Adding a Meyer lemon tree to your Yarden is the perfect way to have fresh lemons on hand, but they can often grow up to 15 feet or sometimes even higher! So, what do you do if you are short on real estate? A Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree is the perfect choice to suit your space without compromising on taste and fruit production.
What is the difference between a dwarf and a regular Meyer lemon tree?
The main differences between the two varieties are size and growth rate. A dwarf tree is created by grafting your fruiting tree variety onto a rootstock from another tree. These rootstocks are chosen for their dwarfing characteristics and will ensure the trees will grow to a smaller size. While a full-size Meyer lemon tree can grow 10-15 feet in height, a dwarf Meyer lemon tree will grow 6-10 feet tall in the ground and even smaller in a pot. Meyer lemons are a shrub-like tree, so their width/spread is usually similar to their height.
Regular Meyer lemon trees will generally have a faster growth rate than their dwarf counterparts. Because the dwarfed trees are slower growing, it is easier to manage their size and shape via pruning. While a smaller tree will obviously produce a smaller quantity of fruit, by no means does this mean that a dwarf lemon tree is inadequate! Our dwarf lemon tree is a prolific fruit producer, even when young, and though the tree itself is dwarfed, the lemons it produces are still full-sized.
How do I decide whether to plant my dwarf Meyer lemon tree in the ground or in a pot?
There are several factors you should consider when deciding where to plant your dwarf lemon tree. The first thing you should consider is where you live. If you are in USDA zones 8-11, you can safely plant your tree in the ground without having to worry about regular freezing temperatures damaging your tree. If you are in zones 4-7, growing in a container will be the most convenient option.
If you are in a zone where you can plant in the ground, you also need to consider your available space.
- Do you have powerlines that the tree branches could interfere with once fully grown?
- Will the tree have adequate space around it for proper air circulation once fully grown (remember, they are shrublike and can grow as wide as they are tall)?
- How much sunlight does your space get? The dwarf lemon tree needs 6-12 hours of direct sunlight per day. If you have taller trees in your space or nearby buildings that will cast shade, planting in the ground may not be the best option.
- Over- and underwatering can be detrimental to fruit production, so keep this in mind when choosing a space. Avoid areas where water tends to sit for too long. Alternatively, make sure you don’t plant it too far away from a watering source. Generally, dwarf lemon trees planted in-ground need watered every one to two weeks (and more during the dry season), so being close to an outdoor spigot or faucet that connects to a hose will make your life easier!
- Soil pH is also an important factor to consider. This dwarf tree prefers slightly acidic soil, with a pH between 5.7 and 6.5. You can check your soil pH at home with a kit, or you can send a soil sample off for testing. Check with your city/county or local extension office to see if they offer free or low-cost soil testing.
How do I choose the right pot for my dwarf Meyer lemon tree?
If growing your dwarf lemon tree in a pot is the best option for you, you may be overwhelmed with how to choose the right one. Here are some guidelines to help you pick the ideal pot for your situation.
First and foremost, you’ll want to choose a pot that is an appropriate size. You want it to be large enough to house the roots and allow room for growth. A pot or container that is 18” to 24” in diameter is generally a good starting size. Keep in mind that choosing a larger container now will mean less repotting in your future!
As mentioned earlier, lemon trees need proper watering. You’ll want to choose a pot that has adequate drainage to prevent root rot and underproduction of fruit. A pot with drainage holes is best, and you can place it in a tray or shallow basin a little larger than the bottom of your pot to protect surfaces from water damage. If you find a pot you like that doesn’t have drainage holes, you can drill holes in the bottom yourself (make sure you have the correct drill bit depending on the material of your pot) or check with your local plant store or greenhouse. Some places will drill holes for free if you purchase the pot there or will drill them for a small fee.
Even if you are growing your lemon tree in a pot, it is best to keep the tree outdoors when weather conditions permit. Therefore, you’ll want to consider what material the pot is crafted from. Choose something weather-resistant and durable to ensure the longevity of the pot. Plastic, ceramic, concrete, and fiberglass are some common and durable outdoor options. However, a concrete or ceramic pot will be much heavier to move than a plastic or fiberglass one, so keep that in mind if you will be moving your plant in and out each year or moving it outdoors frequently for watering.
Everyone’s budget looks different, so cost will play a huge part in choosing your pot. Though a cheap pot may seem appealing now, the quality may be poor, and you could end up having to replace the pot multiple times over the life of your tree. Spending a little more money and investing in a high-quality pot upfront could save you money in the long run. If your budget doesn’t allow for a pricier, quality pot immediately, you can always start with a cheaper one while you save up for that investment planter to use when your tree has grown a little bigger.
These guidelines should help you find the perfect pot for your space. However, if you want to skip the legwork and eventual repotting, check out our EverPotTM Growing Systems. Available in two sizes, each kit comes with an EverPotTM air pruning pot and a decorative pot in your choice of 6 colors. The air pruning pot has strategically placed holes in the bottom and sides. When the roots reach the holes, they encounter air, which stops them from growing in that direction, and instead, branch off back into the soil. This system keeps your tree’s roots from getting woody and growing circularly around your pot. It also keeps your tree to a manageable size and, best of all, means there is no repotting required! A 5L EverPotTM will keep your tree small enough to grow on a table and a 20L pot will keep your tree between 4-6 feet tall. Perfect for your patio or balcony garden!