Many citrus trees like oranges, limes and lemons can be grown as indoor houseplants all year long right here in Colorado. Here are some easy steps to turn your kitchen into a miniature Florida!
Citrus trees need at least 8 - 12 hours of light each day to bear fruit, though they can be grown as foliage plants with 5 hours of light. Place the tree in a south or southwest facing window. If it still doesn't get enough sun, you can supplement with a grow light. Citrus trees also like the temperature to be between 55° - 85°, with 65° being the ideal. The also dislike abrupt changes in temperature so avoid cold drafts or heaters. Before transplanting, place the tree in your chosen spot for a few days. That way you can see how it does and make changes if you need to. It's also a good idea to give your tree a quarter turn each week so it gets even sunlight.
Citrus trees prefer deep, infrequent watering to keep their soil moist but not soggy. It's best to water when the top two inches of soil feel dry. A good rule of thumb is to water two to three times a week. Citrus also likes a humid atmosphere. You can increase the humidity around your tree by making a simple humidity tray.
Choose a sturdy tray or saucer to fit under the tree's pot. Then, line the tray with small rocks. Make sure it's level enough for the pot to sit on top. Then fill the tray with water just below the tops of the rocks. You don't want the plant's roots sitting in water. Then, place the tree on the rocks. Check the tray frequently and fill the water as needed. You should also mist the leaves with water once a week.
Citrus trees like light, well-drained soil. Mix a regular potting mix half-and-half with Colorado's Choice B.O.S.S. This will improve drainage and introduce beneficial microorganisms into the soil.
Citrus trees are heavy feeders, so fertilize regularly. A good rule of thumb is once every three weeks through the spring and summer and once every six weeks through the fall and winter. We recommend Espoma Citrus-Tone. It's an organic fertilizer specially formulated for the special needs of citrus trees.
Insect and Disease Control
Citrus trees can be susceptible to certain bugs and disease while growing indoors. One of the best ways to get rid of unwanted pests is to put the whole pot in the shower and give the plane a really good soaking. This will rinse off any insects or fungal spores easily and safely.
For more prevention and control, you can use an organic insect control like Neem oil. Neem oil is an organic insecticide, miticide and fungicide that is derived from the Neem tree of India. Neem is perfect for organic gardening and can be used up to the day of harvest on fruits, veggies and other edibles.It controls and can help prevent many common garden problems including aphids, spider mites, rust, powdery mildew and leaf spot.