The Meyer lemon tree, originally a native of China, was introduced to U.S. soil in 1908 by agricultural explorer Frank N. Meyer. Grown in an orchard, these wonderful citrus trees can reach heights of six to ten feet in the Tampa Bay area.
The leaves of the Meyer lemon tree are shiny and a very dark shade of green. The pristine white blossoms flaunt a bright yellow stamen and a purple base. The blossoms’ intoxicating perfume mysteriously announces itself only in the late evening.
The Meyer lemon tree gained popularity in China for its beauty, aroma, hardiness, and productivity. They were often only used for decorative purposes.
Meyer lemons look rounder than the familiar lemon. They develop a slight orange tint when ripe. This color gives away the fact that the Meyer Lemon is a hybrid of a regular lemon and mandarin orange. The Meyer Lemon entices with its surprisingly sweet flavor and is less acidic than its common cousin.
Meyer lemon trees produce fruit year-round and can be left on this prolific tree until eaten.
Growing Meyer lemon trees in Tampa Bay
The Tampa Bay area providers and ideal climate and geography for growing Meyer lemon trees. Anyone can easily grow Meyer lemon trees in large pots making it a great choice for small yards or apartments with balconies.
It takes about 4 years from seeding for the tree to begin bearing fruit. The lemons are usually harvested in the winter months. One Meyer Lemon tree can yield thousands of lemons in its lifetime.
For optimum growth and health, a Meyer lemon tree should receive at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. If the container with the tree is against a wall, it needs to be rotated annually to ensure that both sides of the tree are benefiting from direct sunlight.
Lemon trees need to be fertilized at least once a month from April to September. Use only organic fertilizer specifically formulated for citrus trees. If you notice the leaves turning yellow, then it’s time to fertilize or give them a good soak.
To ensure that the soil retains moisture in hotter months, mix in some mulch. The mulch will absorb water and also stop it from evaporating from the soil.
Dealing with pests
A voracious little pest called a leaf miner can wreak havoc on the Meyer lemon tree. The larvae of the leaf miner burrow into the leaf, creating a yellowish mottled effect. If left unchecked, the leaf miner will devour the entire tree in no time.
To deal with the pesky problem, start by removing the mottled leaves. Then apply organic, natural neem oil spray. Once you’ve sprayed the leaves, the oil forms a slippery barrier making it impossible for the leaf miner to take hold and start burrowing into the leaf.
Health benefits of Meyer lemons
Aside from making the most delicious lemonade you’ve ever had, Meyer lemons are known to have myriad health perks, both healing and preventative. Here are some of the common benefits:
- Strengthen the immune system – high vitamin C helps prevent cold and flu.
- Great for the skin — vitamin C encourages collagen production promoting youthful and firm skin.
- Believed to lower risk of heart disease – Meyer lemons are extremely high in antioxidants that stop cholesterol in food from interacting with oxygen, which impedes it from entering the arteries.
- May lower risk of Cancer — antioxidants in Meyer Lemons play a substantial role in keeping most cancers at bay and neutralizing free radicals in the body that are linked to many forms of cancer.
- Rich in calcium – great for bones and teeth.
- Contains abundant iron – thought to ward off iron-deficiency anemia.
- High fiber content – helps prevent constipation, piles, and colon cancer.
Enjoy the many wonderful aspects of the Meyer Lemon Tree. Revel in the beautiful sight of the tree, the delicate aroma of the blossoms, and the delectably sweet flavor of this beauty growing in your own backyard.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash