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 plants 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
- Most citrus are self-pollinating, you only need one
- Plant standard trees 15-20 feet apart
- Plant dwarf trees 8-12 feet apart
- Most citrus will begin fruiting in 3-7 years, be patient
- Fertilize with a 5-5-5 fertilizer until the 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 the base of the trunk
- Protect citrus from frost
10 Tips for Potted Citrus:
- Choose a deep pot with drainage holes in the bottom
- Use a 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
Using Citrus Fruits
Even if you don’t live in the orange belt, you can still enjoy these tasty treats from the grocery store.
4 Tips for Choosing the Best Citrus Fruits:
- 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
Try making Cranberry-Orange Marmalade!
Do you grow citrus fruits? What is your favorite variety? Leave a comment!