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Growing Citrus in Containers

Even if you can’t grow Citrus in your backyard, you can grow them in pots.
Growing your very own citrus fruit is no longer dedicated to those who live in the sunny south, but can be enjoyed by everyone throughout the United States. Growers in colder regions can now happily benefit enjoying potted citrus trees, so it's no longer just the fruits and vegetables in northern climates, now growing your favorite citrus in containers is gaining popularity.

Growing essential crops like oranges, lemons, satsumas, kumquats, and limes add versatility to the home with pleasant fresh citrus fragrance and beauty for years to come.
Citrus trees are especially suited for container growing as they can be kept at manageable sizes. Whether you have the everbearing Meyer lemon, Persian lime or a sweet orange variety, you’ll enjoy the health benefits of your home-grown fresh fruit.
Whether it's growing the lemons for lemon juice for lemonade, or a source of vitamins using the outer rind for lemon peel in recipes, or for freshly squeezed orange juice to build the immune system to fight the common cold, growing citrus trees can be a unique thrilling undertaking.
Trees planted in decorative pots are attractive on a patio or an apartment balcony.
When blooming and fruiting, the appealing eye-catching colors of orange, yellow and greens are sure to please. The scent of spice or hints of citric acid fill the air with rich and robust fragrances that create nature's aromatherapy, plus the added benefits of making lemon oils or other essential oils, growing citrus trees are a uniquely delightful experience.

Planting Zones
In colder zones or during freezing weather, take the tree indoors when temperatures at night are below 50 degrees F. These tips can help you on the way to successfully grow citrus trees in containers.
For directions on planting in zones 9-11 only: https://lemoncitrustree.com/store/growing-citrus-ground
Our Citrus can be planted in USDA growing zones 9-11 only.
Trees that are planted in the ground that experience freezing temperatures above zone 8 need protection in unusual inclement weather. Planting in the wrong hardiness planting zone will void the warranty.
Planting zones: https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/

Pot Size And Re-Potting

Do not re-pot until you have had the tree at least 2 weeks, the tree needs time to adjust
Never plant a tree in a container more substantial than a 10-gallon pot. Always water according to pot size, with a moisture meter. Drilling additional holes in the pot is an easy way to improve drainage.
When repotting DO NOT transplant using stones in the bottom of the pot or use stones on top as a decoration, this will cause a drainage issue and lock moisture into the pot which will cause root rot.
Select the right sized pot with adequate drainage holes. If the pot has no holes on the side or bottom, it is not the correct pot for planting.
Self-watering is incorrect watering, self-watering is not infrequent deep watering.

Place the prepared soil mix in the bottom of your new container. Gently slide tree roots out of the old container, as the tree slips out of its old container it will retain the shape of the container it was in.
Try to retain the shape of the container, you can detangle any circling roots near the bottom of the root mass so that growth in the new pot will not be impeded but do not break up the top portion of the soil near the woody area of the tree. The woody area is the root crown area.
When setting the tree into the new container, do not allow the tree to slide deep into the pot. The top portion of the old soil surrounding the woody area of the tree should be just a few inches below the rim of the new container. NEVER ADD ANYTHING TO THE TOP OF THE SOIL, if the tree falls too far down into the new pot, remove the tree and add more soil from the bottom NEVER THE TOP!
Once the tree is adequately placed in the new container only add soil to the sides around the rim of the pot, building the soil line to meet the level of the root crown soil.
Set-up ideas for your potted tree can be found here: https://lemoncitrustree.com/store/citrus-blog/2016/12/16/easy-setup-ideas-for-indoor-citrus-trees/

Root Crown

Never plant anything in the pot with the tree. An assortment of decorative plants look attractive in the pot with the tree, but other plants will rob the tree of moisture and nutrients.
Do not place decorative rocks on top of the soil after planting. This can cause serious problems over time due to the pot not drying out properly which causes root rot.
Do not bury the root-crown with soil or mulch. A photo of the root crown can be found here:  https://lemoncitrustree.com/store/pest-disease

Deep Watering Method For Potted Trees

Trees will die if they don't have the essential requirements, incorrect watering is the most common cause of issues and tree death.
1. Check the tree with a moisture meter before watering.
2. The prong should be deep into the pot.
3. Only water when the meter reads 4 (for a meter with a range from 1-10).
4. All trees require deep watering. Deep watering is drenching the soil until water pours from the holes at the bottom of the pot.
5. Watering with a few cups is not acceptable, this will cause deep roots to die. Never be stingy with the water when the tree needs to be watered.
6. Once the tree has been watered properly,  check it with a moisture meter again to make sure the meter reads high (9 or 10) and then do not water again until the meter reads 4.
7. In the winter you will water far less, about twice a month (But always check the tree with a meter weekly because this can vary)
8. The meter should never be left in the pot when not in use.
9. Never water with cold water in the winter
10. Never water the tree with water from a water softener.
A space between the bottom of the pot and the tray that catches the water is required.


We recommend using commercially available potting mixes. Miracle-Gro Palm, Cactus, Citrus soil is a soil mix that is lightweight and drains well.
Rosebush garden soil mixes (formulated for outside use) work well.

Sunshine- Lighting

Provide eight or more hours of direct sunlight per day. If less than six hours of natural full direct sun is provided, supplement with grow-lights. Usually, an unobstructed south or southwest facing window is ideal. Suggestions on lighting can be found here-  https://lemoncitrustree.com/store/citrus-blog/2015/10/05/winter-recommendations-for-inside-citrus/
Avoid placing your tree near a heat vent.


Citrus trees feed heavily on nitrogen. Your fertilizer should have more nitrogen (N) than phosphorous (P) or potassium (K). Use at least a 2-1-1 ratio.
In some regions, you may be able to find specialized citrus/avocado fertilizers. Any citrus formula will contain trace minerals like iron, zinc, and manganese. Many all-purpose and commercial organic products will work.
Never use fertilizer stakes for a tree planted in a pot, fertilizer stakes can burn fine root fibers.
Fertilizers come in different strengths, release rates, and application schedules, so follow package instructions carefully. We recommend that you fertilize more often than recommended due to nutrients getting washed out of the pot when watering.
Yellowing leaves indicate lack of fertilizer, overwatering, or a pest infestation.
For fertilizing suggestions: https://lemoncitrustree.com/store/citrus-blog/2015/08/11/feeding-recipe-for-a-happy-tree/


Know where the graft union is on your tree. It can usually be seen as a diagonal scar, a branch off-set or a knobby area between four and eight inches from the soil. Remove all shoot growth below the graft.
Growth below the graft will take vitality from the tree. It is essential to remove them as soon as they are observed, left to grow they will eventually kill the tree.
Photo of Graft here: https://lemoncitrustree.com/store/pest-disease


Juvenile fruiting wood will sometimes have thorns; this is a young tree's way of defending against grazing animals. As the tree matures, thorns will not appear as often. Prune off thorns if desired.

Pest Insects

Pest prevention is a necessity with trees that produce food.
Insects are attracted to food and your tree is a sweet source of food for scales, aphids, or mites etc.
If your tree is infested with a pest you must wash your tree with Dawn dish soap and warm water, scrubbing with a washcloth. Make sure the topside and underside of leaves are entirely washed and scrubbed of sooty mold and cleanse of any sticky substance. You can use a toothbrush in hard to reach areas, such as a crevice at the Y part of a branch.
Treat the tree once it is clean with a horticultural oil or neem oil.
It is IMPORTANT that the honeydew is removed from branches and foliage because it is the honeydew that will eventually kill the tree.

Over-wintering your citrus trees indoors will be necessary if you live in a colder region.  When temperatures fall below 50 degrees F at night place your tree indoors in a southern sunny window.


Please contact us at support@lemoncitrustree.com or call if you need assistance.

Lemon Citrus Tree
866-216-TREE (8733)