Sunday, February 28, 2021

Growing citrus in pots

Better Homes and Gardens March 2021

I gathered as many of my citrus-growing tips as possible for an article about growing indoor citrus, featured in the March edition of Better Homes and Gardens. The paper edition, hard copy only. I know! A real magazine. 

Magazine article about citrus trees

Here I am, reading the piece to the Thai limes. They had questions. 

These tips are hard-won, from personal experience (with some expert support along the way) and were written to answer - in one place - some of the frequent questions I am asked about growing citrus trees in pots. My trees have taught me a lot. I have also made mistakes, and learned how to recover from them (sorry about that over-watering, Ms. Meyer!).

Meyer lemon flowering indoors by Marie Viljoen

In our bedroom right now it is citrus blossom season. Well, at least for the deliciously scented Meyer lemon. Sometimes the Thai limes are slower and only erupt once they are out on the terrace again, and that won't be for another six-ish weeks. 

Meyer lemon by Marie Viljoen

The yuzu is still too young to bloom, and the fingerlime has a mind of its own, sometimes flowering hardest in the middle of the year! 

Fingerlime by Marie Viljoen

If you are in the US and looking for citrus trees to buy, my fingerlime and yuzu trees came from Four Winds Growers, while the Meyer lemon and Thai limes came from LemonCitrusTree

In my native South Africa, locals can contact the Stellenbosch Botanical Garden to see if they have Thai limes (Citrus hystrix) in stock (thanks to my friend Donovan Kirkwood, who is the garden's curator). And yes, they would have to be picked up in person. 

Our own citrus flock is a delight, but these are not low maintenance plants. Think of them as green pets, and you'll get along just fine.


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  1. Congratulations Marie! A real paper magazine, with readers about to become indoor citrus growers!

  2. Since the orange guy is not going away please tell us more about lemons.

    Congrats and forgve the pun.

    1. Ugh. Oranges are too good for him. Cheeto in Chief.

  3. Oh how I wish I could join your "growers group", but I suspect it requires some sunlight inside during the winter months! that is something I do not have. But I loved the article.

    1. Thank you, Win. Yes, east, south or west would be good. I supplement the tetchy Meyer lemon with a grow light.

  4. Yay for you, Marie! I hope you're proud of all the years of work you've done to be recognized liked this in a prestigious magazine. Maybe a little more than 4 years ago, I remember you found scales on your Thai limes. I'm guessing you got that sorted. I tried your Neem oil suggestion but found it to be too smelly and sticky for indoors. I moved one of my favorite house plants outdoors a year ago and stuck some geranium cuttings in the pot. The geranium seems to be keeping the mealy bugs at bay. If by summer all is clear, I may move the house plant back indoors with it's new geranium friend.

    1. Thank you. If you find the Neem too sticky you may not be diluting enough? It's very effective if used regularly. I carry the pots to the shower so I can spray them thoroughly.

      Here's some more you may find helpful if you grow citrus.


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