Meyer lemon tree
Citrus x meyeri
In the spring of 2007, I went in in search of shrubbier larger plants. Almost all of my gardening had been limited to flowers, herbs and two rose bushes, but suddenly it dawned on me that I could grow trees, too. And perhaps I needed to add some larger elements to my garden to give it a little more oomph. I ventured over to the ‘shrub and tree’ section of my favorite gardening center, which was previously uncharted territory and looked at all the beautiful trees. I loved the quinces, and as I was deciding which one to purchase, in the same ‘fruit’ section there was a fragrance that wafted through the air that I couldn’t put my finger on… it was so soft, so beautiful. I rummaged with my nose until I arrived at the fragrant culprit, a lemon tree.
Knowing nothing about citrus trees, or lemons, I ditched my quince idea and came home with this lovely flowering, fragrant Meyer lemon tree. It bloomed and bloomed for almost 2 months, covering my backyard with its sweetness. I love getting close to it, also, as the lemon scent of the leaves mingles with the honey of the flowers.
In Austin this tree usually needs to be protected in winter, so many people pot these in large containers and bring them indoors or a garage when temperatures get below 40. Moving my 130-lb-plus pot around turned out to be quite a chore for two winters. I won’t mention the hilarious stint that ensued when a sudden freeze came to Austin and I begged my husband after we’d gone to bed to help me drag it into the barn. Eventually I decided to risk it all and plant the thing. Some people seem to have been successful with this, although the tree didn’t take kindly to the record freezes of 2011 and died almost to the ground.
It takes a long time from the moment fruit begins appearing until they are ready to pick. As I write this it is 2 days before Christmas and there are still too lemons that are not quite ready. So it’s a long wait, and it harvests its fruit after our first average frost, which isn’t particularly helpful. But this is a young tree and only my first year with it, and I had a total of 6 lemons, so I’ll update this as the tree gets older.
The lemons are huge and a nice sweet balance, perfect for anything I use lemons in but this tree is worth it alone for its amazing fragrance.
(And within 4 months of my lemon tree buy, I splurged on a quince, two camellias, 4 more rose bushes, a sweet olive tree, and a native American Beautyberry tree. To say the least, I am running out of room!)
Updated April 2011