Potted up and grown in containers far outside of its natural growing range, the orange tree (Citrus spp.) is one of the most popular fruit trees grown as a potted plant. The naturally smaller size of citrus lends itself well to container growing. If you live in USDA Hardiness Zone 8b or warmer, you can grow orange trees outdoors as landscape or dooryard trees.
Grown primarily as an ornamental, calamondin orange (Citrus mitis) grows well as a potted plant, or in the landscape as a pruned hedge. Hardy to 20 degrees F, calamondin orange is one of the most hardy of all citrus fruits, according to Texas A&M University Extension. Keep it indoors in a brightly lit location during winter months when temperatures average below 55 degrees F.
During warmer weather, move your calamondin orange outdoors in full sun or light shade. Water only as needed, when the top inch of soil in the container is dried out. Flowers bloom sporadically throughout the year, and it is not uncommon to see both flowers and fruit on the tree at the same time. Calamondin oranges can take up to a year to fully ripen; do not pick before they are fully ripe, as oranges do not continue to ripen after picking.
Rangpur or Mandarin Lime
Called a lime by name, but actually a hybrid cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange hybrid, the rangpur lime, or mandarin lime, tree (Citrus x limonia 'Osbeck') is widely grown as an ornamental landscaping tree in Florida, and also grown commercially in California, according to Purdue University Extension. Although the fruit bears the slight scent of lime, it is a deep orange color with a reddish-orange peel. The flavor is rather sour but is more suggestive of oranges than of limes.
Rangpur lime quickly reaches a height of 15 to 20 feet, and is more tolerant of cold than either true limes or lemons. The fruits ripen from November through the winter months and keep their quality on the tree. Marmalade made from the mandarin lime is said to be far superior to that made from the more traditional sour orange.
The class of mandarin oranges referred to as "satsuma" includes varieties such as Owari satsuma (Citrus reticulata var. 'Owari'). They are generally small trees with wide-open crowns, growing to a height of 15 to 20 feet. Fragrant white flowers bloom in March and April, with the fruits maturing in November and December. Grow satsuma oranges in full sun and protect them from temperatures below 25 degrees F. while young.
Mature specimens may survive severe freezes if they have been conditioned by gradual, repeated exposure to cold or freezing temperatures. Satsuma oranges also make excellent potted plants in areas with extreme winters. Nearly all varieties of mandarin oranges, including satsumas, begin bearing fruit when they are just 3 to 4 years old.