1st timer how to grow citrus trees from seed

andyandy(6bMI)February 3, 2010

I have grown palms for years and started with bananas last year. Can anyone tell me how to get a citrus tree to grow from seed. Can I just plant seeds that I get from oranges or lemmons, etc from the store? Do I havfe to prepare the seeds some how? What kind of soil temperature do they requires for germiantion, and how long do they take to sprout?

Any insight is appreciated

thank you,


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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Commercial oranges are grafted, just so you know. But that shouldn't prevent you from growing all kinds of citrus from the fruit you purchase at the store. I've certainly done so, they get too big and thorny to keep around for too awfully long.

All I've ever done to seeds is to scrub as much of the slick fruit tissue off as possible, using warm to hot water. No need to go crazy, though. Citrus seeds do not need to be refrigerated before sowing, and they must not be allowed to dry out. Sow them right after you've collected and cleaned them.

Then simply plant your seed into a moistened, fast draining potting medium (no dirt from the garden, thank you), inserting the seed about an inch or so into the medium. Water again to make certain that the soil has completely surrounded the seed, leaving no air pockets.

Then place the container in a warm location and be patient! I've had some seeds germinate in as little as a week's time, while others stubbornly sit there and do nothing for a month (or more).

One they germinate, you'll need to introduce them (slowly) to a bright, sunny location so that their stems become nice and stocky.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 12:02PM
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Thank you for the info, can you define "warm location"? Would placing them in a window where it is mid 60s consistntly and gets into the 70s when the sun comes out be Ok or should I place them over a heat mat that will keep the soil in the mid-70s be better?

thank you,

    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 12:51PM
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I sow all of my citrus seeds in a shaded location, usually with just plain potting mix. Sometimes, I collect a large lot of seeds over a month or so, after eating each orange or grapefruit or whatever, and when I'm ready, I may soak them in water over night, the morning before planting them.

Next, I usually just plant them all in one large plastic plant pot, spread out evenly, covered somewhere between 1/4th and 3/4th of an inch in potting soil. You can also use a marker on the pot, with the date the seeds were sown and which type of citrus seeds are planted. Ya know, grapefruit, kumquat, orange, tangerine, lemon, lime, etc.

When you sow a lot of different seeds, you'll be glad you put a date on them, because it'll tell you when it's time to give up on them and reuse the pot and soil lol. I usually gather up all of the pots either the seeds, seedlings, plants, or cuttings did not survive in once per year, and during that time, it's kind of like Christmas all over again, because you get to go out and find more seeds and cuttings or to step up pot sizes for plants you already have.

After planting the seeds and optionally marking the pots, the pots are just sat to the side somewhere, for up to a year before I even check on them again if they're not already sprouted, getting watered with everything else when we don't have enough rain.

When they get about 3-5 inches tall, I pluck them out and put them in individual pots, because their roots really start to tangle a lot with each other. Then, they're put in 3.5 or 4" pots, followed by gallon pots when needed.

If you get this far, then you'll undoubtedly want to give it some type of acidic feed, like peat moss, pink bark, pine needle compost, or a citrus or azalea feed.

Good luck

    Bookmark   February 4, 2010 at 10:21PM
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growing from seed you may never see fruit.mines like 6 years old and never flowered about 3 feet tall not including 5 gal pot.but my dwarfs i bought from nursery flowers and has lil lemons limes.the ones from seed seem to grow alot faster since there from full size tree i just use em for decoration and i just wanted to see if they would sprout some took over month to sprout some 2 weeks.i gave most em away and my friends who have em say theres wont flower either.I feed mine same stuff you would feed evergreen or rhododendron

    Bookmark   February 5, 2010 at 5:55PM
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Use fresh seed - don't allow the seed to dry out. I've tried a number of germination tricks - bottom heat, clipping the tip from the seed (CAREFULLY - do not damage the embryo), to just throwing them into some dirt and seeing what happens, and there hasn't been much variance in germination speed - they always seem to emerge in 18 to about 30 days. I usually thin them out, and re-pot at (like xentar mentioned) 3-5 inches in height.

They are fun to grow from seed. I have grafted and seed-grown citrus, and both have their merits and disadvantages. Mine are young - knock on wood - but it's been a real treat to see them grow.

Supermarket fruit generally has viable seed - I've done several types of citrus from seed (tangelo, pummelo, kumquat, eureka lemons, yuzu and sudachi), along with cherimoya, guavas, tamarillo and a few other things, and pretty much any of them can be sprouted.

Citrus (along with other heavily hybridized fruits) may not always grow true to seed - if they do bear fruit, so that is a risk as well.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 2:14AM
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On growing citrus from seed remember you must outgrow the juvinile wood. For faster fruiting do not prune. And as a general rule, the smaller the fruit, the faster a seedling fruits.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 5:53AM
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I had great luck germinating my lemon and grapefruit seeds in an open ziplock with the seeds wrapped in a damp paper towel and left them on top the fridge checking every few days for dampness in the bag. When the seeds sprouted i planted them in a 2 inch pot with a free draining soil mix of turface,pine bark mulch,grit and perlite. I then placed them outside in full sun when the danger of frost passed.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 1:44PM
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I have great success like this- Get some spagnum moss, wet it, squeeze out the excess water get a container and put a 2' thick bed of it on the bottom, Take your citrus seeds and soak them in water @110degrees for 5 minutes, take out seeds and spread over moss, cover them with about a half inch of moist moss, put lid on container, put in warm/hot area (about 90 degrees)-- in about 2 to 3 weeks you should start seeing sprouts

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 12:35PM
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Andrew Scott

I agree with you. I have 5 tangerine seeds wrapped in damp paper towel and in a ziplock bag. They have sprouted and need to be potted up now. I noticed roots 2 weeks ago and still have not potted them up. I checked on them saturday and they had long roots and some had shoots growing leaves. I will pot them up Wednesday.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 2:48PM
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