Citrus Tree 101 A Growing and Maintenance Guide

Kevin Brown

Citrus Tree 101: Growing and Maintenance Guide

New citrus tree varieties make a stylish addition to any home garden. Whether you seek interesting tree specimens or a new growing challenge, citrus trees offer a range of options. They add elegance to your indoor and outdoor garden, while filling the air with fragrant blossoms and providing delicious fruit every season.

Citrus trees thrive in warm climates, but they can also be grown in pots for those in cooler regions. Combining citrus trees with Dwarf umbrella trees and areca palms can help create an indoor paradise.

What is a Citrus Tree?

Citrus Tree 101 A Growing and Maintenance Guide

Citrus trees are part of the Rutaceae family. They are evergreen trees that thrive in subtropical regions without harsh winters. Most citrus trees for home use are ornamental or dwarf varieties, which can be grown indoors or transported inside during cold temperatures. Citrus trees have gained popularity as house and patio plants, but fruiting can be challenging. Instead, it is recommended to focus on growing these trees for their foliage and view the fruit as a pleasant surprise.

Each citrus tree variety has specific care requirements, but here are some general guidelines to consider.

Light Needs

Citrus trees thrive in bright sunlight. They need around 6-8 hours of full sun. However, too much sun can wilt the leaves and even cause sunburn on new growth.

To ensure even growth, rotate the position of indoor plants to expose all sides to light.

Water Needs

Prevent root rot in your citrus tree by avoiding excess water. Use well-drained soil and a pot with good drainage holes. In the summer, water your tree at least once or twice a week. For optimal results, use room temperature rainwater as recommended by Westland.

Allow the soil around the tree’s roots to dry out between watering during the winter months.

Citrus trees prefer acidic soil. They thrive in both pots and in the ground, but the soil must be well-draining. When planting citrus trees, use a sandy loam soil.

To make your own, mix well-draining soil, perlite, and peat in equal parts. The surrounding soil should have a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.

Citrus trees prefer temperatures ranging from 55-65 degrees indoors. If temperatures dip below 55 degrees, keep the trees indoors until the danger of frost has passed.

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Citrus plants thrive in humid conditions, such as bathrooms and kitchens. You can increase the humidity in other rooms by using a humidifier or placing the citrus trees on a pebble tray filled with water.

To help your citrus plant thrive, use a fertilizer designed for acidic plants or specific citrus tree fertilizer during the growing season from spring to summer. Fertilize once a week from April to August, and once every two weeks from October to March.

Even if your citrus tree is healthy, it may not produce fruit due to a lack of pollination partners. In outdoor environments, wind, water, and insects like bees contribute to the transfer of pollen between flowers.

You can pollinate citrus trees indoors using two methods in early spring when the flowers produce pollen. In one method, take one flower with ripe pollen and rub it against the other open bloom’s center. You can also use a dry paintbrush to transfer pollen from one flower to another.

Pests and Diseases

Scale insects, aphids, mealybugs, whitefly, and spider mites are the most common pests of Citrus Trees. If you see evidence of bugs, apply an insecticidal soap to the top and bottom side of the citrus leaves. Use neem oil for more serious infestations of pests.

Some common diseases for citrus trees are root rots caused by overwatering. Look for evidence of rot like yellowing leaves or leaf spots and remove affected branches. Ensure that the roots are not waterlogged and that the tree has good circulation. Other common diseases for citrus trees include scooty mold and bacterial blast. Keep aphids and other pests away with neem oil to prevent scooty mold.

Treat bacterial blast with a copper-based fungicide.

Pruning for citrus trees does not require extensive work. Remove small to medium-sized competing branches called “suckers” that grow along larger branches. It is best to remove suckers by hand when they are small, according to the University of Arizona.

Additionally, remove diseased and broken branches to improve the tree’s appearance.

Potting Citrus Trees:

To pot indoor citrus trees, choose a spacious pot and plant the tree with the root ball just below the soil surface to prevent waterlogging and root rot.

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The Best Citrus Tree Varieties for Indoor Use:

Citrus trees are a great addition to front door or patio gardens. We have gathered some attractive indoor citrus tree varieties based on appearance, fruit, and height.

Calamondin Orange:

This tree bears small, tart fruit that is a cross between tangerines and kumquats. The fruit is commonly used in marmalades and as a garnish. Trees that are two years old will begin producing fruit year-round.

Botanical name: Citrofortunella mitis

Height: 3-4 feet indoors

Sun: 4 hours direct sunlight per day

Water: Soak pot, allow water to drain. Let soil dry before watering again.

Growing Zones: 8-11

Kaffir Lime:

A dwarf citrus tree that thrives indoors. The zest of Kaffir limes is prized in Asian cuisine. Easy care, resistant to pests.

Botanical name: Citrus hystrix

Height: 5 feet indoors, responds well to pruning

Sun: 8 hours direct sunlight per day

Water: Soak tree, allow water to drain. Keep soil moist, not soggy.

Growing Zones: 9-10

Meyer Lemon

Meyers lemons, a cross between lemons and mandarin oranges, are sweeter than standard lemons. Chefs prize the delicious flavor of the zest and thin skin rind. The Meyers lemon tree, also known by its botanical name, Citrus x meyeri, reaches heights of 6-10 feet, with dwarf varieties growing to 5-7 feet. It thrives in 8-12 hours of direct sunlight per day and requires well-drained soil. Kumquat trees have tiny oval fruit resembling colorful hanging jewels.

The tree produces both fruit and flowers simultaneously, adding to its beauty. Kumquats are versatile and can be used in marmalades or eaten raw, skin and all. The botanical name for kumquat is Fortunella spp.

Height: Some varieties 3-4 feet, others up to 10 feet

Sun: As much direct sunlight as possible for more fruit and flowers

Water: Soak the pot, but allow water to drain. Allow soil to dry before watering again. Mist if your rooms are dry.

Growing Zones: 9-11, can survive in zone 8 if protected from harsh weather

Dwarf Tangerine

The tangerine is wonderful for eating. This beloved fruit is easy to peel and has a sweet bright flavor.

Botanical name: Citrus reticulata

Height: Up to 6 feet indoors

Sun: Full sunlight, turn plant to expose all sides

Water: Soak the pot, but allow water to drain. Allow soil to dry before watering again. Mist or humidify if your rooms are dry.

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Growing Zones: 9-11

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Where can I find citrus trees for sale near me?

Check local garden nurseries in your area. This allows you to pinpoint varieties that work best in your area. You can also order these trees online.

Just be sure to double-check all the appropriate growing conditions to ensure they will thrive for you.

Do citrus trees grow in pots as well as outdoors?

Certain citrus varieties make excellent houseplants. The hardest factor to control is the humidity of your interior spaces to provide the necessary levels for citrus trees. Using a humidifier will supply your plants with the required humidity to thrive.

What are the health benefits of citrus?

According to the Mayo Clinic, citrus is an excellent source of Vitamin C, supporting the immune system and promoting healthier skin, bones, and blood vessels. It also aids in iron absorption and provides fiber. Consuming the entire fruit can lower LDL cholesterol levels.

How can I cook with citrus? It can be used in a variety of foods, including beverages and baked goods. Use the zest to flavor cookies, sweet breads, or stir-fries.

In conclusion, citrus trees are popular for both indoor and outdoor gardening, offering attractive form, fragrant flowers, and delicious fruit. They can enhance formal gardens and serve as focal points indoors. Pair them with olive trees, lavender, rosemary, and bay laurel for an even more impressive display.

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