We’ve been growing citrus for about 10 years and they grow quite easily in our climate. However, citrus can also be grown in pots and even indoors. Meyer lemons and satsuma oranges are great for growing citrus indoors.
For the most part, all citrus has the same growing requirements. Of course, some citrus varieties are more cold hardy than others and some citrus will grow better in containers than others, but they all need the following…
- Citrus needs lots of sunlight and warmth
- However, they can also be grown indoors if put near a window to give lots of light, esp. during the summer
- Citrus are self-fertile – so you only need one tree
- Citrus like a slightly acidic soil – 6.0 – 7.0 on the ph scale
- If planting in pots use a soil specially formulated for citrus
- Water frequently, esp. during summer. If in a pot, soak the soil and then let it dry out before watering again.
- Citrus is a heavy feeder and needs nitrogen. You can buy specially formulated fertilizers if you want. I don’t use fertilizers but we do use blood meal (from butchering animals), urine, and compost to feed our citrus trees. (Do not use urine if you are taking any kind of medication!) If you have young boys or grandsons, they will probably be thrilled to help you out.
- Thin the fruit if the tree becomes too heavy – we’ve never done this but it is advised.
How Cold Hardy are Citrus Trees?
Like many things in life, there is the quick and answer to this question and the long, more thorough answer. Let’s give the quick answer first. According to Texas A&M Horticulture…
Citrons, lemons and limes are cold hardy to the high 20s
Sweet oranges and grapefruit are cold hardy to the mid 20s
Tangerines and mandarins are cold hardy to the low 20s
Kumquat and satsuma are cold hardy to 20F
These numbers are for mature trees, not young trees. They are also numbers for survival not thriving.
There are many variables that will have a bearing on these numbers. For instance, how long will these temperatures last? If it’s for just an hour or so, the tree will be fine. If it’s 12 hours the tree might not make it.
Depending on the tree, the outer branches may be damaged but the interior branches might be fine.
If there’s fruit on the tree, it will be less cold hardy than if it’s dormant.
For the most part, I err on the side of caution and cover my citrus trees when the temperature is supposed to dip into the 20s. That being said, I once didn’t cover them and it snowed! Yes, it snowed! And most of the trees survived, although they didn’t produce much that next year.
Pests of citrus
So far we’ve haven’t had any trouble with the citrus. Some of the orange leaves are turning brown, but I think it’s just from the heat and lack of water. I’ve been watering twice a week but I will now be watering every other day for a while. I think our fruit is on the small side but again I think its due to the drought issue.
One of my favorite books on growing citrus is Grow Fruit by Alan Buckingham