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This Week’s Guest Blogger is Darren Sheriff

Containerized Citrus Growing

Growing your own food has gotten to be a huge phenomenon. With all kinds of recalls on different greens and other vegetables it makes sense. Being “The Citrus Guy”, I encourage people to grow, you guessed it, Citrus.

Well, what if you do not live in a Citrus producing area?

Containerized Citrus to the rescue!

Most types of Citrus can be grown successfully in containers, if you have a large enough one. Don’t expect as big a tree as one grown in the ground, however. The biggest advantage of containerized trees is that they can be protected during freezing temperatures by temporarily storing them in an enclosed area.

Plastic containers retain moisture longer than other types of pots, especially terracotta. Citrus need lots of moisture, but don’t like wet feet all the time. A good rule of thumb is, try to keep the soil about the constancy of a wrung-out dish sponge.

The potting mix you use is really a personal choice. Any good, well-draining mix that will retain some moisture, and is sturdy enough to support the plant, will work. You can use any combination of peat, pine bark, compost, perlite, sand, etc.

Good nutrition is essential but over fertilization can result in excessive vegetative or leafy growth. I prefer a 5-1-3 organic fertilizer.  If the tree is in the ground, I will start feeding in late winter and stopping late summer to allow the plant to harden off before the cold sets in. If in containers, all year long is acceptable. They can be fed every 6-8 weeks, in accordance with the time frames previously listed. Any fertilizer you have will work particularly if it contains trace elements such as Iron, Magnesium and Manganese. An occasional foliar spray (spraying the leaves) with Fish Emulsion will also benefit the tree.

Citrus love sunlight, 8-10 hours if possible. Even in Winter, if the temps drop at night and you bring it in, bring it back out during the day after it warms up. If you forget or there is a long cold spell forecasted, don’t worry, your citrus tree will be fine for a few days in a garage or other sheltered spot. They can handle 28 degrees Fahrenheit for short periods of time, if it has been cool prior to the freeze event.

I usually don’t start to panic about protection until they predict 26 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you don’t have someplace to stash the tree and it is only cold for a couple of nights a year, there are other possibilities.

  • Create a temporary greenhouse out of PVC and heavy-duty plastic. Then use electric lights or a small heater. You do not have to keep it tropical in there, just above freeing is fine.
  • You can lay the plant down and cover with a tarp and/or blanket. The heat from the ground will keep it nice and comfortable. Such as this:My trees were under here for three weeks. When I stood them up, they looked like they had come out of the greenhouse.I have been gardening since I was a little boy, citrus has been a passion since the late 1990’s. You can learn more about me and ask any questions by going to my website: https://thecitrusguy.com/

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