In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
February, 2012
Regional Report

Share |

These lovely lime blossoms will make you swoon with their fragrance.

Crazy for Citrus

Have you ever smelled an orange blossom up close? We Midwesterners don't have the privilege of smelling them growing outdoors as someone in the South might, so we have to make do with indoor plants. But indoor growing is definitely possible, and the aroma of the blossoms will make you fall in love.

Ornamental Beauties
Indoor citrus plants will not bear great mountains of fruit, but the glossy leaves, waxy flowers are well worth the windowsill space for their ornamental beauty. And if you are willing to hand-pollinate the flowers, you may get a harvest of oranges, lemons, or limes.

Choose Small Varieties
When choosing a plant for indoors, it's important to choose one that is on the small side to begin with, or you will have little success with the plant. Although you can get plants to grow from seeds, seldom will the plants you get be anything like the ones from which you ate the fruit. So it's best to start with a vegetatively propagated plant from a greenhouse or garden center.

Cultural Conditions
To grow citrus successfully, give them about 65 degrees F during the day and about 60 degrees F at night. They thrive with at least some direct sun for part of the day. So keep them in a cool, bright window for the healthiest plants.

How to Pot and Fertilize
Pot plants in a rich organic mix with peat moss to keep it somewhat acid. When you fertilize, use a fertilizer especially for acid-loving plants to maintain soil acidity. Mix the fertilizer at half-strength when plants are actively growing, usually April through August or September. Give plants a rest time with no fertilization during the winter.

Common Pests
The most common pests to be on the lookout for are spider mites, scales, and whiteflies. If you watch carefully and wash the leaves regularly, you can catch these pests before they become big problems. If they do appear, a quick wash with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil will take care of them.

Calamondin Orange
One of the most common citrus plants for indoor growing is the calmondin orange. The fruits are small and sour but make a fantastic marmalade. The species produces fruits readily, and the beautiful plant will often have blossoms, green fruits, and ripe orange fruits all at the same time. There is also a variegated cultivar with cream and white leaves and lightly striped oranges.

Tangerines, Lemons, Kumquats
Several kinds of tangerines can be grown indoors. Satsuma orange, which is really a tangerine, has abundant flowers with intoxicating fragrance.

The most common lemons are Ponderosa and Meyer. Both are quite successful indoors, and they bear full-sized fruits. In fact, the fruits often need supporting because they are so large. Kumquats, a miniature type of citrus, and limes will also thrive indoors.

Care to share your gardening thoughts, insights, triumphs, or disappointments with your fellow gardening enthusiasts? Join the lively discussions on our FaceBook page and receive free daily tips!

Our Mission in Action

Shop Our Holiday Catalog