The Q&A Archives: How best to care for an indoor Clementine Tree

Question: I have several questions. I have purchased a Clementine tree from your product line and I'm interested in growing it indoors in Colorado. I'm wondering what tips you might have for doing so. My specific questions are: Why is it loosing leaves after leaving the greenhouse? What soil do I pot it with when I transplant to a larger pot? How do I ensure pollination in the spring? What are my best times of year for prunning and shaping? Do you have any helpful suggestions for mantaining a healthy, fruit bearing tree for years to come? What pests should I be aware of? How do I best protect the tree in the winter even if it is indoors? I would apprieciate any information that can help me enjoy this wonderful house plant for a very long time. I would also like suggestions on other household citrus plants that thrive indoors. Thank you very much for the help.

Answer: Citrus trees make good houseplants so any that appeal to you should grow well. It isn't unusual for new trees to go through an adjustment period and to lose some leaves; the light, humidity and temperatures will be different in your home than they were in the greenhouse. Most citrus are self-fertile and should set fruit without problem. However, they do rely on insects to move pollen around when they are outdoors; indoors you can gently shake the branches to distribute pollen or you can "visit" each open flower with a small artist's brush to accomplish the same thing.

Regular potting soil is just right for your potted lemon tree. Citrus thrive in full sunshine and moist but well draining soil. Outdoors, give it full sunshine; indoors provide the brightest light possible, supplementing with artificial light if you can't give it some sunshine each day. Citrus trees can go outdoors when nighttime temperatures remain above 50F and should be brought indoors in the fall when nighttime temperatures begin to hover around 55F. Be sure to move your plant in stages so it can adjust to the different light, temperature and humidity levels when goes from indoors to out and vice versa. Citrus can become victim of scale insects and spider mites. Hose the plant off before bringing it in and carefully inspect the undersides of the leaves and the branches so you don't bring in any hitchhikers. Hope this answers all your questions. Best wishes with your tree!

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