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Plant Manual for Meyer Lemon

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Plant Description

A favorite of farmers markets and home cooks. This lovely tree is hardier than most others of its kind, allowing you to enjoy more fragrant flowers and tasty, thin-skinned lemons. Matures to be 8-10' tall, but can be kept smaller by pruning or growing in a container. Heat-tolerant. Harvest in late summer through winter. Self-pollinating. If you live in Zones 4-8, plant these warm-weather species in containers so that you can move them indoors before freezing temps arrive. Spring delivery only, shipped greenhouse-grown, 6-12 inch plants.


Plants grown in a greenhouse must be acclimated carefully before planting or placing them outdoors. This is especially true in hot or sunny locations. Many species should never be grown in full sun. Before purchasing a plant, learn about its sun requirements. Knowing the plants requirements can avoid any damage to the plant by incorrectly giving it the wrong conditions.

If your plant has been grown in a greenhouse, here are a few steps we recommend you follow:

  • After purchasing your plant, place it outside in a sheltered, shady spot or on your back porch.
  • Leave it there for 3-4 hours and gradually increase the time spent outside by 1-2 hours per day.
  • Bring the plants back indoors each night.
  • Water it regularly to keep the plant moist.
  • Occasionally spray the leaves with water.
  • After 2-3 days, move the plants from their shady spot into morning sun, returning them to the shade in the afternoon.
  • After 7 days, the plants should be able to handle the outdoor temperatures, if they stay around 50 degrees F.
  • After 7-10 days, your plant is ready to be planted in its permanent location. Try to do this on a cloudy day and be sure to water the plant well.
  • Observe foliage daily. If any type of leaf discoloration occurs, put the plant back into filtered light and attempt this step at a later date.
  • Special care must be taken to avoid burning the leaves.

With citrus, it will become necessary to move your container-grown citrus plants indoors to overwinter when temperatures drop below 60 degrees. Prepare your plants for this by gradually shading the plants over a 3-week period.

These are general guide recommendations. Some plants take longer than others to acclimate.


The best way to succeed is to plan before you plant. Let’s discuss location: Do you know where you want to locate your new plant? Avoid many future problems by considering all aspects of the planting spot, such as:

  • Cross-pollination
  • Sun and good soil
  • Check out the surroundings
  • Space wisely
  • Leave space for future planting


Is a pollinator variety present? Cross-pollination by a different variety, of the same type of tree, is key to the success of many fruit trees. In most cases, its absence is why trees don’t bear fruit or produce poorly.

Sun and Good Soil

Your tree would love a sunny place with well-drained, fertile soil. But it will be quite satisfied with six to eight hours of sunlight. Good drainage is required to keep your trees “happy.” If your soil has high clay content, use our Coco-Fiber Potting Medium or add one-third peat to the soil at planting time. We do not recommend planting fruit trees in heavy, pure clay soils.

Even if your yard isn’t the most ideal location, take heart. Fruit trees are very adaptable and respond well to fertilizers, so they can get along well even where the soil is nutritionally poor. Just steer clear of sites with extremely heavy soils or very poor drainage.


If you’d like your tree to become a landscaping asset, choose the planting place with this in mind. Imagine it as a full-grown tree and check everything out: Wires overhead? Sidewalk underneath? Does it obstruct something you want to see? Can you keep an eye on it from the house? Will other trees be in the way, allowing for their additional growth in the meantime?
Even a year or two after planting, your tree will be very difficult to transplant. So take the time to plant it in just the right place.

Space Wisely

First-time fruit tree growers often ask about recommended planting distances from patios, sewer lines, water pipes and so on. Ordinarily, patios will not be a problem because the soil beneath them will be dry and compacted. Therefore, the roots will not grow into this area as much. It’s still recommended, however, that you plant at least 8-10’ away from patios, water pipes and sewer pipes. You might not expect sewer and water lines to be affected since they are buried so deeply. But, since sewer and water lines tend to be wet, roots will grow to them and around them if the tree is planted too close. By planting your trees far enough away from these items, you can avoid this problem.

Spacing between trees:

  • Dwarf, 8-10’ (sweet cherry: 12-14')
  • Semi-dwarf, 12-15’ (sweet cherry: 15-18')
  • Standard, 18-25’
  • Miniature, 6’
  • Colonnade, 2’

Space for Future Plantings

Once you’ve found out about fruit growing goodness firsthand, you’ll want to expand your home orchard. It’s important to plan for tree spacing so that the future growth areas will be ready when you are.

One way to help you visualize your exact tree spacing is by staking out the positions of your present and future plantings. But how do you make sure the hole goes where the stake is? One method is to prepare a notched planting board. The planting board is used to show where the original position was after the hole was dug. To use it, simply put the stake in the tree notch as indicated and then put stakes on each end. Then, remove the board and dig the hole. When the hole is big enough to accommodate the roots, replace the board between the two stakes and place the tree in the tree notch. Use the planting board as a guide, keeping the tree erect. The planting board can be used over and over again.


Successfully establishing a young fruit tree starts with your planting site and method. Once a fruit tree is established, it needs little assistance to grow and bear fruit; but you’ll want to make sure you give your trees the right foundation.

Fruit trees require fertile soil for good growth, so before you plant, check your soil pH. Contact your local County Extension Office for information about soil testing in your area, or purchase one of our digital meters for quick and accurate results. Citrus trees enjoy a soil pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Steer clear of soils that are extremely heavy or poorly drained.

Upon arrival, you may notice that your citrus plant has lost some or all of its leaves. Don’t be alarmed because this is normal. New leaves and shoots will appear shortly after repotting.


  • Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the root system.
  • Straighten out any circling root before planting and remove any broken ones.
  • Place plant so the root ball is even with the soil surface.
  • Fill the container with the remaining soil.
  • Do not add fertilizer to the soil as you are back filling, you can apply some to the soil surface after planting.
  • Tamp soil lightly as you go to eliminate any air pockets.
  • Water thoroughly.

Planting In a Container

  • Transfer your new plant to a 6-10 inch pot within a few days of arrival.
  • Fill the container with potting soil loosely (do not tamp) to 3” below the rim.
  • Remove plant from shipping container.
  • Gently loosen root system from the soil ball, so roots do not encircle the soil ball.
  • Place plant so the root ball is even with the soil surface.
  • Fill the container with the remaining soil.
  • Water lightly until plant is well rooted.

By your tree’s second summer, you can plant it in a larger container, usually 16-20 inches in diameter. They have a shallow root system, so a wide diameter container is far better than a deep one. This can be the tree’s permanent home. These pots can be moved around as you wish. Just remember not to make a major change in light exposure all at once, but in stages. Refreshing the soil every one to three years will provide soil nutrients and encourage healthier growth.

Protecting Your Citrus Tree

Protect your citrus plant until outdoor temperatures warm and the chance of frost is gone. Citrus plants thrive in temperatures between 55 and 90 degrees. Ideal temperatures for the spring and summer range from 75 to 90 degrees F. During fall and winter, the temperature range is 60 and 70 degrees F. It is not only important to have good lighting and warmth, but most importantly, humidity of 30-60%.

  • Your container grown citrus plants should be grown near a bright sunny window, or under fluorescent ‘grow’ lights.
  • If you plan to plant your citrus plant in the ground, find a sunny, frost-free and wind free location with southern exposure is best.

Additional Notes

  • In Zones 4-8, overwinter in a protected area where the temperature does not drop below 60º F. This does not apply to olives, as they need some cold temperatures to produce fruit. However, do not allow them to freeze.
  • Citrus plants are self-pollinating; but when growing indoors, you should hand-pollinate by using a small brush or cotton swab to transfer pollen among the flowers.

Soil Preparation

Preparing your soil before you plant will greatly improve your plant’s performance and promote healthy, vigorous growth. It is a good idea to have your soil tested to determine if it is lacking in any essential minerals and nutrients. This can be done through your County Extension Office or with one of our digital meters.

The goal of soil preparation is to replenish vital minerals and nutrients, as well as break up and loosen any compacted soil.

When To Prepare Your Soil

Soil preparation can be done at any time that the ground is not too wet or frozen. Your trees may be planted even when temperatures are quite cool. If a hard frost is expected, it is advisable to delay planting for a while until temperatures become more moderate. Generally, as long as your soil is workable, it is fine to plant.

How To Prepare Your Soil

  • Roots grow faster when they’re spread out. Dig the hole deep and wide enough so the root system has plenty of room to easily expand. Keep the topsoil in a separate pile so you can put it in the bottom of the hole, where it’ll do the most good.
  • To loosen the soil, mix dehydrated cow manure, garden compost or peat moss (up to 1/3 concentration) into your pile of topsoil. Make sure the peat moss you get is either baled sphagnum or granular peat. You can also add our Coco-Fiber Potting Medium or 2 or more inches of organic material and work in evenly with the existing soil.

Your lawn can provide you with ideal organic materials such as grass clippings and shredded leaves. Not only will the grass and leaves break down to provide soil nutrients, but they will help loosen the soil as well. You can gather these in the fall with spring planting in mind.

Common soil amendments:

  • compost
  • sand
  • manure
  • lime
  • peat moss

Adding organic materials, such as our Coco-Fiber Potting Medium and compost will improve most every soil type. Organic materials bind sandy soil particles so they retain moisture and nutrients better. They also break apart clay and silt particles, so that water can infiltrate and roots can spread.

Soil Types

  • Clay and silt soils are made of very small particles. They feel slick and sticky when wet. Clay and silt hold moisture well, but resist water infiltration, especially when they are dry. Often puddles form on clay or silt soils, and they easily become compacted.
  • Loam soil is a mix of sand, silt or clay, and organic matter. Loam soils are loose and look rich. When squeezed in your fist, moist loam will form a ball, which crumbles when poked with a finger. Loam soils normally absorb water and store moisture well. Loam soils can be sandy or clay based, and will vary in moisture absorption and retention accordingly.
  • Sandy soils contain large particles that are visible to the unaided eye, and are usually light in color. Sand feels coarse when wet or dry, and will not form a ball when squeezed in your fist. Sandy soils stay loose and allow moisture to penetrate easily, but do not retain it for long-term use.


Fertilizing is an excellent way to replenish the natural nutrients in your plant’s soil. For citrus, you should use specialized citrus fertilizers to maintain the proper nutrients.

  • Always apply fertilizer according to the package directions.
  • If a citrus fertilizer is unavailable in your region, use a complete acid-type fertilizer (azalea type food).

Leaves turn yellow for several different reasons, and one of them could be the soil needs to be made more acidic. To maintain the acidity of the soil, dissolve one-half teaspoon of magnesium sulfate (epsom salts) into on quart or room temperature water. Use this solution every two or three months.

Insects and Diseases

Every plant has the future potential for disease and insect damage. Factors such as location and weather will play a part in which issues your plants encounters. If available, disease-resistant varieties are the best option for easy care; and for all types of plants, proper maintenance (such as watering, pruning, spraying, weeding, and cleanup) can help keep most insects and diseases at bay.

Red Spider Mites

Pinpoint size, many different colors. Found on undersides of leaves. Severe infestations have some silken webbing. Sap feeding causes bronzing of leaves.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray (Orange, Lemon, Lime)
  • A strong stream of water from your garden hose or put them in a bathtub and vigorously rinse off foliage.

Chemical Control

  • Hi-Yield® Lime Sulfur Spray


Tiny, slender, fringed wing insects ranging from 1/25 to 1/8” long. Nymphs are pale yellow and highly active and adults are usually black or yellow-brown, but may have red, black or white markings. Feed on large variety of plants by puncturing them and sucking up the contents.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray (Orange, Lemon, Lime)
  • Traps

Chemical Control

  • Hi-Yield® Lime Sulfur Spray


Usually on bark of young twigs and branches, encrusted with small (1/16”) hard, circular, scaly raised bumps with yellow centers, may also be on fruit. Sap feeding weakens the tree.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray (Orange, Lemon, Lime)
  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil
  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Put a drop or two of dishwashing detergent in a spray bottle and fill with water and shake to make suds. Spray every limb and leaf of the tree.

Chemical Control

  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer (Orange, Lemon, LIme)


Adults are 1/4” long, flat, oval shaped with a white waxy covering. Yellow to orange eggs are laid within an egg sac. Crawlers are yellow to brown in color. Over winters as an egg or very immature young in or near a white, cottony egg sac, under loose bark or in branch crotches, mostly found on north side. Damage is by contamination of fruit clusters with egg sacs, larvae, adults and honeydew, which promotes growth of black sooty mold.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray (Orange, Lemon, Lime)
  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Remove and destroy infected plants.


Adults are tiny, white winged insects found mainly on the underside of leaves. Nymph emerge as white, flat, oval shapes. Larvae are the size of a pinhead. Suck plant juices from leaves causing them to turn yellow, appear to dry or fall off plants.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray (Orange, Lemon, Lime)
  • Traps


Pale yellow or ‘dirty’ green worms. Leaves are rolled and webbed together where insects feed. Eventually becomes ‘skeletonized’.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Thuricide® Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) (Orange)

Orange Dog Caterpillar

Large caterpillar that is brown in color and about 1½-2 inches long. They feed on the leaves of the plant. Caterpillars can rapidly strip the leaves on an entire tree in a few days. The adult butterfly, black and yellow swallowtail, lays her eggs on the leaves.

Natural Control

  • Remove and destroy caterpillars and eggs by hand.
  • Bonide® Thuricide® Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) (Orange)


Pruning is an important part of proper edible plant care, and in the case of citrus trees, it’s particularly easy to do.

Pruning Tips

  • The best time to prune is after harvest.
  • Remove all suckers as soon as they are observed.
  • Prune off all the dead, broken, diseased, or crossing branches.

Citrus plants will sometimes have thorns when they are young. As the plants mature, the thorns will not appear as often and can be pruned off if desired.


Spraying is important to the survival of your plants. To handle potential diseases and pests, reference the guidelines below to know what you should spray, and when you should use it.

Before you begin, read and follow all instructions on labels.

What To Spray

At the First Sign of:

  • Hi-Yield® Lime Sulfur Spray for red spider mites and thrips.
  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil for scale insects, red spider mites, mealybugs and whitefly larvae.
  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap for mites, mealybugs, scale insects, thrips and whitefly.
  • Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew for thrips (to prevent fruit scarring from thrips, treat when fruit if marble size) (not for use on large trees – taller than 6 feet).

By Tree

Orange, Lemon, Lime

At the First Sign of:

  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray for mites, whiteflies, mealybugs, scale insects and thrips.
  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer for scale insects (not for use on large trees – taller than 10 feet).


At the First Sign of:

  • Bonide® Thuricide® Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) for leafroller and orange dog caterpillars.


Adequate drainage is essential for citrus plants. Once in its growing container, the following guidelines will help you provide for your plant’s watering needs.

General Guidelines

  • When grown in a container, citrus plants prefer a deep watering over frequent, light watering. Deep watering promotes deeper root growth and strengthens your tree. It’s fine to allow the top of the soil to dry out, but the roots like to be moist.
  • The quality of the water is key. If your tap water is hard (alkaline), it will cause elements in your soil to become unavailable to the plant.
  • Adding a teaspoon of vinegar to a quart of water will increase soil acidity.


Are you ready to enjoy delicious homegrown fruit? Harvest is the time to enjoy the results of your hard work. Keep a few things in consideration as you reap the fruits of your labor: the best time to pick the fruit from your tree, and how to store the fruit.

When to Harvest

Fruit color is often a poor indicator of ripeness because many fruits have full color rinds a long time before they can be eaten. The taste test is the best way to tell if your fruit is ripe. Unlike some fruit, citrus fruit does not further ripen and sweeten after picking. The sweetness and flavor of citrus fruit depends entirely on the amount of heat the tree has received during the growing season which will vary by location.

If growing citrus fruits outside it is best to harvest from the lower branches first. There are two reasons for this:

  1. Frost will affect fruit closer to the ground
  2. Diseases in the soil can be splashed onto the fruit from the rain

To remove fruit, gently twist the fruit from the tree or cut it off with clippers. Take care not to damage the twigs. When fruit begins to wrinkle it has been on the tree too long.

Meyeri Lemons

Meyeri lemons are usually ready to harvest between August and February and are usually safe to pick once they turn yellow. Lemons stored at room temperatures will keep for about a week, if refrigerated should keep for up to a month. Lemons can take up to 4 months from bloom to harvest.

Key Limes

Key limes are usually ready to harvest in the summer. Limes are harvested prior to ripening while still green.

Valencia Oranges

Valencia oranges are usually ready to harvest late spring to mid summer. Oranges keep better at room temperature.


Tangerines are harvested in winter and spring and will only keep a few days.


Ripe fruit can remain on the tree for several weeks. If your fruit needs to be harvested and you are not able to use your fruit right away you can store it in a cool, moist place for several weeks.

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Meyer Lemon

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Bare-root Trees

Trees that are shipped without soil to ensure good contact with soil in your yard. When shipped, they are about 3-4' tall with 3/8" or larger trunk diameter. When they mature, they will be one of three sizes*:


Matures to be about 8-10' tall and wide. Provides an abundance of full-size fruit.


Matures to be about 12-15' tall and wide. Gives maximum fruit yield per square foot.


Matures to be about 15-25' tall and 20' wide. A multi-purpose fruit and shade tree.

Stark Supreme Tree®

Top-grade, bare-root trees that give you a head start on growing. When shipped, they are about 4-5' tall with 5/8" or larger trunk diameter.

EZ Start® Potted Trees

Trees in bottomless pots that allow some roots to be air pruned, so that a dense mass of productive, feeder roots can grow within the pot to make transplanting easier. Mature sizes vary. When shipped, they are about 1-2' tall.

Select EZ Start® Potted Trees

Top-grade, potted trees chosen to give you a head start on growing. When shipped to you, they are about 3-4' tall.

*Tree sizes may vary by variety. See our Growing Guide for details.