Make sure your oranges and lemons are well cared for as it gets chillier. Ruth explains how to keep them happy over winter…
Keep Your Citrus In Shape
If you are growing citrus trees in pots they will have loved the Mediterranean-levels of heat and sunshine we experienced for most of this summer.
Our small lemon tree overwintered in the greenhouse, and then several months spent on our sunny patio have prompted it to throw out a wealth of fragrant white flowers.
Hopefully it will fruit, too, though it will need warmth and a change in fertiliser to give it its best chance. Follow these tips to keep your citrus in the peak of health.
3 keys to keep your citrus in shape:
• Lemons and limes require a minimum temperature of 10C/50F to flourish. Calamondin oranges need it to be a few degrees warmer. Kumquats are the hardiest citrus fruits and can tolerate a drop to 7C/45F.
• The best place to keep citruses in winter is the greenhouse, as a centrally heated room indoors will be too hot and dry. Have lots of fleece and bubble wrap to throw over the plant on the coldest nights and insulate their container.
• Summer citrus fertiliser is high in nitrogen to boost growth. In winter, between October and April, they will need a more balanced feed for flowers and fruit.
And don’t forget…
• They will also need less water, so let the surface of the compost almost dry out before re-wetting. Use rainwater where possible and don’t over-water.
How to keep a lemon plant happy
1 Citrus trees produce fast-growing shots called ‘water shoots’ from the main branches or even from the trunk. Pinch them out, especially those that develop from below the graft on the main stem.
2 There is no need for harsh pruning, but you can keep your plant in shape by carefully pinching out or cutting off shoots growing too fast or in the wrong direction. This helps to keep the plant in an attractive shape.
• Ruth Hayes is AG’s Gardening Editor and talks you through your weekly jobs in every issue of Amateur Gardening