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Indoor Meyer lemon tree success (Toronto, northwest-facing apartment)

Jeff
8 months ago
last modified: 8 months ago

Hi everyone. With the knowledge I gained directly from people here as well as viewing dozens of posts, I have had success growing a Meyer lemon tree in my living room of my Toronto loft apartment. It has gone from 2-feet to 4-feet and producing fruit in only one year. This is how I did it. Before and after pics posted. Thanks to everyone here who helped me.

Plant details:

-2ft container Meyer lemon tree purchased from Sheridan Nurseries in Mississauga, Ontario in March 2021

-re-potted to 7inch container with Promix Cactus soil. This almost killed it. The soil stayed wet for way too long (weeks). Leaves started to turn yellow after only 2 weeks in this soil.

-re-potted with 5-1-1 mix (Reptibark, large perlite, Promix Cactus, lime, pre-soaked 3 days prior to using). The yellowing stopped for a while but then returned in a different form. The watering frequency and nutrients fixed it (see below). New growth started to appear after 2 months of re-potting.

Environment:

-indoor only, within 2 feet of a large, drafty, northwest-facing 18ft window. 0hrs direct sunlight October-March. 3hrs (max) direct sunlight April-September.

-temperature is 76f day, 72f night, 40-60% humidity year-round

-My cat doesn't touch it

Water frequency and nutrients:

-Watered once per day with 1 litre (4 cups) of tap water that has been sitting for 24hrs

-nutrients added to every watering

A note on water frequency:

I had absolutely no idea how often to water this thing even after consulting people here. The reason why is because, like everyone here says, it's different for everyone due to environment variables. I was not able to tell how "wet" my mix was despite using techniques learned here (wooden dowel, moisture meter, etc). I've relied on a schedule and it seems to be working great, likely due to my environment being constant. I first tried once every 3 days after re-potting in to the new 5-1-1 mix. The leaf yellowing had slowed (seeing new yellowing after a week instead of a couple days). I increased the frequency to once every 2 days and this stopped the yellowing. After two weeks, I then started watering every day and new leaf growth started to appear after a couple of weeks. 90% of the water I pour in flows out the bottom immediately. I wouldn't be surprised if this tree would do ok even if I watered it 3 times per day. Over-watering doesn't even appear possible with this soil mix, container size, and my environment. My only recommendation with the water is to experiment. If the container is small like mine, expect daily watering.

A note on nutrients and pH:

Dyna-gro Foliage Pro is added to every watering. I first used the "Maintenance" level on the label of 1/4tsp per gallon (so I was adding 1/16tsp to my litre of water). The tree did nothing for a month and actually started to get a different kind of yellowing than the kind I noticed earlier. The yellowing was appearing from the veins this time as opposed to seeing it everywhere on the leaf. I increased the nutrients to 1/2tsp per gallon and noticed the yellowing stopped after only a week. I increased the nutrients to 1tsp per gallon (the "Production" level on the label). New growth appeared after a week and within a few months, the tree was exploding with new leaves and branches coming out of everywhere. The pH of this water-nutrient combination is 6.0. I don't have to add anything to balance the PH but you may have to depending on your water source. I've heard 5.5-6.5 is good but have no experience trying anything other than my current 6.0.

Light:

-This is the most important thing. Nothing accelerated growth on my tree like how adding watts did.

-I flooded this tree with as much artificial light as I can take in my living room. The amount of light I give this tree is directly related to it's growth rate. Every time I added another 40w of CFL light, the tree responded with faster growth. It is now surrounded by 7 CFL bulbs in clamp fixtures. There's about 300w of CFL light so that's equivalent to almost 1000w incandescent. Some of the leaves are only an inch from these powerful bulbs and don't burn. They're on a 12hr timer.

Pests:

-Fungus Gnats. Wow. The larvae in particular. These things were tough to get rid of, but I won eventually. I tried some organic methods with zero success. Mosquito dunks in the water, traps, watering less, hydrogen peroxide flushes. Nothing worked. I said screw it, I'm gonna nuke them. I didn't see any recommendations for the following technique online but it worked almost instantly. I bought a can of a pyrethrin-based pesticide, like Raid. Ensure that it's the kind for flying insects as anything else will leave a residue. I sprayed the can for about 8 seconds in to a large mason jar. I added my water+nutrient solution to the jar and shook it really well for 30 seconds. After pouring this liquid death in to the container, the run off contained hundreds, maybe a thousand dead larvae. I laughed like an evil madman when I saw it. I was so happy haha. I did this for two weeks straight and the gnats were gone. I have no clue what effect this will have on taste or if the lemons will be toxic. I'm gonna eat them anyway. Living in a downtown urban area, I have much larger concerns to worry about related to health and safety :p.

-Spider mites. Easy to get rid of with Neem oil. I mixed 1tsp Neem oil, 1/2tsp dish soap, 500ml luke-warm water in to a spray bottle. Sprayed all of my houseplants and lemon tree outside until dripping wet. I had to do this once per month in the warmest months. Then after the last time in September 2021, they disappeared entirely. It's getting above freezing outside now so I'll see if they come back in the summer. No problem though. It was easy to spot them because I stare closely at the tree everyday for fun. I could see tiny filaments of webbing on the underside of one or two leaves and then I could see one or two tiny red mites on the leaves. Never more than this. I kinda enjoyed taking the plants out and giving them a good neem oil spray. Smells kinda weird and cool and totally killed off anything living on the leaves.

I think I've included most of the details but please ask if you're looking for more or clarity. Thanks again to the users "meyermike" and "bonsai". You were a huge help and were extremely encouraging. One user however, "lemon lime orange" was extremely rude and offered advice that made no sense for the space I'm living in. I called him out on this and he became extremely rude and stood by his advice. His advice, no matter the individual circumstance, seems to always be to get a grow tent and consult a bunch of moisture charts. Not everyone is looking to harvest a dozen lemons a month in their living room. I didn't get a tent or consult a chart and I have almost 20 lemons on my healthy tree. I've seen this user treat other people on here like this. I just couldn't be bothered with citrus drama and left the forum. I'm back and sharing my lemon tree info because it would be a greater tragedy if I didn't. Thanks again to everyone except lemon lime orange. I'll be more of a man this time and just simply ignore this person.

-edited for spelling and clarity mistakes






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