We buy our lemon and orange trees from Valencia; a Spanish region renowned for its fantastic citrus fruits. Oranges and lemons are relatively easy to grow and can be very rewarding. By following this citrus tree care guide, UK gardeners can produce their own delicious fruits too.
Ours are ‘standard’ style trees, supplied fully established in large pots and at least 3 years old. They can be left in their pots if you can’t repot them straight away – just keep them warm and well watered. We’d recommend that you grow them in large, well-drained pots, as with other Mediterranean plants. Try to plant them somewhere where there is little variance in temperature.
The varieties we supply are hardier than you might imagine – to -5°C. As with all hardy plants this is not an absolute line. They are fine outside from April to October, but will need some protection from frosts in the winter. Fleece covers will provide a lift above outdoor temperature of around 3°C or so, but below -5°C these trees will die. In winter, move your trees to somewhere warmer – ideally somewhere with light, and above 10°C. If you can house them in your house (such as a conservatory), you will have the added benefit of their glorious citrus fragrance filling the room when they are in flower, but take care with central heating, as this will dry them out considerably.
Feed them well in summer with citrus feed, as they are sensitive to minor nutrient deficiencies – this is a bit like humans taking vitamin pills! Water them well between May and October, to aid growth. In time, prune back any brown tipped shoots or leaves that may appear using good quality secateurs as they need it. They can be temperamental when the temperature, light or humidity changes rapidly,and they can shed a few leaves or fruitlets quickly. Do not worry, this is quite normal – they are robust trees and will recover.
Citrus trees are some of the only ones that produce flowers and fruit at the same time. Fruit can take a full 12 months from setting to harvest, so be patient with your trees. It is natural for plants to set a lot more fruitlets, many of which drop off. The plant will select the strongest few to sustain to harvest.
We recommend using our Soluble Citrus Fertiliser to ensure your trees grow into big and healthy specimens and most importantly, bear lots of juicy fruit!
For best results, bring your citrus trees indoors, to a cool area of the house over winter.
Feed with specialist feed every month during the spring and summer to help with growth – they are hungry fellows.
- Sweetly-fragranced flowers will appear all year round, especially in late winter. The fruit ripens up to 12 months later – so plants are often in flower and fruiting at the same time.
- Citrus trees tend not to thrive in centrally heated homes. From mid-June to late September, give plants a treat and transfer them outside to make the most of the available sunshine. Remember they are not frost tolerant so will need bringing under cover if cold nights threaten.
- In summer, water freely – ideally with rainwater. In winter you can reduce the amount – allowing the surface to partially dry out before watering again. Always allow excess water to drain away.
- Overwatering in winter is one of the commonest problems with citrus trees.
- Only minimal pruning is required to reshape or remove dead or damaged shoots.