How to cultivate citrus trees in a pot

Sheltered position, repotting period, manuring and appropriate pruning: following are a few simple rules to grow citrus fruits in a pot.

Orange, tangerine, lemon and grapefruit trees should be cultivated in a sheltered position even without a greenhouse. They are long-living plants that pay you back for your care with scented white flowers in the spring and summer and, later, with colorful and delicious fruits. Moreover, these trees have evergreen leaves that give a touch of colour to your balcony or garden all year long.


Manuring Citrus fruits need nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to ripe. Like the evergreen trees, they absorb the nutrients during the whole year, but especially in the spring. Fertilisers should contain animal or plant-derived elements and minerals (iron, zinc, copper, manganese, molybdenum), in order to provide the plants with all kinds of substances.


Repotting Potted citrus trees should be repotted from time to time because these plants need more soil to root and, then, to grow luxuriantly and produce many fruits. Summer, and mainly June, is the best period to repot the trees, and young trees should be repotted every two or three years. It is also important to plant the tree in a proportionate pot and avoid the use of too big pots. Old trees can be repotted even every 4 years. Once your tree is as big as to use a 70 to 80 cm diameter pot you shouldn’t repot it anymore.


Winter shelter If citrus trees are grown at high altitudes, during the winter it is necessary to put them in appropriate shelters to protect them from frost. You can put them under a roofing or in a greenhouse, according to the climate of the place. Anyway, you should put them on the south side of your house in order for them to be more insulated from temperature change. You should avoid heated rooms because dry air is harmful to the leaves.


Pruning Citrus trees should be pruned once a year, before the blooming, in the late winter. You shouldn’t shear many branches, only mixed and split branches, suckers, and the dry parts, making sure that the air and sun reach all sides of the tree.

Bibliography: Aldo Colombo “Coltivare gli Agrumi Ornamentali da Frutto. Le specie e le varietà, le forme di allevamento, le potature, la propagazione, le cure, la raccolta e la conservazione dei frutti”, De Vecchi, February 2004

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