Health Benefits of Eating Citrus

We’re all about citrus at, and no wonder…bright, colorful, fragrant and refreshing, citrus fruits are not only prized for their sweet-tangy taste – they’re nutritional super foods, too! Citrus fruits are rich in multiple nutrients such as vitamin C, flavonoids, and fiber which help protect your vascular system, reduce inflammation, improve gastrointestinal function and health, and play an important role in preventing conditions like diabetes, cancer, neurological disease. In addition to their heath benefits, citrus is also used in fragrances, natural cleaning products, medicinal brews, aromatherapy oils and all kinds of recipes from salads to entrees to desserts (besides being enjoyed out of hand).

With so much going for it, it makes sense to have more citrus on hand, and when you grow you own it’s even more satisfying (as well as more convenient). Don’t live in a tropical climate? Never fear – it is possible to grow citrus plants indoors in pots!

Choosing an Indoor Citrus Tree

For indoor growing, you will want to choose a dwarf variety, as standard citrus trees will be much too large to contain in most indoor spaces. You can find a wide variety of citrus trees for sale at, including dwarf citrus trees. Here are some of the most popular varieties for container growing:

  • Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree. This classic dwarf lemon is easy to grow indoors. It is a self-pollinating cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. It can flower and produce fruit throughout the year, increasing the likelihood that it will provide you with homegrown lemons that you can use in cooking or to make fresh squeezed lemonade. It can also remain outside in temperatures over 40°F.
  • Dwarf Persian (Bearss) Lime Tree. This variety produces large quantities of juicy, seedless fruit. The green skins will turn yellow if left on the plant to fully ripen. This is the most cold hardy of limes.
  • Dwarf Washington Navel Orange Tree. One of the most popular citrus trees available because they are easy to grow. The white flowers of this orange tree emit a citrus, sweet-smelling aroma that is wonderful in spring, and has pretty foliage all year long. The fruit is sweet, juicy and mostly seedless.
  • Dwarf Rio Red Grapefruit. This heavy-yielding plant produces large pink grapefruit with an incredibly sweet flavor.

Finding the Right Pot – and Soil – For Your Citrus Tree

You will need a large pot with sufficient drainage holes. Terra cotta, unglazed ceramic, plastic, fiberglass, wood, or resin containers are all good choices – just don’t use a dark-colored plastic pot, as it will absorb and retain heat from the sun, and can cook the roots.

Fill the pot with a well-draining citrus soil blend, or use regular potting soil mixed with perlite, small gravel, pumice, or expanded shale, which will help to ensure adequate drainage. Use two-thirds potting soil to one-third inorganic material. You can also make your own using equal parts peat, sand, perlite, and bark.

Caring for Your Indoor Citrus Tree

Citrus trees are tropical plants that require lots of light, warmth, and adequate moisture in order to thrive and produce fruit.

  • Light. Look for a spot in your home where the plant will get as much bright light as possible, such as a south or southwest facing window. If your plants don’t get at least 6 hours of direct light a day (which they likely won’t in more northern climates) you’ll need to provide a supplemental light source. A tall LED grow light will replicate sunshine and also provide a little heat. Position it about 18 inches above the canopy, and don’t put it to close or it might burn the leaves.
  • Temperature. Citrus does best when grown in air temperatures between 55 and 80°F. In order to flower, you tree will need about 5-10  degrees of difference between day and nighttime temperatures, so turn your thermostat down a few degrees before bed. When the weather warms up, you can move plants outdoors during the growing season to give them access to natural light.
  • Water. It is important that your potted tree’s soil should remain moist without becoming waterlogged. Infrequent deep watering is better than frequent shallow watering – allow the soil dry to a couple of inches deep, then water thoroughly until water seeps out of the drainage holes in the bottom of your pot. With citrus, yellow leaves can be a sign of overwatering, as can citrus leaf curl.
  • Citrus tree fertilizer. Since regular watering can leach nutrients, it is important to provide a source of citrus fertilizer for indoor plants (you can find products labeled specifically for use on citrus plants on Apply fertilizer just as new growth is beginning to appear in the late winter or early spring, and continue through the summer until growth slows down in fall.
  • Pruning. While pruning is not necessary for healthy growth and fruit production, it is useful to keep indoor trees compact and mobile. Trees can be pruned at any time during the year except when blooming and developing fruit, as this diverts energy away from fruit production and into new foliar growth.

Managing Pests & Citrus Tree Diseases

Contrary to what you might expect, pests can become especially troublesome with indoor growing. Since there are not many natural predators indoors to keep pests in check, populations can grow rapidly and cause significant damage.

If you can and can move your citrus plant into the bathtub or onto the porch, a strong spray of water can often be enough to remove pests, including any honeydew and accompanying mold (make sure to spray the undersides of leaves).

You can also make a homemade insecticidal soap by filling a spray bottle with water, a couple of teaspoons of mild biodegradable soap, and a teaspoon or two of vegetable oil. Spray the foliage every few days, as long as the infestation persists.

When growing citrus in containers indoors, the trees aren’t as prone to citrus disease as they are outdoors. Keeping trees healthy by watering them well and providing adequate sunlight will help to avoid stressing your plants, making them even more resistant to citrus diseases.

Enjoy Your Slice of Paradise Year-Round!

Growing citrus indoors is very rewarding and with a little extra care and attention, your plants will be provide you with fresh fruit for years to come. Enjoy!