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September 22, 2018

QuestionI have a dwarf lemon tree and want to move it into the house. What should I treat it with so it doesn’t bring in unwanted insects?  I also am going to leave it in the house year around. Will I have any lemons without pollination? It will receive afternoon sun.


As you begin to move plants indoors, a good cleaning of the pot and plant, plus close inspection is good.  You can spray with an insecticidal soap to remove aphids and other soft bodied insects.  Even drenching the soil with some of the insecticidal soap can help.  Unless you have a greenhouse window or sunroom in your house, you may need to provide supplemental light for your lemon if you want fruit.  Lemons need 6-8 hours of bright sunlight a day to bloom.  While they would prefer a move outdoors for the summer, if you leave them inside year-round, once you see blooms, get a small paintbrush and lightly move pollen from flower to flower.  Hopefully you will see some fruit.


December 23, 2017

QuestionI have a lemon tree (inside under lights at this time of course) that is loaded with buds.  I have had an on-going problem of tiny pea-size lemons hanging on for a while and then dropping off.  This happens whether the tree is inside or outside. The tree is in a large clay pot. Can you please suggest a remedy for this problem?


Some fruit shed is normal but you shouldn’t lose all the fruit. Normally only 1-2% of the blooms need to set fruit in order to get a good crop. I would assume the tree is getting enough light since they are at least setting fruit. Lemons are self-fruitful so only one tree is needed to get fruit.  A minimum of 6 hours of sunlight per day is needed, and even moisture.  How often do you water?  If the trees get too dry they can shed fruit. 


March 25, 2017

QuestionI have a 20 year old Meyer Lemon Tree. This year it produced 26 lemons, the most ever. Is it alright to prune this tree after all fruit has been harvested? I also have an orange tree (miniature) about the same age and also would like to prune it back after it has dropped all its fruit. I would appreciate any info you might have.



Citrus trees that get too large or need thinning can be pruned in the spring after harvest, but have a reason to prune, not just because it is done fruiting.  Same thing with the orange tree.  Sometimes excess branching occurs in the center, so opening it up allows better air flow and sunlight penetration.  Doing the pruning after fruiting allows the plants a little time before they begin to flower again.  Try not to prune off more than a third of the plant at any time, and do selective thinning not just shearing. 


December 17, 2016

QuestionI was wondering if you can advise me on caring for a lemon tree and a blood orange tree indoors. Right now they are in a room with a wood stove and the room doesn't get much sun. Should I move them?



Citrus trees indoors can bloom all winter but they prefer bright sunlight.  If you want to keep them where they are, consider getting one of the grow lights or new LED grow lights. They can give the trees the light they need.  Don’t overwater, as many plants do slow down in their growth during the short days of winter.



June 11, 2016


This is my Meyer lemon tree or a lime tree.  These places on the stem seem to attract ants in huge numbers.  These are squash, moldy looking things that do not move.  I have wiped off a lot of this & sprayed the plant with water to get rid of quite a bit.  I have sprayed the leaves with Neem oil & sprinkled ant killer in the soil.  Is there anything else I can do to get rid of this?  The tree seems to be healthy.

Picture of scale on lemon tree



You have an extremely healthy case of scale insects.  They are sucking sap out of the plant and giving off a sweet substance called honeydew which ants adore.  I am surprised the tree is still healthy with as many insects as you have.  The Neem oil should help.  You can also spray with a summer weight oil product—directing it to the stems, but you need to do it before it gets too hot, as it can cause a burn on the foliage when the temperatures are high.  Systemic insecticides do a good job, but not many are labeled for use on edibles.  I would continue to monitor the scale. If you find it on limbs closer to the ends of branches, you could prune it out, but the picture you have sent has it pretty much all over.


June 4, 2016


QuestionCan you please tell me where (locally or reputable catalog) that I could purchase a lemon tree? 


Most local nurseries sell citrus trees along with their flowering tropical plants.  Meyer lemon is probably the most common.


April 2, 2016


Our Meyer lemon tree is very ill and we are afraid we are going to lose it. After having more blooms than one could think possible as well as setting fruit, it is now dropping leaves like crazy. We researched it online and thought perhaps it was getting too much direct sun in house so have moved it to a bedroom with filtered light. This morning, I removed most of the fruit as that was one of the online recommendations. Watering has been consistent ever since we got it late last spring. It did have some scaly pest but we sprayed with diluted dishwashing soap and then when that didn't do it, we used neem oil. No evidence of any further pests. It has doubled from its original size.



I cannot believe it is too much light. I have seen many in greenhouses where the light intensity and duration would be much stronger than in a home setting.  Scale insects can attack and cause leaves to shed.  It is possible there are still some on the plant even after you sprayed.  It is also possible the neem oil caused some of the leaves to shed.  I would make sure you are not overwatering, and get it through the next few weeks. You should be able to safely move it outdoors by the middle of April.  Gradually expose it to sunlight and then monitor the new growth. You may need to do some selective pruning to help reshape the tree, but I think it will rebound once outdoors.


December 5, 2015

QuestionMy Meyer dwarf lemon tree is losing it leaves. It has new growth also. I water it once a week and I fertilize it with miracle grow every three months. What am I doing wrong? 


There are many factors that could be in play.  If you just recently moved it inside, it could be shedding leaves due to a change in conditions. The later you wait to move them inside, the more shock of transplant which can lead to shedding leaves.  If the tree is inside year-round, it may not be getting enough light.  Winter tends to be the driest season indoors and houseplants struggle with the lack of humidity.  Pot size, plant size, the temperature indoors, and how much light it receives can all be factors with how often it needs to be watered and how happy it is indoors.  I assume the pot has a drainage hole for excess water to flow out of, but make sure it is not staying too wet. The more sunlight the better.   I would keep it alive for the winter and move it outdoors next spring  



(January 2012)

QuestionMy son has three potted lemon trees (or bushes). One he has had for three years and two for 2 yrs. The first year the first tree was loaded with lemons. I suggested he cut it back in the winter. It reproduced this year but not nearly as much. Neither of the newer trees produced as much as the first one had.  During the summer they sit in full sun all day on the deck rail. I contend the pots should be placed deep in the ground to protect the root system from the heat. What say you?


AnswerLemon trees like warm temperatures and should be fine outdoors unless the pot is small and overheating.  You can sink the pots in the ground to aid in watering for the summer months, but they will put out roots into the surrounding soil which can make lifting them in the fall a bit more difficult.  Lemons can be ever-bearing given the right conditions—enough sunlight (minimum 6-8 hours per day) and warm temperatures – at least above 60 degrees.  That means they can continually bloom and have fruit in a variety of stages.  I think the pruning job may have set them into a growing phase and cut back on some of the blooms.  Prune minimally, but make sure there is room to house them indoors.  Give them bright light, keep them watered and feed monthly while actively growing and they (September 2006)should rebound

(September 2006)

QuestionI brought a young lemon tree back from Florida and over wintered it.  After I put it outside in a large pot, full sun, it produced about a dozen lemons.  So far, these lemons are still very green, and have not grown much bigger than their initial growth.  When should they start to ripen, and should they have increased in size by now?  The plant is watered regularly and has good drainage. I would appreciate some information so that we can eventually taste our lemons!


AnswerLemons can bear fruit and ripen in Arkansas, but they are normally not winter hardy.  If they have not started changing color by early to mid October, move the plants indoors to a bright, sunny area. The fruit should eventually ripen.  The most common variety of lemon sold for container gardening is the Meyer lemon and it will produce good quality fruits, they just can't take our winters.

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