Meyer Lemon Tree Instructions
Again We Thank
You for your order.
This is additional information to the
instructions you should have received in you Meyer Lemon Tree package. If they
click here for a copy.
Transplant shock is quite
common with bareroot mail-ordered plants. Do not be alarmed if some or all
leaves drop shortly after your new tree is potted. If you follow our growing
instructions, your tree will sprout new growth within a short period. Recovery
may take longer during winter months.
Many new gardeners think
the tree is dead, but it is just "sleeping." When planting, the tree should leaf
out within 3-6 weeks of planting. If not, try scratching the trunk with your
thumbnail. If the underlying tissue is greenish, try "whipping" the tree trunk
with a rolled newspaper to stimulate its sap flow. If it is dry and brownish,
an ideal container for growing citrus. Its plastic construction
cuts down on watering compared to terra cotta; it is extremely
durable and lightweight; it is not black, as black plastic can
absorb too much sun and overheat the soil; and its shape will make
it easy to slide the entire root ball safely out when the time
comes to transplant. Some people even add extra drainage holes to
be on the safe side.
Growing Citrus in Containers
citrus are especially suited for container growing as they can be kept at
manageable sizes. Container growing allows gardeners to overcome poor soil
conditions or limited space in a landscape. People enjoy their trees in
decorative pots on their patio or apartment balcony.
customers have cold winters and bring their citrus indoors
during freezing weather below 32 degree for the Meyer Lemon.
Just be sure not to shock your
tree with a sudden change of environment. Simply place the tree in partial shade
for a couple of weeks to transition from full sun to indoors. Later you can
reverse this process after any danger of frost has safely passed. You will find
that you need to water less indoors.
grown indoors benefit greatly from the use of a grow light. We recommend turning
your light on at sunrise and off at sunset. If the tree is not averaging at
least 6 hours of bright sunlight a day, a grow light becomes a necessity for
The keys to successful container growing are:
Select the right size pot with adequate drainage holes.
Use a soil mix that is lightweight and drains well.
Develop a watering schedule so the tree stays on the dry side of moist.
Provide 8 or more hours of direct sunlight or grow light per day.
Plant the tree so the root collar is above the soil line and the top of the
root crown is barely below the soil. Do not cover the trunk with soil at all.
Selecting Planting Containers
We recommend a 12-14" container for our 2-3 year trees. A variety of decorative
plastic containers are available at reasonable prices. Clay pots and wooden
containers are very attractive but less mobile choices. When selecting a
container, be sure there are sufficient drainage holes. Drilling extra holes is
an easy way to improve drainage with wood or plastic. As the tree grows,
increase the container size to a 16-20" diameter pot. Do not start with a pot
that is too large as it makes soil moisture levels harder to control with small
trees. Be sure your container drains freely.
How to Plant in Containers
We recommend using commercially available potting mixes. Using dirt in a
container is not advisable.
Our choice is Peters or Miracle Grow 5lb bag for about $7 at
Wal-Mart or at any local garden center.
Once your soil mix is prepared, the container is selected and the tree's
eventual location is known you are ready to begin potting.
Place one inch of soil in the bottom of your new container. Gently remove the
roots and soil from the package. Try to keep the root ball intact. Place the
root ball in the new container and fill with your fresh potting mix. The top of
the roots should be just barely beneath the top of the soil level. Press the
soil around the root ball to provide stability and water deeply. Repotting with
fresh soil mix every year or two will provide fresh nutrients to the soil.
Selecting a Location for Outdoor Containers
Sunny, wind free locations with southern exposure are the best. If in doubt,
leave the tree in its plastic container and place it in the spot you have in
mind. After a week or two, you should be able to tell whether or not it is
thriving. Reflected heat from sidewalks or houses can also help to create a
warmer microclimate. Avoid lawns that get frequent, shallow watering.
Consistency is the key with citrus watering. Citrus trees require soil that is
moist but never soggy. Watering frequency will vary with soil porosity, tree
size, and environmental factors. DO NOT WATER IF THE TOP OF THE SOIL IS DRY
WITHOUT CHECKING THE SOIL AT ROOT LEVEL! A simple moisture meter,
available at garden supply stores, will read moisture at the root level. This
inexpensive tool will allow you to never have to guess about whether or not a
plant needs water. If you don't have this tool yet stick your finger about 3"
down into the soil...If it's dry 3" down then water deeply.
A wilted tree that perks up within 24 hours after watering indicates the roots
got too dry. Adjust watering schedule accordingly. A tree with yellow or cupped
leaves, or leaves that don't look perky AFTER watering can indicate excessive
watering and soggy roots. Give your tree water less often.
Citrus prefer infrequent, deep watering to frequent, shallow sprinklings.
Creating a watering basin around the tree's drip line can aid in deep watering.
Deeper watering promotes deeper root growth and strengthens your tree.
Generally, once or twice a week deep watering works well for container
specimens. Be sure to adjust based on weather conditions.
In general, it is probably best to water in the morning, but if plants are dry
or wilted it is better to water them right away than wait until morning. See our
watering page for more.
Citrus trees feed heavily on nitrogen. Your fertilizer should have more nitrogen
(N) than phosphorous (P) or potassium (K). Use at least a 2-1-1 ratio. Miracid
Soil Acidifier is a water-soluble product that works well and is a 3-1-1 ratio.
In some regions, you may be able to find specialized citrus/avocado fertilizers.
Buy a good brand and apply according to package directions.
Also important are trace minerals like iron, zinc, and manganese, so make sure
those are included as well. Many all-purpose products will work. We prefer slow
release fertilizers in the granular form rather than fertilizer stakes. Follow
rates on the package carefully as fertilizers come in different strengths,
release rates, and application schedules. We recommend that you fertilize more
often than recommended with most slow release fertilizers. Yellowing leaves
indicate lack of fertilizer or poor drainage.
Know where the graft union in on your tree. It can usually be seen as a diagonal
scar between 4 and 8 inches above the soil. Remove all shoot growth below the
graft. These so-called "suckers" take vitality from the top of the tree (the
fruiting wood). Especially on young trees, they are very vigorous. Remove
suckers as soon as they are observed.
See picture of a suckering. Some trees are not grafted and this will not
Thorns are removed from rootstocks when they are grafted. Juvenile fruiting wood
will sometimes have thorns; this is a young plant's way of defending against
grazing animals. As the tree matures, thorns will not appear as often. Prune off
thorns if desired. Check thorny branches to see if they are fruiting wood or
Citrus may be pruned to any desired shape. Pruning is fine any time of year,
except in the winter for outdoor trees. Pinching back tips of new growth is the
best way to round out the trees without impacting future fruit. Citrus will look
fuller with occasional pruning to shape leggy branches. Some trees may develop
erratic juvenile growth above the graft. If so, prune for shape and balance. Any
growth above the graft can eventually bear fruit. Do not be afraid to cut off
branches. It will stimulate growth and multiple branches from the site you
pruned. Well-pruned trees have higher fruit yields and are less prone to branch
Most citrus are self-pollinating, even indoors. Some people enjoy pollinating
their trees and can do so by using a small soft brush or cotton swab to transfer
pollen among the flowers.
Most insects do no harm to citrus trees! Spiders, lady beetles, lacewings, and
praying mantis are some of the beneficial insects you may see around citrus
trees outdoors. You can even buy some of these predator insects in local
nurseries for release in your garden.
Keep your tree free of ants. They will farm scales or aphids, moving them from
place to place, milking their secretions, and protecting them from beneficial
insects. Ant baits may be helpful.
If you find harmful insects like scales, aphids, or mites, a household spray
bottle of water with some mild dish soap could be all you need. If insects
persist, the usual nursery treatment is a 1% solution of light horticultural
Even temperate locations can drop below freezing, so it's good to have a plan in
mind for that eventuality. Christmas lights strung around your tree will provide
some protection. A frost blanket, loosely draped over and around the tree, will
also help. Or, you can winter your tree indoors.
Some Final Rules of
Regardless of how (or when) you transplant or repot, plants always go through an
adjustment period. Some plants rebound more quickly than others. Think of it as
a person or family moving into a new home. The new home may better fit their
size and comfort requirements, but they still must become familiar with their
new surroundings before life can get back to normal. Plants are much the same
way. In most cases, transplanting or repotting will only slow plant growth for a
brief period. But there are a few exceptions. For example, some plants are more
prone to heavy leaf loss. Don’t become overly concerned about this. In the
proper conditions, new growth should begin to appear soon.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Can I grow a
Meyer Lemon tree at my home in the northeast?
A. Dwarf citrus trees
can be successfully grown in containers throughout the United States. For
best results, place your dwarf citrus trees on a porch or patio in the spring,
summer and early fall. As winter approaches and temperatures begin to drop in
the thirties, bring your trees indoors and place in a window with a western or
southern sun exposure. The fruit (on most varieties) will begin to
as you bring the trees indoors. Within
a couple months, the trees will bloom again as they’re moved back outside for
spring. Some varieties will actually blossom before they go outside.
Q. How large will
the Meyer Lemon trees grow?
A. Although some rootstocks will
produce a slower growing citrus tree, they all have to be
pruned occasionally. If your tree is
planted in a large container and never pruned, it could grow 8-10 feet tall.
However, with some occasional pruning
your tree can be kept at whatever height you desire. It will be much easier
moving your dwarf citrus trees in and out for winter if they’re kept at a
reasonable height of 4-5 feet.
Q. When will my
Meyer Lemon trees bear fruit?
A. All the dwarf
citrus trees grown at MeyerLemonTree.com are grafted specimens and are fruiting
age when shipped. Depending on the time of year, your tree may arrive full of
blooms and fruit. However, you can usually expect your tree to start blooming
within a few weeks or months of receipt.
Q. My leaves are
turning yellow and falling. What is wrong with my citrus tree?
A. Yellowing leaves
are an indication of a watering problem, which includes over-watering,
inadequate drainage or a combination of the two. The problem can be easily
treated and prevented by using the correct soil mixture. We recommend using
Peters or Miracle Grow
5lb bag for about $7 at Wal-Mart or at any local garden center.
Whatever the soil mix, the key is to make sure that it drains and doesn’t stay
Q. How often do I
water my dwarf citrus tree?
A. Watering schedules
can vary, depending on container size, drainage and location of the tree.
Containerized citrus trees should be allowed to dry between waterings. If you’re
unsure whether watering is necessary, do the finger test – stick your finger
2-3” into the soil. If it is dry, your tree needs water. See:
When to Water Your Meyer Lemon
Q. Do I need two
citrus trees for fruit production?
A. All dwarf citrus
trees are self-fertile, meaning that only one tree is needed for fruit
Q. My citrus tree
keeps dropping blooms and no fruit is forming. What am I doing wrong?
A. Although citrus
trees are self-fertile, if they’re grown indoors year round, you may need to
give the tree a little help with the pollination process. This can be done a
couple of ways. The quickest and easiest is to give the tree a good shake when
the flowers are open. You can also dab pollen from one flower to another using a
cotton swab or small paintbrush. However, if your trees are outdoors, bees and
butterflies usually do a great job of pollinating the tree. See:
From Bloom to Edible Fruit
Q. My citrus tree
looks nice, but I notice different leaf types and long thorns. What is this?
A. This is commonly
known as a “sucker”. For more information, check out our
Meyer Lemon Tree Pruning
on this subject.
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