Growing and caring for citrus is a satisfying avocation. In some areas, you can grow citrus in your yard. In other areas, your citrus will need to grow indoors in pots. Some varieties of citrus can even be grown as a bonsai, resulting in a bonsai that produces edible fruit.
There are many varieties of citrus, including oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, calamondins and kumquat. Among the general classifications, you have choices of many different sub-varieties, including sour and ornamental varieties. Select a variety suited to your growing location and climate. Many dwarf and ultra-dwarf varieties are ideal for container cultivation. Common citrus on dwarf and ultra-dwarf root stocks include oranges, tangerines, lemons and limes. Although full-sized trees can be container grown, they require more work and pruning; however, by growing full sized trees in larger containers, more varieties are available for indoor cultivation.
Most citrus are very sensitive to frost. If you live in an area where temperatures regularly drop below freezing, you may need to grow your citrus in containers. When planting outside, select a protected location with full sun. For indoor growing, your potted citrus needs to have as much sun as possible. South facing windows are ideal for potted citrus cultivation.
Citrus trees require soil that drains well. In most cases, you will need a soil that will drain completely within 48 hours to prevent root problems. If your soil doesn't drain well, plant your outdoor citrus in raised beds filled with soil that drains very well.
Fertilize your tree about three months after planting with a good, balanced organic fertilizer or a synthetic fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. Some trees have a tendency to produce larger crops and smaller crops in alternating years. If your tree produces a large crop, add additional fertilizer in the winter to compensate for nutrients taken from the soil in creating the additional fruit. This can help to even out crop yields.
Water your tree according to its size and the time of year. For young trees, water 1 gallon a week in winter, but move your watering up to 4 gallons of water per week by June and July. Larger trees, such as those with spreads of 14 feet, may require 26 gallons of water per week in winter. By summer, your trees may require around 200 gallons per week.