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Meyer Lemons Indoors

The Gardening Life – February 11

If you are a gardener, one of the joys of winter can be picked off of an indoor citrus tree. Large, round, fragrant Meyer lemons are waiting to be harvested in my kitchen right now and I’ll have several more ripening over the next three months. Think fresh fish finished with Meyer lemon and basil butter. Think Mayer lemon Risotto. Think sipping a Mayer lemon Tom Collins. Go all out: finish the meal with Mayer lemon Pudding Cake.

Will you have enough lemons to pick them throughout the winter? Probably not. I usually harvest eight to ten off of each of my trees every winter. Often one tree will have a heavy crop and the other only a few fruits. Occasionally there will be a year when one or the other plants has no fruit at all.

This variation makes the lemons that much more precious. I start to think of ways to celebrate when they are ripe. Who can we invite to dinner that will appreciate this bounty? Do I want to save a lemon in the refrigerator to use in the salad dressing at Passover?

We are so spoiled when it comes to the availability of food in this country. In the dead of winter I can buy blueberries from Chile and fresh strawberries can be had twelve months a year. They do not compare in taste to locally grown fruits in season, of course, nor do they compare to the citrus that ripens in my own windows.

The food that we grow organically, fuss over, and cherish because of its seasonal nature always tastes better.

The first three lemons, ready to harvest.

Sharing The Wealth
Growing tips for Meyer Lemon Trees

  • After purchasing a Meyer Lemon transplant it into a slightly larger pot. Mix some organic fertilizer such as Plant-Tone into the new soil before repotting.
  • Keep your tree in the sun during the summer. Water it daily in hot weather and every two to three days in cool weather. Although citrus trees don’t want to be kept wet, the soil shouldn’t be allowed to dry out completely either. An even level of moisture is preferred.
  • Apply either an organic, slow-release fertilizer or time-release product every month all year. Unlike most plants, these don’t require a “resting period” in winter.
  • If your tree blooms when outdoors you should have bees to pollinate the flowers. If you don’t see any bees take a soft paintbrush and move from one open flower to the other, brushing over the stamens and pistol. Do this daily when the plant is in flower inside so that you are assured of good fertilization and fruit production.
  • Control citrus mites and scale with at least two good coatings of insecticidal soap or olive oil cooking spray, applied under the leaves and over all the stems. I find that this is most necessary at the end of January. Hint: placing the plants in a cooler room helps keep scale populations down.
  • As the lemons grow they will weigh down the branches. Any branch with more than two lemons on it might have to be propped up, especially in heavy winds.
  • Pick lemons when they are fully yellow. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to three months after picking.

7 comments to Meyer Lemons Indoors

  • Oh my! I didn’t know you can grow them indoors. That will go nicely with the Avocado and Olive trees in the house!

  • admin

    Jonsey, you absolutely have to have them.

  • Terry

    Wish I had some ramekins!

  • Marion


    I have had a meyer lemon for years, but have had issues with blooming as well mealy bugs. Will try the olive oil spray! Will try the fertilizer technique as well as repotting!

    My lemon has self pollinated. Is this possible?

  • admin

    Marion – yes, Meyer lemons are self-pollinating. But without insects to carry the pollen from the stamens to the pistol they won’t make many fruits – that’s why the paint brush technique is handy. The fertilizer and repotting should help with the blooming. I use the organic Citrus and Avacado fertilizer from Black Gold.

  • Erikam

    If you purchase a new one, about how long until it yields fruit…and does this work in cloudy Ohio?

  • admin

    Erikam – I’ve seen new plants at the garden centers that have fruit already on them! Look for “Meyer Lemon Improved” varieties. Cape Cod is pretty cloudy too… if you have the plant outside from May to before your first frost (September in Ohio?) and then put it in the brightest window you have for the winter it will be fine. The tree that has the lemons on it in my kitchen right now (where I took the photo with this post) has a window that faces east. So this plant’s fruit started with flowers in June or July outside and they are now finishing inside even if there isn’t much light where the plant is over-wintering. I have another plant in a southern window that is currently in full bloom. I’m helping with the paint-brush pollination technique and the fruit that starts inside on this plant now will be ripening from October to January next year.