Thomas J. Story
For the first time in decades, gardeners in Arizona can grow what many consider the best-tasting lemon of all ― 'Improved Meyer'. Arizona agriculture officials have assurances that this variety is virus-free and no longer presents a threat to the state's citrus industry.
Actually a cross between an orange and a lemon, 'Improved Meyer' is prized for its juicy flesh with flowery flavor. When fully mature, the fruit has bright orangish yellow skin and juice. Because it has more sugar than regular lemons, 'Improved Meyer' is favored by chefs for desserts such as sorbets and tarts.
Hardier than 'Eureka' and 'Lisbon', 'Improved Meyer' lemon can be grown in Sunset climate zones 12 and 13, but it needs protection during freezing weather. The tree has a compact habit and seldom grows more than 8 to 10 feet tall, making it a fine candidate for large containers. Look for specimens in 5-, 7-, or 15-gallon containers at nurseries and garden centers in the Phoenix and Tucson areas. In colder areas, this lemon can be grown as an outdoor-indoor plant.