Citrus trees aren’t just for tropical climates! Tree-fresh citrus fruit is an amazing delicacy and one that most people don’t get to enjoy. You can change that for yourself by growing any of these citrus trees in a container. Container citrus trees need a bark or compost-based soil that isn’t too dense, at least 8 hours of sunlight per day, daily watering, a well-drained pot, and a sunny place out of freezing weather. Some the easiest citrus tree varieties we’ve found are listed below:
- Meyer lemon – Botanists say this isn’t really a lemon – it’s a hybrid of a lemon and a mandarin orange. Whatever it is, it’s easy to grow and the fruit is amazing. It’s sweeter than a “true” lemon, thanks to the mandarin genetics. The fruit is normally ripe in winter, and the tree grows to only 6-10 feet tall, making a perfect container tree. The fruit looks and tastes like a lemon and makes excellent lemonade, regardless of what the botanists say.
- Dwarf Key lime – This is a miniature tree version of the tree that makes the amazing limes, prized for pies and tacos. The fruit ripens in late fall or early winter. The tree grows to about 6 feet if you don’t prune it to keep it shorter. The tree is forgiving and it smells amazing. And dwarf refers to the tree, not the fruit – the fruit is full size and juicy!
- Makrut lime – This lime has wrinkly skin and it’s round, not oblong. The leaves of the tree are frequently used in Thai and other Asian cuisine. The fruit ripens in late fall. The entire fruit can be candied and eaten. The juice of the makrut lime can be used as a natural cleaner. Makrut is often called Kieffer in the U.S. It’s a lime, so the juice can be used for cooking in any recipe that calls for lime juice.
- Meiwa kumquat – Kumquats are an underappreciated little fruit. The Meiwa kumquat is a small tree that produces a small citrus fruit that can be eaten whole or made into a fantastic marmalade. The tree is naturally frost-resistant and very forgiving to grow. It never complains and produces a consistent crop of sweet little fruit.
- Hamlin orange – Hamlin is a sweet orange that is more cold tolerant than other oranges. It’s easy to grow and the fruit is sweet. The fruit can be eaten fresh, or squeezed for juice. This is an old variety – it’s been grown successfully in tropical regions and in containers in non-tropical regions since the 1880’s. Hamlin orange isn’t a navel orange and it’s pretty large, making it well worth the effort to grow in a container.
That’s it! Choose one of those 5 and provide a little care, you should be able to eat your own tree-fresh citrus fruit, even if you live in an apartment or tiny house 🙂
For more detailed information on growing citrus trees in containers, check out the upcoming book The Lazy Gardener’s Guide to Growing Citrus in Containers, available summer 2019.