Meyer, Meyer, Plants on Fire


You know a boyfriend is worth keeping when he gives you a Meyer lemon tree for Christmas (that’s it, above, sitting awkwardly in the middle of the room in order to receive maximum light).

I was so excited to receive this gift, not only because it meets all my green standards but because my mother happened to buy me an ice cream maker — so, if all goes according to plan, I will eventually be able to make 0.02-mile organic lemon sorbet.

I named my tree Meyer, for obvious reasons, and immediately starting tending to it; the main problem is that I have no idea how to tend. Looking at the two-foot-tall tree, which has one teensy, scrappy lemon growing as of now (it’s still green), common sense told me to wipe off the leaves with a moist cloth, give it some water and put it under as much light as possible. But honestly, folks, I’m nervous. I screwed up my tomato plant last summer, and I just don’t think it’ll be any easier caring for an entire citrus tree, especially not in Toronto, in the middle of winter, where it’s cold, dry, and dark as of 5 p.m.

Also, recently, I noticed some furry mold on top of the soil, and began to panic. There weren’t any bugs or anything and it didn’t seem overly moist, but I wasn’t sure what to do. Then, yesterday, a leaf fell off, and it was like some small, green, non-threatening and yet traumatizing memento mori. Last night, I actually had a nightmare that Meyer turned grey, withered, and died, and it was all my fault.

Maybe I’m overreacting. After all, the florist I went to see at the end of my street told me that Canadians often worry too much about their plants during the winter, and what they should really do is just keep it watered, give it light, and not bother fertilizing or transplanting or anything. In fact, his exact words were: “Don’t over-love it.”

But I have so much arboreal love to give! I’m a certified tree-hugger for crying out loud! Sigh. Anyway, we’ll see how it goes. I’m hoping Crunchy, who’s just brought in her Meyer lemon tree for the winter, will be able to help me out if I run into major trouble.

In the mean time, anyone got any advice?

16 Responses to Meyer, Meyer, Plants on Fire

  1. Meghan says:

    No tips for the tree. I am currently in the process of killing my stevia plant, supposedly a challenging task. But i haven’t seen this little room since the decoration completion. I love it! Its like my dream room, or rather, if I could have a room in my home it would look like that. And I spotted are matchy match pillows in the corner. Loves.

  2. Liz says:

    OOO, lemons! As someone that has grown up with a Meyer tree in the back yard I would say, it probably needs a bigger pot soon and the less you do to it the more it will love you. Our tree is always on the dryer side and it likes it that way. If you haven’t already you want to skim off the top moldy bits of soil and when you re-pot it you might want to sterilize the potting soil by baking it in the oven, there are tutorials on-line I am sure. You also want to be patient, with new trees it can take a while to really start making fruit of a good size. In fact you may want to remove any fruit so that it can put its energy into getting strong and sturdy for a few years.

    Congrats on the tree!

  3. Emma says:

    I was going to say get a bigger pot…but the Meyer pro up top beat me to it haha.
    the room looks gorgeous!!! can I live in it? are bean bags eco-friendly? I could sleep in one of those! I guess if it had real beans in it. now THERES a blog entry!
    I say open up a lemonade stand outside your house in the summer. avec sorbet. xxx

  4. Must apologize, no advice on the plant. However, this post makes me smile sentimentally! My husband gave me a gardenia bush when we were dating and it sealed the deal (although we actually dated for another 1.5 years before engagement) for me! And, when it died due to over watering (who knew?) he still loved me…

  5. Doug Appeldoorn says:

    You could try a self watering bulb. That way Meyer will tell you when it needs more water and you won’t over water it. You can find them at Canadian Tire, but here is link that shows you what they look like:

    We use them all over our house and our plants which require varying amounts of water are all doing very well. None to dry and none to wet!

  6. Debbie says:

    I”m amazed at how much I’ve missed your posts. Thanks for the new ones.
    And I have no trouble imagining why Friedman picked up on your blog. It is refreshing, funny, and full of fabulous ideas and people. And this, from someone twice your age.

  7. I believe lemon trees like being peed on. At least I know my mum used to send my Dad out to the backyard to pee on our tree…

  8. Gwendolyn Elliott says:

    Hello! Be strong! the days are getting longer, as my mother reminds me every day. don’t worry about the mould. i bet its not even mould. sometimes soil looks like that. think of it as plant dandruff.
    epsom saltsare supposed to help plants get nutrients, and those are easy to fin in an earthy-friendly brand. then you can put them in ur bath to soothe ur tired plant-tending muscles.
    in my family, we say the plants of my mom and her mom grew because they talked to them. the power of positive energy maybe????

  9. Dahlia says:

    NOOOOOO! don’t salt your tree!!! it would be okay if it was outdoors, but it is in a wee pot, so no pee either: the roots will get burned!
    listen to your florist: it’s winter, it’s cold, the plant is in dormancy. If you can bare it, remove the baby lemon, your tree will thank you later.
    do not transplant Meyer: potted plants actually prefer being SLIGHTLY pot-bound. Meyer will tell you when he needs a new pot: when you start watering him way more than usual…. which means you probably won’t notice until the end of summer, and that is okay.
    the mold IS mold, but it’s good stuff, don’t scrape it off. It’s called mycchoryze (sp?), it’s a fungus that actually encourages root growth. a lot of commercial potting medium now contain the stuff, it is completely harmless, so do not remove it unless you have acute allergies to mold and it starts to smell like a mushroom farm. it usually disappears on its own, when it realises it is happier underground.
    the fallen leaf coould have been caused by shock, but it’s nothing to worry about: Meyer was moved from a temperature and light controlled greenhouse to a most-likely chilly and dark-ish room. he’s just getting adjusted. a couple of leaves here and there, and a few yellow ones are normal, but if by mid-feb he still hasn’t adjusted, i would worry, maybe… just make sure you turn the pot every couple of days so that he gets sunned on all sides. and if your base board or radiator is not under the window, i’d put the pot up close to the window. if you don’t have a heater-less window, then i would still put the tree near the window, but with a bowl of water to keep the air less dry. if your floors are cold, i would elevate the pot a little so that the roots don’t get too chilly: lemons don’t like having cold feet.
    it’s a bit of a long post, but i hope this helps. And don’t worry! Meyer will be fine!

  10. pat says:

    I got you some lemons just in case. (you know what. sshhh. it dies!)

  11. cheaplikeme says:

    Oooh, enjoy! We have a Meyer lemon plant that is about 8 years old. We live in Denver, where it is way too cold for lemons in the winter, almost-even inside. Our plant is very resilient, though. Just about every year it gets spider mites. My husband (who is in charge of plant husbandry) uses a soap spray outside in the spring. But it loses almost all its leaves every year … and then dutifully grows them back and makes us a few lemons. We put the plant outside in the summer, once nights are over 50 degrees F, to take advantage of the sunshine and bugs who can eat the mites. The blossoms smell fantastic, and the lemons grow slowly, taking almost a year, but they are delicious.

  12. Pesa says:

    What the flourist said is true: Don’t over-love it and don’t drown it with too much attention. Plants sense that and, according to my personal experience, they seem not to like it.

  13. Jessica T. says:

    I cannot believe that is your living room! It looks like a holistic health center or a yoga studio or else some other enlightened yet professionally designed space. I love it!

  14. V says:

    With the others above, if you don’t see any new buds at the tips of your branches, pop that baby lemon off- it’s zapping the tree’s nutrients and you need to refocus its energy in order to get more lemons this year. In addition, you should get a good organic citrus fertilizer that you can rake into the topsoil or add to water, and be sure to throw some mulch around the base of its trunk (I personally love the brick version of a coconut husk by-product; it takes up very little storage space and you can flake off a bit when you need it.) The mulch will help to keep those feeder roots at the tree’s base nice and moist which will help the overall well being of your little tree. (And seriously, don’t water it too often! That’s how most container-bound citrus end up dying.)

  15. mitch says:

    I have a lemon myer from New Zealand and it’s living with me in Cold Londn as I write tis thread.
    I’m a bit concerned as my leaves too are falling off and there has been some spider mite on the plant that I have had to wash off.
    Ok lemons are not for the UK but can anyone help me on how I can look after it in doors, ideal temperature pot size etc it a plant thats about 12 cms tall (metric) Thanks all.

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