How to Grow Dwarf Citrus Trees


Dwarf citrus trees are the perfect choice for people with limited growing space. Because citrus is an evergreen, it will be green all year around, and when the tree blossoms, it will fill the air with its sweet, citrusy aroma. Because of their short stature, dwarf citrus trees are easy to maintain, and the fruit, which is standard size, will be easy to reach. If you live in a location with freezing winters, plant a dwarf citrus in a pot so you can bring it indoors when the weather turns cold.

Step 1

Purchase a dwarf citrus tree from a greenhouse or nursery. Look for a tree with a straight trunk and branches that grow outward evenly from the trunk. A locally-grown tree is preferable, because it will be suitable for your climate.

Step 2

Choose a sunny, well-drained location for the dwarf citrus tree. To determine if the site has adequate drainage, dig a hole about 12 to 14 inches deep and fill it with water. It the water has drained in 3 hours, the soil drainage is fine.

Step 3

Dig a hole about 20 inches deep, then use a garden fork to loosen the soil in the bottom of the hole. Add shovelful of compost to the bottom of the hole and work it in with the garden fork. Shovel part of the reserved soil back in the hole, and form a mound in the center.

Step 4

Squeeze the tree's plastic container to loosen the roots, and carefully pull the citrus tree from its container. Loosen the roots and place the tree in the hole as you spread the roots around the mound. The graft line of the tree should be about 3 inches above the top of the ground, so adjust the mound, if necessary. The graft line looks like a diagonal scar on the trunk, about 6 inches above the top of the root system

Step 5

Refill the hole with soil and tamp it down with your foot. Water the plant thoroughly, and add more soil if the ground has settled. Add a layer of grass clippings around the tree, and continue to replenish it through the growing season. Keep the clippings 6 inches away from the trunk because it's important that the graft line stays above ground level.

Step 6

Water the dwarf citrus tree deeply every week. Citrus trees do better with deep watering that will encourage the growth of the roots, rather than more frequent, shallow watering.

Step 7

Prune the tree in late winter or early spring. Dwarf citrus trees don't require much pruning, but it's helpful to trim the ends of branches to maintain the desired shape and size of the tree. Remove any long, thin branches and any branches that are growing in towards the center of the tree, rather than evenly outward.

Things You'll Need

  • Dwarf citrus tree
  • Shovel
  • Garden fork
  • Compost
  • Garden hose
  • Grass clippings


  • Growing Citrus in the Ground
  • Fruit Trees
Keywords: dwarf citrus tree, graft line, pruning

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a longtime writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the "East-Oregonian Newspaper" and "See Jane Run" magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.