Growing fresh citrus fruits at home may seem impossible for people who live in cold climates or apartment buildings. Fortunately, many citrus plants and trees do wonderfully when planted in large pots, even when kept indoors. Consumers thinking about potting a citrus plant should get to know a few helpful tips in order to create a healthy environment the plant can thrive in.
Selecting the Right Pot Size
A pot or planter for a citrus plant should not be too large, but rather, just large enough to allow the plant some growing room. An adult dwarf citrus tree usually does well in a 30 cm pot, and you can usually maintain a regular adult citrus tree, like lemons, oranges, limes, and kumquats, in a 50 to 60 cm pot. It is a good idea to repot your citrus plant each spring. If a citrus plant has grown over the year, purchase a larger pot to accommodate it. That said, increase the pot size no more than 8 cm each year. Any container material is acceptable for a citrus plant including an old wooden barrel, a ceramic plant pot, or a plastic plant pot. If you plan to move the citrus tree throughout the year, you should choose a lighter container for easier moving.
Allowing Adequate Drainage
Adequate drainage is key to keeping a citrus plant healthy and thriving, as it does not like being waterlogged. Look for a pot that is prepared to drain water with holes in the bottom. If you find a decorative pot you like with no drainage holes, determine whether it is possible to drill a few in the bottom. For best results, place a single layer of mesh at the bottom of the pot before planting. This allows water to pass through the drainage holes without letting soil slip out.
Choosing the Right Soil
It is equally important to choose the right potting soil for a citrus plant. Choose high-quality, well-draining commercial mixes or home-made, fertile loam-based compost with a generous amount of gritty sand mixed in. These soils provide much needed nutrients to the citrus plant and prevent waterlogging.
Planting the Citrus
After choosing the right pot and soil, it is time to plant the citrus. Fill the pot less than halfway with your soil of choice. Next, remove the citrus plant from its original container and use pruning shears to trim off dead roots. Also, carefully work any tangled roots loose to promote healthy plant growth. Finally, gently place the plant in the pot and fill it with soil, packing lightly. Ideally, the top of the roots should be just below the soil and the root crown, or root collar area, just above.