What are Meyer Lemon Trees and How to Care for Them
The modern-day Meyer lemon tree as most people know was introduced in California back in 1975. This variety of lemon tree was developed at the University of California and it proved to be far more resistant to disease and insects than did its predecessor.
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Here are some facts about this type of tree along with tips on how to care for them.
Planting The Tree
The first thing you will want to do is to plant the tree in a mixture of soil that is conducive towards citrus fruit or other high-acidic plants. While the trees will prefer this type of soil, they will go in most forms of soil but the care involved will be more drastic. If the tree is small, use a 5-gallon pot. However, if the tree is larger, it is best to use a 15-gallon pot. Some people wonder if they can add coffee grounds to the soil surrounding the tree. This really all depends on the alkalinity or the acidity of the soil in which the tree is planted. If the soil has a low acid level, adding coffee grounds to it can certainly increase the acidity level.
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Keep It Sunny
The tree will need direct sunlight to grow. This means you will need to plant the tree near a window facing south. If you can plant it by a window facing southwest, this is even better. The lemon tree will need a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight. If this is not feasible for some reason, you will need to invest in grow lights. You will know when it reaches its mature growth height when the tree is between 6 and 10 feet high.
Keep It Well-Fed
Feeding your lemon tree is pretty easy. All you will need to do is apply fertilizer every 6 weeks or so starting in the spring. By doing this, you are boosting the nutrient levels of the tree. After summer is over, the growth of the tree will grind to a halt so you can stop fertilizing. Make sure to read the directions on the package of fertilizer because the amount to apply will vary depending on the size of not only the tree itself but the pot as well.
Keep It Hydrated
You will need to check the dampness of the soil every other day. YOu can do this by sticking your finger into the soil no more than 3-inches deep. If the soil still feels moist, you can wait until the next day to water it. If it is dry, you should water it that same day. Depending on the size of the plant, you will need to use between 4 to 6 cups of water. After watering, check the soil a bit deeper than you did before to ensure it is moist. If it is not, go ahead and use another 1 to 2 cups of water, again depending on the size of the plant and the pot.
Keep It Cool
Taking care of a Meyer lemon tree is not an inexpensive venture. The trees need to be grown in a relatively cool climate. Experts recommend they be kept at a temperature of 65 degrees during the day and about 55 degrees during the night. This can become costly since lemon trees are mainly grown in the southern states and the only way to keep the temperatures that cool during the summer months is to involve air conditioning.
Keep It Pest-Free
The biggest scourge to lemon trees are insects. These pests love to eat the leaves of the tree which obviously can have a negative effect on the fruit-bearing ability of the tree. To help deter these plant-chewing creatures, experts recommend wiping the leaves with a damp cloth to clean them. Inspect the leaves frequently and remove pests as needed. It is also a good idea to prune the limbs of the lemon tree. This keeps them healthy and helps in ensuring they are strong enough to hold the fruit once it starts growing. What you are looking to do is to snip the branches which do not produce fruit. By snipping them, you are making way for the side branches. It is these branches that produce the lemons.
Keep It Pollinated
There are two ways of encouraging rapid fruit-bearing from the tree. One is to use an oscillating fan to gently shake the leaves of the tree. This shakes the pollen from the blossoms, which then falls upon the stamen and then onto the stigma. This is the process in which the flower is pollinated.
Another way is to hand pollinate the tree yourself. Scientifically speaking, the lemon tree is self-pollinating. However, this is only certain if the tree is being grown outdoors. If the tree is being grown indoors, such as how this article focuses on, there is not a lot of air circulation and not even the aforementioned fan may entirely get the job done. A solution to this predicament is to hand pollinate the flowers yourself. This can be done with a cotton swab.
All you need to do is rub the cotton swab against the stamen. The cotton swab will naturally collect the pollen at its tip. Next, rub the stamen with the tip of the cotton swab so that the pollination process can begin. After that is completed, repeat the process to as many flowers that are present on the lemon tree. This is a surefire way to kickstart the pollination process and induce the tree bearing fruit for you.
By following all of these tips and how-to instructions, you will have great success with your new Meyer lemon tree. Remember to follow all of these tips each and every year to ensure continued success. You will be more than happy with the result of all of your efforts.