How to Grow Meyer Lemons and Other Citrus Trees in Containers

Growing a Meyer lemon tree indoors

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.

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
  • If the tree doesn’t get 8-12 hours of light a day, add some low-energy LED grow lights
  • 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


  • Merica, You lemon tree will be fine in the 1 gallon container until next year. But if you want to repot it, you can do it any time. You should bring it inside before you start to get freezing temperatures. Keep it in a sunny location and remember to keep it watered and fertilized according to the label.

    Suzanne at
  • Trish, lemons sometimes will go through a little bit of shock getting moved, repotted or other stressors. That could be the issue. Also you really need to keep up on fertilizing them if they are in containers. They should get a good citrus fertilizer about once a month.

    Suzanne at
  • I live in New Jersey and am keeping my new Meyer lemon outside in a pot to bring inside for the winter. It is getting new growth. Should I cut that new growth now or just let it grow? When should it be pruned? I am new to Meyer lemons and have some lemons and it’s very exciting!

  • Patti, No don’t cut off the new growth, but you may want to back off on the amount of nitrogen you are giving them, especially true in your colder climate. That new growth needs to harden off before winter or it may get damaged by the cold. You can prune your lemons when they are producing flowers.

    Suzanne at
  • I purchased a meyer lemon tree in the spring and kept it indoors for a few months as we had a cool spring in NJ. The I repotted after being outdoors for a few weeks and it is in a sunny spot. It had loads of blossoms while inside and then again outside. Several lemons developed but turned black or yellow while still very small then fell off. Plant appears very healthy. Any ideas?

    Trish B
  • Lynn, sounds like your tree needs more nitrogen/nutrition. If it is in a pot you will need to fertilize more frequently than if it was in the ground. A good citrus and fruit tree fertilizer works well.

    Suzanne at
  • Thanks for your wonderful, concise advice! My 8 year old Meyer Lemon Tree yields 2-3 lemons twice each year, but hardly has any leaves! I put it outside for the summer, it was doing well, but something stole our lemons! Should we worry about the leaves? Thanks…

    Lynn Anderson
  • Should I stake my potted Meyer lemon tree? It is brand new this season and just growing in the pot that is currently outdoors. Thank you!

  • Andi, you shouldn’t need to stake your lemon tree. If it looks like it is leaning one direction, then you can stake it until it has developed a strong root system.

    Suzanne at
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