Buddha’s Hand Citron Tree

Growing Zones in Ground: 8 - 11 / in Pots: 4 - 11

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Description

There is no more strange and wonderful fruit tree than the incredible Buddha’s Hand Citron Tree. This ancestor of the lemon tree grows fragrant unusual citrus fruits that have the appearance of bright yellow hands with many curled fingers. They are so fragrant that a single ripe fruit can freshen the air of an entire room. The mostly dry fruit has an abundance of essential citrus oils, which create the fruit’s amazing scent, and make the skin great for marmalade, and for flavoring sauces, vinegar, and beverages.

Buddha’s Hand Citron Trees can be grown in the ground in USDA Zones 8 to 11, or in a container and over-wintered in colder areas. As citrus trees go they are small and only reach mature heights of 6 to 8 feet and widths of up to 4 feet. Some healthy trees can grow larger, and get as tall as 15 feet, but even these can be easily pruned to smaller sizes. Their unique appearance and small size make them perfect for growing as a conversation piece in a pot on your patio or even indoors.

Citrus Tree Care

The exotic looking fruit of the Buddha’s Hand Citron Tree can appear on a new tree as soon as the first year in the ground or in a suitable pot in a good location. Cut away any suckers that grow low on the trunk and prune the tree once a year to create the desired shape. Be sure to plant in soil that drains well. The Buddha’s Hand Citron Tree will not do well in soggy soil and wet conditions can cause the roots and trunk to rot.

If growing in a container be sure to put the tree outside in warm months if possible and bring inside when temperatures drop below 40 degrees for extended periods. Place the potted Buddha’s Hand Citron Tree in the brightest location available, and supplement with grow lights if the indoor tree gets less than 4 or 5 hours of direct sunlight per day. Water when soil is dry down to 2 inches deep, and be sure the container can fully drain. A saucer with a layer of gravel can help potted trees drain and not sit in water.

Fruit & Harvesting

Unlike some citrus fruits, the skin of the Buddha’s Hand Citron is tart, but not bitter. This makes the zest from the Buddha’s Hand Citron perfect for salads, drinks, and desserts. The rind is often candied for use in fruit cakes and other seasonal dishes. Traditional uses also include infusing alcohol such as vodka or rum with whole Buddha’s Hand Citrons to make flavored drinks such as citrus martinis and blended beverages.

Buddha’s Hand Citron Trees are prolific producers and often can display both blooms and fruit at the same time. The curly hand-shaped fruits are ripe and ready to use when the skin is bright yellow and the individual fruit has a floral, fresh scent. Harvest ripe citrons with hand clippers and store them in a cool dry spot for up to a week. Properly dried and candied citron peel can be refrigerated for 2 weeks, or frozen for up to a year.

Growing Zones

Advice

When growing a Buddha’s Hand Citron Tree outdoors, the blooms are self-fertile and are pollinated by bees, ants, moths, other insects, and even humming birds. If you are growing your Buddha’s Hand Citron Tree indoors, you can pollinate the flowers by hand using a soft paintbrush such as those used for watercolor. A clean makeup brush can be used as well.

Simply touch the blooms from one to another in a random way and gently distribute pollen among the various flowers for a few minutes each day for 3 or 4 days when new blooms appear. Buddha’s Hand Citron Trees will usually bloom in early spring, but they can also bloom multiple times per year. The earliest fruit will begin to ripen in summer and ripe fruits can often be harvested into late winter.

FAQS

Can you eat a Buddha's Hand Citron Fruit?

The fruit grown on a Buddha’s Hand Citron Tree is used for making candied fruit peel, or zest for baking. The fruit rind is also used to make infused beverages and drinks, as a salad topping, or as an ingredient in marinades and sauces.

How big will a Buddha's Hand Citron Tree get?

Compared to other citrus trees, the visually unique Buddha’s Hand Citron Tree is small. The trees grow to about 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Older trees in ideal locations can grow larger.

Can I grow a Buddha's Hand Citron Tree in Texas?

Buddha’s Hand Citron Trees can be grown in the ground in USDA Growing Zones 8 to 11. This area includes much of Texas, as well as other southern states. Buddha’s Hand Citron Trees are also good for growing in a pot and overwintering indoors in colder locations.

How big is the fruit on a Buddha's Hand Citron Tree?

The odd-looking fruits of the Buddha’s Hand Citron Tree are between 4 and 7 inches long and as wide. They are made up of between 6 to 20 “fingers” that can curl outward or inward, and give each fruit an almost alien appearance.

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