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!
Citrus Variety Information Chart
So inspiring, Jo! I’m determined to grow a lemon tree indoors here in the subarctic. Thanks for sharing at The Homestead Blog Hop!
Living in Central Florida we grow oranges, nectarines, and red grapefruit. I also grow parsley and kale at the base of the trees to add nutrients to the soil and to keep water from eroding the soil. Great tips!
Thanks for sharing your tips, Annie! Great ideas!
I have 2 dwarf lime trees. They were both bearing fruit when purchased. They froze one winter in my little unheated greenhouse. They both eventually came back. They have nice greenery, but haven’t been blooming or producing fruit. What do I need to do to get them back in fruit? Best food for dwarf lime trees? Thanks!
I’m sorry to hear about the damage to your lime trees. A lot of citrus trees are grafted onto a rootstock that is hardier or produces a dwarf tree. I wonder if your trees froze down to the rootstock…if so, you may not get the same quality of fruit or you may not get fruit again for many years. If not, it could take several years for the tree to recover.
In the meantime, use a fertilizer for citrus fruits that is formulated for fruiting to see if that stimulates fruit production. Generally, these fertilizers will have a higher middle number, such as 5-8-5
Best wishes with your limes!
Citrus actually grows pretty well in north Texas. I have Meyers lemon, key limes, and satsumas. Even if a cold snap or an unforeseen grasshopper attack strikes my trees, they are extremely forgiving. I grow mine in pots too. I’m still picking lemons and satsumas in December.
That’s wonderful, Maria! I have had lemons in pots and I would like to have limes too. 🙂
Thanks for sharing!
Hello again Lisa,
I live in zone7, but planted my citrus in pots. I brought my standard grapefruit, lemon, lime, and orange trees with my from my old zone 8 homestead. While I planted standard trees, I simply cut the central branch at 5′ and trimmed it vigorously into the shape I wanted into a patio sized tree. The next year’s harvest was poor, but it bounced back the following year. Now I get the best of both a dwarf tree and standard harvest.
Great info, Jo! I’m so glad you were able to keep your trees! Thank you for sharing this tip with us!