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Delicious Citrus

Tips for growing citrus plants

Container:   Choosing a vessel with adequate drainage is essential. Select a clay, ceramic, or plastic pot slightly larger than the root ball. It should have a drainage hole at the bottom. Fill the drainage saucer with stones to provide air circulation but make sure the pot is sitting on the stones and not directly in the water. Soil:   Well-drained soil is crucial. Use a slightly acidic (pH 6 to 7), loam-based potting mix.

Water:  Regular watering is key, but keep in mind that your tree’s potting soil should be kept on the dry side of moist, particularly in winter, to prevent fungal infections and root rot. Citrus trees also like moist air. Positioning your plant near a humidifier or regularly misting the leaves with a spray bottle will help keep foliage looking its best in dry winter months.

Light:  Most citrus trees require eight to 12 hours of sunlight daily. When growing them indoors, position your plants beside a south-facing window with good airflow. If necessary, supplement sun with a grow light during dark winter months.

Temperature:  Dwarf citrus perform best when temperatures stay between 55 and 85 degrees; an average of 65 degrees is ideal. They dislike abrupt temperature shifts, so be sure to protect them from chilly drafts and blazing heaters. Avoid spots near exterior doors, radiators, fireplaces, and ovens.

Seasonal Relocation:  When all threat of frost has passed, slowly acclimate your citrus tree to its new outdoor home by placing it in a semi-shaded spot for a few days, then slowly bring the tree into the sun. It’s very important to make a slow, smooth transition to avoid shock and scorched leaves. Select a protected location in full sun with good airflow. To move the tree indoors for winter, slowly reverse the process well before the first anticipated frost date.

Harvesting:  The time from blossom to fruit harvest varies by variety. In general, most lemons and limes will ripen in six to nine months, and oranges will be ready to harvest in about a year. Citrus fruits ripen only on the tree, and when ready, many varieties may be harvested over a period of weeks or even months. Once the fruit has reached its full color, test for ripeness by applying a bit of pressure to the rind. A slight softening indicates your citrus is ready to pick.

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