Dwarf Lemon Trees: Eureka vs Lisbon vs Meyer

Trying to decide whether a dwarf lemon tree is right for your garden?

For many reasons, Dwarf Lemon trees are a great addition to any garden.

Not only do they add beauty and interest in the form of their small, colourful flowers and glossy green leaves, but they also offer an abundance of fruit with a refreshing citrus taste.

What are the different types of dwarf lemon trees?

There are three main types of dwarf lemon trees:

  • Dwarf Meyer Lemon,
  • Dwarf Eureka Lemon, and
  • Dwarf Lisbon Lemon.

Dwarf Meyer Lemon grows to be 2 metres tall when grown in the ground. Its leaves are dark green on the top and light green on the bottom. The fruit is a cross between an ordinary lemon and an orange. It is medium-sized, round-shaped and has yellow skin. This evergreen variety produces fruit all year long (but predominantly in the winter) and is fairly cold tolerant when compared to other lemon varieties.

Dwarf Eureka Lemon also reaches around 2 metres when grown in the ground. Its leaves are light green with a glossy surface and it produces a white flower. The fruit is medium-sized with a thick skin that turns from yellow to orange when ripe. It ripens in May and it’s ready to pick between June and September. This variety produces some fruit all year long but mainly during winter.

Dwarf Lisbon Lemon has leaves that are dark green on top and light green on the bottom. The fruit is large with an oval shape and very juicy. It ripens in May and it’s ready to pick between June and September just like a Eureka lemon tree but there can also be some fruit during summer. Its white flowers appear in mid to late Autumn. Like the two other varieties, the Lisbon grows to around 2 metres tall in the ground. The downside of Lisbons is they can have nasty thorns.

Which is the best type of dwarf lemon tree?

The best citrus dwarf for you will really come down to personal preference.

Dwarf citrus tree | Fruit & Vegetables

However, in our view the Dwarf Eureka is the best option for most people for the following reasons:

  • True lemon variety so can use for cooking, baking, etc
  • Produces a lot of fruit
  • Often more reliable for fruiting than Meyer

However, Meyers are great as well – some people say they are the perfect fruit for Gin and Tonics!

What are the benefits of dwarf lemon trees?

There are so many benefits to growing a dwarf lemon tree!

For example:

Great for small spaces. Dwarf lemon trees only grow to be six to eight feet tall.

Can be grown in pots. If you live in an apartment, this is the ideal way to grow your own lemons!

Lemon tree | Fruit & Vegetables

Easy to care for. The dwarf lemon tree is easy to manage. It needs little water, doesn’t require constant pruning, and only needs fertilizer once or twice a year.

Easy to pick fruit. No ladder required!

Easier to cover with bird netting. Lets you protect your fruit from pesky invaders.

Perfect for colder climates with shorter growing seasons. Because these trees don’t get very large, they’re excellent choices if you want a citrus tree but live somewhere with a cold winter climate.

What are the downsides of dwarf lemon trees?

Dwarf lemon trees do have some downsides:

It can be hard to strike the right balance with watering. The soil must be kept moist, but if it gets too wet, fungal diseases can develop. Good drainage is important.

Less sturdy. Some dwarfs will need to be staked so they aren’t damaged in high winds.

Shallower roots. This means they need more regular watering and are less drought-resistant.

They attract a variety of pests including snails and slugs, mites, and aphids. You’ll want to keep an eye out for these guys and take action if they show up. Maintaining good hygiene around your plant is another way of discouraging pests from making your tree their home—for example by removing fallen fruit so it does not attract bugs like fruit flies.

How do you care for dwarf lemon trees?

Watering. You’ll need to keep an eye on the soil and never let it fully dry out. About once per week is usually about right.

Pruning. The best time to prune a dwarf tree is over winter, when they’re dormant. You can trim off branches that are growing inward or are too close together, but take care not to leave any major branches bare after pruning as this can damage the tree’s health.

Fertilising. Feed your little lemony friend at least once during its first growing season after planting it in soil (most likely spring). Citrus fertiliser is your best bet.

Check out the video below for more tips on caring for dwarf citrus:

What type of soil does a dwarf lemon tree need?

When it comes to the soil, drainage is one of the most important factors to consider.

A dwarf lemon tree needs soil that drains well, so if you have clay or very sandy soil, amend it with a little bit of compost to provide some aeration.

You may want to add peat moss or sand to your soil if there is not already plenty of water drainage.

The pH level should be between 6.5 and 7 for optimal growth. If you are unsure about your pH levels, do a simple soil test by using a testing kit available at your local garden store or online.

How much sun does a dwarf lemon tree need?

To encourage your dwarf lemon tree to produce as much fruit as possible, it is important to get the amount of sunlight just right.

Dwarf lemon trees are used to a lot of direct sunlight and need around 6-8 hours of full sun every day.

If growing indoors, place your potted dwarf lemon tree next to a north-facing window where it can receive the most sunlight.

Lemon tree 1 | Fruit & Vegetables

During the summer months, you may want to place the pot outside on a sunny patio or balcony if you live in a temperate climate where temperatures do not drop below 7 degrees Celsius.

What time of year should you plant a dwarf lemon tree?

In warm climates, you can plant your citrus tree any time of the year.

In cooler parts of Australia, it is best to plant your dwarf lemon tree outdoors in the spring, after the last frost has passed.

This is because the root system of young trees will be vulnerable to damage if frozen. Therefore, it’s best to wait until warm weather returns before planting your tree outside.

How often should you water a dwarf lemon tree?

Watering is critical to the success of your dwarf lemon tree, although it’s important not to overdo it.

Watering frequency depends on a number of factors, including climate, soil type, and container size (if in a pot).

Dwarf lemons trees in pots need to be watered a few times a week.

If planted in the soil, once per week is about right, but check the soil moisture around your tree to determine if it drying out between each watering.

What happens if you overwater a dwarf lemon tree?

If your lemon tree’s roots aren’t well drained, the soil may stay too wet.

This can cause the tree to become infected with fungus or disease (look for yellow curled leaves), decaying roots, and death of the tree.

Should you fertiliser a dwarf lemon tree?

Lemon tree 3 | Fruit & Vegetables

Fertiliser is important for your lemon tree as it will help your tree grow healthy and produce more fruit.

How often you fertilise will depend on the age of your tree.

An older tree with existing fruit can be fertilised once or twice a year, while a younger tree needs to be fertilised once a month during the growing season.

Make sure you purchase citrus fertiliser from either your local hardware store or nursery as this type of fertiliser is lower in nitrogen and higher in phosphorus, which is perfect for citrus trees.

Can you dwarf citrus in a pot?

citrus in a pot | Fruit & Vegetables

Yes, a dwarf lemon tree can be grown in a pot. While it’s generally recommended that you plant your dwarf lemon tree in the ground, growing it in a container is a great option if you have limited space or are looking to bring your tree inside during the winter months.

If you decide to grow your dwarf lemon tree in a pot, make sure that the container has plenty of drainage holes and use well-draining potting soil rather than garden soil.

A good rule of thumb for choosing a pot size is to select one that’s about 1/3 of the tree’s height and width: so if your tree is 3 feet tall at maturity, select a pot that’s about 12 inches in diameter.

As with any potted plant, care of your dwarf lemon trees will require more frequent watering and fertilizer application compared with planting it directly into garden soil.

Mulching around the base of your potted tree will help keep moisture from evaporating out as quickly—especially important during hot weather and if you plan on moving your container outdoors for the summer months.


How big does a dwarf lemon tree get?

Most varieties of dwarf lemon tree grow to around 2 metres tall.

Photo of author

Steve Kropp

Based in Melbourne, Steve's passion is vegetable gardening, and he’s been writing about it for almost 5 years. He also loves all things DIY and is always looking for a new project. When not working on his own garden projects or blogging, Steve enjoys spending time with his family, cooking meals with produce harvested from his garden, and coaching his son’s footy team.


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