Meyer Lemon Tree - cut a non-blossoming branch or leave it?

locarnoMarch 26, 2010

I haven't got any fruit yet, but now two branches of my Meyer Lemon Tree have all these blossoms! It smells great!

One branch of my Meyer Lemon Tree has grown as long as the others, but it has no blossoms (see photo). Should I cut it off or will this branch produce blossoms later? I would like to get as many lemons as possible.

Anything else I should do to it? I want to keep it indoors.

Thanks in advance.

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Yes the flowers do smell amazing don't they! I think there are a couple of things you should do to help this tree a little bit though. Citrus usually bloom in response to stress, so even though the flowers are great, it means the tree isn't too happy about something.

That pot looks a bit big for the size of the tree. It should be slightly slightly rootbound - they like to be a little bit cramped. You may run the risk of it staying wet too long. It may just be the angle of the pic though - how big is the pot in relation to the roots?

The medium looks quite compact. Is it very very free draining? I personally like to have some soil/peat in my mixes but always make sure there is plenty of inorganic matter to make sure it drains super fast!

The tree looks like it is straining for light. Is there any chance you could get it to a sunnier position? Or reduce the size of the pot, and raise it so it is right by the window rather than stood beneath and away from it?

I don't want it to sound like you are treating it badly or anything! The leaves look nice and green, so you are fertilizing with something regularly? The flowers smell great, but they are a pain when the petals start to fall lol! Remember, each flower will probably produce a little fuitlet, but the vast majority will fall off, and you'll be left with a couple that will grow to full size - its the nature of citrus. So don't be alarmed when the fruitlets fall!

You may need to stake the tree when the fruit grows, or it will become too heavy and the branches may snap. New growth gets stronger when it has wind on it - wind is natures way of strengthening the trunks and stems. The tree may benefit from some time outside when the temps are warm, but make sure it is introduced outdoors slowly, not all in one go!

Enjoy the fragrance, then enjoy the fruit :) Keep us posted on how it progresses :D

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 3:32AM
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Oh, and don't cut off the non-blossoming branch, in response to your question :) It will bloom from all different branches as it grows.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 3:34AM
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Hello Locarno,
Any way you could post the picture here? I tried opening it but could not do it. Aesir22 may be right about the Meyer producing blooms due to stress but not all trees only produce because of strees. My meyer is loaded with buds, blooms, and lemons and I know it isn't under stress. He is definetly right about the pot. If you have your tree in a pot that is too large, then you run the risk of having the soil stay wet for too long and the roots can rot. If this is what is happening then the tree may be stressed and that could be why it is blooming. I have come up with a guaranteed way of checking the moisture and knowing when to water. I use a bamboo stake. I have so many of them from orchids that I bought. I take the stake and push it all the way down into the pot until it hits the bottom. Then I pull it out and press it up to my cheek. If I feel ANY moisture at all, I do not water. If you have any soil/medium that is on the bamboo then you know not to water. If you feel that it is dry, then water enough to see water come out of the drainage holes. Does your pot have drainage holes? That is a must for potted citrus, otherwise the water that the tree roots don't take in just hangs out in the bottom of the pot and rots the roots, and that could make your tree bloom. Kind of the trees last ditch effort to reproduce before it dies. Now for sun sun, Aesir is right there also. There is a little more that goes to it though. You should check out all the previous posts on the Meyer lemon. Sounds like a lot but I did it before I invested in mine. I wanted to be able to give mine the best chance at surviving. Rhizzo and Meyer Mike are both experts on the Improved meyer and Mike taught me the importance of checking the soil temperature with a soil thermometer. Thru his research that he did with his Meyers he found that if the soil teemps are higher than 60 degrees, then the tree is going to need at least 8 hours of direct sun a day. If the soil temps are less than 60, then you can get away with maybe 6 hours of light. Itmay sound like a lot to do for a Meyer but it is worth it! I paid less then $5.00 for my thermometer at a local garden center. I did check my soil temps and my tree is doing very well. My tree doesn't even get the direct sun that it would normally require but it does get bright indirect sun for the majority of the day with an hour of strong light that does hit the tree. With the watering, if you have to go more than 2 days without watering you need to change the mix and Aesir 22 is right again. I thought that it sounded very strange to not use something organic for the mix but in all of my research here, it seems like most Meyer owners have had the best luck with this. I also can relate to the petal problem. With my tree having anywhere between 50-75 flowers open at one time, I find petals on my carpet every day. I have taken care of that by checking the flowers on the tree. I can usually tell when the flower is spent and i touch the petal and if it falls off, I then remove the pollen and the petals carefully so I don't injure the developing fruit. I also remove any sterile flowers. These flowers lack the female structure(I should know what it is called considering I have taken a botany coarse in college!) that is needed to produce the fruit. I would not do it on a smaller tree. I love the fragrance but removing a few sterile blooms isn't going to hurt mine. My tree is over 6ft tall and 3ft wide. I bought it like that and none of the buds were open yet. In fact, the tree was still growing them! Staking the tree is a good idea to supprt the tree if it is too heavy with the fruits. I would encourage you to put it outdoors also. Just wait till the nightime lows are at least in the 40 degree range and you should not have a problem. Just watch for rainy days and if your soil is all ready wet, take it in or put it under something to avoid it getting more rain. Good luck with your Meyer. I love this tree. Easily in my top three favorite citrus!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 11:12AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

aesir22, would you mind explaining "citrus usually bloom in response to means the tree isn't too happy about something."

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 9:20PM
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It means....blooming on citrus is often a response to stress. I say often, not always.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 9:28PM
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Let me preface this with saying my wife told me not to do this but I'm in kind of a strange mood and this is really the way I feel.

Ok I may be way off base here and I sincerely hope I am. However I don't see any real possibility of harvesting a whole lot of lemons from that tree this season. Perhaps two or three seasons from now if you treat it right but not any time soon. If it were me I would go down and buy a nicer tree.

However if you have fallen madly and deeply in love with this tree and feel that there is no possible way you could ever go on living with out it. Then I wish you both the the very best from the bottom of my heart and I ask that you accept my apology and let me just say in advacne....

Please forgive me as I am very sorry for the above comments. I did not mean to insult your soul mate. Although I do feel your tree is ugly, everyone needs somebody to love them and I wish you both the very best. I guess I am sometimes an insensitive boob.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 10:33PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

I can explain the "stress" remark. A long time ago, my grandpa had a meyer lemon tree. It was full size, and always green. After 10 years of no fruit, my grandpa was steaming mad. He read somewhere that if you slice a partial ring of bark off the trunk, the tree will think it's dying, and will produce fruit to reproduce itself. He did that, and from that day on, that tree was always full of fruit!

I'm thinking "stress" can come from all kinds of places, like lack of water or nutrients, or too much water or nutrients.

Take the coffee bean for example. The best beans come from plants that grow under the worst conditions, high in the mountains in rocky soil.

Good luck with your citrus!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 8:35AM
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Wow, thanks for the advice--keep it coming.

Yes, unfortunately, my pot has no drainage. This tree is a "no-big-deal" plant, so I just kind of threw it in there not knowing what I was doing.

I'm using Miracid 1/4 tsp with every quart I water it. I've been using a moisture sensor to make sure I don't overwater.

This pot is about half the height of the plant, so I can't imagine it is too big.

So I suppose I should transplant it to a similar-size terra cotta pot with drainage holes and some inorganic soil mix. This can be a shock to the plant, right? Should I do that ASAP or should I wait? With the transplant, I should take as much soil with the roots as possible, right? What kind of inorganics should I use--little pebbles, or what?

Yes, it is somewhat ugly, but either I keep this one or forget the whole enterprise.

I don't want to make a big deal of this tree--I just like it in my office.

Andrew, does this link help?

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 10:32AM
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The tree doesn't have to be aesthetically pleasing for you to like it. Some of my trees are not very nice shapes but they get the same amount of care as the others. You are right - you like the tree in your office, and thats enough.

I would definitely repot it sooner rather than later into a smaller pot with plenty of drainage holes. Buy inorganic mixes form garden centre or hardware store - perlite, vermeculite, fired clay, bark chips...anything really.

Try to disturb the rootball as little as possible this time, and make sure the pot isn't too big. Having an inch or two of space between rootball and pot would be ideal.

Meyers are notorious for hating being moved, so don't be surprised at a little flower or leaf drop - it will right itself. When the tree is older and more robust, you can make sure on the next repot that there is no compacted medium between the roots to be changed, but for now just move the whole rootball, maybe loosening a few of the outer roots to encourage them to grow outwards.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 12:31PM
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This should help you and us..:-)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 3:36PM
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Let me ask you a question?

Does the branch not producing fruit have thorns and the other with flowers have none?

Where is that branch growing from? From the above grafted portion, or below?


    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 3:38PM
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Yes, it does have thorns, and yes, it is below the point where the other two branches come from.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 6:45PM
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Mike, do you see a graft line? If so, you must have 20/20 vision, no make that, X-Ray vision. I looked several times, don't see the graft..
Are you thinking Locarno's tree is rootstock? I don't see any thorns,,,rootstock thorns are quite large, some as long as 4" maybe bigger..And guess what? They too, seedy, sour fruit..yuck.

Arsir..I too have read, in some cases, flowering plants, 'not only citrus,' bloom when stressed. Wish I could find the article, it had an explanation. The little I recall..the author said, if a plant flowers when stressed, there's a good chance it may die after. He/she gave instruction to prevent an early demise. And the reason why it happens.

IMO, it's similar to the plant, Bromiliad. Once a Brom blooms, it's on its way out..sideshoots form, 'which begets us to keep the Brom going,' but mom passes on. I think the Brom flower blooms from stress..make sense? lol

My explanation may or may not be a good comparison, but it's the first thing that came to mind when I read your stress line. I'll look for the article. lol

Larcono, you said, your citrus is a No-Big-Deal tree, but I think you're it wasn't of any importance, you wouldn't be asking about its care, thinking of repotting.

Your Meyer's has potential. It may or may not set fruit this year, possibly a few..but a few is normal. For its size, it's physically impossible to hold heavy fruit.
Citrus fruit after flowering, but not all flowers fruit. I forgot the percentage, but it's something like 2-4%. Not 100% positive on these numbers..maybe someone here has the correct percentage.

If you decide to repot, after removing your citrus from its drainless container, pot in a container 1-2" wider than the rootball. Use well-draining medium. BTW, many people are going totally soil-less, I add a couple to few handsful of rich, black soil.. For natural nutrients.
After potting, 'don't forget a saucer,' offer enough water until it seeps from drainage holes.. Make sure to water appropriately..

There's more to it, but I think you've got enough info for the time..Toni

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 1:51AM
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I have read, and spoken, to quite a few people who induce blooms on their citrus by withholding water a few times. When top growth starts this can trigger blooming instead of vegetative growth. Of course they have watered before any damage is done to the plant.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 3:09AM
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If you remove that branch the tree will be off balance. Also,if the tree does set fruit it will need leaves for photosynthesis so I'd leave it.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 9:13AM
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Hi Toni!! Lol..xray vision...

I owe you a letter and it is coming once I feel better after 7 at night!

If that branch is coming from "below" the graft line, it is from the root stock, and will only kill the grafted portion with time. The branch with no flowers looks different from the other two, and it looks like the other two do not have thorns,,

I hope I see correctly..

I would make real sure that it is NOT from the root stock before cutting it off..

Other than that, if it is all above the graft line, then have you been turning your plant around and around to get even distributed sun on it?

Good luck,


    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 9:26AM
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Hi Locarno,

Let me first say that your plant looks fine. MeyerMike is the Wiz-Kid of citrus; so listen to him. The forum guys have given you lots of help. I will just add a couple of comments.

A quick fix of drainage until you repot is to stab some holes in the bottom of the pot and put a tray underneath. Never let the roots get soggy. Ask Meyermike about his potting mix when you get to that point.

Enjoy the blossoms as this is half the reason for having a citrus plant. "Lemon tree, very pretty, and the lemon blossom is sweet, but the fruit of the poor lemon is ....." goes the old tune.

If you can not tell if the unflowered shoot is from under the graft line, look carefully at the leaves and stem to see if they match the other shoots. If there is a difference, it is a stock root sucker and should be cut off. I personally would just cut it back over time until it was gone to let it help the plant grow and produce fruit.

I had the great opportunity to travel to see Mike at his home in MA. He not only is the nicest guy you will ever meet, but he has amazing plants with as many fruit as leaves on some. Truly a great guy. His plants are awesome. His Mom very sweet. I was looking for a special plant, and Mike gave me his. He filled my head with more advice than ten books could give. I will never forget that trip.

Best of luck to you, and happy growing.



    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 4:56PM
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Thanks Kumquats! You are too kind. I owe everything I know to everyone here together..:-)

Hope you are well!


    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 1:40PM
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    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 2:56PM
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Mike, are you still sick??? Have you see a doctor? It's been a while..please, if you're not getting better, get help.

Mike you invited Tim over and not me??? LOL, j/k..

I have looked and relooked at that ML picture. If there is a graft, the 3 stems are growing very close.

Locarno, can you post more pics at different angles? Aimed near the bottom where branches grow from the main trunk?
Do you see a graft line? Toni

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 3:14PM
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Toni, you are always though thoughtful!

It is my Mom that has been sick..I am caring for her at night when I get home, and here by day posting..

You are welcome to come over anytime, you know that, since you are my oldest friend here...

I can't express enough how much I am happy to see you here.

Thank you for all you ahve shown me and for caring..

I am still wondering if that stem is from under the graft


    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 3:29PM
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Please help me. I received my Meyers lemon tree in February two years ago. The first year I had 30 lemons and because there were so many lemons, most of my branches broke (I did try to support them). After that my tree never seemed to come back to its beauty. Several times all the leaves dropped off. Finally I cut it back to try and start fresh. Now I have new growth, some beautiful and some (on the old branches) very small; those are not growing and the leaves are curled. I love one bloom and no evidence of future blooms. I have truly enjoyed my tree but now find myself very frustrated. Do I need perlite in my soil? Should I cut down on the water (I have two of the "bulb" watering glasses? I leave in Tidewater Virginia. Help. (MeyersMike feel free to call me 757-289-8899 with any and all advice.

Thank you everyone for sharing advice.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 9:48AM
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Jeepers. I don't think your little tree is ugly. It's a gangly teenager, perhaps. But it may grow up to be a lovely adult.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2011 at 10:48AM
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andrewofthelemon(7b Central Arkansas)

oh wow, i am still going to post this, even after i saw the date
When i saw the pic, i though it was the sucker too, i can see the graft paint seal.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2011 at 3:21PM
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