How to Grow a Meyer Lemon Tree Indoors

How To Grow A Meyer Lemon Tree Indoors

Have you ever wanted to grow your very own lemon tree? Maybe you have, but hesitated because your climate is too dark and chilly to grow citrus trees.

Or is it? While you may think you can’t grow a lemon tree in cooler climates, that’s not the case according to author and horticulturist Steve Biggs who, in a recent interview on the The Urban Forestry Radio Show, explained how to grow Meyer lemon trees indoors. (Click to hear the interview or scroll down to listen).

The first problem that many aspiring lemon growers face in North America is the climate. Biggs says this problem can easily be overcome by growing your trees indoors in the winter and taking them outside only during the summer months. The best Meyer lemon tree growing experience Biggs has had was when he grew his trees in an unheated sunroom off the living room in his home.

Steve Biggs, expert in growing fig trees in cold climates.

Steve Biggs, expert in growing fig trees in cold climates.

“It would dip down to just under freezing in the wintertime but it was really bright and the lemons just loved it.” he says.

Lighting is extremely important for citrus plants, and they need a sunny spot in your house to thrive. Now, not everyone has an unheated sun room in their house, but with the right amount of light and care a lemon tree can still grow indoors.

Biggs also makes a point to prune the roots of his lemon trees every three or four years. Regular root pruning helps keep the entire plant manageable and helps to keep the tree itself a compact size. Biggs says you don’t need to ‘butcher the plant’, but shaving an inch or so off off of your potted lemon tree’s roots each couple of years helps keep the root ball small so you don’t have to keep putting it in a bigger pot.

“I want to keep them in the same size pot,” says Biggs, “They can only get so big and be easy to lift.” says Biggs.

All potted plants need nutrition and fertilizer to keep them healthy. Lemon trees are no exception.

“If you’re growing things in containers, you must be prepared to feed them,” said Biggs. “Start with one general purpose product. Try it out, see how it works. Most times it will work.”

That being said, always check the label and read the instructions to any fertilizer you give your plants. The wrong type, or too much fertilizer can damage your potted fruit tree.

One challenge for citrus plants is the type of soil; Biggs explained that if the soil is too alkaline, the plant will have a hard time absorbing iron from it. If that’s the case, look for either a more acidic fertilizer, or iron supplements made specifically for plants.

Buddha's Hand Lemon Trees - which look like a creepy yellow hand - can also be grown indoors.

Buddha’s Hand Lemon Trees – which look like a creepy yellow hand – can also be grown indoors.

Biggs also says you need to protect your Meyer lemon tree from sunburn when you take it outdoors in the summer. This can happen if you immediately put your potted tree in full sun outdoors in the spring after a winter in a lower-light indoor setting. To prevent sunburn, slowly acclimatize your tree to the sun by first placing it in a shady part of your garden. Slowly expose it to sunnier spots until it has adapted.

Really, lemon trees aren’t too much different than other fruit trees to grow, Biggs says. They just have some extra quirks and challenges that need to be tackled before they can thrive. With the right attention and preparation, you too can grow your very own lemon tree, wherever you may live.

You can read more from Steve Biggs on his website at www.stevenbiggs.com. He also has a passion for growing figs, which you can read more about at his website at www.grow-figs.com.

More Resources

Growing Fig Trees and Lemon Trees Indoors

by Hosted by Susan Poizner of www.orchardpeople.com. Featuring Steve Biggs, author of "Grow Figs Where You Think You Can't" and Thomas Wilson of Spirit Tree Estate Cidery | Brought to you by the Community Orchard Network

Kameron Chausse is a Windsor, Ontario based writer and student at St Clair College. He is currently a journalism intern for the fruit tree care education website www.orchardpeople.com. .