There’s nothing quite like fresh citrus fruits, and when you grow it yourself it’s even better. Bright, colorful and zestfully aromatic, a citrus tree on your patio or sunroom adds beauty to your landscape and saves you money, too! So why doesn’t everyone grow their own citrus? In a nutshell, citrus can be temperamental when cold weather sets in – in fact, temperatures below 30°F can citrus trees if they’re exposed to them for too long.
But don’t give up on your hopes for a citrusy crop yet! With the many varieties of dwarf citrus trees now available, there’s sure to be one that tops your citrus fruits list. And keeping your tree in a container gives you the option of brining it inside when the temperatures are due to dip – in fact, you may enjoy having indoors so much that you make it a permanent fixture!
Even indoor citrus trees need special care during the winter, though, so here are some simple, handy tips for keeping your tree healthy and happy all winter long:
- Provide plenty of light. Citrus loves sunshine (8-12 hours’ worth is best), and with shorter winter days you’re going to want to make the most of what sunshine you can get. Find a bright spot that captures multiple angles of sunlight during the day.
- Don’t let it get too warm. Your citrus tree needs warmth, but not too much during the winter. A temperature of 55-68°F is ideal.
- Helpful humidity. When it comes to indoor tree care, hitting the right amount of moisture can be tricky. Citrus and lemon trees do best with 30 to 60%humidity, which is drier than what you’ll find in most homes. A mister or humidifier can help, but if you’d rather not invest in one, keep a container of water near a heat source. Another alternative is to put a shallow container of pebbles under the citrus orange tree’s pot to give the plant the extra humidity it needs indoors, where the air is much dryer. Cover the pebbles partially with water, but don’t let bottom of the pot to sit in water.
- Water wisely. Be careful when you water the tree! Too much can cause root rot; too little can cause citrus leaf curl. Your best bet is to stick your finger into the soil; if it’s dry lower than your second knuckle, it’s time to water. The soil should be moist but not soaked, and well-drained.
- Keep an eye out for citrus tree diseases and pests. Insects can be a big problem, especially when you bring in a tree from outside. When you carry your tree indoors, leave the pests behind. Use a hose to blast off pests and add soap mixtures to kill off bugs. Carefully wiping the leaves with a damp cloth weekly will go far towards preventing infestations. Familiarize yourself with how the leaves of your trees should look when healthy and keep watch for changes that may indicate trouble.
- Hold off the citrus fertilizer until spring. Citrus tree fertilizer is extremely beneficial for helping trees stay healthy and encouraging them to produce plenty of fruit, but timing is everything when it comes to the application. Citrus trees should be fertilized in spring or early summer; doing so any later could encourage growth during the winter months, which in turn could make the tree more vulnerable. Your indoor citrus tree will likely need very little pruning, but you should hold off on that during the winter, as well.
That’s it! When spring comes, your tree will thank you with fresh new grow and (hopefully!) fruit.