Caring for citrus plants

The dream of recreating a ‘little piece of the Mediterranean’ back home can come true on your balcony or terrace. Citrus trees are native to Asia and Australia where they grow as evergreen shrubs or trees. They give delight almost all year round with their deliciously scented flowers and fruit that are frequently borne at the same time. Besides the popular orange and lemon trees, there is also a less well-known citrus tree, the lime tree, which produces green fruit. The leaves, flowers and fruit of citrus plants all contain a strongly aromatic oil that is responsible for their intense fragrance.

In summer citrus plants need plenty of water, which however must be able to run away freely because water-logging will lead to root rot. The soil must be allowed to dry out before watering again. It is important to use soft water, for instance rainwater, which will not increase the acidity (pH level) of the soil. Special citrus fertilizer is also recommended.

The best over-wintering conditions are a light room and a temperature of about 10° C (50° F). Lime trees prefer warmer conditions, 15-18° C (41-64° F). Citrus plants flower less prolifically immediately after pruning. However, older or untidy specimens may be pruned by removing shoots that have finished flowering. You can either cut off the entire branch or up to a side shoot.

Citrus plants are usually propagated by grafting. Seedlings rarely come true to type and usually only flower after ten years at the earliest. Cuttings usually do not grow as bushy as grafted specimens but it is always worth trying them.

Remember when planting a citrus tree that they do not like being repotted. It is therefore advisable to choose a container that is slightly too large.

10. June 2014 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Fruit Trees | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Caring for citrus plants

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