The Tree Center

Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree

Written by Siobhan Bartons • February 08 Meyer Lemon Tree Guide

Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree

Lemonade, lemon chicken, salmon, blueberry coffee cake, oysters, any dish garnish, lemon squares, lemon cakes, key ingredient, and so much more – lemons are an intrinsic part of our diet, culture, and life. Access to lemons, however, is not always so easy. Considered a warm-weather fruit, many amateur gardeners and homeowners would never consider having their very own lemon producing tree.

Lemons are no longer a forgotten grocery-list item, though. The prolific Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree is a small specimen that thrives in much of the United States. Warmer regions, consisting of the USDA zones 8 to 11, can grow the tree outdoors all season long. But growers in colder regions are also in luck – the Meyer Lemon Tree can be grown as a container plant indoors and on the patio in USDA zones 4 to 11 – that includes every contiguous state in the nation!

Not only does the Meyer Lemon Tree provide edible (and delicious) produce, the tree is also fragrant and impressive to behold. Vibrant yellow fruit will grow steadily on the branches of this dwarf-sized plant, offering you the valuable lemon fruit without the hassle of shopping and planning. The lemons do not ripen all at once, which means you will be able to utilize a larger percentage of your tree’s fruits and still have some to share with others.

The pleasant smell of the lemon tree also provides a strong case for this container-friendly tree. Gentle, sweet flavors of lemon will waft through rooms. Rid your house of chemical fragrances and air fresheners – the Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree can take care of it for you.

Even if you live in a small urban apartment, the Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree can grow successfully to produce its delectable fruits. Urban growers love the Meyer Lemon Tree for this reason, choosing to enjoy the lemons and their fragrance.

Meyer Lemon Tree Potted

Meyer Lemon Tree Care

Your new Meyer Lemon Tree can be grown inside or out, providing you with a host of decisions to make prior to planting your new fruit tree. The choice will be determined by your climatic region and your growing space. We will delve a little more into best practices for growing Meyer Lemon Trees indoors next, but first let’s talk about what you will need to do to help your Lemon tree produce bountiful fruit in a healthy way, regardless of where you choose to plant it.

The Dwarf Meyer Lemon tree prefers full sun, consistent but minimal to moderate waterings, sandy to loamy potting soil, good drainage, and fertilizer. Given these conditions and appropriate planting procedures, your Meyer Lemon Tree will offer sweet lemons, fragrances, and growth in a short span of time.

In order to harvest delectable lemons from your tree, you will need to be sure the fruit is ripe before picking. Unlike many other vegetables and fruits, citrus fruits will not continue to ripen once off the tree. Look for a rich yellow, similar to the yolk of an egg. For the best results, use scissors or clippers to remove the fruit so as not to damage the vine.

One other tidbit – though pests are not a frequent problem with the Meyer Lemon Tree, occasional bouts of aphids or borers have been known to attack the tree. The best way to diminish pest concerns is to practice preventative measures, such as ground clean-up and weeding. If pests do become an issue, a regular commercial pesticide can often remove any concerns.

Sunlight Exposure

Fully Mature Meyer Lemon Tree

It should not be surprising that a citrus tree, such as the Lemon Tree, would love the sun. Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes are all satisfied sun-bathers. They also prefer warmer temperatures, ranging between 50°F and 80°F. This impacts growers in colder regions, who may need to bring the Meyer Lemon Tree indoors for a season. Cloudy or rainy areas may also need to provide some additional sunshine to their plant using artificial means. This is not usually required, but it may increase the growth and production of the Meyer Lemon Tree to use a greenhouse or greenhouse lighting fixture to help your Lemon Tree grow.


Unlike many other fruit trees, citrus trees like the Meyer Lemon Tree grow best in slightly sandy soil. Sandier soil, which is composed of larger grain sizes, is better at draining water than heavy clay-like soils. For citrus trees, which prefer damp but not wet soil, sandier soils can be beneficial.

Do not misunderstand, though. Your Meyer Lemon Tree needs water. Your tree will be most successful if watered consistently and frequently. This is also why the tree needs soil that drains well, so it doesn’t get stuck with “wet feet”. Letting the soil dry out between waterings can help ensure it stays moist without being wet. Regulated watering systems, like drip or sprinkler irrigation systems, can be beneficial in dispersing proper water amounts regularly.


Soil is typically categorized into three or four main types; clay, silt, sand, or loam. For the Meyer Lemon Tree, you are looking for a sandy-loam soil type. This will allow for the best drainage without drying the soil too quickly. Potting soils should be used if garden soil is not amenable. The nutrient matter of the soil can have an impact on the tree’s overall growth. Soils characterized by higher nitrogen amounts will be better suited to growing the Meyer Lemon Tree, although adjustments to soil composition through the use of fertilizer are also possible.

Meyer Lemon Tree Indoors

For many growers in the United States, four-season lemon outdoor growing is simply not possible. The Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree cannot survive extended periods of temperatures below 50°F, so for some gardeners partial indoor growing can be a valuable option. Luckily, the Meyer Lemon Tree is superb in a container (and looks quite snazzy, too), so cooler climate gardeners rejoice!

Potted Meyer Lemon Tree

Growing the Meyer Lemon Tree indoors requires a container. The first mistake gardeners make when beginning a container plant is choosing an inappropriately sized container. The container of your Meyer Lemon Tree should be twice the size in terms of width of the Lemon Tree’s root ball. This will allow enough room for the roots to expand and for water and nutrients to move throughout the container. This is especially important for your Meyer Lemon Tree, which requires good drainage. Room can be essential to this air, water, and root movement.

The next step in growing a container Meyer Lemon Tree is to secure a moving device. The Meyer Lemon Tree, though dwarf-sized, can become quite heavy (especially when heavy laden with delicious fruits). When the weather begins to cool, growers need to be able to move their Meyer Lemon Tree indoors. Many gardeners use a heavy tool hauler, and there are many commercial or do it yourself hauler projects available. The hauler or wagon you use should be easy to fasten. Many of these haulers can be laid under the container and simply attached to the lever or lifting device when it is time to move it.

The final point to consider when bringing a Meyer Lemon Tree indoors is room and sunlight requirements. If possible, a full season greenhouse is the best option. Temperature controls and artificial sunlight will be a huge benefit to your tree. But, let’s be frank. A dedicated greenhouse for your Meyer Lemon Tree may not be realistic for many tree growers. A room with heat access and plenty of light will suffice. Be sure to not place your Meyer Lemon Tree directly adjacent to any heat source, as the heat could damage the tree if too close.

In the end, you’ll have the delightful aroma of lemon wafting through the home and an interesting horticulture conversation piece whenever guests visit.

Meyer Lemon Tree Pruning

How To Prune TreePruning your Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree will be beneficial to both the tree and you. Be careful: Meyer Lemon Trees do produce thorns, and though these are smaller and gentler than other thorn tree varieties, it is still unpleasant to snag one on your hand. Wear gloves and use sharp, clean clippers when pruning.

When to Prune                                                                     

The pruning will help to encourage healthy growth and should be done after all mature lemons have been removed from the tree or just before flowering. Occasional pruning will be helpful, but do not overdo it. Gardeners can become overzealous in their pruning of citrus and damage future generations of fruiting. If you are growing the tree indoors, the best times to prune are just after moving the tree.

What to Prune

First, remove any dead, diseased, or damaged wood. Cut these branches at the intersection where they meet with the tree’s main branch, whether central to the tree or an auxiliary. Some gardeners are unsure how to determine whether a branch falls into these categories. Dead wood will have a hollow sound or a lighter touch. Diseased wood will have blemishes or fungal remnants. Damaged wood will have cuts, abrasions, or breaks along the branch.

Remove any suckers from the tree. These will display bright green shoots and appear between the root ball and graft sight of the Meyer Lemon Tree (the graft sight is the vertical scar on the base of the tree where the healthy Meyer Lemon Tree was grafted to the main root ball). Though they may look healthy, these suckers will scoop up the valuable resources of the tree and not produce any lemons.

The next step is to thin out the tree. Remove any thin branches that would not support the weight of a lemon. Also, thin out the interior of the tree. Look beneath the outer branches and clear out any heavy interior growth. These will likely not get enough sun to produce viable fruit – by removing this growth you can help divert resources towards the branches best-suited toward growing healthy fruit. You can also trim the tree to shape it in a way that is aesthetically pleasing. After pruning, be sure to clean out the soil beneath the tree of any cuttings or dead leaves. This will help prevent the spread of fungi or pests.

Meyer Lemon Tree Fertilizer

The Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree is a healthy, hearty plant; yet, it will benefit from the use of fertilizer. Citrus plants require higher levels of nitrogen in order to grow healthy, edible fruits. Using a fertilizer high in nitrogen, therefore, is a great step to take if delicious fruits are to be in your future.

The directions and application processes for different fertilizers vary dramatically. Purchase a commercial fertilizer from your local horticulture vendor and follow the package’s directions. In general, fertilizers are most successful when applied once or twice a year. Citrus Trees, like the Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree, will likely benefit from an early spring application and a mid to late summer application. Regardless, the commercial fertilizer directions may vary.

Be careful not to over-fertilize. Fertilizer is great – it increases the necessary nutrients in the soil, it encourages tree growth, and helps the tree compensate for poor growing conditions, weather, or damage. However, applying too much fertilizer to the Meyer Lemon Tree can also have devastating effects. Like most things, balance is essential.

You should feel confident that you can plant your Meyer Lemon Tree with confidence and care. Delectable lemons fresh off the tree await you and your kitchen table. Enjoy some fresh homemade lemonade or out-of-the oven lemon squares. Not only are lemons useful in all sorts of kitchen cooking and baking ways, they can also be used to make homemade cleaners and soaps. Place this bright ornamental tree as an accent décor piece, in the house or in the yard. Be prepared to harvest sweet, delicious lemons and share them with your friends. And you know what they say – when life doesn’t give you lemons, plant a lemon tree and get your own.


Comments 22 comments

  1. March 14, 2016 by Robert

    You only mention once in your article that Meyer lemons are sweet and don’t work well in many recipes calling for lemon!

  2. August 4, 2016 by Ann Jones

    I am having great difficulty in getting the fruit to mature. My tree is full of blossoms and yet, once the fruit appears, they will stay for a few days and then turn yellow and drop off the tree. What am I doing wrong? The tree is in a container in the yard. It gets good sun in the morning and early afternoon. We live in Hawaii so outdoors should be the best. Please help. I have 8 mature fruit on the tree at present and want more.

  3. February 10, 2017 by leslie

    is it true that planting a meyer lemon tree next to Pine trees affect growth?

  4. I live in area 6B, where winter temperatures frequently dip below 0 degrees. According to this article you say I can safely keep a meyer lemon on my patio in the winter with temperatures at or below 0 degrees?

    1. May 6, 2018 by Amy

      I’m not sure what part of the article you read that made you think the tree would survive at such a low temperature, but it definitely will not. Per the article, “ They also prefer warmer temperatures, ranging between 50°F and 80°F. This impacts growers in colder regions, who may need to bring the Meyer Lemon Tree indoors for a season.”

      1. January 6, 2019 by Jeff

        No need to be sassy… I know better but for a new gardener this excerpt would prove confusing:

        “But growers in colder regions are also in luck – the Meyer Lemon Tree can be grown as a container plant indoors and on the patio in USDA zones 4 to 11 – that includes every contiguous state in the nation!”

  5. May 12, 2018 by Anatalia Payne

    I live in north of Los Angeles I plant Meyer Lemon this year 2018 March, now it’s May. The leaves are almost yellow and it doesn’t look healthy. What should I do? I need your help.

    1. June 2, 2018 by Rodger

      I’m somewhat of a rookie in this department ie Meyer lemon tree. I planted a tree same time line as you and have/had same issue. I corrected my watering schedule and fertilized(nitrogen)more. I’m not sure what helped but I’m guessing from my routine I was giving it to much water and not enough nitrogen(fertilizer). Keep in mind I live in a cooler temp climate ,zone 8.

  6. July 8, 2018 by N Castillo

    Inlive in North Florida, cannot get my Meyer Lemon Tree to grow much and nothing turns yellow! Stops at green and falls off. Help?

    1. March 14, 2019 by Robert

      I live in South Florida and the same thing happened. They never turned yellow. One of my lemons burst and was still mostly green but inside was ripe and juicy, This was my first full year. I harvested about 6 nice lemons. It is now March 2019 and there are dozens of flower buds. I lightly pruned after the first harvest and now have huge growth. Good luck.

  7. July 12, 2018 by Jan Harrison

    My tree is full of tiny lemons my question is where there are clumps of three or more, will they all mature or should I take one or two of the smaller ones off the tree so the one left will grow bigger and mature faster?

    1. January 7, 2019 by April

      Leaving too many lemons on the tree, will make it very top heavy. I only allow no more than 10 lemons to mature on mine. Had 14 once, and I had to tie it to a post on my patio, as the weight of the lemons kept tipping over my tree! And with just 10 (or fewer) my mature lemons are the size of softballs!

  8. August 22, 2018 by Josh Ellis

    Yes, you should definitely thin the tiny fruit to just one per cluster. You will get bigger and better lemons that way.

  9. November 26, 2018 by Susan Conrad

    My Meyer has 4 lemons that are becoming yellow. It is inside and is losing its leaves. What should I do? Is it sick?

  10. July 10, 2019 by Susan DiGiulio

    Like a few others, I am getting small lemons, but mine are really tiny – less than 1/2 inch long – although they mature from green to yellow normally. Is this a question of not removing lemons or is it something else? I planted the tree 3 months ago (April) in Los Angeles.

  11. August 5, 2019 by Veronica

    My lemon tree has white twigs what should I do?

  12. I have had 2 Meyer Lemon trees for several years now. I never seem to be able to get the fruit to fully ripen or turn yellow. My trees are full of green fruit. We had to bring them in last week because of an anticipated early freeze that was to last several days. We rolled them into the garage, put 2 grow lights on them (haven’t used a grow light on them in the past) and low and behold, within days, all the lemons turned yellow! They still have a ways to go to be fully ripened but I think we’ll finally get some good fruit, and, the garage smells wonderful! I guess they weren’t getting enough sun? Next year they’ll be placed in a place with full sun…all day long!

  13. April 29, 2020 by Rita

    I just received my Meyer lemon tree. April 28 2020. Will I get any edible fruit this year. I do not see any buds.

  14. May 25, 2020 by Diana Best

    In learning there are many factors in growing anything.One size does not fit all.I know from our planting experience with the Meyer it’s a wonderful tree with the best lemons and largest that I have ever had.It’s great in any reciepe.we did not baby it but planted in good old South Ga soil.I can’t remember for sure if it produced first year planted but definitely the following year and each year after we had many to give away.There is a 6ft.wooden fence approx.10ft.from it on I believe the northwest side and house on the east side.I have moved and now ready to plant another one.We’ll see what happens.

  15. June 23, 2020 by Dave

    For some of the issues I see on this page, soil may be the fix. Mix up some 5-1-1 as shown on various videos and transplant your tree to that. While doing so, ensue that any roots that may be wrapped around the soil are gently cut. Most Meyer lemon tree issues, save temperatures that are too cold, are related to the soil. Thus good draining, proper Ph, and watering deeply one a week will cure most “ills.” When transplanting, ensure that you do not “bury” the tree too deep as exposed roots want to stay that way. Too deep and you will have other problems.

  16. July 11, 2020 by Phyllis Burnett

    wonderful article. thank you!!

  17. I have an approximately 10 year old Meyer lemon tree – planted in a large container. I live in SW Mich & have the tree outside for the summer – in direct sun. I read where the trees like to have heavy watering – but only every five days. it has worked – Massive flowering going on right now – end of August. But – I need some help/suggestions here – I will NOT be able to give it that much water – once I move it inside of my 4-season room – come October. HOW do i get enough water into the plant – without getting water all over my floor? Thanks,

    tom n