Citrus Dreams

By Mary Ellen Ellis | April 5, 2022
by Mary Ellen Ellis
April 5, 2022

Growing a citrus tree in a pot indoors is one of those dream projects I hope to tackle one day. I live in a colder climate where citrus doesn’t grow outdoors, so the only way to grow my own lemons or limes would be to try growing a tree in a pot. 

Trees in Containers

My only experience growing a tree in a pot was an unqualified disaster. Knowing little about houseplants at the time, I took on a ficus. It died within a few months, but it was slow and awful, one leaf at a time. 

Since then, I have avoided indoor trees, but armed with more knowledge and experience I feel more confident now. Many trees take well to containers, and there are some benefits to growing them this way: 

  • It allows you to grow trees that aren’t suited to your climate. 
  • You can grow a tree on a patio or indoors. 
  • In a container, you can move a tree around to catch the best conditions. 
  • You can grow a tree indoors in winter and move it outside in summer to catch the rainfall and direct sunlight. 
  • If you have to move, your tree can come with you. 

Best Citrus Trees for Container Growing

For years, I have taken winter vacations to Arizona to get out of the cold. One of the first things I fell in love with there was the abundance of citrus. It seems like every house has at least one orange, grapefruit, lemon, or lime tree in their yard. Some people have so much, they harvest bags of citrus and leave the fruit at bus stops for anyone to take. 

Since traveling to Phoenix, I have wanted to grow citrus too. It’s just not possible to have an outdoor tree here in Michigan, but several dwarf varieties of citrus do well in containers: 

  • Improved Dwarf Meyer Lemon. A Meyer lemon is a hybrid cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange resulting in a sweeter lemon. They are generally easy to grow, especially this dwarf variety. 
  • Bearss Lime. This dwarf lime is one of the best to grow indoors. It produces tasty seedless fruit prolifically. 
  • Kumquat. This unique little citrus has a sweet, edible skin and tart flesh. It is self-fertile and grow well in containers. 
  • Dancy Tangerine. If you have your heart set on an orange citrus, try this dwarf tangerine with delicious fruits that are easy to peel. 
  • Minneola Tangelo. Growing grapefruit in a container is tough because the fruits are large and heavy, so try this hybrid. A cross between grapefruit and tangerine, Minneolas are seedless, and both sweet and tart. You can find dwarf varieties to grow in a container.
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