Growing Citrus at the Allotment

Growing Citrus at the Allotment

How to Grow Citrus Plants: A Detailed Guide

Citrus fruits are widely enjoyed in the UK and are now easier to grow from cultivated varieties. Citrus trees love the warmth, but if you’re wondering “can I grow a lemon tree in the UK?”, the answer is yes! While it is more possible in the Southern areas with under glass growing during winter, it is still possible elsewhere. Lemon trees and other citrus plants are a beautiful addition to a plot or garden with their floral displays.

Let’s talk about how to grow citrus plants, focusing specifically on lemon and orange trees. 

We will discuss all the crucial details for a successful citrus harvest, from selecting the best variety to preparing the land and planting. If you have a lemon tree, or citrus plant and would like to share your growing story or some tips, register today and write a few lines! 

When and Where to Grow Citrus Plants 

Lemons are one of the easier citrus fruits to grow, along with oranges, limes and kumquats. The compact citrus trees are best grown in large containers so that they can be moved to greenhouses, conservatories or somewhere bright and frost-free during the winter months. 

Where to grow your citrus tree depends on your home and space. Citrus trees do not thrive well in the warm and dry heat of centrally heated rooms, indoors. A cooler but light area, such as a conservatory or greenhouse is best during the colder months.

How and When to Plant Citrus

Growing citrus in the UK requires careful consideration of both timing and method to ensure successful growth.

Select a spot that has good soil drainage, and receives lots of light. Citrus trees prefer slightly acidic soil, so consider adding compost or peat moss to improve drainage and acidity if necessary. 

When planting your citrus tree, Dig a hole twice as deep and wide as the root ball of the tree. If you're planting your lemon tree in a pot, pick a sizable container with holes for drainage and fill it with a potting mix that drains properly.

How to Take Care  of a Citrus Plant

So, how often should you water your lemon tree, or other citrus plant? Typically, regular watering is necessary - they become particularly dry in compost but do not allow them to sit in water as the roots can rot and the leaves can turn yellow, which is a sign of overwatering

Rainwater is particularly enjoyed by citrus trees where possible but if you are in doubt, allow the plant to dry out partially rather than saturate it.


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Citrus trees like humidity rather than dry heat (like indoor central heating), you can help achieve this by misting and watering the floors of a greenhouse on a warm day.

In late winter, roughly; February time you can prune the Citrus tree to shape it and encourage new growth. During summer, pinch back the tips of the most vigorous shoots. Our monthly planner here may be more helpful!

When and How to Harvest Citrus

If you are wondering when to pick citrus, we have got you covered!

Citrus tree fruits slowly form and ripen over several months; sometimes they can take up to one year. Once the fruit has grown to the desired size and has a rich skin colour it can be picked as and when required.

Common Problems with Growing Citrus in the UK

  • The larvae of the Citrus Leaf Miner tunnel through the leaves of citrus trees, causing damage and deformation. 
  • Citrus gall wasp is a pest that lays its eggs in citrus tree stems, resulting in the development of galls that can weaken branches and hamper growth.
  • Overwatering or poorly draining soil can lead to root rot, which causes the roots to decay and the tree to wilt and die.
  • Incorrect pruning techniques can weaken your citrus the tree and make it more susceptible to pests and diseases.

Popular Citrus Varieties

  • Kumquats are small, tangy fruits that are often grown in pots and can tolerate cooler temperatures as compared to other citrus varieties.
  • Gardeners in the UK love Meyer lemons for their compatibility with indoor cultivation, as well as their sweeter flavour and thin skin.
  • Calamondin, an ornamental citrus tree, bears tiny, sour fruits that resemble miniature oranges. It thrives in both indoor and outdoor environments. 
  • Yuzu trees can be grown in the UK with the right care, despite being less common. It is a highly sought-after citrus variety due to its aromatic zest, which is prized in culinary applications.

The Different Ways to Use Citrus Fruit

Learning how to grow citrus can help you open up different culinary opportunities.

  • Lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits often go well with marinades, baked items, salad dressings, and sauces.
  • Citrus fruits are often used as ingredients in mocktails, teas, infused waters, and cocktails. 
  • Citrus fruits, particularly oranges and lemons can be, are used to make preserves, jams, and marmalades
  • Citrus essential oils are used in aromatherapy and home fragrance items like room sprays, diffusers, and candles. They are extracted from the peels of citrus fruits.

Growing Citrus in Summary

Want to know how to grow citrus in a few easy steps? Read this!

Planting Citrus

  • Grow your lemon, orange tree or other citrus plant in large containers in a sunny spot
  • Consider varieties and age for fruiting
  • Consider your location and temperatures

Growing Citrus

  • Water regularly but do not over-water
  • Rainwater is best during the summer
  • Move under glass during winter

Harvesting Citrus

  • Citrus plants can flower for most of the year
  • Fruits ripen very slowly
  • Pick as required when fully ripened

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