Back in February, you may remember I got a dwarf Meyer Lemon tree. Growing dwarf citrus trees in the Pacific Northwest is very exciting, and by exciting, I mean stressful. I don’t have a great track record with houseplants so when I decided to order my first tree, I was pretty worried about it. However, once I learned that the most frequent killer of plants is over-watering, I realized that has been my problem all along. I ordered a moisture meter and for the most part, I got the watering right. My lemon tree was thriving! By May, I was ready for another tree and quickly ordered a Bearss Seedless Lime tree from Four Winds Growers. When my lime tree arrived, it looked amazing! It had tons of limes on it already and the leaves were perky. I got it potted up and beamed proudly.
One concern I had was that we were moving at the end of May. Plants can be very picky about their location. Lemon Drop had been placed by a sunny window in our rental house and was performing beautifully; how would she take to a move? José, my newly named lime tree, was already dealing with some serious transplant shock. I sadly watched him drop every single lime on the daily. From my research, I found that fruit drop after transplant is extremely common so I tried not to take it personally. Once we moved to our new home, I found some relatively sunny windows by which to place the trees. But neither tree seemed to be enjoying itself. Lemon Drop’s leaves began to yellow. José began to drop leaves. By mid-June, I was seriously freaking out. I talked to some of my master gardener friends and they told me to move the trees outside. They told me that citrus trees love the fresh air and sunlight. While this made me incredibly nervous, I decided it should happen. Within days, the trees started to look a little better. Then it poured down rain for about 3 days straight. The trees seriously got their asses kicked. They both dropped more leaves and I was sure I had just screwed up by moving them outside.
Fortunately, the weather improved and the Pacific Northwest has enjoyed a very sunny summer. Lemon Drop has 8 very good sized lemons and is continuing to bloom. José stopped dropping leaves and has sort of just hung on to life. He does not look great but he’s alive. I figured that I’d keep them outside through the end of September but a guy at a local nursery advised me not to wait. He said that I should fertilize them one last time before fall and move them inside when the temperature inside matches the temperature outside. He said the transition would be more natural that way and it made sense to me.
So here we are in early September and the trees have just been moved indoors. I have a very sunny window upstairs in our office where I am placing Lemon Drop. She is looking the best so I’d like to keep her that way. I had figured that the lemons would probably ripen by December based on everything I had read saying it takes 6-9 months for fruit to ripen. But get this- after talking to the guy at the local garden store, he told me that in the Pacific Northwest it actually takes more like 2 years! Can you believe this news? What have I gotten myself into with these trees? I have to wait 2 years! Not only that, but I have to worry that the lemons are going to drop for TWO YEARS! Good grief!
José will be downstairs until next summer. So sad that my uglier citrus has to be on display but I’m hopeful he will find his happy over the next few months. He has nowhere to go but up. Or… he’ll drop what leaves he has left and I will weep.
Ok, so something else kind of funny- in July I went to Lowes and found that they were selling dwarf Meyer Lemon trees for $16. The trees were much smaller and I had my doubts about the quality of the trees but decided, “why not???” I scooped one up and have kept this little one inside the whole time. A citrus experiment, if you will. I didn’t even repot the tree because it’s so small and figured I would wait until next year. I have moved it around the house and finally found a home for it in my kitchen window where it hangs with my little pig, Pierre. In case you’re curious, this little lemon tree is named Meringue. My expectations of Meringue are not as high. I love the deep green foliage and am not expecting flowers or fruit at this point because she is so young. She may not get enough light but seems happy enough.
And there we have it- adventures with citrus. I have spent hours and hours reading citrus forums online. I obsessively look at the under leaves for pests. It is a bit insane but I love my trees. I really want another but am going to force myself to see how they all do over the next six months. If they survive, I will be adding a variegated pink lemon to the mix. And what about you- have I scared you off citrus or do you kind of want one???