The Q&A Archives: Growing Improved Meyer Lemon Tree

Question: I planted an Improved Meyer lemon tree last year and brought it inside in December. I am now getting blooms (in February). Is there anything special I need to do? I am scared to death I am going to ruin the tree!

Answer: No, you're not going to kill your lemon tree! But it does have a few specific demands. To grow fruit you will need a very bright location for it-- a cool greenhouse would be preferable. During the winter, citrus trees need a cool (60 F. degrees would be great), very bright indoor spot with ample humidity. These conditions can be difficult to provide in the average home. They should be set outside each summer to take advantage of the sun. Keep the plant evenly moist but not soggy.

Lemon trees flower continuously and can have fruit in all stages of development most of the year. Most lemons ripen naturally in autumn and winter. The best thing to do is taste test periodically after lemons have reached the appropriate size and firmness. Lemons can be ripe, even though the rind is still green. Typically, the longer fruit stays on the tree, the sweeter it becomes.

Pruning should take place in late winter/early spring just before new growth starts to show. Citrus does need a consistent supply of fertilizer. Try to find one formulated specifically for citrus and follow package instructions, or use a balanced fertilizer that also contains zinc, iron and manganese to keep up the micronutrients. Don't over fertilize; half-strength solutions are recommended. Also, it's a good idea to do 3 feedings: one in Jan or Feb; another in April/May and a final in Aug/Sept. Always water thoroughly before and after applying fertilizer to prevent burn, especially if you can't find a citrus fertilizer. The tree should grow fairly slowly so be prepared with some patience.

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