Growing citrus indoors

Quick facts

  • Tangerines, lemons, kumquat and small oranges are types of citrus houseplants.
  • Citrus plants grow best indoors with 65° days, dropping five to ten degrees at night.
  • A soil containing a fair amount of organic matter is ideal.
  • Make sure the foliage is kept clean by periodically washing the leaves.
  • Stem cuttings root easily.

Oranges in Minnesota? This idea is not so far-fetched if you consider growing selected citrus plants indoors. The flowers and fruit can be fragrant and attractive.

Most varieties of oranges and other citrus grown commercially in warm climates are too large to be grown indoors.

Growing citrus plants is not difficult. Getting the plants to bear luscious tropical fruits is another story. Perhaps it is better to simply consider your citrus a nice houseplant that may produce fruit as a bonus.

Selecting plants

There are several species that make good houseplants when cared for properly.

  • The calamondin orange (Citrofortunella mitis), is the most common species grown indoors.
    • Its fruits are small and sour, but can be used for marmalade or as a garnish in summer drinks.
  • The Otaheite orange (Citrus limonia) is not actually an orange. It is a dwarf, spineless variant resulting from a cross between a lemon and a tangerine.
  • Tangerines (Citrus reticulata) can also be grown indoors.
    • Satsuma oranges, which are really tangerines, are particularly good and have abundant fragrant flowers.
  • There are two varieties of lemon which may be used as houseplants, 'Ponderosa' and 'Meyer'.
  • Citron (Citrus medica) and kumquat (Fortunella species) can also be grown indoors.

Growing citrus plants

Growing citrus plants is not difficult if the following requirements can be met.

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Deborah L. Brown

Reviewed in 2018

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