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Indoor Citrus Plants and Trees

Growing citrus trees in your home not only adds lovely decor and provides fruit for the kitchen, they freshen the air too!  The trees have glossy foliage and pretty white flowers that fill your room with a sweet fragrance. 

Citrus trees are tropical plants and like the sun, so they need to be placed in the brightest area of your home. They don't like big changes in temperature and need to be kept away from drafty windows or heating vents. When the nights turn warm, usually by late spring or early summer, you can move your tree outside to a sunny location (be sure to acclimate your plant before doing so.)

How to grow and care for your citrus tree

Potting

  • When choosing your pot, the size is important. Citrus plants like to be slightly root-bound, so choose a container that's on the smaller size. Approximately 30" deep and wide is ideal.
  • Choosing a pot with good depth will also help to balance the tree when it grows and becomes top-heavy.
  • Drainage is very important. Ensure your container has good drainage holes, ideally with a saucer underneath.
  • The roots don't like to sit in water and are susceptible to root rot.
  • Since citrus trees can be moved outside during warmer months, make sure you choose a pot that will be easy to move around the house and yard.

Soil

  • Use a good quality potting soil that provides good drainage.
  • Never use regular garden soil as it is too dense and water drains too slowly. 

Lighting

  • The key to success with citrus trees is bright light. 
  • Place indoors in a well-lit, southern exposure where it will receive direct sunlight.

Moving Outdoors

  • If desired, you can move your tree outside in the summer time while the weather is warm, but bring it indoors when outdoor temperatures start to cool off in the fall months. 
  • It's very important that you make the transition outside gradual to avoid shock and scorched leaves.
  • On the first day, place your tree in a location with bright but indirect sunlight and protected from wind. Closely monitor your tree and only allow it to receive one hour of direct sunlight on the first day. 
  • Continue moving your tree into and out of direct sun each day, adding one hour every second day.
  • Keep doing this until the tree receives eight hours of direct sunlight each day.  Water the tree well while outdoors, as the soil may dry out quicker with the elements.
  • When temperatures begin to cool, slowly reverse the process well before the first anticipated frost date.

Watering

  • Citrus trees need extra water when in bloom and fruiting. 
  • Water only when the surface of the soil is dry to a depth of approximately 3", and let the water run through until it drains into the saucer.  Always empty excess water from the saucer as the roots should never be waterlogged. 
  • Let the soil dry longer between waterings during the winter months when growth is slow
  • If the leaves of your citrus plant start to discolour and drop off, this is a sign of overwatering.
  • To keep your plant healthy, it's important to mist the foliage every couple of weeks as they like a high humidity.

Fertilizing

  • To help your tree flower and set fruit, fertilizing is important.
  • From spring to summer, feed your tree every three weeks with a high-nitrogen fertilizer made for citrus (you can substitute with a tomato and vegetable formula).
  • Feed half as often in fall and winter.

Pollination

  • Some citrus trees self-pollinate, but others do not. 
  • If your variety does not and you're keeping your tree indoors, you can pollinate with a paintbrush, cotton swab, or pipe cleaner. Gather pollen from one flower and then transfer it to another. Continue doing this until you have pollinated most of the flowers on your tree.

Harvesting

  • Citrus fruits only ripen on the tree, so pick when the fruit has reached its full colour.
  • You can also test ripeness by applying a little bit of pressure to the rind, and if it slightly softens then your fruit is ready to pick.

For More Information

Interested in citrus trees? Art's Nursery sells a selection of lemon, lime, and orange trees. Come on in and talk to our knowledgeable staff. If you’re making a special trip, please call ahead to confirm availability 604.882.1201.

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