21.9.10

Citrus in Containers--An Easy Way to Enjoy Citrus in Small Spaces

'Pondersoa' lemon tree with 1 pound fruits
Florida is legendary for its citrus growing areas, especially the famous Indian River area. Decades ago, when the climate was cooler than it is now and there was far less development, citrus trees were in almost every yard and farm. With intense development and far less land per household, citrus growing isn't the sport and craft it used to be. There is still hope, though, for growing citrus in small spaces. In the same fashion that there are dwarf mango and dwarf avocado varieties, there are dwarf citrus or "small statured" varieties.
You can grow full sized citrus in pots, too, but you need really large pots ( over 36" diameter).

Calamondin Dwarf Citrus

One of the most prolific and rewarding container citrus varieties is 'Calamondin'. This variety is frequently sold in garden centers across the country, especially in early Spring. 'Pondersoa' and 'Meyer' are stalwart varieties which produce huge fruit on small trees. There are several varieties of kumquats, including some hybrids using other citrus as parents, resulting in plants with curious names like Limequat, Citrusquat, and Lemonquat. Kumquats are used as parents since the trees are fairly small, bear profuse fruit, and in some cases, the fruits are edible, skin and all.

Citrus need excellent water drainage so the roots won't rot. In Florida, there are citrus varieties for every part of the state, and as well for every type of soil. In almost every case, citrus need lots of light and good soil drainage.
A good sunny window, cactus potting soil, and some attention to regular fertilizing will produce a healthy tree with heavenly-sweet flowers. Some bonsai growers use citrus as their subjects, so check out a local bonsai show
                                                                         
for sources for growing citrus in containers. If you have the space, try growing some of the mid-size grafted citrus varieties, such as some of the tangerines or mandarins. Citrus like a lot of light and are quite suitable for conservatories, enclosed pool areas, and picture windows.

If grown indoors, citrus can have problems with spider mites or other insects on the leaves. Insecticidal soap works well, as do a number of organic pesticides, just remember to use contact pesticide products, not systemic ones. Fertilizing every 6 months with a balanced fertilizer like Dynamite 13-13-13 controlled-release or Osmocote 14-14-14 will give the tree the steady fertilizing it needs without overfertilizing it.

A little routine attention for your citrus yields a robust tree with one of the best flower fragrances in the plant world. One of my favorite memories as a kid growing up in Milwaukee was tending to my Mom's lemon tree indoors, smelling the flowers in March, and enjoying some fruit late in Summer, grown from our own tree. You can do the same thing, even in limited growing areas.

Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens     


'Meyer' dwarf citrus
















Kumquat dwarf citrus

6 comments:

  1. Do you know of local vendors that have dwarf varieties of orange and lemon in stock? Any somewhat-local? LMK. We've wanted to do this for a while but just haven't yet gotten going. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  2. Hi Debbie- Unfortunately there are rather few local vendors of citrus these days, due to the recent government "cleansing" of citrus in the area due to insect / disease problems. Richard Lyons' Nursery in Perrine may have some of the dwarf citrus in stock, but I'd also suggest you try several Home Depot garden centers. They bring in citrus from other parts of the state where the quarantine wasn't in effect. The Ponderosa and Meyer varieties prefer the cooler winters upstate, but can still do well here. Nurseries in the center part of the state often have varieties that local growers here don't stock, or the local clientele aren't familiar with. Ask the garden center managers if they can order in a few of the more unusual varieties; they have great vendor lists and can often get plants that may not be in the general garden center buyer's realm of experience.

    Good hunting and thanks for reading the blog !

    Craig Morell
    Pinecrest Gardens

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  3. Hello,

    Can you tell me what I can do to get my Kumquat tree grown from seed to look or bear lots of fruits like the one in your picture posted above?

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  4. Kumquat trees like a lot of sunlight, well-drained soil ( I suggest a soil mix labeled for cactus or succulents)and even, moderate fertilizing. Any one of the "slow-release" fertilizers like Osmocote, Dynamite or Sierrablen will do nicely. One of the secrets to making a tree bushy is to trim the last few inches off the branches after flowering. This induces new, branched growing tips, which in turn will produce more flower heads, and then more fruit.

    Lots of outdoor sunshine, even feeding, and grequent light pruning will make a solid, compact tree that should yield a lot of fruit. If the tree is indoors, make sure it gets plenty of sun, and when it flowers then you may need to pollinate the flowers by using a small paintbrush to brush pollen from flower to flower to flower.

    Good luck,

    Craig Morell
    Pinecrest Gardens

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  5. Hey! Did you somehow fulfill all the options of this portal all by yourself or you asked for some help?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ..............I'm not sure I understand the meaning of "fulfilling all the options by myself"....can you exapnd the idea a bit....?

      Thanks,

      Craig Morell
      Pinecrest Gardens

      Delete