Growing Citrus

Grow Citrus in a nutrient-rich compost such as Levingtons Citrus compost. Repot in spring when the plants become pot-bound. In years when not repotting, topdress (again, in spring), removing the top 5cm (2in) of compost and replacing it with fresh.

Water freely in summer, but don’t allow the pot to stand in water. Water moderately in winter, allowing the surface to dry out partially between watering. Mist leaves in early morning in summer, or stand on trays of moist stone to increase humidity.

Specialist fertilisers should be applied following the manufacturer’s instructions. We recommend Baby Bio Citrus Food, which can be diluted accordingly for different times of the year. Don’t feed during winter, or for five to six weeks after repotting.

Although Citrus prefer a cool winter period, when little growth occurs, they are not hardy in the UK and should be over wintered indoors. Minimum winter night temperatures vary with species:

Lemon (Citrus limon) 10ºC (50ºF)
Calamondin orange (x Citrofortunella microcarpa) 13ºC (55ºF)
Others 7ºC (45ºF)

In mild areas, citrus plants may survive in an unheated glasshouse if covered with horticultural fleece during cold snaps. However, a frost-free glasshouse or airy conservatory will be better. Otherwise, place plants in a light but cool room, ideally with a south-facing window, but without central heating.

Citrus can be placed in a sheltered site outdoors from June to September. When first brought indoors, citrus often respond by shedding a large proportion of their leaves. If this continues, the cause is often too high temperatures and over watering, although low temperatures can also cause leaf drop. Similarly, the yellowing of leaves is encouraged by over wet or too dry root.

Fragrant white flowers are borne on one-year-old wood from December to February. Warmth and humidity encourage good flowering. Flowers are bisexual and self-pollinating, so don’t require artificial pollination.

Fruits take almost a year to develop fully. Thin fruits on younger plants. Remove congested growth in early spring, and pinch out shoot growing tips in summer. If renovation is required, prune back by two-thirds in early spring.

Problem flowers fall before the fruit set: dry roots or lack of humidity Flower failure: poor light, poor nutrition, erratic watering or cold Leaf yellowing: excessively wet or dry roots, draughts, cold or poor nutrition Leaf fall: cold, draughts, high winter temperatures or over-watering.

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