The Q&A Archives: Indoor Orange Tree Care

Question: We have an indoor orange tree approximately 15yrs. old and 10' -12' tall. It's done extremely well and recently flowered and fruited. It originated from Ca. I'd like to know the best fertilizer and how often it should be fed. The container is huge but has no drainage. I'd also like to know if the water amount needs to be varied during this time of year. I was told it is currently the rainy season in California.

Answer: If you have had the tree for 15 years and it seems healthy, then just keep on doing whatever it is you have been doing! If however it is a newly purchased tree, then you may have to proceed with a bit of trial and error. These trees need very bright light, especially during the winter. Usually they grow more slowly in the winter due to the reduced light and so will use less water than they will when they are in more active growth during the spring and summer. Generally it is not recommended to use a pot without drainage holes, so you are going to have to be very careful about watering -- not too much and not too little. Here are some basic care guidelines for indoor citrus:

In cold winter areas citrus trees can be grown indoors
from September through April and then taken outdoors a
placed in a sunny spot. Indoors, citrus trees need average
warmth to slightly cool temperatures, freedom from drafts, ample water, and well
draining soil. You may need to supplement natural light with
fluorescent or gro-lites especially made for plants. Turn the
light on for
12-14 hours each day and turn it off at night. Citrus trees
need ample moisture, so water often enough to keep the soil
moist but not soggy, and feed in the spring and summer
months with a diluted liquid fertilizer, especially if the leaves
are yellowish instead of glossy deep green. Watch out for
scale, aphids and mites, and use insecticidal soap or light
horticultural oil according to label instructions if they do
show up.

Be sure to give your tree a gradual transition from indoors
to outdoors, and vice versa, so it has time to adjust to
the changes in the environment.

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