Grow orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, tangerine, kumquat or other citrus trees in the ground or in a container.

Lemons on the treeCredit: Photo by Jane Gates

Citrus trees are favorites to grow since they are evergreen, have wonderfully perfumed blossoms and develop tasty and healthy fruit. If you live where frosts are mild or don’t occur at all you can probably grow these plants outdoors. Planting them in pots will give them protection if frost could be a problem or if you want to use them on a patio or where there is limited space. There are dwarf citrus trees that do well planted in large pots or directly in the garden. Full sized-trees need to be planted in the ground where some of them can grow large enough to be used to add shade to the landscape.

If you can give your plants really good light you may even be able to grow dwarf varieties indoors in very large pots or as part of a container garden. But when grown as house plants, they will need plenty of direct sun and as much fresh air as you can give them. They will also need to be exposed to the outdoors and bees when in bloom for the blossoms to be pollinated if you expect to grow any edible fruit.

The most cold tolerant citrus are kumquats, tangerines and lemons whereas the least frost resistant are limes and grapefruits. Plant your tree where it will get full sun, rich soil and plenty of water with good drainage. Watch for whitefly, mealy bug and scale – common insect pests on these plants. If you see ants climbing on your tree it is likely you will find one of these sucking insect pests infesting the stems or leaves. Ants are attracted to them since whitefly, mealy bug and scale all exude a sticky sweet substance the ants love.

Citrus trees can be an asset to your garden in so many ways. The fruit is high in vitamin C and trace elements as well as being valuable for eating raw or using in cooking. These are attractive plants for balconies or yards. They have a decorative growth habit, bloom with pink-flushed white flowers and offer evergreen glossy green leaves. The flowers are so heavily perfumed that they can fill the air with a heady fragrance. Planting citrus trees for their scent, decorative attributes and tasty fruit make them excellent choices for the garden or for container culture.