dwarf variety grow to be 5–7 feet. If you grow your Meyer lemon tree in a garden pot, it will grow according to the size of the pot and be smaller.

Meyer lemon trees have glossy, dark green leaves and fragrant white blossoms that are purple at the base. When ripe, the skins of Meyer lemons take on the color of an egg yolk—yellow with a faint orange tinge. Meyer lemon skins are fragrant and a popular ingredient among chefs.

Meyer Lemon Tree Specifications



Glossy green leaves, white blossoms, yellow-orange fruits


6–10 feet tall, with dwarf variety of 5–7 feet tall

Hardiness Zones


Type of tree


Sunlight requirements

8–12 hours of direct sunlight per day

Soil composition

5.5–6.5 pH


Up to 50 years

Growing Meyer Lemon Trees

Here’s what you need to know before you decide to grow your own Meyer lemon tree.

Ideal Hardiness Zones

Meyer lemon trees require warmth and humidity. Thus, they flourish in USDA Hardiness Zones 8-11, which are regions on the southern coastal margins and deep southern half of the U.S. Hardiness Zones are the standards gardeners use to determine the best growing regions for their plants and crops. If you live outside of these zones, you may still be able to grow a Meyer lemon tree indoors, but you’ll have to pay special attention to sunlight, temperature, and humidity levels.

Steps to follow

Planting Meyer Lemon Trees

These are the steps to follow to plant your Meyer lemon tree in a pot.
  1. Select a sturdy container with drainage holes that is one to two sizes larger than the container the tree arrived in.
  2. Place a 2-inch layer of stone at the bottom of the pot.
  3. Create a potting mixture with peat moss, potting soil, and either vermiculite or perlite in the pot.
  4. Slide the tree out of the container.
  5. Cut off dry roots and fluff matted roots.
  6. Place the tree in the center of the pot.
  7. Place the potting mixture in the pot so that the crown of the roots rest just above the line of the soil.
  8. Add water slowly.
  9. Place the tree by a south-facing window.

Soil Requirements

The trees require soil with good drainage and do well in loamy and sandy loam soils. The soil should be slightly acidic and can range between 5.5 and 6.5 pH. You can amend your soil to reach the desired pH level, either adding sulfur to increase soil acidity or lime to lower overly acidic soil.

Sunlight Needed

Meyer lemon trees thrive in full sunlight, requiring 8–12 hours of direct sunlight per day, preferably from the southwest, whether indoors or outdoors. If this isn’t possible inside, consider investing in grow lights.

Watering a Meyer Lemon Tree

Citrus trees need soil that is moist but not wet to thrive, especially if they are grown in pots. The best method is to water deeply but infrequently. Water when the upper 2 inches of the soil is dry. You can test this by pressing your finger into the soil down to your second knuckle and seeing if the soil feels dry or moist.

Citrus leaves crave humidity. If you have an indoor Meyer lemon tree, mist it daily. It’s also a good idea to place rocks and water in the saucer beneath your garden pot, so that humidity will rise up.

Optimal Temperature

Meyer lemon trees thrive between roughly 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, you should bring your Meyer lemon tree indoors until it heats up again. Be aware that these trees will not survive a freeze.

Pollination Tips

One major benefit of Meyer lemon trees is that they are self-fertile. You only need one of these self-pollinating trees to get fruit. Planting several will increase your overall harvest, but isn’t necessary.

Meyer lemon trees start bearing fruit at different times, depending on how they were grown. Trees grown from grafted rootstock can start bearing fruit in as soon as two years, while seed-grown trees, which tend to be less healthy in general, start bearing fruit at three to seven years old.

Meyer lemon trees will fruit either indoors or outdoors once or twice a year, with especially abundant harvests in fall and winter.

If your Meyer lemon tree is located outdoors, pollination should take care of itself. But if you have an indoor Meyer lemon tree—or an outdoor one that you bring inside during cold temperatures—you must assist with pollination. Take a paintbrush or cotton swab and ease it into the center of a Meyer lemon blossom and swirl it, collecting the pollen. Then, repeat the process with every other blossom on the tree, transferring the pollen between them.

Pruning a Meyer Lemon Tree

You should prune your Meyer lemon tree periodically to keep it in its best health, maintain its structure and shape, and ensure that its branches can support fruit. Wait until the tree has reached a height of 3–4 feet and the winter crop of lemons is ripe. Then cut back the branches that do not produce fruit—called long leads—as they grow. The side branches will spread into that space and strengthen so that they can bear the weight of the fruit. Cut any branches that are growing toward the trunk to increase airflow between the branches.

Pruning your Meyer lemon tree before its fruit develops—cutting off every bud in a cluster except for one—can help stimulate the growth of larger lemons. You’ll get fewer overall lemons, but each one will be larger.

Fertilizing a Meyer Lemon Tree

Your Meyer lemon tree can benefit from monthly fertilizations from April through September. Select a slow-release nitrogen-rich fertilizer created specifically for citrus trees. You can also use organic emulsions or kelp.

Yellowing leaves can be a sign you need to fertilize your Meyer lemon tree. However, be careful not to over-fertilize your tree, as this may result in overly-large lemons with thick, tough skins. It can also cause the plant to grow too fast, potentially causing problems in the long term.

Repotting a Meyer Lemon Tree

After two or three years, you should repot your Meyer Lemon tree. Select a pot that’s one size larger than the current pot. Fill the new pot about a quarter full of the same potting soil in the old pot and moisten it evenly. With the help of a friend, lift the tree from its old pot, loosening the root ball with a trowel or knife around the edge of the pot. If any roots completely encircle the root ball, cut them off, as they may prevent the roots from growing. Set the tree in the new pot so the top of the roots are about 2 inches lower than the rim of the pot, then fill the space with potting soil and water thoroughly.

FAQ About Meyer Lemon Trees

How long does it take for a Meyer lemon tree to bear fruit?

The amount of time it takes depends on how the tree was grown. A grafted tree can bear fruit in as little as two years, while seed-grown Meyer lemon trees can take anywhere from three to seven years to produce fruit.

How do you take care of a Meyer lemon tree?

Caring for a Meyer lemon tree involves watering the soil deeply but infrequently and misting its leaves, promoting good soil drainage, allowing your tree to get at least 8 hours of direct sunlight a day, and more.

How big do Meyer lemon trees get?

Standard Meyer lemon trees grow to be 6–10 feet tall, while the dwarf variety grow to be 5–7 feet tall.

Are coffee grounds good for Meyer lemon trees?

Coffee grounds can slightly increase the acidity of potting soil but likely not enough to make a big difference. The ideal soil pH for your Meyer lemon tree is between 5.5 and 6.5 pH. Ammonium sulfate is a better choice to aid in soil acidity while also adding nitrogen. 

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