How to Grow Citrus Trees in Texas

Texas is a citrus-growing state, but the commercial citrus growers are located in the subtropical Lower Rio Grande Valley that perennially enjoys favorable, warm temperatures. Gardeners around the state have had success growing citrus trees in Texas’ various climate zones with a simple trick: Take them indoors.

Citrus trees can thrive in pots, and growing them indoors allows gardeners to control and optimize the temperatures, fertilizers, and watering conditions that keep the plants healthy. Keeping citrus trees in your home can add color to your interior décor and zest to your homemade meals.

If you’re interested in growing indoor citrus, it is important to choose the right plant, the right soil, and offer the right care. Here’s where to start.

How to Choose Your Citrus Tree

Dwarf varietals of citrus work best indoors because they’re smaller and easier to manage. But your indoor citrus trees will do well if they’re moved outside during warm summer months and back inside as temperatures drop in the fall.

Dwarf citrus are made by grafting citrus trees onto a smaller plant rootstock. These plants don’t grow as large as a full-sized tree, but they can produce lots of fruit. Here are a few varietals that do particularly well indoors:

  • Dwarf Meyer lemon
  • Bearss semi-dwarf lime
  • Calamondin orange
  • Rio red grapefruit
  • Dancy tangerine

How to Plant Your Citrus Tree

  • Drainage: Citrus trees love water but require effective drainage to avoid disease and rot. Drill large drainage holes into the bottom of your pot to prevent excess water from collecting and drowning your roots.
  • Soil: Plant in two-thirds potting soil and one-third shredded wood. This will create an easy flow of water through the soil.
  • Planting: Plant the tree by finding the graft union in the plant. That is the place where the citrus tree has been grafted onto the dwarf rootstock. Bury the root of the plant so that the graft union is at least 2 inches above the soil.
  • Placement: Place the pot in a water saucer, and position it in a bright, sunny window that receives at least six hours of sun daily.

How to Care for Your Citrus Tree

  • Watering: Citrus trees like lots of water — but not in excess. Water your plant regularly, but don’t allow water to stand in the water dish. If the soil is damp to the touch or the leaves start to droop or turn yellow, these may be signs of over-watering.
  • Sunlight: Citrus trees like lots of sun, but they also need some dark hours at night to get their rest. Start your tree in a semi-shaded part of the yard before moving it into full sun after a few days.
  • Temperature: When the temperature outside warms up, you can move your tree outside, but do so gradually. They grow best in a temperature range of 44 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Fertilizing: Citrus trees thrive when fed with nitrogen-rich fertilizer, such as a fish fertilizer. Apply once a month.
  • Spraying: In addition to regular watering, citrus trees like staying moist. Keep a spray bottle to mist their leaves, particularly during the winter when indoor heating can dry out the air inside your home.

Once your tree starts bearing fruit, follow these recipes for homemade citrus treats.

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