If you’ve been considering planting a lemon tree in your garden, you might be wondering what’s the best kind of lemon plant for you to buy. Well, there are a lot of great lemon varieties out there from the citron to the ponderosa lemon, but two of the most popular are the Meyer lemon and the eureka lemon. Which kind you end up going with should depend a lot on how you plan to use the fruit, so before you look for a lemon tree for sale, go over these considerations first:
Meyer Lemons vs. Eureka
Is lemon a fruit? If you think of fruit as being sweet, the lip-puckering lemon may have you doubting it! Eureka lemons are definitely of the bitter lemon variety (AKA a “true” lemon) for all they can be pink inside, but the fruit of a Meyer lemon tree tends to be sweeter because it’s actually hybrid between a true lemon and the sweeter mandarin orange.
Where They Come From
The Meyer lemon tree is native to China. It was brought to North America more than a century ago, and is believed to be a cross between a lemon tree and mandarin or mandarin variety tree. Eureka lemon trees originated in California from seeds that came from Sicily in the late 1850s.
What They Look Like
Meyer lemon trees produce smaller, orange-yellow fruit that is thinner-skinned than eureka lemons. Meyer lemons resemble an orange in shape, color and pulp, more than they do a true lemon. Eureka lemon trees produce oblong, juicy fruit that has a medium-gold color, and while the skin is thicker than that of Meyer lemons, it is softer. Meyer lemons tend to be sweeter and less acidic than eureka lemons. Eureka lemons can have yellow-and-green variegated skins and flesh with a distinctly pinkish hue.
How to Grow a Lemon Tree
Regardless of the type, lemon trees of all kinds are popular with home gardeners because of their lush green foliage and juicy, flavorful fruit. But which type of lemon tree is right for you?
Both Meyer and eureka lemon trees are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 9 and higher, but Meyer lemon trees are more cold-hardy than eureka, which are one of the least cold hardy lemon varieties.
“Can you grow a lemon tree in a pot?”
You certainly can – there are all kinds of dwarf citrus varieties available now (even a hybrid lemon lime variety that grows both fruits on the same tree!), so you’re not limited to a warmer climate when looking to add a lemon tree to your garden.
If you’re new to lemon tree care, a dwarf Meyer lemon tree is a good way to go. Prized as ornamentals, the Meyer lemon dwarf variety makes a great indoor lemon tree because it grows well in a container and requires very little pruning. Eureka lemon trees have less dense foliage, which makes the fruit more prone to wind and sun damage than Meyer lemons. Eureka lemon trees also require more lemon tree care and monitoring because they’re more susceptible than other lemon varieties to damage caused by insects and poor cultural practices, and tend to be shorter-lived as a result. Thus, if you live in a less congenial climate, you may not have the option of moving your dwarf lemon tree from your sunroom to your patio if it is a Eureka.
Consider Your Pet Before Getting a Citrus Tree You may not even have thought can dogs eat lemons or not because you can’t imagine your pooch wanting one! But some pets have crazy tests and can’t seem to resist the plants we put out. While citrus isn’t poisonous to pets, too much lemon can cause digestive upset, so take your pet’s tastes into consideration before you add a dwarf lemon tree to your indoor décor.