*UPDATE* my lemon tree died of shock after the November election. I have a new lemon tree now.
Anyone else out there get super excited when they first realized that you can grow meyer lemon trees indoors? I found out while watching an episode of Martha Stewart, probably 8 years ago, when she featured all the different kinds of citrus plants that you can grow in your home. You can read more about that and watch some clips of the show on the Martha Stewart Blog, but keep in mind the Martha Stewart empire was sold and the website has been made almost unusable by the amount of ads. Here is the story of me trying to grow my own citrus indoors, sort of succeeding, and some tips I learned along the way.
I bought my tree from a nursery on Whidbey Island, picking it because it already had a big green lemon on it that seemed like it would ripen in no time. I took him home for $50 in the middle of summer 2015. The lemon that was on it sadly broke off after the plant was blown over by the wind. It flourished the rest of the summer, plenty of flowers and new lemons popping up. In the winter things went south fast. It wasn't getting enough light from the window, so I got a lamp for it, and then it got too much light. I watched it slowly die, and my dreams along with it. It had 5 leaves left on it and 1 sad little lemon by the end of March. But it perked up! And flourished during the summer again! Hopefully this winter will be lest traumatic for the both of us.
Continue reading for tips I learned on how to keep a Meyer Lemon tree alive after almost killing it!
Lemon trees require 12 hours of sunlight. Flourishing in the summer when kept outside, it will need to be brought inside when the temperature starts to drop and the rain soaks everything in the yard. Late September - Early October. Not all windows are created equal, but be careful with grow lights as well. If the leaves start to yellow they're getting too much light. Rotate the plant regularly so it can be well rounded and reach out to light on all sides.
Because the Lemon Tree is in a container it's important to be careful of overwatering. When kept outside during the height of summer watering every few days was plenty. In the winter, in the house, once to twice a week should be sufficient. Let the top layer of the soil dry out before watering again. Another important factor is humidity. As winter progresses and it starts to get dry, try keeping a humidifier close by or a spray bottle.
The baby lemons are so cute! And plentiful if it was a good season for the bees outside. There's the question though of how many lemons is too many lemons, especially when winter is about to set in and the tree is about to get pretty unhappy with all the changes. I read somewhere that the tree would create optimally sized fruit if there was only one per every 40 leaves. To grow decent sized fruit you have to reduce the number. I reduced it to 3 at the end of our first summer, knowing that it wasn't likely that they'd all survive the winter.
With the transition of bringing a plant outside into your home there are almost always going to be some buggy friends that come along. To keep them from spreading to your other house plants and taking over, sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the soil. Diatomaceous Earth is great for destroying pests, sprinkle it on your plants, on your pets, and in your house. I've only ever found it online, and you can get food grade to be safe. Citrus plants also attract fruit flies so I recommend putting a fruit fly trap near by, a mixture of vinegar (or wine) and a drop of soap, in a small dish.
Was it worth it? It's not like I'm going to save money on lemons. It's been a year, and I've grown one lemon. Fair to say, I'm not sourcing all my lemons locally anytime soon. It's my only house plant that's touchy, and sensitive, but I still love it. I grew a lemon in my house! Blows my mind every time.