Indoor Orange Tree Care.
How can I look after my indoor lemon tree?
Maintaining Your Indoor Lemon Tree: A Comprehensive Guide
Indoor citrus trees, including lemon and orange varieties, make for captivating and elegant houseplants. Throughout the year, they continue to intrigue, with their sweet-smelling white blossoms that later transform into small fruits, requiring approximately 4-6 months to mature. Once ripe, you can harvest the fruits as desired, with their flavor staying intact on the tree for several months..
All citrus species thrive in well-lit conditions, making a windowsill the perfect location for smaller plants. More sizable trees, however, necessitate a conservatory, greenhouse, or sheltered summer garden. If kept away from windows indoors, you’ll need to provide additional light to compensate. Keep in mind to protect your citrus trees from scorching due to intense direct sunlight, particularly in the summer.
During frost-free seasons, citrus trees enjoy being outdoors. This exposure allows spring showers to wash away accumulated indoor dust and often sparks spring growth. Nonetheless, a gradual transition to the brighter outdoor light is vital, starting with a couple of weeks in a slightly shaded outdoor spot before moving them to their designated sunny summer location. The same gradual adjustment is necessary when moving the trees back indoors for winter, preventing potential leaf damage due to sudden light changes.
Citrus trees are quite hardy, enduring temperatures as low as 4°C and even 2°C for brief spells. Although they can’t withstand frost, they benefit from a cooler winter period for rest. They can also handle high temperatures, but excessive heat can cause stress. Monitoring indoor conditions with a thermometer is recommended to prevent overheating, especially in conservatories. During winter, centrally heated environments can cause stress to the trees; cooler rooms or conservatories are more suitable.
Watering requirements vary with the seasons. During winter, water less frequently without letting the pot go completely dry, and increase watering with the onset of spring growth. In a heated conservatory, trees can dry out quickly and may need daily watering in sunny conditions, and possibly every two weeks in overcast winter weather. Avoid over-watering to prevent root disease.
During their growth period, citrus trees need a weekly feed of a citrus fertilizer rich in trace elements. Use a summer formulation from March through September, and a winter formula every two weeks for the remaining months. In the absence of citrus food, seaweed-based fertilizers, supplemented with occasional iron and trace elements, can be used. Avoid excessive feeding to prevent leaf-tip scorching and consider flushing the compost with plenty of water in summer and autumn to prevent fertilizer salt buildup.
The preferred humidity for citrus trees is around 50%. During hot weather or in centrally heated rooms, humidity can drop significantly. You can raise humidity with a fine mist spray, placing pots on a tray of damp gravel, or using a humidifier. Higher humidity also helps ward off red spider mite attacks.
Citrus trees, generally self-pollinating, have unique flowering and fruiting cycles. While flowering mostly occurs in May, some trees set fruit multiple times in a year. From a large number of flowers, only about 1% set fruit in larger trees to avoid overburdening the branches. Certain lemons, calamondins, and kumquats set a higher fruit percentage, occasionally needing thinning to prevent overloading branches. Conditions that are too dry or hot can inhibit fruit setting; improve this by misting the flowers.
As for leaf care, citrus trees, being evergreens, occasionally drop old leaves. If significant leaf drop is observed, check for dry conditions, inadequate light, over-watering, or insufficient feeding. Despite sudden leaf drop, don’t be disheartened; trees will typically regenerate a new leaf set within a couple of months.
Regular pinching out of branches promotes bushy growth