Meyer lemons are a common cultivar of Citrus × Meyer, a hybrid of lemon, mandarin, and tangerine native to China. While these lemons are most commonly grown in containers indoors, many gardeners can enjoy the plants outside in certain climates. When is the best time to transplant a Meyer lemon tree outside and how should you go about it? Knowing when to move the trees outside and following the correct steps can ensure they are healthy and continue producing sweet lemons.
Meyer lemons can be moved outside if the nighttime temperature is consistently above 40°F (4°C). Temperature drops below this can be damaging to the tree and can reduce their production of sweet-tasting fruit. The best time for transplanting the tree outside is after the last frost during spring. During this time, Meyer lemon trees should have already produced their spring buds.
When transplanting the tree outside, preparation beforehand is essential for success. The tree should be kept in a pot for a month and placed in a shaded area outdoors to begin acclimatizing it to outdoor temperatures. The beginning of summer can be an ideal time as outdoor temperatures are gradually rising and the tree can use the mild temperatures to slowly adjust. A cool and partially shaded area is best.
When the tree is ready to be moved, the area where it will be planted should be prepared. Choose a spot that will receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day and has enough room for the tree to grow (typically 10-15 feet high and 10 feet wide). When planting, make sure the plant is at the same depth as it was in its pot and keep the soil damp. Additionally, apply fertilizer and compost to support the tree’s roots.
Finally, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks to the tree’s health when kept outside. Make sure the tree is kept in a well-drained potting mix, as poor drainage can cause root rot and other problems. Water weekly and keep an eye out for pests. If caught early, it should be easy to take care of the pest problem. Meyer lemon trees can bring a lot of beauty and flavor to gardens, so begin taking the necessary precautions before transplanting your tree outdoors.
Winter Care for Meyer Lemon Trees
When the temperature drops below 40°F (4°C), Meyer lemon trees should be brought indoors and kept in a bright, sunny spot that doesn’t get too cold or too hot. Temperatures between 55-75°F (12-23°C) are ideal. If the plant’s leaves start to turn yellow, it is a sign that the air is too dry and the plant should be watered. Additionally, keep an eye out for pests or any other signs of damage, as this can lead to problems in the spring.
When the winter months pass, bring the lemon tree back outside ensuring it acclimatizes to the temperatures and checking for pests again. In warmer climates, Meyer Lemons can be taken back outside in late autumn, but make sure to keep an eye on different varieties as some will be more cold-sensitive than others.
Meyer lemons thrive with plenty of sunlight, so if indoors, make sure to move the tree closer to a window and switch it every 1-2 weeks. If the tree does not have enough sunlight, small yellow flowers will appear which eventually turns into small, sour lemons. Make sure to fertilize the tree monthly during winter.
To prepare the tree for spring, gradually increase its light levels and hours of daylight in February so it acclimatizes quickly. As spring approaches, reduce the amount of water it receives so the tree can survive in a drier, outdoor environment. Created correctly, Meyer Lemons should be healthy and ready to move back outside in the spring.
Spring Care for Meyer Lemon Trees
In spring, Meyer Lemon trees should be moved back outside when temperatures reach at least 40°F (4°C) or above and after any chance of a frost has passed. While temperatures can reach this point in late March or April in cooler climates, in warmer climates Meyer lemons can remain outdoors through the winter..
When transplanting the tree in spring, the area should already have been prepared during late winter. Place the tree in the prepared spot and backfill the soil. Make sure to water the soil and apply regular fertilizer to help with growth. Meyer lemons thrive in sunny, mild climates and need 6-8 hours of direct sun every day. In climates with summer temperatures above 85°F (29°C), Meyer lemons should be kept in a partially shaded area.
When the tree is back outside, check it regularly or any pests or signs of damage. If found early, these can be easily taken care of, but an ignored pest problem can damage the tree and reduce production of sweet fruit. Check regularly for signs of mould or fungi due to overly humid or wet weather, as this can also damage the tree.
Meyer lemons should also be given enough space to grow, so pruning is important. In spring, remove dead branches and branches that are crossing. Doing this will keep the tree healthy and provide enough air circulation.
Meyer lemons bring delicious lemons and a lot of beauty to gardens. Remember to begin preparing for their transplant outdoors in late winter and when the temperatures are consistently above 40°F (4°C), the tree can be moved outside. With the right preparation and care, these trees can produce sweet fruit until autumn.
Summer Care for Meyer Lemon Trees
During the summer months, Meyer lemon trees need regular watering and a fair amount of sunlight. Direct sun should be limited to 8 hours a day in climates where temperatures occasionally reach above 85°F (29°C), otherwise the tree can be left in a bright, sunny spot. The tree should be checked for pests, signs of damage, and for fertilization every month during summer.
The plant should be watered regularly throughout the summer to keep the potting mix damp. While you can’t overwater a Meyer lemon, it is easy to underwater it. If the leaves start to turn yellow, this is a sign of dryness and should be taken as an indication that more water is needed. Additionally, ensure the pot has enough drainage as keeping water in the soil can lead to root rot.
With regular care, Meyer lemon trees can be kept in sunny areas and do not need to be transplanted indoors if temperatures start to drop below 40°F (4°C). However, if temperatures start to drop, apply a protective mulch around the plant to retain soil moisture and protect the tree from cold temperatures. Additionally, ensure the tree is protected from winds, as this can dry out the soil and damage the tree.
Fertilization is also important for Meyer lemon trees during summer. During this season, use a balanced fertilizer for citrus and gradually increase the frequency as summer progresses. Make sure to deliver the fertilizer directly to the plant’s root system, as this encourages growth and improves production of juicy, sweet fruit.
Summer is usually the most important season for Meyer lemon trees and if the tree is looked after properly, it should produce sweet and succulent fruit. Ensuring the soil is damp and applying adequate fertilizer will keep the tree healthy and producing juice-filled lemons until autumn.
Autumn Care for Meyer Lemon Trees
When autumn begins, Meyer lemon trees can remain outside in warmer climates where temperatures still remain above 40°F (4°C). In cooler climates, however, the tree should be taken indoors and kept in a warm, sunny spot. In less sunny climates, supplement sunlight with artificial light.
In climates where the tree can stay outdoors, pruning should begin in autumn. Remove all dead branches, branches growing too close to the ground, and branches that are crossing. Doing this before leaves change color will help protect the tree from the cold. Additionally, ensure the Meyer Lemon is protected from strong winds by gradually reducing its exposure to direct sunlight.
During autumn, Meyer lemons usually need less fertilizer and a smaller amount of water. As the season progresses, gradually reduce both the fertilizer and the water to prepare the tree for winter. If the tree is placed in a sheltered spot, it can resist cold temperatures, but it’s best to move the tree indoors if temperatures start to consistently drop below 40° F (4°C).
Once the tree is inside, keep it in a well-lit room near a window as Meyer lemons need a lot of light to stay healthy. Although the plant may need more light than you typically receive indoors, supplement any lack of sunlight with artificial light. Make sure the tree is away from direct sources of heat such as radiators, as this can dry out the soil.
Autumn is the last season for Meyer lemon trees before winter begins. Ensuring that the tree is protected from winds, pruned, and not receiving too much or too little water or hardly any sunlight will help the plant stay in good condition until the following spring. Doing this will also help the tree produce juicy lemons until the cold winter months.