California and southern gardeners once had sole bragging rights to homegrown citrus. Thanks to easygoing dwarf varieties that thrive indoors in containers, gardeners in colder climates and with limited space can squeeze in on the citrus love. Here are some container-friendly varieties.
Owari Satsuma Mandarin
These snack-size, seedless fruits continue to grow in popularity. Cool nights and warm days give this hardy fruit a sweet, tart flavor.
Both the fruit and the leaves of Kieffer limes (also called kaffir or keiffer limes) are common ingredients in Thai cuisine. The fruit features a bumpy, extremely aromatic peel used in curry pastes. The glossy green leaves add flavor to soups and stews.
Eureka lemon trees bear fruit all year and can be prolific. The fruit is very tart with fragrant, medium-thick skin -- perfect for zest or as wedges in beverages.
It's no wonder Meyer lemons are so popular. They're easy to grow, prolific, and don't need a lot of heat for the fruit to ripen. Slightly sweeter and juicier than the classic commercial varieties, Meyer lemons have a slight tangerine flavor.
To grow citrus in containers, follow these simple tips for success. Depending on the maturity of the plant and growing conditions, it may take several years for plants to bear fruit.
Pick the best pot. Always choose a container with good drainage. Use a pot with an 8"-10" diameter for a 1-year-old tree; use a 12"-14"-diameter pot for 2- and 3-year-old trees. Dwarf citrus flower better when their roots are slightly constricted.
Use the right soil. Begin with a basic potting mix (without fertilizers or wetting agents) and add redwood or cedar shavings (1/4 to 1/3 of total volume). Do not put gravel or small rocks in the bottom of the pot.
Water wisely. Give citrus trees a thorough watering at first, then add 1/4 to 1/2 gallon of water every 5-7 days. Use a citrus-friendly fertilizer such as Lilly Miller UltraGreen Citrus and Avocado Food (#153038).
Find a good location. Place your tree in a spot that gets at least 8 hours of direct sunlight each day. Citrus grows best when temperatures are between 55 and 85 degrees. If your home gets dry during winter months, place the pot on a saucer filled with pebbles and add water to the saucer. During warm weather, acclimate your pot in a sunny, wind-free spot outside.