The Q&A Archives: meyer improved lemon care

Question: I recently purchased a Meyer Improved Lemon tree from Summer Winds Nursery in Chesterfield, Missouri. I was told that it could be grown indoors with full sun (I have a window spot with strong west exposure sun). The plant started losing not just petals as the flowers died, but entire flowers with the whole middle part and also a few leaves. We put it out on the patio, hoping that more sun would help, but it is still looking rather sick (more leaves are dying). There is no guarantee or any sort of return policy at this nursery (I don't know if that's a function of your policy as the grower, or if it's just the nursery), so I would really appreciate any advice you could give me on how to save this plant (it was $50!!!). When I got it there were a few very small green lemons starting, and a couple of them have fallen off too! Thanks very much for your help!
Jennifer Browne

Answer: It sounds as though your lemon tree is suffering from a little shock. It was probably grown under ideal conditions in a greenhouse and when you brought it home, things were not quite the same. The tree is going through an adjustment period and when it adapts to the growing conditions in your home, it should once again produce flowers and fruit. Like most houseplants, citrus thrive in a normal household temperature range of 70 degrees during day, to 55 to 55 degrees at night. Citrus trees prefer full sun from a southern exposure. If that's not possible, you can supplement the light by installing 40-watt fluorescent shop lights above the plant, keeping it on 14-16 hour a day. As for moisture, you'll need to keep the soil evenly moist. While your tree is indoors, since most interiors are quite dry, especially during the winter months, mist your plant often -- daily if you can. Give your lemon tree a shower occasionally to remove dust. It's normal for citrus trees to produce far more flowers than they can possibly support as fruit so the flowers fall - sometimes a tiny fruit begins to form but then is aborted. This is all perfectly normal. As your tree adjusts to its new home and as it matures, it will develop and mature lots of fruit. Dropping leaves indicates inadequate soil moisture so adjust your watering schedule and your tree should stop losing leaves and begin producing healthy new leaves and flowers. Best wishes with your lemon tree!

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