Winter Citrus Sunshine
I always wondered why the local home center/garden center sold tropical plants like oranges and lemons in the middle of the midwest. It must be possible to grow them here and just bring them indoors during the winter. The summer before last I purchased dwarf lemon and orange trees at the local garden center in July (when they were on clearance for $6.24 each). The orange is not a dwarf but I think most trees can be limited in size by pruning. I have re-potted them once and brought them inside each fall. They also received a fruit tree fertilizer each fall. The lemon tree bloomed last winter and produced two lemons. The lemon you see is the third and might have come from a bloom in early spring but in any case, it took a long time for those lemons to grow to full size and turn yellow. Both trees went outside in late spring. The orange tree did not bloom last winter but this year it is bursting with blossoms at the end of January.
I learned a few things that might be helpful to share. These trees are grafted. I had vigorous shoots growing below the graft point that needed to be cut off. Those shoots are from the root stock and won’t produce fruit (from what I read-not an expert here). You can usually see the graft as a diagonal line on the trunk of the tree.
The plant codes that come on the tags really don’t have much information beyond what is already on the tag if you can even find them on the store website.
Both trees seem to drop a sticky substance that is easily cleaned off a hard surface ( I used Simple Green) but I’m not sure I’d want that on carpet. I didn’t get a lot of fruit to set last year so I am misting the blossoms with water to increase humidity. The blossoms have a strong, sweet smell. Just having something green, blooming and sweet smelling in my house in January is a joy. Next summer I’ll keep my eye out for a lime tree to add to my citrus orchard.