How to Grow Citrus Trees as Houseplants

By: The Hale Groves Team | On: | Category: DIY
Growing Citrus Trees indoors

Houseplants don’t just make your home look good…they can help you and your family feel good, too. Many studies have shown that growing indoor houseplants offers physical and psychological health benefits, including speeding up healing, boosting your creativity, helping you feel more alert and productive, making you less tired, easing your anxiety and stress and overall improving your mood.

Imagine if your houseplants did you one better by providing sweet-smelling, fresh and juicy citrus fruits for you to enjoy? Alas, orange trees are a no-go if you don’t live in Florida or California, and citrus trees belong outdoors…right?

Great news…if you live in a cooler climate, you can still feel the thrill of picking fresh oranges, lemons and limes from your own citrus tree, and thanks to dwarf varieties that can be kept in portable pots, you can even grow your own citrus indoors!

Where to Buy Citrus Trees

Hale Groves offers a small variety of citrus trees that are known for thriving in pots and grow well indoors (with moves to the patio during the summer months). When you order from us, you’ll get a healthy, attractive, easy-to-grow citrus tree that will produce fruit in no time!

Here are the trees we have to offer:

  • Dwarf Glend Navel Orange Tree. Enjoy snacking on seedless, classic navel oranges through the winter months.
  • Valencia Orange Tree. Produces a summer orange that produces the sweetest, most delicious orange juice available.
  • Meyer Lemon Tree. Produces small, sweeter hybrids of a true lemon and mandarin orange, perfect for lemonade, recipes and iced tea (or hot tea).
  • Key Lime Tree. Produces the small, round limes that go into the making of the classic pie.

In addition to delicious fruit, each of our citrus trees is a delight to the senses, with lush, evergreen leaves and fragrant blossoms. They make great gifts, too!

How to Grow Citrus Trees Indoors

How is caring for an indoor citrus tree different from caring for any other houseplant? Not as different as you might think, actually – like all plants, citrus trees have a few basic needs, and you must attend to these if you’re aiming to produce beautiful trees with delicious fruit.

  1. Watering. The first and most important of these needs is good drainage. While the roots must have a constant supply of moisture, they cannot tolerate waterlogged soil, or water that stands for too long. Citrus trees also need warmth and sunshine to produce colorful, juicy, and flavorful fruit. Overwatering causes citrus foliage to drop off. Underwatering can also cause this trouble, but drooping foliage usually calls attention to the lack of water in time to ward off serious leaf drop.
  2. Soil. Plants grown in containers do best with the least effort when they are planted in a lightweight, perlite-containing potting mix that drains well. An all-organic matter or native soil will compact too quickly, reducing aeration for roots. Look for planting mixes that are specially blended for citrus or succulent plants. There is seldom any overwatering problem in containers if well-draining soil is used.
  3. Pruning. Young citrus trees don’t need much pruning. Give them a few years and they will become neatly rounded specimens. If you want to keep the plants quite low or add fullness, you can pinch out the tips of the new growth from time to time. You’ll also want to prune away any deadwood, and to maximize airflow. Prune off any branches that cross others and prevent sunlight from reaching the lower branches.
  4. Feeding. If your tree appears to be in need of nutrients, look for a citrus tree fertilizer to help your tree stay nourished.
  5. Pests & Diseases. Indoor citrus trees can be susceptible to pests just like outdoor trees. Treat aphids with a hard, firm spray of water, or use an insecticidal soap. You should also be watchful for signs of scale and pick it or water-blast it off before it can become an infestation. A spray made from neem oil is an effective cure for these pests.
  6. Take it Outside. While it is possible to grow a dwarf citrus tree indoors 24/7, the fact is your tree will probably be healthier if it spends at least part of the year on your patio. During the winter, fruit trees don’t need as much light as they do in the summer, but they still require a lot, so plan carefully for when it’s time for your tree to come indoors.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

Citrus trees can thrive in an indoor environment, but they do need conscientious care. While being inside does keep them safe from some citrus tree diseases, there are other stressful factors that you’ll need to compensate for (such as lower humidity, higher and dryer temperatures, and watering protocols).

Citrus leaf curl is a sure sign your indoor citrus tree may not be getting enough water, but you must take care not to overwater. Experts advise using the “two-knuckle-deep” rule to determine if your plant needs water: insert your finger into the soil to the second knuckle, and if it’s still most, put away your water can. Make sure the tree is well drained and mist the leaves with a spray bottle regularly.

You should also provide citrus tree fertilizer twice a year – once in the spring, and again in the summer. (During fall and winter, when the plant is about to flower, citrus fertilizer isn’t necessary.)

Also, make sure your citrus plant gets plenty of light. All citrus plants need bright light to thrive and prefer south-facing windows with good airflow and out of direct heat or drafts. For your tree to be fruitful, you’ll need at least four hours of direct sunlight.

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