Citrus Trees

quesApril 21, 2008

I live in Sacramento California and would like to plant orange and lemon trees (that hopefully will mature in my lifetime - I'm 71!!!) I know absolutely nothing about gardening! When to plant? What kind to plant? How to plant? I need help - I once killed a cactus plant!!!

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debbysunshine(san diego)

It gets pretty cold up there in the winter so I'ld plant a small tree in a barrel with drilled holes on a moveable platform for the winter. Our neighbors have a limon, small but grows the best tasting limes in a barrel. Best bet is just to go to the nursery in your area but check around, make sure that they aren't pulling your leg. Or just visit the 99 Cents Only for the very best veggies and fruit for only 99 and save all the pain of warching your trees not do as well as they should.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 12:30PM
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Central_Cali369(Sunset Z9, Fresno, CA)

Hey Ques, buy the dwarf (grafted) trees form Home Depot or Lowes. They usually come with fruit already, or only take a year or two to begin producing. If you want a greater variety of trees to choose from, you could stop by Four Winds Growers in Freemont. I grow these dwarfed trees because i have a limited amount of space in my suburban-sized lot. I have the following trees, all of which have been planted in my yard for 3 years and already produce fruit. the amount of fruit they produce is not astronomical, but perfect for home consumption. I don't have the space to grow normal-sized trees anyway.

I have:
2 Murcott Mandarins
2 Valencia Oranges
1 Cara Cara orange
1 Mexican sweet lime
1 meyer lemon
1 variegated pink lemon

Here is a picture i took in January of one of the murcott mandarins with ripe fruit. The plant is less than 4 feet tall. Notice there is a dward meyer lemon tree in the background. If you look closely, you can see some bright yellow lemons hiding between the leaves on the right side of the tree.

And here is another mandarin with ripe fruit in November.

Debbysunshine, it doesnt get as cold as you might assume. A handfull of frosty mornings is all we get here in the valley, and citrus trees aren't bothered by those. Citrus trees are common landscape trees in homes here. There are even commercial groves of citrus on the eastern and western slopes of the valley. By the way, Four Winds Growers is the nursery that supplies the most citrus trees in California, and they are located in Freemont (Northern Cal). Orchard Supply Hardware carries their plants down in SoCal.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 2:27PM
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norcal916(USDA 9 / Sunset 14)

Hello ques - I also live in Sacramento and citrus trees generally do fine here with some basic requirements. I have these types in ground- Eureka Lemon (13 ft tall pictured today below), Bearss Lime (7 ft tall), dwarf Valencia Orange, and dwarf Clementine Mandarin and a couple others in containers. Citrus in general can be considered low maintanence fruit trees and require just a few basic rules. They need full sun (so plant in southern exposure),moderate water but must have good drainage since standing water will cause trouble ( best to plant in slightly raised beds to keep above ground) and they need the occasional feeding (citrus fertilizer). Now is a great time to plant(but plant soon before the scorching sun and heat of summer arrives). Also try to plant in the warmest 'microclimate' in your yard. Cold air sinks so plant higher ground as opposed to lower. Like the previous poster mentioned you might want to purchase the dwarf varieties since many already have fruit and trees will be easier to maintain than the big standard size. The only other thing you have to worry about is the occasional hard winter freeze. It's not as cold here for in ground citrus as the other poster 'Debbysunshine in SanDiego' might think but there are occasional nights each winter where you may have to protect by throwing a light sheet over your tree for the extra insulation. Then remove sheet during the day for the sunshine. The more mature the tree gets the hardier it will be from the frost (I don't protect my large mature trees as much but the small newly planted ones I throw sheet over if temps forecast to fall below 29 or 30). If you don't want to bother planting in ground the dwarf trees do make excellent container trees as well. As a general rule of thumb Mandarins and Oranges are hardier followed by Lemons then Limes. Like I mentioned earlier my Lemon and Lime trees are big and mature and were planted in the 1980's and they have survived this long in this climate here. Check out the website for Four Winds Growers for lots of good information. Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 5:28PM
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Central_Cali369(Sunset Z9, Fresno, CA)

I never cover my citrus, not even during the January 2007 freeze when we broke a record for cold temperatures. They do perfectly fine. Just plant now, fertilize as directed on the box of the fertilizer, water your trees, and it will give you delicious fruit. Don't ever worry about covering your trees, its not necessary.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 12:30AM
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norcal916(USDA 9 / Sunset 14)

Yeah I didn't cover my large citrus trees either during the Jan 2007 freeze and they were fine (although my Lime lost many leaves and the fruit turned to mush)..I personally cover the small trees that aren't as established just to give it 'a little extra protection'.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 11:56AM
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My thanks to debbysunshine, central cali369, and norcal916 for such useful information and for the pictures. I feel embolden! I will let you know about my (hopefully) progress and - who knows - maybe I'll have pictures of my own!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 2:53PM
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