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Connecticut Garden Journal: Tips for growing citrus indoors

Calamondin Orange tree growing mini oranges.
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Dwarf plants, such as 'Meyer' lemon, 'Persian' lime, 'Calamondin' oranges (pictured) and kumquats, are best to grow indoors for their small size and fruits.

Come January, many gardener's attention turns to indoor plants. One group I've struggled with for years is citrus. But my wife and I seem to have figured out what we need to do to make indoor citrus survive.

Dwarf plants, such as 'Meyer' lemon, 'Persian' lime, 'Calamondin' oranges and kumquats, are best for their small size and fruits. Purchase nursery grown plants. We do have one seed grown citrus from a friend's 30 year old orange tree. But usually seed-grown citrus take many years to flower and fruit and some never do. My cousin in Watertown has two seed grown lemon trees that are huge, but never have flowered or fruited.

Find a bright spot in your home where your citrus will get some direct morning light with temperatures around 65 to 70 degrees. Pot up the citrus in a clay or ceramic pot so the soil stays evenly moist and slowly dries out. Water enough so it drains out of the bottom of the pot. We water our plants in the shower to also clean their leaves. In dry homes, especially with wood stoves, use a humidifier to keep the air moist or group plants together.

Fertilize monthly from March to September. We keep our citrus indoors year round, but some people like to move them outdoors in summer. Once the air temperatures are consistently above 55 degrees, move the citrus outdoors, bringing them inside at night for the first week.

Even if your citrus doesn't form fruit, the fragrant flowers that bloom on and off all year are a good enough reason to grow these plants indoors.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.
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