Grow Your Own Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits. such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, and tangerines, are subtropical and can be grown outdoors in USDA Hardiness zones 8-11. For gardeners dreaming of their own citrus in northern climates, you may grow these tender shrubs in pots, bringing them inside when cold weather approaches.
9 Top Tips for Growing Citrus Successfully:
- Citrus plants do best in slightly acidic, well drained, loamy soil
- Plant standard trees 15-20 feet apart
- Plant dwarf trees 8-12 feet apart
- Most citrus are self pollinating, you only need one
- Most citrus will begin fruiting in 3-7 years, be patient
- Fertilize with a 5-5-5 fertilizer until plant begins to bear, then switch to a citrus fertilizer for fruiting
- Citrus are heavy feeders, watch for signs of deficiencies
- Do not mulch around base of trunk
- Protect citrus from frost
10 Tips for Potted Citrus:
- Choose a deep pot with drainage holes in the bottom
- Use quality potting medium that drains well
- Plant dwarf varieties
- Watch for spider mites, aphids, and scale – treat with horticultural oil
- Keep citrus plants indoors next to a sunny window in winter
- Move plants outside after danger of frost in spring
- Gradually move plants to sunnier spots to acclimate them
- Potted citrus trees can dry out quickly in hot weather, check them often
- Be patient, potted citrus plants may take several years to bear fruit
- Potted citrus plants do not produce large quantities of fruit
Even if you don’t live in the orange belt, or have potted lemons and limes in your living room, you can still enjoy these tasty treats from the grocery store.
4 Tips for Choosing the Best Citrus:
- Oranges and grapefruit should feel firm and heavy for their size
- Lemons and limes should give a little bit when pressed with your thumb (these have less pith and more juice)
- Fruit that is more aromatic will have more flavor
- Avoid blemishes, soft spots, off odors, or moldy spots
7 Tips for Using Your Citrus:
- Juice for drinking, flavoring foods, and making smoothies, sauces, and salad dressings
- Make candied citrus slices or peels for storage
- Grate, zest, or slice into foods and beverages
- Make jam and marmalade
- Squeeze and freeze in ice cube trays to add to drinks or recipes
- Can citrus sections and juice
- Refrigerate – most citrus will store in the refrigerator for several weeks
Do you grow citrus fruits? What is your favorite variety?
In addition to writing for her own websites, Lisa has contributed articles to The Prepper Project and Homestead.org.
The author lives outside of Chicago with her husband, son, 2 dogs, 1 cat, and a variety of poultry.