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Citrus trees are fun and easy to grow—if you give them what they need.
Pick a window that gets six or more hours of direct sunlight. An unobstructed south window is best—no sheer curtains, blinds, tinted glass or overhang, and no trees outside. Because winter sun is weak and days are short, during long cloudy stretches, you might want to supplement with a grow light.
A daily misting will help. Remember, the purpose of misting is to fog, not rain. Don’t mist so heavily that it drips all over the floor. Mist lightly in the air over the top of the plant so that tiny droplets just settle on the foliage.
Fertilize three times over the season—late winter, the beginning of summer, and late summer—think Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day. I use Espoma Organiz Citrus-tone. Citrus fertilizers usually contain more nitrogen, because citrus seems to need a heavier dose. They also need magnesium, so a good citrus formula should contain both nitrogen and magnesium.
When you water any citrus, water until water seeps out the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. DO NOT allow a citrus plant to sit in water for more than 10 or 15 minutes. When watering in the winter, remember tap water is COLD. Use room temperature or tepid water. Always allow the soil to dry out as far down as you can check it with your finger without letting the soil go so dry that the leaves begin to curl.
While citrus is self-pollinating, you’ll still want to hand-pollinate flowers when they bloom indoors. You’ll get more fruit set. You can use a small paintbrush for this. Dab it gently in the middle of the flower and wiggle it around, then move to the next flower.
Speaking of fruit set, citrus often set more fruit than they can realistically support so might end up dropping as much as a third of what they set. Any dramatic shocks (over/under watering, bringing inside for the winter) can cause more fruit drop. Also—it can take those tiny little citrus fruits six to eight months to mature.
When possible, move citrus trees outside for the summer—around the first week of May. When you move your tree outside, place it under a tree in dappled sun before moving it to full sun. Bring it in when night temperatures are falling just below 40 in the fall. In the fall, you can help avoid shock by moving it back into the dappled sun for a couple of weeks before moving it back inside.
Citrus are beautiful with fragrant flowers and healthy delicious fruit—and we have a good selection right now.
Want to learn more about growing citrus like a pro?
Attend the FREE seminar on growing citrus this coming Saturday, February 29th at the Great Big Greenhouse starting at 10:00 am.