The Q&A Archives: citrus trees for pots

Question: What is a good lemon tree to plant in a container?

Answer: For best results, consider trees that are dwarf varieties, like the Meyer lemon, or a variety that is grafted onto dwarfing rootstock.

Meyer lemons are hardier than other lemons and more generous about fruiting. They produce medium size juicy lemons. And here's an added bonus: The waxy white blossoms are lovely and fragrant.

Tips for growing your indoor lemon tree

If you purchase your Meyer lemon from a nursery, look for plants that are at least 2 to 3 years old. Improved Meyer lemons are also suitable as houseplants. They can be maintained at 3 to 5 feet tall and if you have the knack, lemon trees make wonderful Bonsai specimens.

Citrus prefer a slightly acid, all-purpose mix, which you can get by using a peat-moss based growing mix. (Remember, you get what you pay for, so don't go for the cheap products.)

Lemon trees thrive in a normal temperature range of 70 degrees during day to 55 degrees at night. TIP: Though the plants are evergreen they will go into dormancy and stop growing below 54 degrees F.)

Set your lemon tree in full sun from a southern exposure. Trees need lots of light. If that's not possible, or if you're growing yours indoors, supplement the light by installing 40-watt fluorescent shop lights above the plants -- especially important in the winter, when they need 12 hours of light.

You'll need to keep the soil evenly moist and you can give your lemon tree a shower occasionally.

If you grow plants indoors, bees and insects can?t pollinate them. So you need to use a paintbrush or cotton swab to rub pollen within the flower. Sometimes they will produce fruit without doing this, but it's a good idea to increase your chances!

Best wishes with your new tree!

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