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    Thanks to John Harrison of Allotment & Gardens.

    Growing Citrus Fruits – Secrets of Success

    This article on growing citrus fruit is by Dick Handscombe who retired to Spain where he enjoys living a self-sufficient life and writing on gardening in Spain and other subjects. Here he considers the secrets of successful citrus fruit growing.

    Introduction to Growing Citrus Fruits

    We have recently noted that there is an increasing interest in growing citrus trees, especially growing oranges and lemons, in the UK and that a number of garden centres are expanding their stocking of citrus trees to stimulate and satisfy this interest.

    Victorian gardeners grew them – generally in hothouses – so why not now with the possibility of the effect of global warming in the warmer counties or under the winter pool cover alongside over wintering vegetables.

    In theory it’s a great idea but we do observe in Spain that well over half of the expatriates who have planted citrus trees are not happy with the yields of oranges, lemons and grapefruits etc they achieve.

    Indeed such problems led us to write the best selling book ‘ Growing Healthy Fruit in Spain – From strawberries to oranges and water melons’. We therefore set out some basic success factors below.

    Some citrus success factors – 10 tips for growing citrus fruit

    Buy early or midseason ripening varieties. Early oranges can ripen by the year end and late ones can still be harvested in June here in Spain. They will still be on the trees when they are in flower and new fruits are forming.

    Recognise that frost vulnerabilities are as follows:

    • Orange – medium
    • Mandarin – medium
    • Lemon – medium/high
    • Satsuma – medium/low
    • Kumquat – low/medium

    Position the trees in containers or in the open ground in sunny positions.

    Take the trees indoors or wrap in fleece and bubble wrap in the winter if you have anything more than light frosts. Of course is you have a large Victorian house which still has its original orangery that’s great.

    Plant new trees in enriched soil with roots spread out.

    Enrich the soil in the open garden and in containers with well rotted manures before planting citrus trees and don’t burn the delicate young roots by using strong inorganic chemical fertilizers.

    Don’t be in a haste to shape the tree. After two years the young tree will have developed a number of strong branches suitable for being pruned as the heart of the maturing tree.

    Keep the soil or moisture damp , but not waterlogged.Spray against bugs and sooty leaves with ecological insecticides and fungicides so that you are able to harvest oranges untainted by residual chemicals.

    Don’t harvest in one go as happens in commercial orange groves. Recognise that a truly ripe orange is sweet. The first really ripe fruit will be on the lower branches on the south side where they benefit from direct sunlight and reflected heat from the ground. The last to be ripe will be within the foliage on the north side.

    How to Grow Lemons – A Guide to Growing Lemons

    Lemons can be grown successfully in the UK but you need to remember that they are not hardy. Most varieties will tolerate temperatures down to 5°C but some only down to 10°C Check before buying. The further South in the UK you live the more successful you will be growing citrus fruit in general.

    Lemons

    As lemons are sensitive to cold weather, they’re best grown in a container which can spend the summer outside and the winter in a conservatory or heated greenhouse. Consider re-potting every two years and you will soon have a thriving plant.

    Growing Lemons

    • Follow the general citrus growing advice.
    • Plant in the spring to give them the whole growing season to settle down and establish themselves.
    • Lemons flower through much of the year and the fruits can take up to a year to ripen, so it is usual to find both flowers and fruits on the plants.
    • In the UK, grow in pots with good quality compost, feed in the spring and summer.
    • Move into a conservatory or heated greenhouse in the winter ensuring the temperature doesn’t fall below 5C (10C with some varieties)

    How to Grow Limes – A Guide to Growing Limes

    Limes can be grown successfully in the UK but you need to remember that they are not hardy. Most varieties will tolerate temperatures down to 0 °C but some only down to 5 °C Check before buying.

    Limes

    As limes are sensitive to cold weather, they’re best grown in a container which can spend the summer outside and the winter in a conservatory or heated greenhouse. Consider re-potting every two years and you will soon have a thriving plant.

    Growing Limes

    An ideal subject for a large container on a sunny patio. Supplied as a large specimen in a 5 litre pot, will begin producing fruit within 18 months.

    • Follow the general citrus growing advice.
    • Plant in the spring to give them the whole growing season to settle down and establish themselves.
    • Limes flower through much of the year and the fruits can take up to a year to ripen, so it is usual to find both flowers and fruits on the same plants.
    • In the UK, grow in pots with good quality compost, feed in the spring and summer.
    • Move into a conservatory or heated greenhouse in the winter ensuring the temperature doesn’t fall below 5C (10C with some varieties)

    How to Grow Oranges – A Guide to Growing Oranges

    Growing oranges successfully in the UK is possible, but you need to remember that they are not hardy. Most varieties will only tolerate temperatures down to 7 °C. As such you need to take into consideration that only during the Summer months will they tolerate outdoor temperatures.

    Oranges

    Oranges are not entirely hardy in the UK. If you live in a colder area of the country, try growing your tree in a large container. The tree can be moved outdoors during the summer and kept indoors, above 7 °C, during the rest of the year or just keep growing in a conservatory. Growing in a pot you will need to re-pot every few years. You could also grow in a glasshouse or conservatory all year round.

    Growing Oranges

    • Plant in the spring to give the plant the whole growing season to settle down and establish.
    • Citrus flower through much of the year and the fruits can take up to a year to ripen, so it is usual to find both flowers and fruits on the plants.
    • Follow the general citrus growing advice.

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