USES – Citrus trees are some of the easiest fruit trees to grow in your home garden. They are very popular and we have a good variety for sale. At various times of the year we can have Oranges, Lemons, Mandarins, Limes, Cumquats, Grapefruit and Lemonade. They have many uses around the home. The juice and the skins can be used for Cooking, Baking, Cleaning, Drinks, Preserves, Insect Repellants, Pot Pourris, Perfumes, Cosmetics, Dressings and Marinades.
POSITION – Citrus plants love sunshine, at least six hours a day is required for maximum fruiting, they need airflow, shelter from strong winds and they like lots of water. They are ornamental but productive as well. They don’t like frosts particularly. They produce many perfumed flowers, have green glossy leaves, brightly coloured fruit and are packed with Vitamin A, Iron, Calcium and Vitamin C, which protects us from winter germs. They usually start fruiting around 3 years old. The soil around them needs to be rich with either Manure, Compost, Potash, Blood and Bone or Citrus fertiliser and have a covering of Mulch that protects the shallow feeder roots from the elements. Fertilise four times a year.
HARVESTING AND STORING – Pick limes from late Summer throughout Autumn. Green fruit has the strongest flavour but the riper yellow fruit contains the most juice. Limes keep well stored in the fridge for up to a month.
CITRUS IN SMALL SPACES – There are many new dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties available that still produce full sized fruit but on a smaller tree. These varieties can be used to ‘espalier’ (where they grow straight on a wall, with their branches tied outwards, against the wall) and even made into ‘topiary’ (where the lower branches are trimmed off and the top half shaped into a ball) these two methods are good for small yards that have limited space. Keeping the fruit trees in pots is becoming increasingly popular these days as people have smaller homes or apartments but can still have the delight of a fruit tree. Potted citrus should be root pruned every three years and replanted in fresh potting mix and fed as this increases the amount of fruit you will get the following year.
TROUBLESHOOTING – Yellow leaves are a sign of iron deficiency, (treat this will iron chelates, which can be mixed in a sprayer and cover the foliage, if its a large tree which will make sprayer of the foliage difficult apply with a watering can around the trees roots), cold temperatures or lack of food. Citrus leaf miner is an insect (tiny moth) the attacks the new soft leaves and tunnels between the leaf leaving a silver trail tell tale sign on the foliage, then the leaf curls. This can be combated by using products like Pest Oil to coat the leaf keeping it safe from the insect attaching and penetrating the leaves. They can sometimes be affected by Scales, Sooty mould and Mealy Bug so using a product that works on Fungus and Insects would help along with the Pest Oil. A hole in a citrus tree could be from a borer, they usually attack trees that are weak and under stress. If the tree is riddled with borer throw it away and plant a new one.
VARIETIES – The most common varieties we tend to stock are :
LEMONS – Usually Eureka and Meyer. The Eureka tends to produce fruit all year round and have relatively few seeds. It is quite big in size, with a thick skin and grows around 4 m high. The Meyer is a smaller tree around 2-3 m tall with a smooth skin and has a sweet flavour. Tends to fruit heavily once a year. Lisbon lemon trees are very hardy, a quick vigorous grower up to 8 m high. They have smooth, thin skin, are good juicers that fruit once a year usually around mid Winter and early Spring but tend to be thorny and have more seeds than the other varieties and fruits less months. Lemonade looks like a Lemon but it can be eaten straight from the tree like an Orange. It is sweeter than a lemon, quite tangy. Good for juicing or making into a drink. It has an upright growth habit with lots of fruit, that ripen mid Winter time.
ORANGE varieties we usually stock are Valencia and Washington Navel. The Valencia orange has thin skin, a few seeds and is a fast growing tree. It grows around 4 m high, it fruits for a long time, beginning in Winter through to Summer. The Washington Navel produces fruit earlier than the Valencia usually from May through to September, doesn’t have as many fruit, but they are juicy and large with a sweet flavour. It is a small to medium sized tree, has fruit that is seedless with thick skin that is easy to peel, they are easy to grow and highly productive. There is also a variety called Seville which is not as popular for eating as it has a sharp, bitter, sour taste so is usually used for making jams and marmalades. Its fruit ripens mid Winter. There are also the varieties of Blood Orange, these are old types with a distinctive tang and red pigmentation. Cara Cara is one of those varieties which produce large, plump seedless fruit that are very sweet. It is a highly productive tree. Temperatures can change the colour of the fruit inside from red to pink.
CUMQUATS produce small fruit with a strong flavour, alot of people find the taste sour. The skin, zest and the whole fruit can be used in cooking and baking and make an excellent marmalade. The most popular varieties of these fruit are Nagami and Calamondin. The Nagami is the sweetest and you can eat the skin. The fruit is oval and small and the coloured fruit look superb just as an ornamental specimen. It has lovely fragrant flowers in Spring and is thornless. It is a small evergreen tree that grows to about 3 m. It needs protection from frosts in its early development. Calamondin have bright orange fruit when ripe and grow to about 2 m.
LIMES are becoming very popular in suburban home gardens. Most varieties are used for juicing, the Tahitian is a delicious, juicy seedless lime that grows between 3-4 m tall. Its fruit is small and it ripens in Late Autumn through to mid Winter, alas, the fruiting season is very short, usually only a month or so. The other popular juicing lime is the West Indian a smaller growing tree than the Tahitian. The fruit is small in size, thorny and turns slightly yellow when ripening and it fruits intermittently through Summer and Autumn. Needs to be protected from frosts. The Kaffir fruit is rough, the skin wrinkly and knobbled with hardly any juice but the zest can be used and is mainly grown for its leaves, which when chopped or crushed omit an aromatic citrus flavour that is used alot in Asian cooking. It is a small growing tree that makes an excellent potted plant and if grown in the ground will reach a height of around 3-4 m tall. There is also an unusual variety called Finger Lime which is an Australian plant native to Queensland. It has finger shaped fruit, its pulp looks like caviar, it has thorns and has a strong taste. The skin and pulp can come in many colours. It can be used in drinks, sauces, jellies, jams or as a garnish on seafood and mixed through salads.
MANDARINS Our most popular of these are the Imperial and the Emperor varieties. The Imperial have medium to large fruit, are easy to peel, juicy with a great flavour and few seeds. They are a strong upright growing tree, the fruit ripens late Autumn into Winter. The Emperor fruit have large puffy skin making them very easy to peel, it grows to between 3-5 m tall and fruits from April to October. There are a few other types sometimes available, these are Honey Murcott, Hickson, Japanese Seedless, Clementine and Ellendale. Ellendale has large fruit that are deep orange and produce late in the season. Hicksons are large flat looking fruit that ripen mid season. Clementine are medium sized fruit, the tree grows between 3-5 m tall, fruits mid Winter and has few seeds. Honey Murcott ripens late August/September, has large flat fruit, can be seedy. Japanese Seedless delivers huge seedless fruit early in April, May and June.
GRAPEFRUIT There are a few varieties of Grapefruit people usually ask us for , they are Marsh, Ruby Red, and Flame. The Red grapefruit is as it suggests has red flesh with a sweet flavour. It has medium sized fruit which ripen July/August and its used for juicing. The tree is medium to large, dense and bushy. The Marsh variety has yellow coloured flesh and is sweeter than the red variety. It is a vigorous growing tree, the fruit ripens in Winter and is almost seedless. Flame has a darker flesh but skin has a pink blush to it, the fruit is tangy and juicy. Most grapefruit trees grow to between 4-6 m high and about the same in width.
There has been some new releases in the eastern states of a double-grafted citrus called ‘Splitzers’ which are dwarf and large growing varieties of Orange and lemon, Orange and Lime and Lemon and Lime fruit together on the one tree. We don’t have these for sale, they may be hard to source, here in Perth.