Have you ever craved the fresh taste of citrus fruit in the middle of the winter? If so, a simple way to quench this desire is by growing dwarf citrus trees in your house.
There are many benefits to growing dwarf citrus trees indoors. The trees will bear fruit year around, so you can enjoy their fragrant flowers and delicious fruit throughout the year. Dwarf citrus trees have beautiful, shiny foliage, so even when not bearing they are a pretty addition to your interior decor. Each tree does not take up much space, they generally reach a maximum height of eight feet. Therefore, one does not need much space to house their own indoor orchard. Lastly, maintaining healthy dwarf citrus trees is fairly simple.
Dwarf citrus trees are developed by grafting normal citrus trees onto dwarfing rootstocks. When planting these dwarf trees, it is important to plant the graft union well above the soil level. The trees need adequate root space, so plant them in a container that is at least 20" in diameter. Good water drainage is crucial, therefore, use a container that has numerous holes in the bottom. Dwarf citrus trees will grow in a variety of soils, but they prefer well drained soils that are rich in humus. They will generally need to be watered twice a week. It is important to never let the tree dry out completely. Citrus trees require a high level of nitrogen fertilizer. They must be fertilized year around with a 18-6-6 nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium solution. The fertilizer solution should also contain micronutrients such as iron, zinc and manganese. Dwarf citrus trees grow best in full sun. Therefore, position them in front of a south facing window.
There are a few details to monitor when growing dwarf citrus trees indoors. First, know where the graft union is located. Citrus fruits tend to produce suckers below the graft union. If this occurs, remove any growth originating from below the union. Eventually, the tree canopy may get leggy and adopt an odd shape. At this time, the tree requires pruning. Pinching back tips of new growth will help the tree retain a nice globe-shape. Fortunately, citrus trees are not prone to insect infestation. But, aphids, scale and spider mites may infect your tree if these pests are introduced from other infested plants. If this occurs, thoroughly rinsing the insects off with water, or with dish soap and water, are safe ways to rid your tree of most pests. Scale insects are best removed by gently scraping them off with your finger nail. These insecticide measures are safe to use in your home and are safe to use on edible fruit. One last potential problem to monitor is that of yellowing leaves. If the leaves on your tree begin to yellow, extend the interval between waterings, increase the frequency of fertilizer applications, or increase the amount of light your plant receives. If it is not possible to expose the plant to more natural light, hang a gro-lite (which can be purchased at large garden centers) about two feet above the tree. These adjustments should rectify the yellowing problem.
If you are interested in starting your own indoor orchard there are several possible locations to buy dwarf citrus trees. My internet search located Four Winds Growers, and Crowley Nursery and Gardens as two places that sell dwarf citrus trees.
Four Winds Growers. 26 Oct 2000
Sun-Sentinel Discussion. 26 Oct 2000