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BONNIE'S GARDEN--Grow a Little Sunshine

Growing citrus trees indoors is fun and easy, if you have the right conditions.  I have a Meyer lemon, a key lime, and two kumquats on my back deck right now.  They spend the winter indoors in my spare room with my computer.  When I’m at my computer I can reach around and grab a kumquat or two.  By the end of the evening, the little seeds are lined up along the top of my keyboard.
To get started:

1--- Pick a window that gets six or more hours of direct sunlight.  An unobstructed south window is best—unobstructed means no sheer curtains, blinds, or overhang, and no trees outside.  I grow mine in a southeast window—direct sun from sunrise until about two-thirty in the winter. It does okay.  Because winter sun is weak, during long cloudy stretches, I supplement with a grow light left on 18 hours a day.   A southwest window getting direct sun from mid-morning until almost sunset would work, as well.

2—Once you’re sure you’re sure you’ve got the light. choose your tree.  I look for a sturdy stem with several branches and fresh new leaves.  I don’t care whether or not it already has flower buds on it.  The shock of moving it home may occasionally make these fall off anyway.

3—Humidity is good.  If, like me, you have a lot of houseplants then that alone will raise your indoor humidity some.  If not, then a light misting will help.  Remember, the purpose of misting is to ‘fog’ not ‘rain.’  If you mist so heavily that it drips all over the floor, that’s raining.  I mist lightly—up in the air over top of the plant so that tiny droplets just settle on the foliage.

4—Fertilize three times over the season—once in late winter, once at the beginning of summer, once in early fall.  One way to remember this would be Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day.  Citrus fertilizers usually contain a heavier dose of nitrogen, because citrus seem to need a heavier dose.  They also need magnesium, so a good citrus formula should contain this, as well.  I use Citrus-tone (yes, we carry it here).

Citrus may bloom in the winter.  If yours does, then you will want to step in and pollinate the flowers yourself.  I use a small watercolor-style paintbrush for this.  I simply dab it gently in the middle of the flower and wiggle it around, then move to the next flower.

A couple of other things to keep in mind:  I strongly recommend moving citrus trees outside for the summer.  Wait until the first week of May.  When you move your tree outside, place it under a tree in dappled sun before moving it to full sun. Bring it in when night temperatures are falling just below 40 in the fall.  In the fall, you can help avoid shock by moving it back into dappled sun for a couple of weeks before moving it back inside.

Inside for the winter, water trees when the soil is dry a finger-length down, but do not let the plant go so dry that it begins to droop.  This will make the leaves curl.  While it is outside for the summer, water whenever the very top of the soil is dry to the touch.  Hot summer sun and breezes can make them dry out faster.

Remember that patience is a virtue when growing citrus.  It can take that little baby lime six to eight months to grow up and ripen…
Posted: 7/4/2016 by Bonnie Pega | with 2 comment(s)
Filed under: bonnies, citrus, garden
Citrus really need to be outside during the summer, if at all possible. If you absolutely MUST keep them in for some reason, then our air-conditioned temps are not a problem. Just don't put them near ac/heat vents. They do NOT like hot or cold air blowing directly on them. If they are inside, you will need to pollinate the flowers yourself.
7/18/2016 12:05:14 PM

What is the coolest indoor temp they can manage in air conditioning?
7/12/2016 8:28:38 AM

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