How to Grow Meyer Lemons and Other Citrus Trees in Containers

Did you know you can grow citrus indoors no matter where you live? The easiest citrus to grow indoors is the Meyer lemon. Meyer lemons are prized for their sweet flavor, a cross between a mandarin orange and a lemon. The best part is the Meyer lemons available today are called improved because they don’t carry any citrus virus. Here are some tips to help your citrus tree thrive and produce fruit indoors.

Growing a Meyer lemon tree indoors

What to know before you get started

  • Lighting your lemon tree
    • Citrus trees need 8-12 hours of light per day with southern or southwestern exposure to produce fruit
    • Supplement natural light with full spectrum fluorescent lighting or a professional grow light
    • Place your new tree in your desired location for 2 weeks before potting to be sure the tree is happy
    • When you have a place it’s happy, pot it
  • Watering your lemon tree
    • Citrus trees like deep and infrequent watering
    • Citrus trees like to be moist but not soggy
    • Use a moisture meter to tell when your tree needs watering, water when the top two inches of soil are dry
    • Add Thrive Alive B-1 to the water to encourage root growth
  • Pollinating your lemon tree
    • If your tree is flowering inside, take a cotton swab and transfer pollen from one blossom to another
  • Fertilizing your lemon tree
  • How long does it take for a Meyer lemon tree to bear fruit?
    • Meyer lemon trees typically flower and fruit twice a year starting at 3-5 years of age

How to pot a Meyer lemon tree for indoor growth

  1. For a 2-3 year old tree, use a 5 gallon plastic pot about 12-15” in height with good drainage
  2. Create a potting mixture of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 potting soil, and 1/3 perlite that will fill the pot
  3. Slide the tree from its container, cut away dry roots, fluff if matted/encircled
  4. Add tree to center of pot and add your potting mixture with the crown of the roots just above the soil line
  5. Slowly add water while pulling the tree up slightly to remove any air pockets

Best way to grow your Meyer lemon tree indoors

  • Place your tree in the brightest part of your house, near a south-facing window
  • Fill a pot tray with rocks
  • Add water to the tray, filling it just below the top of the rocks to allow your tree to sit on the rocks but not IN water
  • Place the pot with tree on top of the rocks

Maintenance schedule for a lemon tree

  • Water as noted above
  • Weekly: Turn your tree a quarter turn to ensure the tree is getting even light
  • Every 2 weeks: Spray down your foliage
  • Every 2 years: Repot your tree after pruning the roots to avoid the tree getting root bound
  • Anytime: Prune your citrus tree to control its shape and size

Moving your citrus tree indoors to outdoor & vice versa

  • Best time to move your citrus or lemon tree is when the temperatures are close to the same indoors and outdoors
  • When switching, keep the tree in the shade for 2 weeks
  • Your citrus tree will grow and need larger containers over the years, so be sure to get help from a friend or use a moving dolly to move the pot around

Best alternatives to Meyer lemon trees

    These citrus trees are also easy to grow indoors:
  • Lisbon lemons
  • Washington navel oranges
  • Bearss limes

47 comments

  • Judy, you really don’t need to thin out the blossoms. The tree will drop off blooms that it is not able to support.

    Suzanne
  • My Improved Meyer Lemon tree is in just starting its 4th year in a rather large pot. Doing very well after a shakey start, just picked my first lemons from last years bloom. I’m concerned about this years bloom. There are hundreds. In groups of 10 to 30 blossoms. The tree is probably 3 ft. by 3 ft. and has good new growth along with the profusion of blooms. Should I edit the blooms?

    Judy MacMillan
  • Hi, can you give your lemon tree enough nutrients with just nettle tea?

    Daniel
  • Shawn-you should be fertilizing with a good citrus fertilizer, about every month. Sounds like you may want to cut back on the amount of nitrogen you are giving it. It may need more phosphorus and potassium.

    Suzanne
  • I have what appears to be a very healthy Myers lemon bush that I have grown from seeds over 4 years ago from lemons I purchased to make lemonade. The bush is thick and lush, full of deep green leaves and I am constantly pruning the plant as it is growing very well. But it has never produced flowers or fruit. I am growing it indoors as I live near DC. What could be preventing it from hearing fruit when it is growing so rapidly, lush, and full of leaves? The shrub is nearly 3 feet tall. It would be larger if I don’t trim it back.

    Shawn
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