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How to Grow Meyer Lemons from Seed

by on April 12, 2013
 

I think of how I first came to Meyer Lemons and it was the memory of a recipe I read. A recipe with 6 ingredients (including a tart shell) and only 3 steps to make. It is called ‘Lazy Mary’s Lemon Tart’.

It took me 15 months to get my hands on Meyers but I did. Last June, I made Lazy Mary’s Tart, and we had it all before dinner. The only way I can describe how good it was, is that my very particular 2nd daughter, requested seconds. I guess that says it all.

I made 2 tarts in 2 days.

And that was the end of the Meyer lemons, I thought.

I had no idea one could extend the hope and per chance the life of a Meyer by keeping the seeds.

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The first sprouts –  Meyer Lemon shoots

Enter Deepa of Paticheri. And her wonderfully, enlightening post on growing Meyers – part poetry, part prose and full tutorial.

I was thankful for her post but full of lament.

September, 2012

Oh Deepa, I am weeping. Because I carried 3 Meyer lemons in my bag home in June. I made the most amazing Lemon tarts with them, and cakes and I moaned the fact that I couldn’t plant the seeds. Ask me why I thought that was not possible? My daughter suggested we keep them and I said…’na, they won’t grow’. I thought. This is strange coming from me who has a herb garden where cilantro plants, 3 types of basil, savoury, radishes, asparagus, tomatoes and other beloved plants (grown from seed) share company.

I planted the seeds even when everyone questioned me, saying ‘Will they grow?’, and me responding ‘ I won’t know till I’ve planted them now, will I?’.

Why then did I not treasure the Meyer seeds? Why didn’t you write this earlier (I’m sorry, this is no blame deflection)! What I do know is that I keep this post in my heart, and the words in my head….because Meyer lemons are a GEM that I can’t live without.

And your drawing and writing are soooooooooooooooo inspired. Glad I met you!

It was belated. I had no lemons, no seeds…..so nothing to sprout, to grow, and future encounters with Meyers were then, unknown, unplanned.

Till New York in the winter and Baby David, till Deepa sent me, all the way from Pondicherry a thick envelope with Meyer seeds in them. Which made their way gingerly home with me, to Nigeria. Already sprouted.

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A gift of sprouted seeds, roots dug deep into the tissue

The seeds finally made their way into terracotta pots, which I diligently watered and then we went away for a  week and I came back to find empty pots, tiny plants withered to dust.

But there’s no panic, I have seeds waiting patiently, already sprouted and ready for potting.

And a whole lot more from seeds I’ve collected myself.

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Freshly removed Meyer seeds

Some things you should know before you embark on this journey

  •  It takes a ‘long’ time for Meyer Lemon trees to grow and fruit, anywhere from 6 years and above
  • This is a journey you want to embark on if, and only if you are a dedicated follower of Meyers for hope is a big thing!
  • Some people thing Meyer Lemons never grow from seed but I am willing to plant….and hope. And otherwise, buy a tree (don’t know when or how, but that’s my back up plan). Though I read in a Tropical Garden Forum that they can grow successfully

I planted a lemon seed that I sucked up from my iced tea in 2004!

That tree is NOW almost as tall as my second story house and has about 24 lemons on it! Last year, 2010, was the first year I got any fruit, and there were only TWO lemons!

This year I got a lot more and right now the tree is blossoming and there are literally HUNDREDS of blossoms and buds! I just picked my first lemon today and the taste is AMAZING! I’m actually brewing some iced tea as I type! 🙂 As long as the three is fruiting… I may NEVER have to buy a lemon AGAIN! The post earlier about the thorns is correct… they are NASTY buggers! VERY sharp and I even get an allergic reaction to them if they scratch my skin! Even if my tree NEVER produced fruit, I’d still be glad I tried! It’s so cool to see it grow! I live in FL and the citrus population is abundant here, so I don’t know if that has anything to do with the success of my tree, but where ever you may life, it’s worth the try!; Gemofa Teacher

You will need

  • To sprout the seeds: Bounty Kitchen Tissue and a Zippy bag 
  • To pot/grow the seeds: Potting soil, small pots, about with drainage holes, warmth/light

How to grow a Meyer Lemon, from seed

Pre Step-1: Read Deepa’s wonderful tale of growing Meyer Lemons

Step 1: Lay your hands on Meyer Lemons. Explore their delightful ways in the pre-requisite to getting the seeds: Bake, Stew, Candy and Curd the flesh and the juice, being careful to reserve the seeds.

Step 2: Prepare a host of material which will house your seeds – Bounty kitchen Tissue (for its strength), and a zippy (ziploc) bag.

Wet the kitchen tissue, wringing out all the excess water, leaving it damp. Lay it out flat. Set aside

Step 3: Peel the seeds. You will have to do this seed-by-seed. Take a seed: note each one has a pointy end, and a smoother, rounder one.The seeds start out sticky, covered with a protective gel. You will need to strip them down, to get to the heart cotyledons of the matter.

Lick the protective gel off the seed and carefully with a sharp finger nail from the pointed end, peel off the tough wrinkled top layer to reveal a layer of brown skin beneath.

The seed sheathed in brown resembles a black-eyed pea. Bean.

It hides smooth cotyledons underneath. I gently peel away the thin skin to reveal the seeds within.

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L to R: Fully cloaked to naked seed, ready for sprouting

See the halves? I was loathe to split them but some did.

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I set the other, still-together naked seeds on a sheet of dampened Bounty.

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Wrapped it up, slipped it gently into a zippy bag and set it in a warm pot, in my garage to rest.

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After a few days,  some seeds split into two halves, and others begin to sprout.

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After a couple of weeks, the seeds are sprouted, their roots have began to dig  into the tissue.

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I like them to stay sprouting, till they are at least 8 centimetres long, and I can clearly differentiate the beige, less green roots from the greener, cotyledons and shoots. This certainly makes it easier to plant, the right way down.

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But of ALL the things I love about learning to grow a Meyer, I absolutely adore Deepa’s infographic which is beauty, talent and instruction in one.

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Courtesy of Deepa, Paticheri.com

Now some doubt that you can grow Meyers from seeds but I’m willing to take the chance…..in the hope that perhaps someday….

Thanks Deepa – I encourage everyone to read her post.

I suspect the same method could be applied to other citrus seeds, but I haven’t tried.

Have you ever grown citruses from seed?