Monday, May 14, 2012

Simple Equation for Happy Citrus

Here's a simple equation for happy citrus trees:

Bright sunlight + warm temperatures + ample rain + organic citrus fertilizer = very happy potted lemon and lime trees.

It really is as simple as that. Here are a few pics of my productive lemon tree:

Young lemons developing on the tip of a branch. These lemons grew from flowers that bloomed in early March inside my house. I actually hand-polinated them with the tip of my finger since I don't have a beehive in my house!
Second flush of citrus blossoms in early May. Note the purple/pink buds that are not yet open, the newly opened bloom on the left, the recently pollinated bloom in the center, and the newly developing lemon on the top right portion of the picture.
This year's growth has me very optimistic for a delicious crop of juicy limes and lemons in late fall/early winter, particularly after last year's mediocre citrus season. Actually, it was more my fault than anything else. I placed both potted trees on top of my outdoor table. They blew off during a thunderstorm and suffered some pretty bad damage. The top half of my lime tree snapped off completely! Bad news, but lesson learned. Fingers crossed for 2012.

7 comments:

Jenny said...

I have two lemon trees that I bought this spring but I guess they didn't like the location or water because they droped all blooms off :(

.09 Acres said...

Jenny, small citrus trees will bloom like crazy but they can't support all the blossoms so many of them drop. Irregular watering and lack of pollination by bees or other insects can also lead to blossom drop. Keep trying though...your persistence will eventually be rewarded with your first harvest!

Laura said...

How much light do your citrus get in the winter? I've thought about getting a citrus tree but I don't have a greenhouse. I do have a south-facing living room and an even brighter south-facing sunporch that has storm windows in the winter, so it doesn't seem to quite freeze at night, and can be nice and warm in the day. I wonder how much cold citrus can take on a regular basis?

.09 Acres said...

Laura, believe it or not I keep my citrus in what I would consider a very dark room during the winter months (usually December - March). We use the room, it has lights, but gets almost zero sun exposure and the blinds are always closed. When I was first growing potted citrus I kept them as close to any sunny window as possible. But every single winter they lost all their leaves. I discovered by accident that they will keep their leaves and then thrive again in the spring if they are kept cool and not bright. Many citrus can take temperatures near freezing, and even mature trees can sometimes take short periods of time below freezing. But a sunporch would be ideal.

Laura said...

That sounds encouraging! I tried to grow an orange years ago, in a room similar to yours with limited light but very cool temperatures, but it lost its leaves and generally dwindled away. The sunporch might be the best bet, then. Do you think citrus might be able to handle wide swings in temperature from day to night? Daytime is more like greenhouse temperature due to the sun. Because of my last experience, I think of them as fussy, but maybe I'm mistaken.

Jeff said...

I've had a "Changsha" mandarin growing outside year-round for eight years about 5 miles from your house, and this year it's set a couple of dozen fruit. Supposedly they're pretty seedy, but edible, so you all will have to come over and taste them when they get ripe. I'll try taking some cuttings, too, in case you want to try one.

.09 Acres said...

Jeff, thanks for chiming in to the conversation. I'm very impressed that you have an in-ground citrus in our area. I've always wanted to try that with a very hardy cultivar. I've read a bit about the Changsha and remember that it was always regarded as one of the more cold-hardy mandarins. How close do you live? I would like to see the tree and talk local gardening with you. Please e-mail me (vaplantman@yahoo.com).