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Author Topic: Growing lemons or limes in NC  (Read 2781 times)
Jr. Member
Posts: 34

Apex, NC, Zone 7b

« on: June 03, 2013, 10:46:34 PM »

Has anyone tried growing lime or lemon trees in central NC?   Any tips for success? 
I've heard it can be done, but needs to be a mobile garden to hide inside during the coldest days.
Ay ideas for variety or the size of container needed? 
Full Member
Posts: 51

Zone 8 (Atlanta, GA)

« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2013, 12:54:11 PM »

There are dwarf varieties that are well suited to container life. I've tried indoor citrus a few times and didn't have the best luck. I don't have a particularly sunny window, and I also was locked in never ending warfare with spider mites.
Hero Member
Posts: 380

central Florida - zone 9

« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2013, 03:15:49 PM »

I have a key lime tree in a container.  It is about 5 feet tall and probably 4 feet wide.  The pot is a container that molasses came in for the cows, it is about 2 feet by 2 feet.  The tree is about 7 years old.  I fertilize it with citrus fertilizer 3x a year.  Deb
Full Member
Posts: 89

Zone 8b/9a, NW Florida

« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2013, 02:22:52 AM »

Since your question is about growing citrus, I suggest checking in the citrus forum on Gardenweb - a lot of the folks posting here grow container citrus well outside the citrus belt, and they can make very good recommendations:

I love the EB for many things, but not citrus. Container citrus prefer a well-draining mix that is allowed to dry out somewhat between waterings. The constantly moist environment of the EB is not good, since citrus are very prone to root rots. The citrus forum can advise you on good container mixes for citrus, too.

You can grow any citrus in a container, because they tolerate being rootbound. You will need to prune your citrus occasionally to keep the top in balance with the roots. Meyer Lemons, key limes, and especially kumquats are popular because they naturally tend to be smaller trees and are easier to keep pruned. Also, if you buy trees that have been grafted onto dwarfing rootstock, they will be easier to keep pruned, but will still produce full-sized fruit. To get fruit, you will eventually want to put them in the biggest containers you can safely and easily move, probably at least 10-15 gallons, and bigger is better. (You may be able to use smaller containers for key limes and kumquats.) Citrus actually do not seem to like being a small plant in a big pot. So all citrus should start in a container appropriate to their current size and be potted up as needed rather than being planted in a huge pot right away,

Citrus go dormant below 50F, and (depending on variety) there's a wide range of cold tolerance, but no citrus can survive a NC winter.

They really won't be happy being carted in and out all frequently from a warm house to a cool/cold outdoors, either. It's stressful to them to repeatedly go into and out of dormancy. They will probably be happier if you can find a very sunny southern window and bring them in the fall, then take them back outside in the spring. If you do not have a sunny southern window you will need to provide supplemental light for them - the citrus forum folks can advise on lights, too. Standard room lighting will not work.

Spider mites thrive in dry conditions, like a heated house in winter. If you can increase humidity around your citrus by misting them frequently or setting them over a humidity tray, that will help keep down the spider mites. (If you use a humidity tray, never let the roots set in water - use rocks or something to make sure that the roots stay out of the water in the humidity tray.) For bad infestations, spray with neem oil according to directions. Do not mix stronger or spray more often than directed, because too much neem can damage plants - more is not better!

I don't mean to make it sound hard to keep citrus indoors - actually they are pretty easy. But you do need to plan a bit so you can provide the environment they need to flourish. Save your EBs for plants that will appreciate them. Smiley
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