Best Lemon Trees for Your Location

'Eureka' Lemon Tree with Lemon Fruit

Some lemon trees are much better performers in gardens than others. Choosing the best lemon tree to grow depends upon your usage, location, climate and growing conditions.

Varieties of lemon trees include the ‘Eureka’, ‘Lisbon’ and ‘Improved Meyer’ lemons.  Lemon trees do not have a dormant phase in the winter and tend to produce flowers throughout the year so are vulnerable to cold weather. The ‘Improved Meyer’ is slightly hardier than true lemon and makes a better choice for home gardeners in a cold climate. For more information on varieties refer to Varieties of Lemon Trees Blog.

Varieties for Your Location

The ‘Eureka’ lemon tree is considered the best lemon tree for most areas of Australia. For cooler climate zones of Australia the ‘Improved Meyer lemon’ tree is also popular as it is the most cold-tolerant of all lemons.

United States

The ‘Improved Meyer’ lemon is the preferred variety for home gardens as the ‘Eureka’ and ‘Lisbon’ varieties are susceptible to citrus scab.

Southern California

The ‘Lisbon’, ‘Eureka’, Variegated pink ‘Eureka’ and the ‘Improved Meyer’ lemons are popular in Southern California. The Lisbon has cold resistance and is very heat tolerant. On the coast, trees can bear some fruit year round. ‘Eureka’ lemon trees bear fruit year round on the coast, fall and winter in the low desert valleys, and winter to spring production in the inland Riverside areas. Variegated Pink – a mutation of ‘Eureka’ that has variegated (green-and-white striped) leaves and immature fruit striped green and cream, mature flesh is light pink plus the tree itself is smaller making it very garden-friendly. ‘Improved Meyer’ lemon trees bear fruit year round.

Lemon trees growing outside the Lower Rio Grande Valley are at a distinct disadvantage with regard to climate, i.e., winter almost always will be accompanied by one or more freezes. Lemon trees are subtropical to tropical in nature; thus, they may suffer severe damage or even death because of freezing temperatures. However, there are some lemons that have sufficient cold-hardiness to sustain some freezing conditions.

If you live in coastal and southern Texas and are willing to put in the effort to provide cold protection for young trees, and sometimes even mature trees, you can successfully produce citrus fruits including lemons. The ‘Improved Meyer’ is popular in Texas due to it having fair cold-hardiness. The ‘Eureka’, ‘Lisbon’ and ‘Ponderosa’ lemon varieties are also grown but are less popular due to their poor cold hardiness.

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Varieties of Lemon Trees

Meyer Lemon Tree FruitGenerally, lemon trees are smallish in size and produce lemons throughout the year. Lemon fruit is yellow, sour to acidic and oval in shape. Lemon trees do not have a dormant phase in the winter and tend to produce flowers throughout the year. As a result, they are more vulnerable to cold weather than oranges and will shed foliage in the temperature drops below 28F (-2C). The ‘Improved Meyer’ is slightly hardier than true lemon and makes a better choice for home gardeners in a cold climate.

‘Eureka’ Lemon Tree
The ‘Eureka’ lemon tree originated as a chance seedling in California, USA. The fruit is bright yellow with rougher skin than the Meyer and ‘Lisbon’ varieties. The lemons have high juice content and taste sharply acidic. The ‘Eureka’ is more favored than the ‘Lisbon’ as the trees are free of thorns and have seedless fruit produced throughout most of the year. It grows to approximately 4m tall however it hates vicious cold snaps. It is most suitable for home gardens, particularly where there are children as they will not be scratched from thorns. They start producing fruit at an early age and bear for a long period of time. Young ‘Eureka’ trees may produce so many fruit that they damage the tree, so the grower must remove excess fruit.

‘Lisbon’ Lemon Tree
The ‘Lisbon’ lemon tree is a very vigorous variety that can grow to a large size, with upright branches and dense foliage. It originated in Australia and was thought to have been introduced to Australia by the Portuguese. The fruit is smoother than the ‘Eureka’ with a pronounced nipple at the end and a short neck. Fruit is produced mainly during the winter period with a smaller crop over summer. The main disadvantage of this variety is its extremely sharp thorns although thornless varieties could be available soon. The ‘Lisbon’ is popular in Arizona and California. The tree is more cold-tolerant than others.

‘Meyer’ Lemon Tree
The ‘Meyer’ lemon tree was named after the American plant explorer, Frank Meyer who introduced it from China in 1908. It is considered to be a hybrid between a lemon and a mandarin or an orange. The foliage is similar to lemon but the fruit is more rounded, with light orange-yellow skin. The ‘Meyer’ is excellent to grow in pots as it tends to be smaller growing than other lemons.

The ‘Meyer’ lemon tree is a thornless tree that produces fruit throughout the year that are mildly acidic and can be eaten without the sour taste of most lemons. The grated skin (zest) is of inferior quality to other lemons. The single crop ripens early but holds well on the tree for several months. It is very frost hardy and tolerant of cold conditions. Only purchase ‘Improved Meyer’, as the original ‘Meyer’ harbors Tristeza virus.

Refer to Best Lemon Trees for Your Location Blog for further information on the best lemon trees to grow in your country.

You will find full details about lemon trees and other citrus trees and great advice and photos on recognising and correcting nutrient deficiencies, pest and diseases and problems in Grow Citrus: The Insiders Secrets to Growing Great Citrus

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