(Citrus × meyeri)
This tree is believed to be a hybrid of a lemon and a mandarin orange
Meyer Lemon Overview:
- Delicious fruit from a prolific tree.
Meyer Lemon Fruit:
Meyer lemon fruit appearance:
- The Meyer lemon is about the size of a typical lemon (2-3 inches long). However, the fruit tends to be a bit rounder than a typical lemon and the skin is smoother.
- I have noticed that the skin tends to be paler in color than the average lemon, especially if the fruit develops in direct sun light.
- Interestingly, I have also read that the fruit varies greatly in appearance depending on where it is grown.
- The flesh should be yellow when ripe.
Meyer lemon fruit taste:
- This is the gourmet of lemons.
- The taste is distinct and somewhat floral but still close to a typical lemon in flavor.
- I have found that the Meyer lemon has much less acid and is sweeter than typical lemons.
- The fruit is rather seedy but very juicy.
- Because of the tender peels, the fruit doesn’t transport well. Therefore t is often difficult to find Meyer lemons in stores. This is just another reason to grow a Meyer lemon tree at home.
- This by the way ties into some of my fundamental philosophies of home gardening;
- grow what you like
- grow what does well in your area
- grow what is expensive
- and grow what is hard to find elsewhere
- I have four Meyer lemon trees in my back yard.
- Two of them are on the same fruiting schedule and have ripe fruit now (February/March).
- The other two trees seem to fruit whenever they want.
- Interestingly, all of the trees are blooming now.
- The tree will give fruit all year long (ever bearing). However, most of the crop ripens in the winter.
- In my experience, I have also noticed that they tend toward alternate bearing (ie it produces a heavy crop every other year), which I have not read about elsewhere.
When to pick Meyer lemon?
- Utilizing the fruit color alone can be deceiving when trying to figure out when to pick your ripe Meyer lemons.
- Although the fruit is often yellow when ripe… this is not always the case and weather changes can impact the color.
- Most importantly, the fruit shouldgive somewhat to pressure when squeezed. This is especially important to keep in mind if the weather is unseasonably cool or warm which can cause citrus fruit to color-up prematurely and look ripe before they actually are ready.
- As a side, I have also noticed that some Meyer lemons may get rounder when they are ripe.
- Some have said that the skin will develop slight orange tint when the fruit is ripe, but this is not my experience.
- If the Meyer lemon flesh looks green or green-tinged when you open up the fruit, then the fruit may have been picked too early.
- For more information about the best signs of a ripe Meyer Lemon, check out my article titled, Why are my lemons not turning yellow?
Growing Meyer Lemon Tree:
Meyer lemon tree fertilization:
- I try to fertilize all of my citrus from late winter to mid-summer.
- The rational is that I don’t want to encourage young leaf growth in the winter because of the risk of cold damage to the susceptible young leaves.
- On the other end, I don’t want to encourage too much young growth during leaf miner season which starts around July.
- I generally use a balanced fertilizer such as 15-15-15 and apply it in 4 doses during the fertilization season described above.
- I also give a single dose of micronutrients in the spring.
- Lately I have been adding in all kinds of other goodies such as mushroom compost, grow mulch, worm castings, etc. I am getting the sense that citrus like the variety.
Meyer lemon growing temperature:
- Meyer lemon trees tend to be much more cold hearty than other lemons or limes.
- As it turns out, this tree also has greater heat tolerance than most citrus too.
- For more information about the lowest temperatures that you can expect in your area, check out my article “Climate Zones: What can I grow in my yard?”
Meyer lemon tree soil:
- All citrus need well draining soil.
- Although many will say that citrus can be planted in sand, I have found they do a lot better if you give them a rich-organic growing environment. See my planting article for my general planting recommendations for all my Southern California fruit trees.
- Even standard sized Meyer lemon trees are on the small size and tend to be bushy.
- The Meyer lemon tree is said to be very adaptable to growing in pots, more so than other citrus. However, my Meyer lemon trees were much happier after I planted them in the ground.
- The tree has a few small-to-medium sized thorns.
- Meyer lemons have fragrant purple tinted white flowers.
- I tend to err on the side of over-watering my newly planted trees for the first few months. I then cut back on the water and watch the trees closely for the next year.
- When established, my citrus trees get watered deeply in the hotter months about 2x a week.
Meyer lemon tree propagation:
- I have read that you can actually grow Meyer lemons directly from cuttings. However, I have not tried that yet.
- However, like most citrus, Meyer lemons are typically grafted on to rootstock.
- I have recently also read that a tree can be successfully grown from seed which usually begins fruiting in four years. However, I don’t know how true to seed the fruit would be and I have not tried this either.
Meyer lemon tree pests:
- The Meyer lemon tree is susceptible to the usual suspects such as citrus leaf miner, and aphids.
- See my earlier article for how to deal with citrus leaf miner.
- Horticulture oil spray alone works very well on aphids. However, the leaf miner spray mix that I have outlined seems to do a better job on those darn aphids.
- Tangle foot is an awesome bonus prevention treatment for all kinds of plant bugs. Those sap suckers rarely have a chance with the one-two combo of spray and tangle foot. The major bonus with this method is no toxic systemic pesticides.
- Despite what I have read elsewhere, gophers do eat citrus roots. They can and will kill your tree. Here’s an easy way to make a protective gopher cage.
- I have recently noticed dark little holes on the underside of some lemons that ripen while resting on the ground (see picture below). Considering the bushy growth of the Meyer Lemon tree, fruit resting on the ground happens quite a bit. I am not sure what is burrowing into the fruit from below, but whatever it is doesn’t seem to go very far into the fruit. This problem only happens to a few of the fruit touching the ground. The fruit that hangs higher on the plant is not effected. Therefore if you can keep the fruit from touching the ground, this shouldn’t be a problem for you.
One of our concerned website readers is asking for help. He knows his Meyer Lemon tree is ill but he is not sure why. He has just sent me some pictures of his sick Meyer lemon tree (see pictures below).
In the pictures, I see diffusely yellow leaves. In the closeup images the yellowing is more severe away from the veins. There is browning of some of the ends of the leaves. There are also several defoliated branches.
The pattern of leaf and branch disease brings up several possibilities.
Nitrogen deficiency is the leading cause of pale foliage. This may be the result of a true deficiency of nitrogen (not enough fertilizer), adverse soil conditions (too damp), or unhealthy roots (for various reasons). This could be part of the problem.
(high overall salinity and/or excess of either sodium or chlorine):
Yellowing of leaves in a pattern where there is more green along the veins is seen in several diseases including sodium toxicity. However, brown or burnt leaf tips is fairly typical of Sodium toxicity. Premature foliage drop can also be due to excess sodium.
Boron toxicity can do all the things mentioned above for Sodium toxicity, but the pattern that I have seen is a bit different (the demarcation between green and yellow on the leaves is more pronounced).
This may represent a mixed picture of soil related problems.
I would suggest doing a soil test.
If anyone else has additional ideas please let us know in the comments section below.
Meyer Lemon Use:
Meyer lemon food use:
- The best lemonade I have ever had was made from Meyer Lemons. 3/12/14 update: See my follow up post for the best Meyer lemon- lemonade recipe.
- The Meyer lemon peel is lacking the rich oils of a typical lemon and therefore gives you a much more mild effect.
- Meyer lemon-cardamom ice cream recipe from the LA Times… Ill have to try this.
Meyer Lemon Miscellaneous:
- The Meyer lemon tree was introduced into the United States by agricultural explorer, Frank N. Meyer (thus the name of the tree).
- Apparently, Mr. Meyer found the tree growing as an ornamental pot-plant near Peking, China, in 1908.
- The original Meyer lemons were silent carriers of the tristeza virus. This tristeza virus killed lots of other citrus in the vicinity. The Improved Meyer lemon trees which were introduced around 1950 are free of that virus and are now the only ones you can buy.
AKA (Also Known As):
- Improved Meyer lemon (see directly above)