Lemon tree for indoors

How to Grow Citrus Indoors

We’re happy for you, California and Florida. Really we are. But many of us live in harsher climates, where a citrus tree would freeze to death before Thanksgiving. If we want homegrown key limes, it’s going to have to happen indoors.

Growing citrus inside is nothing new. Wealthy European estates as far back as the 17th century had orangeries, greenhouses used for overwintering citrus trees and other delicate plants. But you don’t need a fancy solarium or any special equipment to produce a respectable crop of citrus – just a sunny window and a little patience.

1. Choose the Right Pot

A small pot helps keep your tree smaller in case you don’t have 15-foot ceilings. Plus, a light plastic pot will be easier to move around the house and yard, following seasonal light. “You want a pot with good depth,” says Donna Dube, who has been growing citrus trees with her husband in their Massachusetts home for about 15 years. A deep pot helps balance the tree when it gets larger and becomes top-heavy.

2. Don’t Skimp on the Soil

“Citrus trees don’t like wet feet,” Dube says. To allow the soil to dry out, Dube and her husband experimented with mixing sand into standard potting soil. Now they use a special soil mix for cactuses and citrus trees. To help the soil drain well, Dube recommends lining the bottom of the pot with pebbles. If you’re worried about keeping the weight down so you can move the tree easily, it’s possible to substitute Styrofoam packing peanuts for rocks.

Doris Kessler, a landscape architect in Philadelphia, augments her soil in the early spring with a special fertilizer for citrus trees, bought at her local garden supply store.

3. Location, location, location

Kessler has a large collection of citrus trees that spend the winter in an unheated, glass-enclosed porch. Kessler and Dube both bring their trees outside from spring to fall. This year, Dube and her husband built an outdoor shelter to protect the fruit from birds.

The hut is constructed out of PVC pipe, bird netting and zip ties.

4. Water, water everywhere

Dube waters once a week during the winter, when the trees are semi-dormant. For 18-inch pots, she gives half a gallon of water. Trees in smaller pots get less. In the summer, when they’re outside, she waters every day, taking care to wait until late afternoon so the trees aren’t in direct sunlight. In extreme heat, she waters more than once a day.

Curled leaves are a sign that the plant needs more water.

5. Flowers and fruit

Conventional wisdom says indoor trees need help to pollinate their flowers because there are no insects around to do it. Dube sometimes pollinates her trees with a Q-Tip. But sometimes she lets the flowers fall off unpollinated in order to give the tree a rest from bearing fruit.

But Kessler stopped pollinating her trees years ago, and they somehow manage to produce fruit. “There’s no insect pollination going on — unless aphids pollinate,” she jokes.

Kessler’s favorite citrus trees are her Meyer lemons. They usually bloom in March, she takes them outside in May, and the fruit ripens over the summer. In a good year, she gets as many as 15 lemons on each tree, and harvests them during the winter as needed.

Dube’s first citrus tree was a calamondin orange, which produces tiny, sour fruit sometimes used in skin products. Dune squeezes the juice and freezes it, saving up until she has enough to make sorbet. “Each fruit probably gives us about one ounce of juice,” she says. “We have been patient and have a good-sized jug of juice in the freezer.”

Fruit drop is very common in potted trees, but Kessler says that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “They set way more fruit than they can support,” she says.

6. Common problems and their solutions

Kessler keeps an eye out for yellowed leaves, a sign her trees need more iron. She gives them a special chelated iron supplement that she buys at Logee’s Greenhouses in Connecticut, the same place she got most of her trees.

This year she had an aphid infestation while the trees were still indoors. An application of horticultural oil took care of it, but it was a messy, unpleasant task to spray the trees indoors.

“We’ve had some pretty ugly infestations of spider mites,” says Dube. She has also struggled with scale bugs, but the risk of both parasites is reduced by spraying the leaves down with water occasionally, and both can be eradicated with insecticidal soap.

The biggest danger in small-scale citrus growing is that it appears to be addictive. Both Kessler and Dube started about 15 years ago. They both coincidentally started with Calamondin orange trees. Now, listening to them rattle of their list of citrus trees is amusing. Kessler has two Meyer lemons, a key lime, a calamondin orange, a blood orange and several other trees that are mysteries. “The labels fell off,” she explains. “They’re sort of orangey.”

Dube, meanwhile, has branched out into other tropical fruit plants, including a pineapple, a dwarf pomegranate tree and a weeping fig.

You’ve been warned.



Growing citrus indoors

Growing and caring for your citrus plants

Growing citrus plants is not difficult if you can meet these requirements.

  • Citrus plants grow best indoors with 65° days, dropping five to ten degrees at night.
  • They need some direct sun for at least part of the day.
  • During the summer, put citrus plants outside to take advantage of better growing conditions and extra light.
    • Let the plants acclimate to sunny conditions by putting them in the shade of a tree or the north side of the house for the first several days.
    • Make sure they have plenty of direct light once they’re used to being outside.
    • Get them used to lower light at the end of the summer by keeping them in a shady place for a week or so before bringing them back indoors.

Use the right potting mix and fertilizer

  • Since citrus plants prefer acid conditions, use peat in the potting mix to help keep the pH down.
  • Use about one-third sterile potting soil, one-third perlite or vermiculite, and one-third peat or other organic matter in the potting mix.
  • Use a fertilizer made specially for acid-loving plants. Mix at half the recommended strength.
  • Fertilize the plant only when it is actively growing, usually April through August or September.

Watch for pests

  • Scale, whitefly and spider mites are some of the more common pests of citrus.
  • Make sure the leaves are kept clean by periodically washing them.
    • Pay special attention to the undersides as well as the tops of leaves.
  • To treat insects, check garden centers for products currently approved for use on houseplants.

Pollinate for fruit

You may have flowers, but still have difficulty getting fruit to form on your citrus plant. This may be due to lack of pollination.

Insects pollinate citrus outside. Since these are not usually present in the home, shake the flowers gently or flick them with your fingers to spread pollen from flower to flower.

Propagate new plants

Stem cuttings root easily.

  • Use new shoots which have been allowed to harden just a little. Hardened shoots have a little substance to them. Don’t use shoots that are still buttery soft.
  • Take cuttings in the spring or summer when the plants are growing most actively.
  • Root the cuttings in fresh potting mix, keeping them slightly moist.
  • Repot when new roots reach a length of one inch or so.
  • Seeds also grow quite easily, though they will usually not grow plants exactly like the parent.
    • Plants grown from seed seldom get large enough to flower and fruit.
    • Growing citrus from seeds is a good children’s project.
    • Using the same potting mix as you would for cuttings, place seeds about one-fourth inch below the surface of the mix.
    • Keep the potting soil moist.

edible trees & shrubs planting citrus trees Citrus trees (lemons, oranges, grapefruit etc..) require more care to plant than most other fruit trees as they are a little more sensitive to environmental conditions. On this page are some pointers to help you plant them.
Where to plant Citrus trees require hot Summers and relatively mild Winters to thrive. They can handle some frost in the Winter but do not like being exposed to wind. They also do better in light well drained soils.
The best place to plant a citrus tree is in a sunny but sheltered spot, such as on the North side of a house (South side in the Northern hemisphere). Having large shrubs or small trees either side will also help shelter it from the wind. Do not plant citrus trees in a boggy area as they don’t like wet roots.
When to plantCitrus trees are generally planted out in Spring after the threat of the last heavy frost has passed. But try not to leave it too late in the season as any young tree has difficulties establishing itself in hot weather.
How to plant
A. Dig hole and flood with water. Remove the tree from it’s pot and soak it in a bucket of water.

B. Fill the bottom of hole and place the tree in it so that the top of the pot bound section sits slightly above ground level,

C. Cover the base of the tree with sand and the rest of the ground with mulch.

If you have heavy clay soils then plant the tree virtually on top of the ground and mound your compost, soil and sand mix around it. A. Dig a hole twice as wide as the pot the tree is in and one and a half times it’s depth and flood the hole with water.
Tap the side of the citrus tree’s pot to loosen the roots. Gently remove it from the pot and stand it in a bucket of water. It’s best to do this about an hour before you plant it to allow the roots to get a thorough soaking.
B. Mix some of the soil removed from the hole with sand and compost. You can also add a small amount of manure or blood and bone but not too much as there is a risk of burning the roots.
Fill the bottom of the hole with this sand/soil/compost mixture. Remove the tree from the bucket, tease out it’s roots with your fingers and place it in the hole so that the top section sits about 5cm (2 inches) above the level of the ground.
Fill the rest of the hole with the remaining sand/soil/compost mixture to ground level.
E. Place pure sand around the base of the trunk. This is to reduce the risk of collar rot which can occur if you run mulch right up to the trunk.
Cover the rest of the ground with mulch. Drive a stake into the ground next to the tree and tie it. Give the mound a thorough watering to make sure that the roots are not exposed to any air pockets.
Planting in heavy clay soilIf you have heavy clay soil or ground that is prone to being wet then consider planting the tree virtually on top of the ground.
The same steps are taken as above except the potted section only just sits in the ground a little way and the sand/soil/compost mixture is mounded up around the sides. The tree can even be placed right on top of the ground if the clay soil is very heavy.
The main disadvantage of this method is that the tree is more prone to falling over in high winds as a mounded tree takes longer to establish roots strong enough to withstand such winds. If you use this method then it might be worthwhile staking the tree with two or more stakes for extra strength.
It may also be worthwhile laying out agricultural drainage pipe to let excess water drain away.
Post planting careWater the tree regularly for at least six weeks after planting. Applications of some liquid manure will also help. Citrus trees are shallow rooted, so try not to cultivate the ground under the tree and don’t plant any ground cover near it.
Once established citrus trees can get by quite well without fertilisers but, of course, they will do better if some is applied. I usually give mine a couple of spadefuls of chook manure each year.
extra protectionIf your area is marginal for Citrus then consider building a temporary frame with plastic over the top and on at least two sides to give your Citrus tree extra protection for the first couple of years. This is especially worth while doing if you have heavy frosts in Winter or your trees will be exposed to high winds. Once a Citrus tree is mature it can withstand much tougher conditions.

How to Grow a Clementine Tree in Your House

Clementines are so good and very healthy too. Clementines contain large amounts of vitamin C, so they will be your best friends when fighting the flu in winter. Did you know that you can grow your own clementine tree by following a few simple steps? Don’t worry if you don’t have a garden, as you can grow clementine trees inside your home as they favor the inside temperature. Choose trees that are labeled as dwarf or semi-dwarf as they are most suitable for indoors. The clementine tree will need constant sunlight to grow, so make sure you place it near a window or in a spot where it can get enough sunlight over the day. Also, keep in mind that the soil of the tree needs to be watered regularly, as it prefers a moist soil, but always remove the extra water from the tray. Learn more about what it means to grow a clementine tree and what exactly you need to grow it…

You’ll Need:

20-inch planter pot
Potting soil
Slow-release citrus fertilizer
Watering can
Pruning shears

Step 1:
Plant Clementine in a 20-inch diameter container. Select a container with bottom drainage. Use a well-draining potting soil rich in organic matter, and plant the tree so that the graft union, or raised knot on the lower trunk, is just above the soil surface in the pot.

Step 2:
Set the tree near a window that receives full, all-day sunlight.

Step 3:
Feel the soil in the pot daily, and water when the top 1 inch begins to feel dry. Pour water onto the soil with a watering can just until the excess begins to drain from the bottom of the pot.

Step 4:
Fertilize indoor potted Clementines year-round with a fertilizer formulated for citrus. What type of fertilizer should you use? Citrus fertilizers are available in a variety of forms. Granular is the most popular and is easy to apply.

Step 5:
Remove all suckers that grow along the trunk. Use a pruning shears. Cut off broken or dead branches any time.

other details here….

Tags: citrus fertilizer, Clementine Tree, how to grow, Potting Soil, Pruning shears, Watering can

Successfully Cultivating a Clementine Tree

Citrus has a certain nostalgic effect, with the fruit associated with both sunny skies and cozy Christmases. Just a few generations ago, access to citrus fruits was a novelty for people in colder climates, but lemons, oranges, and the delightful clementine are standard fare in lunch boxes and kitchens across America today. In addition, more and more hobby growers are taking a second look at citrus. Trees like the clementine are easier to care for than you might think, and there’s nothing quite like picking fresh citrus from backyard branches.

What is a Clementine?

Clementines belong to the mandarin orange family. They are small, sweet, lunch-box friendly fruits that peel easily for on-the-go enjoyment. The variety is sometimes referred to as a “Christmas orange” because they are in season right around the holidays and many people purchase them as a seasonal treat. Clementines are very similar to tangerines, with a bright, fresh flavor in a pleasingly poppable package.

Growing a Clementine Tree

Citrus gets a bit of a bad rap as being difficult to grow. Many home gardeners completely write off citrus trees as too cold sensitive. Though the clementine tree is considered a warm-weather-loving plant, they can be cared for in a warm environment. These fun fruits are ideal for USDA hardiness zones 9-11, they can actually do very well in greenhouses and in pots where moving them out of the weather is possible.
For growing zones 9-11 The Clementine’s ability to bear fruit consistently is greatly hindered by unexpected frosts during blossoming, so container planting is recommended if you try to nurture clementines in less than ideal climates.

Keeping Clementines Happy

When planted outdoors in a sunny climate, clementine trees resemble a standard dwarf fruit tree in size. However, container planting keeps them manageable as the tree can’t outgrow the root structure in the container, and most will resemble a shrub or bush in their dimensions. A clementine tree in a container should always have sufficient drainage to avoid bogging down the roots, and it will do best when exposed to full sunlight as much as possible. In fact, it’s ideal if you can move the tree outdoors when the weather is mild, only bringing it inside when temperatures dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

The clementine tree is perfect for budding citrus growers, as it is more forgiving than other varieties and can survive challenging growing conditions and inexperienced husbandry. With proper care and smart management, most people can successfully cultivate clementines in a temperature-regulated growing space or container, or, if you’re lucky enough to live where it’s warm, right in your own backyard. If you’re interested in growing a clementine tree yourself, take a look at our website, as we offer many trees for you at great prices.

Citrus Tree Houseplant Care: How To Grow Citrus Indoors

If you have ever seen a citrus tree, you may have admired the lovely shiny, dark green foliage and inhaled the fragrant blossoms. Maybe the climate you live in makes growing an outdoor specimen incomprehensible. Perhaps you thought to yourself, “I wonder if it is possible to grow indoor citrus trees?” Let’s find out.

Citrus Plants for the Home

Growing citrus houseplants is not only possible, but will add a refreshing aroma when in flower as well as being a decorative addition, with the added benefit of a potential fruit harvest. While many varieties of commercially grown citrus are too large to be grown inside, there are several suitable cultivars of citrus plants for the home gardener, such as dwarf varieties. The following all make wonderful indoor citrus trees:

  • Small, sour Calamondin orange
  • Tahitian orange (Otaheite orange), which is a dwarf cross between a lemon and tangerine
  • Tangerine
  • Satsuma, which is actually a type of tangerine and smells fabulous
  • Kumquat
  • Lemon, especially ‘Ponderosa’ and ‘Meyer’ lemons
  • Lime

Although citrus may be grown from seed, it does not generally yield plants that are replicas of the parent, and the tree will seldom flower and fruit. Still, it is a fun project. If you really desire the juicy citrus fruit, purchase starts from a nursery.

How to Grow Citrus Indoors

Now that you have chosen the particular cultivar of citrus plant for home growing, you’re probably wondering, “How do I grow a citrus indoors?” Growing citrus houseplants is really not all that difficult; however, getting them to bear fruit is another matter. The best way to think of growing citrus indoors is to consider it a lovely houseplant which may, with luck, produce fruit.

Citrus grow best indoors at 65 degrees F. (18 C.) during the day, dropping 5-10 degrees at night. The tree will adapt to lower light conditions, but if you are after fruit production, the citrus needs direct sunlight (five to six hours a day).

Plant the citrus tree in soil with a considerable amount of organics such as leaf mold, peat moss (Use peat in the soil mix to keep the pH down) or compost. A mix of one-third sterile potting soil, one-third peat and one-third organic matter works well.

Relative humidity is an important factor in the growth of citrus. Running a humidifier during the winter and placing the plant atop pebble trays will raise the relative humidity.

Citrus Tree Houseplant Care

Water your citrus tree similarly to any houseplant. Water in thoroughly at intervals and allow the soil to dry out between watering.

Citrus tree houseplant care also requires fertilization, especially if you want it to flower and set fruit. Use a formula made for acid-loving plants at half the recommended strength, only when the citrus is actively growing from April through August or September.

If this tender loving care results in flowers, they may not develop fully into fruit. This is probably due to lack of pollination, which you can assist with. Shake, flick, or brush with a cotton swab or artist paintbrush gently to distribute the pollen from flower to flower and encourage fruiting. Additionally, moving the plant outdoors to a sunny, protected area will stimulate blooming.

When pollination is a success, fruit will develop and take a few weeks to ripen. It is fairly common for smaller, young fruit to drop off shortly after formation due to ineffective pollination or less than desirous environmental conditions.

Indoor citrus trees are relatively devoid of most pests; however, scale, whitefly and spider mites may come calling. Wash the foliage periodically to deter these insects, paying careful attention to the underside of the leaf. Serious infestations may require an insecticide, like neem oil. Consult with a nursery or garden center for a recommendation and proper use. Infestations or disease are more likely to occur if the tree is over watered, has poor drainage, increased salinity of the soil or a lack of nutrients – usually nitrogen.

Vigilant care of your citrus will reward you with year round aromatic blossoms and, fingers crossed, fruit.

How to Grow Citrus in Pots Indoors

Planting Your Citrus Tree

To plant your tree, first prepare the roots. If the tree is in soil, loosen the root ball. If bare-root, spread the roots, and trim any dead or broken roots. Mix the packing shavings into your soil mix. Put a few inches of soil in the bottom of the pot. Don’t add stones or any material to the bottom of the pot for drainage purposes. Set the tree into the pot, leaving the trunk and the graft line above the top of the soil. The graft line is a slanted scar on the trunk of the tree, usually 4 to 8 inches above the roots.

Add soil to the pot, making sure not to leave air pockets. Watering halfway through the fill will help settle the soil around the roots. Leave a few inches at the top of the pot to make watering easier. Mulch the top of the soil with more hardwood chips or shavings.

A southwest-facing window or sunroom away from frequently opened doors is ideal. Citrus thrives on eight hours of sunlight per day. Some people use grow lights in the shorter winter days, but this is unnecessary if your tree gets a lot of window light.

Watering and Feeding Citrus

Consistent watering is the most critical part of citrus care — too much or too little can kill your tree. Infrequent deep watering is better than regular shallow watering. Wait until the soil is dry 4 to 6 inches below the surface. A soil moisture tester (available at garden centers) is excellent for determining when to water. You can also use a dowel or chopstick to read moisture. Simply insert the wooden rod into the soil, extract it, and feel for the depth at which the wood is moist.

Water the tree 1/4 to 1/2 gallon per week. Never allow the soil in the container to become bone-dry. Citrus also hates wet feet, so place a drainage pan underneath the container that will lift the pot above any standing water.

If the tree leaves are wilted but perk up after watering, you waited too long to water. If the leaves yellow and cup, you’re watering too frequently. Adjust watering for time of year and temperature.

Citrus trees feed heavily on nitrogen. Every few months, they’ll need a small dose of a slow release fertilizer or compost. Choose an organic fertilizer that has NPK (nitrogen – phosphorus – potassium) rates of 2-1-1 or 3-1-1 and contains trace minerals such as iron, magnesium, zinc, and manganese. Follow the rates listed on the package. A fish emulsion with kelp or compost tea is another option. A light application of compost can also be scratched into the soil surface inside the container.

Pruning for Health

A dwarf citrus tree can grow to a height of 6 to 12 feet, but can be pruned to a manageable size. You’ll want to prune branches for shape and balance as your tree grows. Trim off any leggy branches. Any suckers that sprout below the graft should also be removed.


When temperatures permit, your indoor citrus plant can live outdoors. Temperatures must be over 50 degrees Fahrenheit, with the ideal range falling between 65 and 85 degrees. To transition your tree to outdoor living, move it outside for 2 to 4 hours each day for one week before leaving it outside during the warm season. Cloudy weather is ideal for growing dwarf citrus outdoors. Place your pot in a sheltered sunny area that’s protected from wind. Pay close attention to soil moisture and adjust your watering schedule accordingly for this new climate.

Citrus Pest Control

Citrus can get aphids, mites, and scale insects. Watch for sticky spots or signs of insects on the leaves. A household spray bottle filled with water and 1 tablespoon of mild dish soap will rid your tree of most pests. Scale can be removed with a cotton ball or swab soaked with rubbing alcohol. Orange TKO, an organic citrus-based cleaner, is especially effective against mites. Neem oil also works against citrus pests.

The rewards come readily. Citrus trees bear early. A light fruit set can be expected in the second year of growth, and significant yields by years four to six.

Ripe fruit doesn’t drop quickly from the tree, which allows you to spread out your harvest over several months. Many trees will set fruit in spring and again in fall. The winter blooms will fill your house with their delicious scent.

Citrus Sources

Stark Bro’s Nurseries and Orchards
Four Winds Growers

Use your fresh lemon juice in this creamy Meyer Lemon Ricotta Recipe.

Roberta Bailey is a long-time organic gardener who raises and tests seed crops for Fedco Seeds, a worker/consumer-owned cooperative in Maine.


Growing citrus indoors is possible and can be a beautiful element to add to the home. Though Southern California has the ideal climate to grow the citrus trees outdoors, there are several cultivars that are suitable for growing indoors. Lemons or limes are usually the best ones to place inside, but other dwarf varieties of citrus work well too.

Meyer or Ponderosa lemons which are both dwarfs grow nicely in containers. Tangerines, such as a Satsuma (has a lovely aroma), Meiwa kumquat, Kaffir limes, Tahitian orange and Calamondin orange also do nicely indoors.

It’s not all that difficult to grow the plants inside a home. And though the blooms require all the right conditions, when the citrus does flower, the aroma is simply delightful and worth the effort in taking sweet care of the plant.

Citrus grow best indoors at 65 to 75 degrees during the day, to no lower than 55 degrees at night. For fruit production, the citrus needs 5 – 6 hours a day of sunlight. It likes some humidity and is an important factor in the growth of the tree. If indoors where an air conditioner runs, use a humidifier around the plant to make it happy. Or place the citrus plant on top of a tray filled with pebbles with water to raise the relative humidity of the area. You can also mist daily to give it the humidity it loves.

The tree needs to be planted in soil with lots of organics such as peat moss or compost which will keep the soil pH down and give it adequate drainage. You can make your own soil by mixing 1/3 sterile potting soil, 1/3 peat, and 1/3 organic matter for the citrus tree. Plant in a container that is only 2” larger than the root ball.

Regular and consistent watering is necessary. Allow the top 2” of the soil to dry out before re-watering. If the container is allowed to dry out completely, the leaves of the plants will fall off. The citrus also requires fertilization in order to flower and set fruit. A formula made for acid-loving plants at half the recommended strength is needed when the citrus is actively growing, usually between April through September. Or use a slow release fertilizer to make sure it gets consistent nutrients during those months.

The citrus may not always produce flowers, but if they do, in order for fruit to set you will probably need to help the pollination along. Gently shake the flowering branches or use a cotton swab to distribute the pollen from flower to flower. Sometimes moving the plant outdoors temporarily to a sunny, protected area will stimulate blooming.

There is something incredibly cheerful of having a citrus plant indoors. The wonderful subtle scent of its blossoms and the gorgeous contrast of the deep green foliage with its orange or yellow fruits is stunning and worth the little bit of care it takes to keep one.

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