The Q&A Archives: meyer lemon tree

Question: Hi there,
I have had a Monrovia meyer lemon tree for about six months (it is several years old standing about five feet tall). It is no longer blooming or producing fruit, however, it is growing new leaves. My question is should I prune the new growth on the tree so it spends its energy on fruit? I miss the flowers and I have yet to see an actual lemon... I have the tree infront of a large window that gets southeasterly light nearly all day. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks so much,
Molly Jones

Answer: Most citrus trees are not routinely pruned, and pruning will not encourage flower and fruit production. Growing conditions (light, heat, etc.) will make a huge difference in its performance, however. Citrus foliage can adapt to the relatively low light levels typical of our homes, but if flowers and fruit are what you're after, you'll need to give the plants as much light as possible. If natural light is inadequate, you can supplement with artificial lights. A combination of cool white and warm white fluorescent lights placed close to the plants will help, as will the special "grow lights" that emit the wavelengths of light most important for plant growth. Relative humidity is generally too low in the typical home, especially during the winter heating season. Running a humidifier will increase both plant and people comfort. Pebble trays with water evaporating from the surface also can be helpful. Hand-misting is generally ineffective at raising relative humidity, though it can help wash dust off of the foliage. Soil, water and fertilizer needs of citrus are similar to other houseplants. A good-quality potting soil mix with blooming-houseplant food applied according to label directions should be sufficient. Water thoroughly at intervals that allow the soil to dry just a little between waterings. Citrus flowering is dependent on the particular species of plant, as well as environmental conditions. Generally, best success with flowering is achieved by moving the plant outdoors to a protected, partially sunny location after all danger of frost is past. Similarly, the plant will need to be brought back indoors at the end of summer, before temperatures dip below 50 F. However, unless the plants are gradually exposed to these drastic changes of environment, they will often respond by dropping many leaves and, possibly, flowers and young fruit. If citrus is kept indoors year-round, the plants will likely need a bit of pollination assistance when they do flower. Use an artist's paintbrush or cotton swab to transfer pollen from one flower to another. Citrus are sub-tropical and in their natural environment will grow all year around, setting up to four flushes of flowers and fruit each year. Under the right circumstances you can expect your tree to remain evergreen and productive 12 months of the year. Best wishes with your new lemon tree!

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