Growing a lime tree

How to Grow Citrus Indoors

Introduction

Like the plants at Versailles, your orange, lemon, or lime tree can grow in a container, thriving indoors during cold-weather months before basking outside in spring and summer.

The best pick for homegrown citrus is a dwarf variety, a plant that is grafted onto special rootstock that prevents the tree from growing too large. Many citrus trees can be grown as dwarves, including Meyer lemon, kaffir lime, and ‘Trovita’ and calamondin oranges, which are amenable to indoor cultivation.

Soon enough, you could be harvesting oranges for marmalade, preparing desserts with Meyer lemons, or picking kaffir lime leaves for an authentic Thai curry. What a wonderful way to beat the winter blues.

Shopping

For a plant that will produce fruits and blossoms right away, choose a two-to three-year-old dwarf tree. Calamondin orange trees, which have a high tolerance for indoor conditions, are a good choice for beginners. Buy one from a reputable nursery to avoid diseased or inferior plants. We like Four Winds Growers.

Potting Container

A vessel with adequate drainage is essential. Select a clay, ceramic, or plastic pot slightly larger than the root ball. It should have several holes at the bottom. Fill the drainage dish with stones to provide air circulation.

Soil

Well-drained soil is also crucial. Use a slightly acidic (pH 6 to 7), loam-based potting mix. Better yet, buy premixed potting soil formulated specifically for citrus trees.

Placement

Most citrus trees require eight to 12 hours of sunlight daily. When growing them indoors, position your plants beside a south-facing window with good airflow. If necessary, supplement sun with a grow light during dark winter months.

Temperature

Dwarf citrus perform best when temperatures stay between 55 and 85 degrees; an average of 65 degrees is ideal. And they dislike abrupt temperature shifts, so be sure to protect them from chilly drafts and blazing heaters. Avoid spots near exterior doors, radiators, fireplaces, and ovens.

RELATED: Our Guide to 11 Citrus and Flowering Plants That Are Perfect for Indoors

Seasonal Relocation

Come spring, the tree can spend more time outdoors, being brought inside during cold spells. When all threat of frost has passed, slowly acclimate your citrus tree to its new outdoor home by placing it in a semishaded spot for a few days, then slowly bring the tree into the sun. It’s very important to make a slow, smooth transition to avoid shock and scorched leaves. Select a protected location in full sun with good airflow. Patios, balconies, and terraces are all great spots. To move the tree indoors for winter, slowly reverse the process well before the first anticipated frost date.

Care and Watering

Regular watering is key. Adding pretty, decorative mulch (such as pebbles or moss) will help reduce evaporation and retain moisture at the critical surface-root zone. But keep in mind that your tree’s potting soil should be kept on the dry side of moist, particularly in winter, to prevent fungal infections and root rot. Using a water meter (available at most garden centers) to measure the soil’s moisture level will help. Citrus trees also like moist air. Positioning your plant near a humidifier or regularly misting the leaves with a spray bottle will help keep foliage looking its best in dry winter months.

Fertilizer

From spring to summer, feed your tree every three weeks with a high-nitrogen fertilizer made for citrus (a tomato and vegetable formula can be substituted). Feed half as often in fall and winter.

Watch for Pests

Citrus are vulnerable to scale, spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids. Be on the lookout for early signs of infestation: curled, speckled, or yellowing leaves; sticky residue; and silky webs between the branches. Use the least toxic treatments available, such as insecticidal soap or neem or horticultural oil, to combat pests as needed.

How to plant and grow Citrus

GROW YOUR OWN FRUIT

Plant Information – Citrus (764 KB)
First plantings in the garden usually include at least one citrus plant – usually a lemon. Citrus overall embraces an interesting and attractive range of plants from more ornamental dwarf types to the larger and more commercially productive varieties. Unfortunately, because they appear non-complaining, citrus is usually left to look after itself; however, they do require some care. The following notes are a guide to situation, feeding, caring and ensuring the health of these wonderful plants.

SITE / POSITION FOR CITRUS

A position protected from winds and heavy frost in full sun is ideal. Without as much sun, they will not set as much fruit but for the home gardener this may still be sufficient.

SOIL FOR CITRUS

A deep, friable slightly acidic loam soil type is best for the citrus. They will grow in light or heavier soils provided some soil preparation is done. Light soils will require some additional WATERWISE CRYSTALS and a MUSHROOM COMPOST or COW & COMPOST MIX to help retain moisture and add nutrient to the soil. Heavy soils may require mushroom compost and organic matter to aerate, as well as GYPSUM CLAY BREAKER to open soil and ensure sufficient drainage. Good drainage is essential for citrus.

PLANTING CITRUS

Make sure the root-zone is moist before planting and then thoroughly water in after placing in position. Be careful to keep the tree level with the surrounding soil. Soil build-up around the trunk can cause collar rot. If you have clay soil, do not dig into this. Raise the bed or plant the tree as above the subsoil clay level if possible. By digging into it a pool can be formed which will collect water below the surface and kill the tree.

WATERING CITRUS

Citrus are not deep-rooted trees and thus require watering regularly.
Mostly their roots will be 1.2m to 1.5m below the surface. Care must be taken to ensure they have adequate watering during the hot summer months. In addition, be sure not to over water either.

MULCHING CITRUS

Mulching in spring helps conserve moisture around citrus trees in the hot summer months. A combination of MUSHROOM COMPOST, COW & COMPOST and WATERWISE CRYSTALS or PEAT MOSS will provide excellent moisture holding capacity. Do not build up mulches too closely around trunk. It is advisable to remove the previous year’s mulch before putting a new one down. Do not dig around citrus trees as their feeding roots are close to the surface and they resent disturbance.

FERTILISING CITRUS

In ground citrus should be fed with DINOFERT CITRUS FOOD during the warmer months with 1 application. Citrus also responds to applications of DYNAMIC LIFTER and COW MANURE, thus encouraging healthy growth.
For container growing, it is advisable to feed using OSMOCOTE TREES, SHRUBS & CITRUS or BRUNNINGS CITRUS FOOD during the warmer months, or a soluble solution of THRIVE SOLUBLE FLOWER & FRUIT.

PRUNING CITRUS

Pruning is really only necessary to remove dead wood and to cut out branches that are rubbing against each other. There is some advantage in training young trees to produce evenly spaced branches to allow light penetration into the centre of the tree.
Citrus that have become too tall may be pruned back severely, make sure you cover the wounds with a tree wound dressing such as STERIPRUNE. It is advisable to ‘skirt’ trees. This means removing all shoots to a height of at least 45cm to avoid disease problems, which may occur if branches are able to touch the ground. Remember to remove all shoots that come from below the graft. These shoots may occasionally arise from under the stock and if not removed will grow more strongly then the graft and eventually kill it. Thus, a tree that started as an orange may end up producing lemons, which is the type of under-stock.

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Lime Tree Harvest Time: When To Pick A Lime From A Tree

Many people wonder when to pick a lime from a tree. Limes stay green and this makes it difficult to tell. The fact that there are different types of limes doesn’t help either. Find out more about harvesting limes in this article.

Types of Lime Trees

Limes are closely related to lemons. They even look similar to them, especially once they have fully ripened. Until reaching maturity, limes are quite sour tasting. But unlike the lemon, the best lime tree harvest time is just before it turns yellow.

Lime tree harvest is easier when you are familiar with the different types of lime trees and what they look like.

  • One of the most popular lime trees is the Key lime, or Mexican lime, (Citrus aurantifolia). This green lime grows somewhat small, only about 2 inches in diameter.
  • The Tahiti lime (Citrus latifolia), also known as Persian lime, is larger in appearance and more greenish-yellow when ripe.
  • Not considered a true lime, but worth mention is the Kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix), which puts out small dark green, bumpy-looking limes.

Lime Tree Care

When considering when limes are ripe, lime tree care should be taken into account. Lime trees are sensitive to cold, so keep them sheltered from wind and provide plenty of sunlight, especially if you want to harvest good-sized fruit. Adequate drainage is also a necessity.

You should see clusters of about five or six green limes forming once the blossoms have faded. In order to produce larger limes, however, you may want to thin this number down to only two or three.

Lime Tree Harvest Time

If lime tree harvest leaves you feeling a bit confused, you’re not alone. Many people are unsure about when to pick a lime from a tree. Limes are harvested prior to ripening, while the lime is still green. Limes are actually yellow once fully ripe but will be bitter and not taste very good when harvested yellow.

To determine whether a green lime is ripe enough for harvesting, gently twist one from the stem of the lime tree and cut it open. Harvest time is appropriate if the fruit is juicy inside; otherwise, you’ll have to wait awhile longer. Also, try looking for limes that are light green as opposed to those which are darker in color and choose fruits that are smooth and slightly soft when gently squeezed.

Green limes will not continue to ripen once picked; therefore, it’s usually best to leave them on the tree until needed, as green limes keep longer this way, unless you choose to freeze them. The juice can also be frozen, placing in ice cube trays and used as needed, which is especially helpful if fruit has fallen ripe from lime trees.

Once limes begin taking on a wrinkled appearance, they have been left on the tree too long. They will eventually fall from lime trees as they turn yellow.

Lime tree harvest generally takes place during summer. Limes take about three to four months until they reach peak flavor. However, in some regions ( USDA plant hardiness zones 9-10), green limes can be harvested year round.

Citrus Trees

Sweet, tangy flavor in your own backyard.

From Lemon Trees to Orange Trees and Limes, we have a wide variety of fresh picks you’ll love for home-growing. And the best part is that our Citrus Trees can grow indoors or out, all without effort. Plus, we’ve planted, grown and shipped our Citrus Trees with care, so you get healthy roots and a head start on growth.

What are Citrus Trees?

Oranges, Lemons, Limes and beyond: Citrus Trees feature tart-sweet fruit and often have tropical origins. But despite their native warm-weather environments, our Citrus Trees can grow just about anywhere.

How to Grow Citrus Trees

Though specific planting directions depend on the variety you choose, all Citrus Trees must be grown in the proper growing zones (or indoors). The most important factors for your Citrus Trees are sunlight and watering needs. Most Citrus Trees prefer well-drained soil and full sun, or 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day, but specific instructions will depend on the variety you choose.

From there, planting your Citrus Trees is simple. Find an area with well-drained soil or select a container large enough to accommodate the tree’s root ball, place your tree and backfill the soil. Finally, water the surrounding soil to settle your tree’s roots and mulch to conserve moisture.

When to Plant Citrus Trees

Generally, you should plant your Citrus Fruit Trees in early spring. However, you can plant in pots to stay on the porch or move indoors nearly any time of year.

How to Pollinate Citrus Trees

Many of our Citrus Trees are self-fertile, but you’ll almost always have bigger harvests by planting more than one tree nearby. And for those that need a cross-pollinator, we’ve recommended the best pollination partners on each specific product’s page.

Here’s how pollination works: Bees help spread the pollen of one tree from bloom to bloom, helping fruit emerge, or bees carry the pollen from one tree to another tree, ensuring both varieties fruit.

With indoor trees, hand pollination is necessary. However, the process is easy: Simply transfer pollen from one bloom to the next on your tree by using a clean, dry paintbrush and swirling pollen on each bloom’s center until the process is complete.

When to Prune Citrus Trees

Wait until the dormant fall and winter seasons to prune your Citrus Trees. At this point, you can remove diseased, dead or broken branches, suckers, and any competing branches. Always ensure you’re making your cuts with a clean, sterilized pair of shears.

As far as harvesting goes, different Citrus Tree varieties will ripen in different seasons: Some as early as the first year in the summer, and some after a few years and as late as the fall season. Either way, you’ll have fruit faster with Citrus Trees delivered to your door!

Lemons and limes are not only among the most popular fruits, they also look great in the garden if kept in good health.

For those with small backyards or courtyards, or people who just want a productive plant near the living area, potting citrus is a great idea. A simple, good-sized pot growing lemons or limes can look terrific and be handy for harvesting when preparing meals and drinks. Here are the key points to ensure a great result.

Pot size

The minimum pot size required to grow a citrus tree is a 100-litre container. This will hold a mature, naturally dwarf selection such as a ‘Meyer’ lemon or any cultivars of lemons or limes grafted onto a dwarfing rootstock like ‘Flying Dragon’. For a lemon or lime grafted onto a standard rootstock, choose a 200L container. Using too small a pot is a very common error.

Perfect drainage

You need more than the one hole in a container base to ensure perfect drainage, so drill extra holes in the sides (these are less likely to become blocked). Also, use a 10–15cm layer of 20mm gravel in the base. For terracotta and ceramic pots, place masking tape over the area to be drilled and use a masonry or ceramic drill bit. If you don’t want to drill them, then elevate on pot feet or bricks.

Water

The drainage holes are critical in avoiding overwatering and allowing water to escape easily even after days of rain. Choosing larger containers, as advised, means they need less frequent watering. Water daily or every other day in summer and autumn, and twice weekly in winter and spring.

Getting the right mix

Do not use normal garden soil or potting mix to fill your container. Ask your landscape supplier to make you a mix of two-thirds landscape soil and one-third coarse washed river sand. Mix this with home-made or bought compost, plus rock dust and organic fertiliser. The sand provides drainage, but also reduces shrinkage of the mix.

It makes the mix heavier so that your pots are less likely to blow over once your trees grow to full size.

Fertilise for fruit

For good fruiting, you need to feed trees with a small amount of dry or pelleted organic fertiliser every six to eight weeks during the growing season (usually spring, summer and autumn). Supplement this with liquid fertiliser (weed, compost tea, worm juice or fish fertiliser) plus liquid seaweed whenever your trees need a boost (such as when carrying a heavy fruit load). To make weed tea, gather a pile of weeds, immerse in a large garbage can of water for two weeks with the lid on. Then strain.

DID YOU KNOW?

GRAFTING TAHITIAN LIMES ONTO PONCIRUS TRIFOLIATA ROOTSTOCK CREATES A SMALLER TREE THAT IS MORE EASILY ACCOMMODATED IN CONTAINERS. TREES ALSO BEAR FRUIT IN LATE SUMMER AND AUTUMN.

For more infromation on heritage lemons and lime cultivars, grab your copy of Organic Gardener Essential Guide: Heirlooms OUT NOW!

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