It may be kind of dreary, dark and damp outside, so what better time than now to learn how to grow vibrant citrus trees indoors! Did you know you could harvest delicious, sun-kissed fruit – think lemons, limes and oranges – right in your home during cold-weather months? All you need is the right space, a big enough container, and a little know-how. Before you know it, you’ll be picking fresh fruit off your tree that’s perfect for jam or dessert!
For your homegrown citrus tree, choose a dwarf variety of Meyer or Ponderosa lemons, kaffir lime, Tahitian orange, Satsuma, which is a type of tangerine, or calamondin orange. You’ll want a plant that produces blossoms and fruit quickly, so that means buying a two or three-year-old tree from a quality nursery.
Make sure your container has good drainage; you can use ceramic, clay or plastic pots, as long as they’re a bit bigger than the tree’s root ball. A deep pot will help balance your tree once the fruit makes it top-heavy. Place some pebbles at the bottom, then fill your container with well-drained, slightly acidic potting mix or soil made especially for citrus trees.
A south-facing window that allows your tree to get between eight and 12 hours of direct sunlight is essential. Otherwise, you’ll need to set up a growing light. Keep the room at about 65 degrees, and protect your tree from intense heat or drafts during the winter. Water regularly and fertilize every three weeks with a formula for acid-loving plants, and at half the recommended strength. Because citrus trees love moist air, spritz the leaves with water or set up a humidifier nearby to keep foliage from drying out. These trees will fill your home with refreshing fragrance!
Sometimes your tree might need a little help to pollinate its flowers, since you don’t have insects flying around your house! You can take a swab and rub the flowers to spread the pollen, which will encourage fruit.
Once spring hits, you can start putting your tree outside for short periods until there’s no more threat of frost. Most lemons and limes ripen within six to nine months, and oranges take up to a year. If you push on the rind and it’s a bit soft, it’s ready to pick and enjoy!
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