The Meyer lemon pygmy tree was named after Frank Meyer, who imported it to the United States from China in 1908. Until 1940 the trees were grown throughout America. Meyer lemons were then banned because they caught a virus. A new strain of Meyer lemons was introduced in 1970. Since this time they have become a common homegrown, lemon choice.
The trees are smaller than most lemon trees, making them easier to grow indoors, on a balcony or in a small space. They provide an abundant crop of thin skinned, waxy lemons. Follow these step-by-step instruction to get the best crop from your lemon trees.
How to Prune a Meyer Lemon Tree
- Check your tree for dead or damaged branches and leaves. Dead branches will feel hollow. Damaged branches may have, lumps, fungi or blemishes on them. Cut all the damaged and dead branches from the tree. Cut the branches off at a slight angle where they are joined to the tree. Clean your sheers with a disinfectant spray to prevent contamination of other branches with fungi or disease.
- Cut off any light or thin branches. Check near the base of the tree for suckers. These will be areas of bright green leaves, growing between the soil and the graft site. The graft sight is the area where the Meyor lemon was grafted. It is a visible, vertical mark near the root of the tree. If you leave the suckers on they will grow quickly, and will drain the energy of the plant.
Shaping the Crown of the Tree
- Remove some of the weight from the top of the tree so light can penetrate through the branches. Just remove the odd branch that is underneath the top section, and is heavy with leaf and sticks. If the top of the tree is too thick, the lemons will struggle to ripen and develop.
- Cut straggly, unruly branches that are spoiling the overall shape, and growth of the tree. Decide whether you want to cut the tree back severely, due to space restrictions or, whether you want to just shape it and leave it with the same overall size. If you want to severely prune the tree, cut each branch, just above a joint. Cut them off at an angle. Continue to cut back the tree until it is a suitable size and shape for its surroundings.
Some people choose to cut the tree right back to the base branches. Other people encourage the trees to grow to their full potential, and minimally prune.