Citrus plants prefer to grow outdoors in the summer and need frost-free conditions to see them through the winter. With a little care, they flower and fruit well.
Growing lemon trees from seeds is fun, especially for children, and although they flower as quite young plants, it takes a number of years before they fruit. In the meantime, they make attractive, highly fragrant container plants.
When to Start: Spring
At Its Best: All year round
Time to Complete: 30 minutes
Cut open a lemon, remove the seeds and dry them. Plant several seeds per pot, 1/2 inch deep in seed potting mix. Water them in and put the pots in a warm spot. Keep them well watered.
Once the young seedlings are growing well, remove them from their pots and carefully tease their roots apart. Pot them on individually into their own small pots in soil-based potting mix, and water them in well.
Place pots in a sunny spot outside and keep well watered. Grow in a cool room indoors, or in a greenhouse, over winter; place outside in summer and early fall until the first frosts are forecast. Water with rainwater, if possible, and watch out for aphids, scale insects and mealy bugs.
Citrus plants offer a fabulous variety of fruit color and texture, and many of these beautiful plants can be grown fairly easily. Some may survive the winter outdoors in milder areas, but they grow best with a little protection.
Citrus plants need plenty of water during spring and summer, less during winter. Use rainwater where possible, particularly in hard-water areas. Feed with a specially formulated citrus fertilizer throughout the growing season. Indoors, mist daily with rainwater to keep humidity high and to help ward off spider mites. A little warmth in late winter and spring will encourage the citrus to flower, and then, hopefully, fruit.
Calamondin orange (Image 1), is a kumquat–orange hybrid, and is one of the easiest citrus to grow indoors. It produces scented flowers all year round and has sour fruit.
Kaffir lime (Image 2), is most often grown for its fragrant leaves, an essential ingredient in Thai cooking, but it also bears knobbly, very sour fruit.
Key lime (Image 3), with its thin skin and delicious flavor, is the lime commonly used to make daiquiris and margaritas.
Kumquat (Image 4), is one of the most attractive and easiest of all citrus to grow. It flowers in summer.
Excerpted from How to Grow Practically Everything
© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2010