The Little Tree that Could
The most popular indoor-outdoor citrus tree is the dwarf Meyer Lemon tree.
You know when those wonderful catalogs roll into the mailbox in winter and you’re looking longingly at those dazzling photos of luscious plants? Well, we were drooling over the vivid pages and stopped at the dwarf Meyer lemon tree. We wanted to get one, but wondered, do those dwarf citrus trees really produce fruit…? Are those pictures of tiny trees loaded with lemons real?
We start our mornings with a wedge of lemon squeezed into a full glass of fresh water. But organic lemons are expensive. Heck… even regular lemons are expensive these day! So we were drooling over those beautiful photos of dwarf meyer lemon trees, wondering if any of the photos were real, or close to real.
So we asked the Gardens All Facebook community, and we’ve posted that conversation at the end of this. Meanwhile, our dwarf Meyer’s lemon tree is producing fruit in its first season with us, and you can see those pictures below too.
Anyone growing dwarf Meyer lemon trees or other dwarf citrus trees?
We use a lot of lemons (mostly drinking daily lemon water, especially first thing in the morning), and are tempted to invest in some dwarf lemon trees. However, we suspect that those photos with small trees loaded with big lemons aren’t real.
Please let us know if you’re growing citrus (indoors in winter) with success.
Wisdom from the Gardens All Facebook community:
Linda: “They are indeed real. However when my lemons come in there are a lot ready at one time.
Jason: Shower & mist them. They take a while to get healthy enough to produce. You need to feed regularly and water often if they are in the sun. They like there leafs misted as well. Once they get going, it doesn’t take too much [effort]. I just water and feed them when they are outside during the summer months. It’s the winter, I guess I give them more care. I get fruit most of the season though.
I have four different types of them. They do better outside, during the summer. I feed mine often and keep them moist. I throw them in the shower, once a month to wash the leaves. Make sure the water is warm and not on full blast with water pressure.
They need a lot of sun.
Tanya: Meyer Lemon I am growing from seed in my greenhouse here on the Oregon Coast. Have other citrus trees as well. Found out best thing is humidity & misting frequently.
Jan Michalak Elliot: This is my dwarf orange tree. I bought it almost 7 years ago. It was about 6 inches tall. It has produced oranges once. There was 40 of them. They were bitter and pretty small. That was two summers ago. They didn’t produce last year but it was caught outside in a hailstorm. Hoping to get some blooms this year and some good fruit from it.
Elizabeth advises Jan: You must prune it and feed it. Prune for dwarf fruiting trees. Get to know the difference of fruiting and mere vegetative buds ? Oh and feed.
Louise: Yes, we’ve grown them in big pots for 3 years but we only get 1 lemon a year. We put outside as soon as it gets above freezing.
Alicia: Dwarf Meyer Lemon tree outdoors, and then we have ruby red grapefruit, and navel oranges but they aren’t dwarf. All in sunny Arizona!
Ashleigh: I am! I’m in CT. I have a 3-in-1 dwarf citrus tree. So far, only limes. Last summer was the most fruit it ever put out, around a dozen+ limes. Doesn’t sound like much, but it’s only a foot and a half tall and in a 5 gallon pot.
Jason replies: Nice! I am in Massachusetts. It will produce more as it gets bigger. Make sure to feed it when it’s producing.
Julie: I got about 13 lemons from my small indoor dwarf Meyer lemon tree this winter, but I find keeping the trees healthy indoors is very challenging. My tree is about 3ft tall, so very small. It was much happier outside over the summer. My orange tree only produced 1 orange last year, but just had about 20 blossoms…so I am hopeful for this year. I do find them to be difficult inside though.
Gardens All: That’s been our experience in the past too, Julie. The citrus just love the outdoor… regular rain, fresh air and direct sun.
Ivy: My neighbor is having success with a dwarf Meyer lemon. I’m looking forward to getting one soon too. She got it just this last year, and it was pretty tiny. She got only 3-4 lemons off it. It is growing and looks healthy, so I am sure this year will be better for her.
Christina: Only my second year … We just got a few off each tree so far. But we’ve moved them to a better location this year, so hopefully it will be better.
Julie: This was mine this fall.
Erika: My cousin grows a lemon tree in her house. While it doesn’t produce like the photos posted on here it does make enough she can make pies and all sorts of stuff.
Kirstin: My inlaws grow them in pots. Both the lemon and orange trees get lots of fruit but I find them quite bitter. We are in Southeast Pennsylvania so they bring them in throughout the winter. You would know better than I would if it’s a soil issue. But definitely get lots of fruit.
[See tips for sweetening citrus below].
Linda: They are indeed real. However when my lemons come in there are a lot ready at one time. You might be drinking a lot of water. Love my lemon tree!! It was a gift so I have no idea what kind it is. I keep it in the greenhouse in winter and outside in the summer. I love it dearly. The lemons are wonderful and very big.
Cynthia: Bought a Meyer lemon at Lowe’s last year (NOrth Central PA) and it was beauteous and covered with blossoms and produced like crazy, 6 lemons, then….it….DIED….????
Kristi: We have a dwarf lemon and a dwarf lime. During the summer months, we move them outside and bring them back in for the cold months. This year between the two trees we harvested almost 4 dozen fruit. The lemons were larger than my fist. My neighbor thought they were small grapefruit. We’ve found them both to be slightly sweeter than store bought varieties.
Buford: Meyer lemon did great in my passive greenhouse to cold for my banana but the lemon has fruit on it now.
On sweetening citrus, we looked into it and it sounds like they need some of this.
Here’s some advice on sweetening citrus – you need:
- Hot summers
- Potash and Epsom salts.
Directions: Sprinkle approximately 6 handfuls of sulphate of potash around the base of each citrus tree. Dissolve 2 tsp. of Epsom salts into 2 1/2 gallons of water. Use this mix to water in the sulphate of potash.
AND… some organic fertilizer, because we have to feed food to our food!
Our take on the dwarf Meyer Lemon? It’s The little tree that could!
So we bought one… plan to add another couple dwarf citrus trees to keep it company.
The cover image (same as the one here below) are the flowers on our dwarf Meyer’s Lemon tree… loving the wet spring outdoors. And see the tiny little green fruit on the second photo?
Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree – Flowers vs. Fruit
So our little dwarf Meyer lemon tree, in its first season with us, had over a dozen of flowers altogether, and now has five lemons, on it, that have come in at very different times. Not sure why some of the blossoms just fell off without turning into lemons, but we’re excited to see this tiny tree fruiting in its first season home with us.
Now that it’s back indoors, we’re being careful to keep it moist and in the sunniest window, as they do need some extra TLC in the dry indoors of a northeastern winter climate. We’re keeping a humidifier going under it, plus weekly showers as Jason recommended.
Meanwhile, one in our audience asked, “Why aren’t my lemons turning yellow?” So we looked into this and it seems there are three possible causes.
Why Lemons Don’t Turn Yellow
- Not enough food (give regular 18-18-18 plant food)
- Not matured yet (it can take up to 9 months to ripen)
- Not enough sunlight (this is often the culprit)
THANK SO MUCH to all the Gardens All Facebook folks who chimed in. Please post your updates. And if you haven’t visited our Facebook community yet, we’d love to see you there too, so come on over!