Meyer lemon update (pics)

timsf(CA Z8B/Sunset17)May 13, 2012

Hi all,

Just wanted to give a photo update of one of the Improved Meyer Lemon trees (IML#3) from Four Winds (obtained from my local SF nursery) that I planted a little over 2 years ago.

I initially was watering 2x/week (5 gal each), but am now down to once every 2 weeks, and I fertilize religiously every Valentine's Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day with GreenAll Citrus and Avocado fertilizer.

We live on a hill in SF, and strong winds come from down the hill (to the right in first pic) all day throughout the Summer. Fortunately, a wall and the neightbor's boxwood hedge blunts the gales allowing the tree(s) are becoming established.

Mar. 2010:

3 IML trees planted between lavendar (L. angustifolia 'Vera'); IML#3 is in the foreground.

IML#3 height at planting: 1 1/2 ft. tall

Summer 2011

Winter 2011: By the late Summer, I'd gone a little crazy with the pruners and trimmed back a bit more of the tree's skirt than I probably should have.

Apr. 2012: New flush of leaves. I've been spraying FE at the rate of 2x/month since late Winter to control leafrollers, and I've noticed less infestation.

May 12, 2012/today: IML#3's stands currently at 4 ft. tall x 5 ft. wide. I'm amazed at how much growth has taken place in the new leaves in less than 1 month. I'm determined to keep away from the pruners this year(!)...

Thanks for viewing :-)

Tim

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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Looks very lovely, Tim, good job. You have your tree planted at the exact right depth, by the way. And remember, if you're pruning for shape, you're pruning off the part of the branch responsible for flowering, so you're pruning off your future fruit. It looks very nice, let it fill in and bloom, now so you can enjoy some lovely Meyer lemons!

Patty S.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 12:38AM
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timsf(CA Z8B/Sunset17)

Thanks Patty, but the credit goes completely to mother Nature! I swear that Meyers here grow themselves - despite what we do to them(!), LOL... I only wished I'd planted one years ago which would now be as big as that fantastic specimen in your yard you've so nicely nursed back to vigor. I'm hoping mine will eventually grow more vertically (like yours) than its current horizontal inclination.

I've obviously over-compensated my tardiness by planting 3 Meyers and I'm a little daunted by the possibility of 175 lbs of lemon/tree/yr as you've previously indicated. I'm hoping that by planting in my front yard, there will be enough takers to help me out. Actually this has already happened with my first year's harvest. The nearly 3 dozen yellow, hanging lemons (I was waiting for them to reach that deeper yellow/orange color before harvesting) were too much of a temptation for passers-bys, and they left us only about 6 fruit last year (LOL)! That first year's fruits were not the best though (rough skin, thick rind, and not the juiciest Meyers I've tasted - I hope they improve!), so not a huge loss. BTW, do you know why this is so? I felt that I watered and fertilized pretty consistently last year, and still sub-optimal first-year's fruit...

And good point/reminder of the correlation between pruning and decreased fruit yield. I should be safe here since this tree entered the most amazing/abundant flush of flower growth last Fall AFTER pruning, fortunately... You can see the tail end of this in the Winter photo above.

And, it looks like it's in the process of pushing out more flowers again!

Tim

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 12:33PM
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houstontexas123(z9a)

very nice, i like the purple tinge on the leaves. mine doesnt have any purple color.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 5:58PM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Very very nice Tim! I love your updates and love to see how your trees respond to your good care.

Way to go!

Mike

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 9:14AM
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olympia_gardener(5)

Is it camera or real color, the flowers look more red, My Meyer's flowers are white. different variety maybe?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 11:41AM
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timsf(CA Z8B/Sunset17)

@ houstontexas: The purple tinged leaves are the new growths. They then turn light green, and thereafter a darker green. I'm surprised you don't see that, but wondering if our cooler weather might have a role to play in this.

@ Mike: Hi Mike! Thanks. But again, I just consider myself fortunate for generally have good weather/no frost (though my real challenge is WIND!). You're still the master of container plants IMHO :-).

@ olympia: Funny you mention. I initially mis-read houston's post and thought he meant white flowers as well. I have heard/seen pics of the white-flower bud form of the Meyer. I was surprised at first since my understanding was that all Meyers had the same colored blooms (not color enhanced - you'll see in newly planted pic above the same colored tiny start of flower buds). I initially thought all Meyers came from the same stock so was intrigued to see this (possible) mutation. If anyone knows for sure whether a mutation or a different initial stock propagated elsewhere (outside CA), hopefully they'll chime in...

Tim

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 12:33PM
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Dr.Citrus

Tim,

Those trees are beautiful. How old are they now? The flowers look great! I can't wait for my tree to bloom. They say you can smell the lemony citrus smell for miles, good thing my room is only about 10'x 8' I guess it is going to smell like a lemon jungle! HAHA!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 12:38PM
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timsf(CA Z8B/Sunset17)

I think the initial trees I planted in Mar. 2010 were a couple years old, so in total they can't be any older than 4 years or so.

Tim

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 4:44PM
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jkom51(Z9 CA/Sunset 17)

Timsf, your buds look just like mine - violet on the outside, white petals. IMs are variable; sometimes round, sometimes oval, sometimes thick- or thin-skinned.

The younger they are, the more tart the flavor. They sweeten up as they age, but Meyers are just hitting early adulthood at 8-10 yrs. Properly cared for and heavily fed, they will live as long as many people do, around 75 years.

Most don't live that long because people starve them. The more fruit, the more they need to 'eat'. Mine will show some chlorotic leaves during heaviest fruiting, even though they're fed monthly.

Three was probably one too many. We love Meyers and I also planted three. I now regret it - two mature Meyers are more than enough to supply us, three of my relatives, and half a dozen close friends who will take all the lemons they can get. At times I've given them away to chefs at my favorite restaurants!

You should keep pruning them. Meyers cross-branch heavily and at maturity are a full 8' tall and more than that around. Unchecked they may get way too big for the space you've allotted them.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 5:33PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Fantastic, Tim!

Josh

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 9:02PM
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timsf(CA Z8B/Sunset17)

@ Josh: Thanks, Josh! BTW, I was thinking about you and your Moro - should be flushing nicely by now. Would love to see a current photo of it. :-)

@ jkom:
I did presume that the purple-tinged flowers were the dominant form and white more rare, but I could be wrong. I wonder if those who have the pure white flowers have less variability in the fruit (e.g. have only smooth fruit)...

Thank you for the warning for the trees' eventual height. I was aware of this and honestly wouldn't mind at all the additional wind screening these three trees would provide at that max height of 8 ft. I noticed that you seem to be in the Nor Cal/Bay Area as well. [Do you happen to have pictures of your tree, BTW? I, and I'm sure others here, would LOVE to see pics of your mature Meyers!]. If you do live outside SF, you most definitely have summer temps 10-20 degrees warmer than we get here and might be why you're getting optimially sized Meyer trees(?). Again, I'd be really happy with 8-ft trees(!), but really think our cooler temps may only allow 6-ft.

In regard to excessive fruit production, I hear you about taking advantage of other Meyer lemon fans (we actually have a few in the East Coast already asking us, fortunately!). For any additional fruit, do you happen to know of an organization in the Bay Area that will come on-site to pick and cart away your excess fruit? I recall reading about this at some point and was going to look further at the appropriate time/when I had more fruit than I knew what to do with (obviously a few years away). It may help you with your overabundance problem.

Best,
Tim

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 10:09PM
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jkom51(Z9 CA/Sunset 17)

Tim, your temps won't slow down the growth of the Meyers. They'll just hold fruit longer. We actually get much more wind chill in winter than you do; over the last six years I've lost two Japanese maples "Bloodgood" in winter frosts less than 50' from my largest Meyer.

Although I've posted these photos from 2011 before, the old links are broken so they won't show up in a search. Here they are again:

The oldest, grown from seed that dropped, sprouted in this shady cold spot in 1996. If you consider this shot is a side-to-side view, what you can't see is that the front-to-back measurement is about 2-3' longer:

Purchased grafted IM, planted from 5 gallon container in 2002. Optimal spot, lots of sun, set on a berm to avoid the worst ground chill:

Our second purchased IM, planted from 5 gallon container in 2003. I goofed and didn't stake this properly. It leans too far out into the walkway, and so I had to prune off almost a third of it. This photo was taken soon after I did the pruning. It was very close to the same size at the one in the frontyard, but doesn't fruit quite as much as it's shadier back here:

You won't have any trouble getting rid of excess Meyers. Very few people in SF proper grow them. When I would take them into the downtown office where I worked, they were gone in literally minutes.

Now I'm retired, it's harder in the EBay. EVERYBODY has a citrus tree here, so lemons are abundant! My neighbor has the standard Eureka/Lisbon type - what a difference from grocery store lemons. Same tart taste, but seedless and juicy!

If you want something pretty, I love the lacy branching of the Bearss Lime we have. Lovely tree, very graceful looking.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 4:02PM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

So I must know

Is there anything you California guys/girls cant grow? LOL

I love seeing your trees!!

Mike

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 4:44PM
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timsf(CA Z8B/Sunset17)

jkom,

Your trees (wow, up to 16 years old!) are truly SPECTACULAR and very inspiring!!! I cannot wait for the day my trees will look anything close to yours! I do remember you and your trees now - I think you're somewhere in the Oakland hills area, correct? With 'oily clay soil' was it?

If I may ask a couple final favors from you: 1) Can you just tell me how thick the trunk of your trees are(?), and 2) I know we live in different microclimates and probably have different types of clay soil, but can you tell me what type of fertilizer(s) you use in your monthly feeding? I will likely continue with my regimen, but I suspect my trees' roots will eventually hit that hard clay subsoil as they mature and I'll need to change my feeding regimen to something similar to yours eventually...

Again, thank you, thank you, thank you for your fantastic pictures and your insight!

Tim

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 4:55PM
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timsf(CA Z8B/Sunset17)

mksmth: Hi Mike! Do you know that I (and most others living in the summer fog belt) cannot grow tomato or peppers?!...So yes, there are many things we cannot grow in certain areas/micro-climates! :-)

Tim

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 5:04PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Everything jkmom said :-) And, as to the quality of your fruit, the first couple of years the fruit will be sub-prime with just about all citrus - not as sweet and drier. Mainly due to not enough canopy yet to provide enough fluid and sugars to the fruit. But, not to worry, the fruit will definitely improve as your tree continues to grow.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 7:10PM
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jkom51(Z9 CA/Sunset 17)

Tim - saw your request for trunk measurements. We're currently in the midst of getting ready for an important East Coast trip. If you can wait until we return in early June, I promise I will get in there with a measuring tape and give you the results!

BTW, here's my Bearss Lime. I've almost killed it by moving it around too much, so although it's another 8 yr old, I've probably held it back at least 3-4 years by dragging it from place to place

(Ignore the pink flower clusters peeping through on the RH side - those are from the neighboring pink cestrum, which keeps trying to bully the Bearss by leaning over it, so I have to prune it away to allow the Bearss enough sun/room):

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 7:29PM
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timsf(CA Z8B/Sunset17)

jkom51:

Great looking Bearss lime you've got there - if we ever decide to get rid of one of the 3 in-ground Meyers, this is the tree that would go in its place. Looking forward to hear more about 1) exact fertilizers you use monthly, and 2) trunk dimensions of your Meyers when you return in June. Safe travels! :-)

Patty:

Thank you for your answer on why young Meyer fruit are not the best. This certainly makes a lot of sense.

Tim

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 10:58PM
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olympia_gardener(5)

Tim, Jkom, I am learning some new evryday from this forum. Thanks a lot.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 9:57AM
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