With their dark green waxy leaves, strongly perfumed blossom, and vibrant fruit, citrus is a rewarding plant to grow here in the UK. In fact, oranges, lemons, and limes are hardier than you might imagine, surviving temperatures as low as -7 C and actually growing in temperatures above 7C.
Where to grow citrus plants
To get the best from your plants, carefully study the growing recommendations for each variety before choosing. Having said that, as a rule of thumb, if temperatures normally exceed +4C, most citrus plants can be kept in their pots outside in a sunny, sheltered position. If the temperature is likely to regularly dip below that, it’s best to bring them inside into an unheated greenhouse or shed.
Although citruses can survive a cold snap, they don’t do well in prolonged cold temperatures. If very cold weather is forecast, bring your plants inside and/or cover them with horticultural fleece until the weather warms.
If you’re planning on growing them in your conservatory, keep your plants well away from any radiators and to avoid leaf drop caused by too dry an atmosphere, stand your pot on a large saucer containing pebbles and topped up with water.
How to care for citrus trees
Our citrus trees come in a variety of pot sizes and can be transplanted into larger containers as they grow. Take care of watering, ensuring the soil remains moist but never waterlogged. If you’re growing your tree outside, a free-draining growing medium will help to avoid root rot.
Feed citrus trees with a tomato feed, weekly or fortnightly during the spring and summer, reducing to monthly with a specialised citrus feed during the winter months. To encourage bushy growth, give your tree a light trim as it begins to sprout new growth during the spring.
How soon will I be able to harvest fruit?
Much depends on your individual growing environment and your care for your tree, but most citrus trees will reward your patience and eventually set fruit. With limes, if your tree arrives already bearing fruit, don’t worry if it’s yellow in colour or even orange, there’s no mistake. Limes start off green but turn yellow and orange as they ripen. Pick your limes while they’re hard and green for a limey punch; if you fancy trying a sweeter lime flavour, leave them on the tree for longer.
For more information head over to our guide to growing citrus trees, and for details on growing all your favourite fruit, check out our ‘Growing Fruit’ section for a wealth of helpful guides to get you started.