Common Name: Citrus
Botanical Name: Citrus spp.
Type and Use: Tropical evergreen trees: orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, tangerine, kumquat. Fruit and fruit juice.
Location: Full sun
Planting Dates: Any time as long as protected from freezing weather. Best to plant in warm soil and warm weather in the spring.
Planting Method: Seed or stem cuttings. Texas mature at 4-5 years.
Seed Emergence: 2-4 weeks
Harvest Time: When fruit is ripe in late summer
Height: Varies greatly
Spread: Varies greatly
Final Spacing: Varies greatly
Growth Habits: Grow on the south side of the house so plastic can be pulled down from the eve to make a greenhouse-type effect in winter, or move potted plants into a greenhouse or grow citrus in a greenhouse year-round. In general in Texas, citrus will only bear fruit on the spring bloom.
Culture: Healthy, well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Plant all citrus high with the graft union well above the soil line. Citrus needs little or no pruning; in fact, pruning is detrimental to fruit production. If citrus is left outdoors in the northern part of the state a greenhouse-like structure with heat must be provided. Best to grow citrus in containers in most of the state. Protect in the winter, move plants outside into the sun when temperature is over 30°.
Troubles and Solutions: For soil and root diseases, treat soil with cornmeal and use a basic organic program.
Harvest and Storage: Stem should be cut, not pulled. Harvest the fruit when mature and store in a cool place. Eating the fruit fresh from the tree is, of course, best. The flowers that form in the summer can be harvested and eaten any time. Fruit will store on the tree. After ripe and removed from tree, store at above 50°. Will keep 2-6 weeks.
Notes: The peelings of citrus is used to flavor food and drinks. Citrus flowers, especially orange and lemon, are edible and good in teas. Grated peelings in also good in teas. Make sure the fruit is organically grown because the pesticides collect in the rind.
Varieties: Satsuma is the one most often recommended for use in pots, but it still needs protection in the winter. Chang Sa, a tangerine, is hardier and has a much better flavor. It will also come true from seed and grows well on its own root system.