How to Grow and Care for a Meyer Lemon Tree

By Sabrina Lopez | September 30, 2022

branch of indoor potted meyer lemon tree with ripe lemons

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Jump to: Fast Facts | How to Care For | How to Prune | How to Propagate | Common Issues | Our Recommendation | FAQ

A favorite of home gardeners and chefs, the Meyer lemon tree is the perfect plant accent for your patio. Not only are its dark green leaves and fragrant white flowers delightful, but the Meyer lemon’s fruit is also edible—and tasty.

Believed to be a hybrid of the common lemon and mandarin orange, the Meyer lemon is less acidic, juicier, and sweeter than a regular lemon. You can skip the grocery store trip and harvest your delicious fruit for desserts or cocktails. Learn the basics of Meyer lemon tree care and a few tips to help yours thrive.



Fast Facts on Meyer Lemon Trees

Stylish and trendy, Meyer lemon trees (Citrus meyeri) were first introduced to the United States from China in 1908. In 1975, the University of California introduced the disease- and insect-resistant variant widely grown today. These improved Meyer lemon trees can be grown in pots or planted in the ground. In the ground, they will grow up to 10 feet tall. 

Though it is the most winter-hardy of any lemon-type fruit tree, it needs warm conditions year-round to produce a good harvest or should be overwintered indoors.

Common nameMeyer lemon, Meyer lemon tree

Plant family


Native climate

China; variation found throughout the United States was developed in California in the 1970s

Light level

Full and partial sunlight, depending on the season

Average mature height

6–10 feet

Soil type

Requires sandy, well-draining soil; if planted in a pot, it must be one with holes incorporated for good drainage

Frequency of watering

Once every one to two weeks, depending on season and local climate


Toxic to both dogs and cats

Ideal humidity level

50% and above

Common variations

Dwarf Meyer lemon tree



How to Care for Your Meyer Lemon Tree

If you live in a state known for its hot, humid temperatures (like New Mexico or Florida), you won’t have much trouble keeping your Meyer lemon tree happy. Still, the Meyer lemon tree requires specialized care if you want to see new growth in your plant and combat droopiness. It may also require additional care during the winter months.


To maximize growth, fertilize from the beginning of spring through the fall using a high-nitrogen fertilizer or a slow-release fertilizer. Aim to fertilize a total of three times during the growing season.


The Meyer lemon tree shares a growing season with other citrus fruits, which means you can expect to see white blossoms in early spring

You can use coffee grounds as a do-it-yourself (DIY) soil treatment to improve the acidity of the area surrounding your plant’s roots and lower the surrounding soil pH. You must use well-composted coffee grounds for this to be effective. Uncomposted coffee grounds contain high levels of caffeine, which can harm the tree.


Meyer lemon trees love full sun exposure. Citrus tree care rules dictate that your lemon tree should get at least eight hours of full sunlight daily. If you want to ensure that your fruit trees will bear their signature egg-yolk-colored fruit, allow your Meyer lemon tree to have as much sun as possible year-round.

Temperature and Climate

The ideal temperature range for a Meyer lemon tree is between 50 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In most parts of the country, you will need to keep your Meyer lemon tree as a portable houseplant, moving the plant indoors as the temperature begins to dip. 

Even if you live in a USDA Hardiness Zone, where Meyer lemon trees can survive in the ground, you’ll still need to cover your plants when temperatures dip below freezing. Cover the tree with a tarp that reaches the earth to trap the heat needed to sustain the plant. 


When caring for any plant that produces citrus fruit, you need to be careful that you’re not overwatering. To tell if your plant needs water, carefully insert a finger into the potting soil up to the second knuckle. If you can feel moisture, hold off on watering your plant. If the soil feels dry, thoroughly water the plant. As a general rule, this means that you should water your Meyer lemon tree about once every week or every two weeks during most parts of the year.



How to Prune Meyer Lemon Trees

You can prune your Meyer lemon tree according to your design preferences since its shape doesn’t affect its ability to bear fruit. Wait until the tree is at least 3 to 4 feet tall to prune, and try not to begin the process until the winter after the plant’s fruits ripen and fall.

Begin pruning at the base of the tree and work your way up. Remove dead and dying limbs and thin limbs that are likely to break under the weight of any fruit that grows. From here, prune back any limbs impeding airflow to the plant’s interior and form the tree into the shape you prefer.



How to Propagate Meyer Lemon Trees

You can propagate your lemon tree during the late spring or early summer when the plant is actively growing. All cuttings should be from a healthy plant, and the branches you choose should have no flowers or fruit.

  1. Take a hardwood cutting from a healthy, mature Meyer lemon tree.
  2. Remove leaves, flowers, and fruit from the removed portion, leaving four leaves at the top of the cutting. Dip the end of the cutting into a rooting hormone to protect against fungi and disease.
  3. Choose a new pot that can hold at least 1 gallon of potting soil. Fill the pot with thoroughly watered soil.
  4. Place the tip of the cutting into the soil. Make sure the cut end of the plant is completely covered with soil.
  5. Use a plastic bag to cover the entire pot and set it in an area with plenty of direct sunlight. Keep the soil moist, but be sure that you don’t overwater to the point where the potting mix becomes waterlogged.
  6. Check the plant regularly to track the progress of its roots. Once the cutting has begun to develop new roots, you can safely remove the plant and repot it if you wish.



How to Repot Meyer Lemon Trees

  1. When selecting a new pot, choose one between 12 and 17 inches in diameter with plenty of drainage holes.
  2. Fill the pot partway with fresh potting soil
  3. Gripping the base of your lemon tree, gently lift the plant from its current pot. Use your fingers to detangle roots and break up soil clumps as needed. 
  4. Place the plant into its new pot. Fill around the rootball with potting soil until only the tree’s crown is visible.
  5. Water the plant immediately and press the soil down. Newly repotted Meyer lemon trees will require more frequent watering for the first few weeks.



Common Issues with Meyer Lemon Trees

Though Meyer lemon trees are disease-resistant and easier to care for than more fragile citrus plants, you may still run into a few of the following common issues. 

Leaf Droop

If the leaves of your Meyer lemon tree are drooping, this is often an indication of the presence of Armillaria root rot. Armillaria root rot is a common fungal infection that has the potential to kill your plant if left untreated. Leaf droop is a serious condition—if you notice drooping branches, contact a professional lawn care or tree specialist company to determine if the tree must be removed.

Yellowing Leaves

Yellowing leaves on your Meyer lemon tree usually indicate that you are overwatering it. Watering too often waterlogs the roots of your plant, preventing it from drawing in the nutrients it needs from the soil. If your lemon tree looks a little yellow, check the soil; if it’s wet, allow it to dry completely before watering again.

Damage to Leaves

Damage to the underside of your lemon tree’s leaves is a common indication of pest activities. Meyer lemon trees attract various pests that feed on their sweet fruits—whiteflies, aphids, and scale are common pests you might see on your tree. To control pest activity, call in a local pest control company to formulate a plan to combat the specific creatures harming your tree.



Our Recommendation

While Meyer lemon trees are easier to care for than most other citrus plants, they come with challenges. Be sure your plant has access to direct sunlight for at least eight hours daily, and avoid the temptation to water the plant every week, as doing so can lead to root infections. If you notice your plant’s branches drooping, call in a professional tree care service, as this may indicate a severe fungal infection.



Meyer Lemon Tree FAQ

Are Meyer lemon trees easy to grow?

Meyer lemon trees are self-pollinating and resistant to diseases and pests, which makes them an exceptionally easy citrus plant to grow. To help support your plant, ensure it’s not getting too much water and has access to at least eight hours of direct sunlight daily. 

How long does it take a Meyer lemon tree to bear fruit?

The answer to this question will depend on how the tree was grown. If the tree was grown from seed, expect to see fruit when the tree reaches maturity, usually in three to seven years. Grafted trees have a head start on growth, and they can bear fruit in as little as two years.

How many lemons can a Meyer lemon tree grow?

A fully mature outdoor Meyer lemon tree produces lemons four times annually and can grow up to 300 fruits yearly.