What is so special about Meyer lemons?
Meyer lemons tend to ripen in late winter and early spring — and they have a unique taste that set them apart from standard lemons. Meyer lemons have deep yellow skin, and run significantly smaller than other kitchen-variety lemons like Lisbons and Eurekas. In fact, these lemons are thought to be a cross between standard lemons and mandarin oranges.
While they may not be wax-fruit beautiful, Meyers have a taste that really sets them apart from other citrus fruits! Compared to other lemons, Meyer lemons are noticeably sweeter and less acidic — if you don't believe us, just try a side-by-side taste test! Their candy-like taste still packs a sour punch. That flavor makes these small sweeties suitable for pies, lemon bars, salad, and desserts. Their rinds bring a more complex, almost floral taste: they smell more like an herb or spice than a sour lemon.
In addition to their uniquely sweet citrus fruit, Meyer lemon trees are a dream for easy growing. These dwarf lemon trees are self-pollinating, so you can harvest fruit from a single Meyer lemon tree. They can be planted outdoors or indoors, and can even thrive in large containers! Meyer lemons also have a quick start-up; they can bear fruit in as little as two years.
And, of course, Meyer lemon trees aren't only great for producing beautiful, tasty, chef-friendly fruit: they also have gorgeous, glossy, green leaves and an attractive shape. Meyer lemons aren't only fruit trees — they're ornamentals, too!
Do Meyer lemons start out green?
Meyer lemons, like other varieties, produce green fruit that changes to yellow! Unlike most other lemons, Meyers take on a golden, dark-yellow shade once ripe. Don't harvest them until they're a shade of yellow similar to an egg yolk. That ripening process can take up to six months.
One common complaint from lemon growers: "my Meyer lemons are not turning yellow." Remember that lemons can take up to six months to ripen! If your patience only gets you unripe, lime-colored fruit, think about the location of your lemon tree. Meyer lemons can experience "sunburn" that results in areas of browning on the fruit's surface.
Keep in mind that some citrus, including Meyer lemons, require a temperature dip to stimulate that yellowing ripeness. If your weather is consistently warm, your ripe lemons may not turn yellow. If you've experienced a total lack of temperate weather, check for ripeness by squeezing the fruit of the Meyer lemon tree — it should soften to the touch when ripe.
How do I know if I have a Meyer lemon tree?
How can you tell if your lemon tree is a Meyer? For starters, look to the fruit. Meyer lemons produce small, orange-yellow fruit that is sweeter and less acidic than standard lemons. When ripe, the skins of Meyer lemon fruit take on an egg-yolk color: orange with a hint of yellow.
And, full-grown Meyer lemons are shorter than standard lemon trees. Meyer lemon trees grow to a maximum height of 5 to 7 feet, while standard lemons can grow to 10 feet. Meyer lemon trees tend to have dark, glossy leaves. Their white blossoms have a purple tint at the base.
Are coffee grounds good for Meyer lemon trees?
Acidifying mulches — like pine needles or fresh coffee grounds — can keep the pH in your Meyer lemon tree's soil acidic. In addition, the nitrogen produced by the deterioration of coffee grounds can be a really useful fertilizer.
But, stale coffee grounds tend to be neutral, not acidic. And, just as it is for humans, a little coffee can go a long way: straight, just-ground coffee grounds can make the soil too acidic. You shouldn't use coffee grounds raw, as they are so acidic and nitrogen-rich that they can create a breeding ground for mold.
So, how can you safely add coffee to your lemon tree's soil? Just make sure you aren't giving the tree too much caffeine. Add used coffee grounds to your soil, and test your soil pH to make sure it doesn't go below 5.5.
Can I use Meyer lemons instead of regular lemons?
Can you substitute Meyer lemons for regular lemons? It all depends on your recipe! Meyer lemons have a sweeter, more floral flavor than Eureka or other standard lemons; they're also way less acidic. Meyer lemons are a perfect sub in dessert recipes, salad dressings, and anything that requires a sweet but sour flavor. However, if you're hoping to add acidity to a vinaigrette or poultry dish, Meyers won't be your best bet.
Should Meyer Lemons be refrigerated?
Meyer lemons, like other lemons, should be kept in the refrigerator. Some chefs claim that lemons stay at their absolute freshest when kept in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer! Regardless of whether you bag your lemons, know that they stay fresher in the fridge: instead of lasting only a few days, refrigerated Meyer lemons can last up to a week.
How much sun does the Meyer lemon tree need?
A true citrus tree, your Meyer lemon tree needs full sunlight. Bright, direct light is needed for the tree to produce fruit, so aim for at least eight hours of sunlight per day during the growing months. In the winter, you can bring your Meyer lemon tree indoors, but be sure to set it near a window so it still receives six or more hours of daylight each day.
What type of soil do Meyer lemon trees prefer?
Meyer lemon trees prefer nutrient-rich soil that leans acidic. However, drainage is absolutely key to success for these trees, so don't pack your tree into a super-rich medium. For a potted Meyer lemon, mix potting soil with a well-draining element, like loam or bark, to give your Meyer lemon tree the drainage it needs. If the tree is planted outside, mix loam or compost with the soil when planting, and use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer or citrus-friendly fertilizer three times per year.
What type of fertilizer should I use for my Meyer lemon tree?
Several commercially-available citrus fertilizers exist just for Meyers and other northern-friendly citrus trees. What should you look for in a fertilizer for your Meyer lemon tree?
How often should I prune my Meyer lemon tree?
- Keep an eye on pH. Citrus prefer an acidic growing environment, so look for a neutral or acidic fertilizer.
- Nitrogen is key to healthy lemon plants. Look for a fertilizer with a higher concentration of nitrogen than potassium or phosphorus. That means the first number in the sequence listed on the packaging&madsh;which shows the percentage of contents in the fertilizer&madsh;should be highest. Those three numbers list the fertilizer's contents like this: nitrogen-phosphate-potash.
- Look for a slow release fertilizer. Slow-release formulations will keep your plant from becoming flooded with unnecessary nutrients, and will allow the soil to stay fertile longer, creating the best bang for your buck.
- Look for nutrient content in the single digits. No number on your fertilizer should be higher than 10, or the too-high concentration may burn your plant's roots.
- Know what type of fertilizer you want. While most citrus fertilizers are inorganic, there are organic alternatives such as compost or manure.
Meyer lemons can be pruned in the fall, after the flowering and fruiting season has ended, and they can be pruned once per year. However, most lemon trees will not need to be pruned every year. Use a sharp, clean set of pruning shears or a small saw to remove any damaged or crossed limbs. Don't cut the branches flush to the trunk or a larger branch, and don't cut back more than one third of the tree in a single season.