How To Grow Citrus Indoors

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For thousands of years, kings and farmers have cultivated the much appreciated citrus tree. It is believed that citrus originated in theKashmirfoothills and found its way toChinamore than 3,000 years ago. While most citrus is grown outdoors in warm climate areas, it does have a history of being grown indoors. The Romans grew lemon trees in greenhouses. Louis XIV built the built the first Orangerie at the Palace of the Louvre in 1617 so that he could enjoy the scent of orange blossoms year round. With careful planning, it is easy to grow citrus trees indoors.

The Best Citrus for Container Growing

Citrus trees make an attractive indoor plant. The trees are full of lush green leaves all year round and produce sweet smelling blossoms. Some varieties produce flowers are fruit all year long.

There are several varieties of citrus that are suitable to grow indoors. For best results, choose dwarf varieties. These plants remain small which makes it easier to move the plant outdoors when the weather is warm. Dwarf trees also produce fewer fruit than full sized trees. With a small plant and fewer fruits, it is possible to grow multiple citrus trees. Here are a few more tips for selecting a citrus tree:

  • Purchase a tree that is at least two years old.
  • Select dwarf trees that are grafted onto a dwarf rootstock.

Here are a few citrus trees that are recommended for indoor gardens:

  • Calamondin orange – produces small tart fruits that are a cross between a kumquat and a sour mandarin orange. It is a slow grower reaching 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. With adequate light, the plant will flower twice each year.
  • Otaheite orange – this is a cross between a lemon and a tangerine.
  • Meyer lemon – produces fruit year-round without needed high heat. It is a slow growing plant that may live up to 60 years.
  • Ponderosa lemon – produces a small amount of large size fruit that is perfect for juicing. It has a thick rind and can be stored in the refrigerator for a long period of time.
  • Meiwa kumquat – produce an abundance of small sweet fruit. There are also hybrids of kumquats and other fruits. Limequats and orangequats make interesting additions to a citrus collection.
  • Satsuma orange – produce an abundance of fragrant flowers.
  • Some unusual citrus include the Variegated Pink lemon, Trovita orange, Oro Blanco grapefruit, Washington Navel orange, Moro Blood orange, Rangpur lime, and Buddha’s Hand

how to grow citrus indoors how to grow citrus indoors

Planting A Container Grow Citrus

Citrus trees that are grown indoors require bright, direct sunlight for most of the day. The plants also must be kept warm and provided with a high amount of humidity. The plants will perform best when the room temperature is kept between 55 and 80 degrees. Here are some guidelines for planting a container grown citrus tree:

  • Select a container that is at least 15 inches across, 24 inches tall and has drainage holes.
  • Use a lightweight potting mix that drains well and contains organic matter such as leaf mold, peat moss or compost.
  • Put the plant in a sunroom or a bright south-facing window where it will receive 8 to 12 hours of light per day.
  • Choose a location that has easy access to the outdoors if the tree will be moved in warmer weather.
  • Place where the plant will receive good air circulation.
  • Consider placing the container on casters to make it easy to move the plant.

Caring for Indoor Citrus Trees

Citrus trees that are kept indoors all year round are rarely susceptible to pests and rarely require pruning. Pests such as aphids, mealybugs, scale, spider mites and whiteflies can be removed by spraying a mixture of 1 tablespoon mild dishwashing soap and 1 quart of water on the leaves. Indoor citrus should only be pruned if the plants begin to look leggy. To keep the plant bushy, cut off the tips of the branches in the spring.

Container grown citrus trees require moist but not soggy soil. Under most conditions, a potted citrus needs between 1/4 and 1/2 gallon of water every 5 to 7 days. Do not let the soil become completely dry.

Humidity is important to citrus trees. Here are a few ways to create more humidity around the plants:

  • Place the container on top of a tray filled with pebbles. Add water to the tray but do not allow the container to sit in the water.
  • Use a humidifier around plants.
  • Arrange bowls of water around the plants. The water will evaporate and raise the humidity level.

Indoor grown citrus must be hand pollinated in order for the plant to bear fruit. All you’ll need is a cotton swab or a small paintbrush. When the plant produces flowers, gently dust the stamen of each flower. This will spread the pollen from flower to flower.

Citrus trees are a awe-inspiring addition to any sunny room in a home. Not only are the plants attractive but their pleasant citrus smell freshens any room. It is easy to grow a healthy and productive citrus tree in your home. With proper care, adequate light and consistent watering, a citrus tree will produce for many years.

Last Updated: May 23, 2012
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About Coletta Teske Coletta Teske has 25 years' experience in tech journalism, as well as home and gardening topics. She has freelanced for Fortune 500 companies such as Boeing and Microsoft, published more than two dozen computer books for Prima Publishing and Macmillan, and worked as a freelance correspondent for West Hawaii Today. Coletta has been an avid gardener since she was 2 years old. While living in Hawaii, she achieved a lifelong dream of becoming a certified master gardener.

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