With fond boyhood memories of fresh lemonade enjoyed in the heat of Indian summers, hobby breeder M.P.M Nair was determined to have his own supply of fresh lemons in his newly chosen home of Saskatoon, SK. Although he considered Saskatoon’s Zone 2 hardiness rating to be of nominal concern, Nair realized his primary challenge would be to overcome the very low light conditions faced by his target audience of home hobby or “windowsill” growers. He recalled a lemon plant that thrived in the lower light conditions of a banana plantation and so, permit in hand, he arranged to bring back some rooted cuttings to Canada. So began a four decades long quest to breed a lemon cultivar adapted to northern indoor low light environments.
Said Nair of his ambitious breeding endeavour, “I have learned that citrus breeding is a game of chance and the variability of the fruit quality can be the worst possible outcome most of the time. Occasionally you get lucky and get some good fruiting plants.”
In total, 79 plants with various types of fruits from six different crosses were developed, although many were discarded due to poor quality of fruits and growth habits. Some dwarf plants refused to mature and some have not bloomed even after 20 years. Nearly 20 mostly seedless fruiting trees have been selected and observation of growth traits and fruit quality is ongoing. As a reward for his patience, Nair notes that some of the fruits have turned out to be better than the parents in many ways.
Ultimately, if life doesn’t give you lemons, you can indeed make your own. The main ingredient it seems, is merely an abundance of patience.
Nair is continuing to develop many other Low Light Tolerant plants (LLT Plants®) including vegetables and dwarf fruit crops for the year round indoor home windowsill environment.