Your Guide to Indoor Citrus

If you live in the South or a sunny warm climate you may be lucky enough to be able to grow some of your own citrus like lemons and oranges. The rest of us up north, well sadly we don’t have the option of growing citrus trees outdoors.  Thanks to dwarf variety fruit trees  we can grow our own fruit trees in containers and have access for fresh homegrown fruit all year long.
There are dozens of varieties of citrus plants you can grow indoors. Although the most popular may be the Meyer Lemon,  you can grow everything from tangerines and grapefruits to kumquats and everything in between! Interested in bringing some cheerful and sunny fruit trees indoors? Read on to learn about fruit trees in the home and how to keep them happy and producing sweet juicy fruit.

Choosing your plant
You may be able to find  citrus plants at your local garden center. If you don’t see what you are looking for they may be able to order one in for you. You can also purchase them online from several online retailers. I bought my Meyer Lemon at the Home Depot. Choose trees that are at least 2-3 years old if you want a tree that will product fruit right away.When choosing your plant look for a healthy looking tree with and sturdy trunk no signs of disease.  .


Fruit trees need about 8-12 hours of sunlight per day. Place your tree near a sunny window with south or west exposure.  If you get less than 6 hours of sunlight per day your may need to supplement  with  a grow light. If your tree does not get at least 6 hours of sunlight per day it will not produce fruit.


Many citrus plants are drought resistant. You want to water them approximately every 7- 10 days and be careful to avoid over watering. These plants like a lot of moisture so if you live in a dry climate make sure you give them a good misting with a spray bottle on a regular basis.


Indoor Pollination
In order for your tree to produce fruit the citrus flowers need to pollinate. Normally this is a job for  bees but since there aren’t likely to be many bees inside your house you will have to take on their job. Take a very soft paintbrush or makeup brush and lightly swirl around the pollen in each flower. If your flowers don’t get pollinated your tree may still grow pretty flowers but they won’t produce any fruit.

You can fertilize your citrus trees about once a month.  Citrus trees require a steady supply of nitrogen so choose a fertilizer with nitrogen as well as iron, zinc and manganese. Compost tea made from worm castings is also great for indoor plants.

Other tips and tricks

  • When transplanting your tree to a larger container use potting soil with perlite mixed in. Don’t use soil from your garden as it may contain diseases.
  • The best way to avoid pests is to spray your tree with horticulture oil. Misting with water will also help prevent spider mites.
  • If you live in a climate with hot summers and cold winters you can bring your tree outdoors when the weather is nice. Park your plant in the shade for a few days at the beginning and end of the season to help acclimatize it
  • Citrus will not ripen off the plant so make sure not to get too eager and pick your fruit too early

A collection of indoor citrus trees will not only give you access to tasty homegrown citrus all year long but the flowers will make your home smell heavenly and trees themselves make for interesting home decor and conversation starters. Whether you live in a tiny city apartment of sprawling rural farmland you can conjure the feeling of summer all year long with sweet citrus trees.

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11 Responses to Your Guide to Indoor Citrus

  1. Very interesting!
    I've always liked the look of mini trees in a pot.


  2. SibStudio says:

    I've tried several times to grow the Meyers lemons with no luck. I think after reading your post, I've watered them too much. I may try again!


  3. Think of where citrus trees naturally grow, warm desert climates. It's easy to accidentally over-water them


  4. A lot of people who come over to my house ask about it. Lemon trees are pretty rare in the Pacific Northwest!


  5. Heidi says:

    What a fabulous idea! I had never thought to do something like this! I use lemons and limes so often in cooking and such that it'd be a great addition to my indoor herbs!


  6. I definitely recommend you get yourself a little citrus tree to go along with your herbs. They are delightful!


  7. Jeremy says:

    I have a clementine tree in my house, its a foot tall and 2 years old. I got flowers the first year but none since. The thing grows really slow. Its not in the south window but in the west due to space constraints.


  8. Anonymous says:

    I have a mature lemon tree, had a problem with the spider mite, gave the tree a shower in the bath tub. Have one small lemon growing. However the tree drips sticky sap, is this normal?


  9. Isabelle says:


    I srated a tree from a seed 10 years ago… It has never flowered! Is it something I am doing or is it possible that it never will produce any flowers?


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