Citrus is a tree genus, represented by a group of evergreen, fruit bearing varieties. They are classified under the family Rutaceae of the order Sapindales. Exclusively cultivated for their juicy fruits, citrus trees also make a wonderful addition to any landscape design.
Dark green foliage, whitish flowers, and rind fruits are some of the desired features of these valuable trees. Based on the maximum height of specific citrus species, it is either considered as a shrub or a tree.
Common Citrus Tree Varieties
While lemon, orange, grapefruit, and lime represent the most common types of citrus trees, there are many more in the list. Collectively, there are about 16 species of citrus fruits, that hold an important place in the commercial fruit market.
All of them have a mild acidic flavor and are rich sources of vitamin C, dietary fiber (both soluble and insoluble fiber), phytochemicals, and many other essential nutrients. The popularly planted citrus fruit list includes the following:
With so many varieties of citrus trees, selecting one for the yard is a challenging task for fruit growers. Also, not all of us have large spaces to grow many citrus plants.
Thus, for the interest of citrus fruit lovers, new hybrid cultivars are developed, in which varied citrus fruit species (lime, lemon, orange, mandarin, etc.) are grafted on a single tree sapling. This particular hybrid is known as a citrus fruit salad tree. The grafted varieties have varied flowering period and fruit maturity time.
How to Grow Citrus Trees?
Being indigenous to the tropical climatic conditions of Southeast Asia, citrus fruit trees grow well in warmer regions that remain frost-free throughout the year. But, if you are residing in areas, where winter remains cold, then also you can consider growing citrus fruits with proper planning.
The detailed citrus tree care guidelines will vary based on which species you are planting in your orchard. General instructions for growing and caring for citrus trees are explained further.
Select a Sunny Location
The ideal site for growing citrus fruits is an area that faces south or west direction. If winter frost is a concern, plant it near a protecting feature, like a garden wall, fence, or trellis.
That way, you can make arrangements for protecting your citrus plants during winter. Or else, plant dwarf citrus varieties in containers and maintain them as houseplants during extreme cold conditions.
Choose a Suitable Cultivar
Selecting citrus tree cultivars that suit the climatic condition and soil types in your area is a prime requirement. For colder regions, go for hybrid citrus cultivars that tolerate low temperature. Or consider container gardening dwarf citrus varieties, so that you can bring them indoors until outdoor temperature becomes favorable for your fruit trees.
Dig soil and add an adequate amount of organic compost along with a slow-release fertilizer. Work well to mix the soil properly.
Place one sapling in one hole, making sure that the top soil is leveled with the root crown. Add soil to fill the hole and tamp down to remove air pockets. Follow the same procedure for growing citrus tree in pots.
Water the Citrus Tree
Deep irrigation is suggested for outdoor grown citrus plants, at least till the plants are well established. For potted citrus plants grown indoors, water regularly to keep the soil moist. Don't let the top soil dries out too often. Also, the amount of water requirement depends on environmental temperature and prevailing climatic conditions.
Check for Diseases
You should be watchful to detect the first signs of citrus tree diseases. The disease infestations are primarily caused by fungi (greasy spot, sooty mold, melanose, scaly bark), bacteria (canker sore, citrus greening) and virus (citrus tristeza, exocortis).
In addition, citrus tree pests that cause destructive damage are aphids, white fly, snails, mites, caterpillar, thrips, and scales. Make sure you follow cultural practices to control citrus diseases and pests (if any).
Other care guidelines for growing healthy citrus trees are mulching and fertilizing with a slow-release formulation, at least 3 - 4 times in a year. The thick mulch (2 - 3 inch) helps in controlling weeds and conserving soil moisture.