Best Kumquat Trees for Your Location

Kumquat Trees in ContainersSome kumquat trees are much better performers in gardens than others. Choosing the best kumquat tree to grow depends upon your usage, location, climate and growing conditions.

There are three varieties of kumquats (also known as ‘cumquats’), the Nagami and the Marumi (also known as the Calamondin) and Meiwa.

Nagami: the ‘Nagami’ kumquat is the best one for eating straight off the bush, as it is the sweetest. It is the most commonly grown kumquat and produces a high volume of small, bright orange oval fruit.  It makes an excellent container or pot plant. A kumquat tree planted in a container or pot will grow to a height of around four feet, but outdoor trees can grow to 13 feet or more.

Marumi (Calamondin): Marumi trees fruit several times a year, with the main crop in winter. The bushes are dense and they are the best looking of all citrus in containers. A beautiful variety with variegated leaves also is available.

Meiwa: Meiwa kumquat trees are more cold resistant than other varietals with larger, sweeter fruit—about the size of a small tomato. They are grown in China and Japan, but are rarely seen elsewhere.

For more information on these kumquat tree varieties refer to our Varieties of Kumquat Trees blog.

Location

Australia

Both the Nagami and Marumi kumquat trees are popular and grown widely in Australia.

United States

Florida

Both the Nagami and Marumi kumquat trees are cold-hardy and grown in Florida where they are harvested November to April.

Southern California

Both Meiwa and Nagami kumquats are cold-hardy. Tree foliage can withstand temperatures below 20º F

and therefore can be grown in areas that are too cold for most citrus. Fruit, however, are more cold sensitive.

Nagami is the most common variety found in grocery stores. Nordman Seedless Nagami, a new

release, has really nice fruit 1 to 1½ inches long without seeds, therefore, especially easy to eat or

preserve.

Texas

Both Nagami and Meiwa kumquats have very good cold hardiness and are suitable for growing in Texas.

You will find full details about kumquat trees and other citrus trees and great advice and photos on recognising and correcting nutrient deficiencies, pest and diseases and problems in Grow Citrus: The Insiders Secrets to Growing Great Citrus


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Best Lemon Trees for Your Location

'Eureka' Lemon Tree with Lemon Fruit

Some lemon trees are much better performers in gardens than others. Choosing the best lemon tree to grow depends upon your usage, location, climate and growing conditions.

Varieties of lemon trees include the ‘Eureka’, ‘Lisbon’ and ‘Improved Meyer’ lemons.  Lemon trees do not have a dormant phase in the winter and tend to produce flowers throughout the year so are vulnerable to cold weather. The ‘Improved Meyer’ is slightly hardier than true lemon and makes a better choice for home gardeners in a cold climate. For more information on varieties refer to Varieties of Lemon Trees Blog.

Varieties for Your Location

Australia
The ‘Eureka’ lemon tree is considered the best lemon tree for most areas of Australia. For cooler climate zones of Australia the ‘Improved Meyer lemon’ tree is also popular as it is the most cold-tolerant of all lemons.

United States
Florida

The ‘Improved Meyer’ lemon is the preferred variety for home gardens as the ‘Eureka’ and ‘Lisbon’ varieties are susceptible to citrus scab.

Southern California

The ‘Lisbon’, ‘Eureka’, Variegated pink ‘Eureka’ and the ‘Improved Meyer’ lemons are popular in Southern California. The Lisbon has cold resistance and is very heat tolerant. On the coast, trees can bear some fruit year round. ‘Eureka’ lemon trees bear fruit year round on the coast, fall and winter in the low desert valleys, and winter to spring production in the inland Riverside areas. Variegated Pink – a mutation of ‘Eureka’ that has variegated (green-and-white striped) leaves and immature fruit striped green and cream, mature flesh is light pink plus the tree itself is smaller making it very garden-friendly. ‘Improved Meyer’ lemon trees bear fruit year round.

Texas
Lemon trees growing outside the Lower Rio Grande Valley are at a distinct disadvantage with regard to climate, i.e., winter almost always will be accompanied by one or more freezes. Lemon trees are subtropical to tropical in nature; thus, they may suffer severe damage or even death because of freezing temperatures. However, there are some lemons that have sufficient cold-hardiness to sustain some freezing conditions.

If you live in coastal and southern Texas and are willing to put in the effort to provide cold protection for young trees, and sometimes even mature trees, you can successfully produce citrus fruits including lemons. The ‘Improved Meyer’ is popular in Texas due to it having fair cold-hardiness. The ‘Eureka’, ‘Lisbon’ and ‘Ponderosa’ lemon varieties are also grown but are less popular due to their poor cold hardiness.


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Varieties of Kumquat Trees to Grow

Nagami Kumquat (Cumquat) TreeDid you know that kumquat trees are probably the most overlooked of all citrus varieties. Kumquat (also known as ‘cumquat’) trees produce small fruits with intense flavour that should be used widely in cooking, but they are not. Forget limes, kumquats are a better choice. You can use the peel, zest or the entire fruit in making everything from cheesecakes to liqueurs.

Kumquat trees make very good container plants for small gardens or courtyards, with their handsome, compact foliage and lovely fragrant flowers. They belong to the genus Fortunella, although they were once classified with their close relatives, the Citrus. There are three varieties, the Nagami, the Marumi (also known as the Calamondin) adn the Meiwa.

Nagami Kumquat Tree
The ‘Nagami’ kumquat  is the best one for eating straight off the bush, as it is the sweetest. It is the most commonly grown kumquat and produces a high volume of small, bright orange oval fruit. The whole fruit, including the skin, can be eaten fresh, or made into marmalade or used for kumquat liquor and can be preserved as candy. It makes an excellent container or pot plant. A containerized tree will grow to a height of around four feet, but outdoor trees can grow to 13 feet or more.

Marumi Kumquat Tree
The ‘Marumi’ (also known as ‘Calamondin’) kumquat produces fruit that are flattened, like mini mandarins. Marumi trees fruit several times a year, with the main crop in winter. The bushes are dense and they are the best looking of all citrus in containers. A beautiful variety with variegated leaves also is available. Marumi trees are not quite as pretty in the ground, where they reach 3-4 m. This is the variety used for Chinese New Year celebrations.

Meiwa Kumquat Tree

Meiwa’ kumquat trees are more cold resistant than other varietals with larger, sweeter fruit—about the size of a small tomato. They are grown in China and Japan, but are rarely seen elsewhere.

For information on which kumquat tree would be best for your location check our Best Kumquat Tree for Your Location blog.

Kumquat Tree Care
• Full sun
• Before planting, dig in plenty of chicken, cow or horse manure into the ground.
• Keep citrus trees well watered when young fruit is forming in spring and early summer.
• Grass and citrus don’t mix. Keep the area beneath your citrus free of grass and weeds.
• Cover with a mulch such as lucerne, composted leaf litter or compost, but keep the mulch away from the tree trunk to avoid collar rot.

Kumquat Trees in Containers or Pots
• Trimmed and rounded citrus trees in pots are one of the main components of the fashionable Mediterranean or Tuscan garden. They have the added advantage of being able to be moved from place to place to enjoy the sunshine.
• Ensure that citrus in pots are well watered – once or twice a week in warmer months.
• Fertilise every six to eight weeks in spring and early summer.

You will find full details about kumquat trees and other citrus trees and great advice and photos on recognising and correcting nutrient deficiencies, pests, diseases and problems in Grow Citrus: The Insiders Secrets to Growing Great Citrus

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons images © Bugs 86, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fortunella_01.jpg


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Best Orange Trees to Grow in the Home Garden

Washington Navel Orange Tree with Orange FruitChoosing the best orange tree to grow in your home garden depends upon your usage, location, climate and growing conditions.

Big benefits
Orange trees produce many gloriously perfumed white flowers, sport glossy, green leaves and brightly coloured fruit – yellow, orange, green and almost red. Best of all, the fruit hold on the orange tree in good condition for many months after ripening. So orange trees provide long-term self-storage of fruit. Oranges are rich in vitamin C and are great for winter health including resistance to colds and ’flu. They protect the family from disease but most of us hardly give them a second thought.

‘Washington’ and ‘Valencia’ orange trees are far and away the most widely grown sweet orange varieties and the ones you are most likely to find at your local nursery. While many people love the taste of navel orange juice, the seedless ‘Valencia’ is also great for juicing and has fewer problems. You may encounter the following orange tree problems, pests and diseases: whiteflies, scale, aphids, fire ants, mites, scales, plant bugs, grasshoppers, katydids and caterpillars. 

‘Washington’ Navel
The ‘Washington Navel’ orange produces superbly sweet fruit in early winter. To eat the fruit off the tree, this is the best orange of all. But it has its disadvantages as follows:
• It is a hard variety to grow well, catching many diseases
• The fruit juice deteriorates rapidly
• It usually produces less fruit than ‘Valencia’ trees.

‘Valencia’
The ‘Valencia’ is one of the most widely grown orange trees in the world. It is a fast-growing, hardy tree and the fruit holds well on the tree for many months, making it a sweeter fruit than most other oranges in cooler areas. The fruit juice does not go off and turn sour in the refrigerator like ‘Navel’ juice does. ‘Valencia’ oranges are excellent to eat as well.

Best Varieties for Your Location

Australia
The seedless ‘Valencia’ is considered the best variety to grow in Australia as it has fewer problems than the ‘Washington’ navel and produces fruit over a longer period.

United States
Florida

If only a single citrus tree is to be grown, it may well be an early variety such as ‘Hamlin’ or one of the navel oranges. If there is room for more than one sweet orange tree, a midseason variety such as ‘Pineapple’ or ‘Midsweet’ or the late season ‘Valencia’ should also be considered. Selection of a tree from each of these three maturity seasons (early, midseason, and late) will supply fresh fruit continuously from early November to July.

Southern California
‘Washington’ Navels are popular and suited to cooler areas as they do not do not produce high quality fruit in the desert. They grow well in San Diego County, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Redlands areas. They can be harvested from January through April in home gardens.
Other navel oranges include the ‘Cara Cara’ which has reddish pink flesh and is similar to the Washington navel in taste and harvest time (February through March). The ‘Late Lane’ variety ripens late in the season, extending the harvest of navels into early summer. ‘Valencia’ oranges are also popular and ripens later than Navel (early summer through fall). The seedless variety is ‘Delta’. Blood oranges such as Moro and Tarocco do well in inland and coastal areas.

Texas
Orange trees growing outside the Lower Rio Grande Valley are at a distinct disadvantage with regard to climate, i.e., winter almost always will be accompanied by one or more freezes. Citrus trees are subtropical to tropical in nature; thus, they may suffer severe damage or even death because of freezing temperatures. However, there are some oranges that have sufficient cold-hardiness to sustain some freezing conditions. If you live in coastal and southern Texas and are willing to put in the effort to provide cold protection for young trees, and sometimes even mature trees, you can successfully produce citrus fruits including oranges.
The ‘Washington’ navel orange is popular in Texas due to it having good cold-hardiness. Other navel oranges grown include Texas, Everhard and Thompson varieties. The ‘Marrs’, ‘Pineapple’, ‘Hamlin’ and ‘Valencia’ varieties are also grown but it is worth noting that these varieties have poor cold-hardiness.

You will find full details about varieties of orange trees and other citrus trees and great advice and photos on recognising and correcting nutrient deficiencies, pest and diseases and problems in Grow Citrus: The Insiders Secrets to Growing Great Citrus


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Best Lime Trees for Your Location

'Tahitian' or 'Persian' Lime FruitSome lime trees are much better performers in gardens than others. Choosing the best lime tree to grow depends upon your usage, location, climate and growing conditions.

Lime trees are frost sensitive, small and leafy, and grow to 10 feet (3 meters) with smallish, generally round yellow to green fruit at maturity. Limes have the highest requirement of all citrus varieties for heat. Tropical and subtropical areas suit them best.

‘Tahitian’ or ‘Persian’ lime tree (Citrus aurantifolia)
This variety is the best lime for a cool climate. It has very few thorns and produces very juicy fruit all year round. The plants grow to around 10×10 feet (3x3m) tall, and they do well in the garden or in pots.

‘West Indian’ or ‘Mexican’ or ‘Key’ lime tree (Citrus aurantifolia)
This tree is has sharp thorns and grows to 6-13 feet (3-4m) high. It prefers tropical to semi-tropical climates and is frost sensitive. It should not be planted where frosts of 28F (-2C) are experienced.

‘Kaffir’ or ‘Makrut’ lime tree (Citrus hystrix)
This lime is a variety grown mainly for its aromatic leaves rather than the fruit.They prefer tropical conditions but can be grown in cold climates if protected from cool winds and given plenty of sunshine.

For more information on these lime tree varieties refer to our Lime Tree Varieties Blog.

Best Varieties for Your Location

Australia
The Tahitian or Persian lime is the most cold tolerant of the limes and in Australia, is commonly grown as far south as Melbourne and can even be grown in Hobart in southern Tasmania, in warm sheltered locations. Kaffir lime trees prefer tropical clicates but can be grown as far south as Melbourne if protected from cool winds and fully sunlit throughout the day.

United States
Florida

Tahiti Persian lime and Key (West Indian or Mexican) limes are popular in Florida and make a satisfactory acid fruit for the home since fruit can be picked any time of the year. The Key lime is cold-sensitive and is susceptible to Scab, Anthracnose and Aphids.

Southern California
The Bearss Lime (Tahitian-type Lime) is a seedless fruit, much larger and milder flavor than the Mexican lime. It is considered the most suitable to grow in Southern California. The Key lime (West Indian or Mexican lime is very frost sensitive and is only suited to more tropical areas that do not receive any frost (coastal areas). Thornless Mexican Lime is also available and is equally frost sensitive. Limequats (lime X kumquat hybrid) have a lime-like flavor that can substitute for a lime. This tree is more frost tolerant and can be planted in areas that receive an occasional frost.

Texas
Lime trees growing outside the Lower Rio Grande Valley are at a distinct disadvantage with regard to climate, i.e., winter almost always will be accompanied by one or more freezes. Lime trees are subtropical to tropical in nature; thus, they may suffer severe damage or even death because of freezing temperatures. Lime varieties grown in Texas include the Tahiti and Mexican (West Indian or Key lime) but both have poor cold-hardiness in Texas. A better choice may be the Limequat which has good cold-hardiness.

You will find full details about varieties of lime trees and other citrus trees and great advice and photos on recognising and correcting nutrient deficiencies, pest and diseases and problems in Grow Citrus: The Insiders Secrets to Growing Great Citrus


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Varieties of Lemon Trees

Meyer Lemon Tree FruitGenerally, lemon trees are smallish in size and produce lemons throughout the year. Lemon fruit is yellow, sour to acidic and oval in shape. Lemon trees do not have a dormant phase in the winter and tend to produce flowers throughout the year. As a result, they are more vulnerable to cold weather than oranges and will shed foliage in the temperature drops below 28F (-2C). The ‘Improved Meyer’ is slightly hardier than true lemon and makes a better choice for home gardeners in a cold climate.

Varieties
‘Eureka’ Lemon Tree
The ‘Eureka’ lemon tree originated as a chance seedling in California, USA. The fruit is bright yellow with rougher skin than the Meyer and ‘Lisbon’ varieties. The lemons have high juice content and taste sharply acidic. The ‘Eureka’ is more favored than the ‘Lisbon’ as the trees are free of thorns and have seedless fruit produced throughout most of the year. It grows to approximately 4m tall however it hates vicious cold snaps. It is most suitable for home gardens, particularly where there are children as they will not be scratched from thorns. They start producing fruit at an early age and bear for a long period of time. Young ‘Eureka’ trees may produce so many fruit that they damage the tree, so the grower must remove excess fruit.

‘Lisbon’ Lemon Tree
The ‘Lisbon’ lemon tree is a very vigorous variety that can grow to a large size, with upright branches and dense foliage. It originated in Australia and was thought to have been introduced to Australia by the Portuguese. The fruit is smoother than the ‘Eureka’ with a pronounced nipple at the end and a short neck. Fruit is produced mainly during the winter period with a smaller crop over summer. The main disadvantage of this variety is its extremely sharp thorns although thornless varieties could be available soon. The ‘Lisbon’ is popular in Arizona and California. The tree is more cold-tolerant than others.

‘Meyer’ Lemon Tree
The ‘Meyer’ lemon tree was named after the American plant explorer, Frank Meyer who introduced it from China in 1908. It is considered to be a hybrid between a lemon and a mandarin or an orange. The foliage is similar to lemon but the fruit is more rounded, with light orange-yellow skin. The ‘Meyer’ is excellent to grow in pots as it tends to be smaller growing than other lemons.

The ‘Meyer’ lemon tree is a thornless tree that produces fruit throughout the year that are mildly acidic and can be eaten without the sour taste of most lemons. The grated skin (zest) is of inferior quality to other lemons. The single crop ripens early but holds well on the tree for several months. It is very frost hardy and tolerant of cold conditions. Only purchase ‘Improved Meyer’, as the original ‘Meyer’ harbors Tristeza virus.

Refer to Best Lemon Trees for Your Location Blog for further information on the best lemon trees to grow in your country.

You will find full details about lemon trees and other citrus trees and great advice and photos on recognising and correcting nutrient deficiencies, pest and diseases and problems in Grow Citrus: The Insiders Secrets to Growing Great Citrus


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Varieties of Lime Trees

Did you know that the most fashionable citrus tree at the moment is the lime tree? Demand for varieties like Tahitian and Kaffir has built up significantly over the last few years, probably because they are so popular in Asian cooking. Limes are an excellent source of Vitamin C and provide a great substitute for lemons. They can be used for seafood dishes, chicken, meats, drinks, desserts, cakes, biscuits and marmalade.

Lime trees are frost sensitive, small and leafy, and grow to 10 feet (3 meters) with smallish, generally round yellow to green fruit at maturity. Limes have the highest requirement of all citrus varieties for heat. Tropical and subtropical areas suit them best however you can grow lime trees in cooler climates as they can tolerate light frost. Ensure they have a sheltered position, fully sunlit throughout the day and protected from cool winds.

There are distinct varieties of lime trees which are grown extensively. These are the small-fruited acid or sour limes (Citrus aurantifolia) and the large-fruited acid limes (Citrus Latifolia). Other limes are the Indian or Palestine Sweet lime (Citrus limettioides), the Rangpur lime (Citrus limonia) and the Kaffir lime.
The Tahitian lime is the best lime to grow in a container as the West Indian lime tree has vicious thorns and needs much higher temperatures than the Tahitian lime.

Tahitian or Persian lime (Citrus aurantifolia)'Tahitian' or 'Persian' Lime Fruit

This variety is the best lime for a cool climate. It has very few thorns and produces very juicy fruit all year round. The plants grow to around 3x3m (10×10′) tall, and they do well in the garden or in pots. The seedless fruit is small and green when ripe, although it can be left on the tree until it turns yellow. Tahitian limes are easy to grow.

West Indian or Mexican or Key lime (Citrus aurantifolia)

This lime tree is has sharp thorns and grows to 6-13 feet (3-4m) high if grafted to Trifoliate orange (Poncirus trifoliate) rootstock, but taller when grafted to other rootstocks such as Citronelle. This variety prefers tropical to semi-tropical climates and is frost sensitive.
The fruit are small, round to oval, with a small nipple, many small seeds and a strong flavor. The skin is slightly rough and pale green at first, turning light lemon in color at maturity. Fruit are produced year round and when mature, they fall from the tree and are picked up from the ground for use.

Kaffir or Makrut lime (Citrus hystrix)

This lime tree is a variety grown mainly for its aromatic leaves rather than the fruit. Kaffir limes will reach 1.5 metres (5′) tall, but because the leaves are constantly being picked for cooking, the trees usually remain small in size. They have large sharp thorns and also grow well in containers. They prefer tropical conditions but can be grown in cold climates if protected from cool winds and given plenty of sunshine.
The dark, glossy leaves of the Kaffir look like two separate leaves joined together. They are an essential ingredient of many Thai recipes, including curries, fish dishes and soups. The flesh of the fruit is usually thrown away, but the rind and zest is sometimes used.

Best climate: Lime trees grow well in the warmer climates. They also grow in cooler cimates, but protect from frost when young.

Lime Tree Care: A position in full sun is best for lime trees. Keep trees well watered when the fruit is forming in spring and early summer. Water well before and after fertilising. Keep the area beneath your trees free of grass and weeds. Mulch with compost or other organic material, but make sure that the mulch does not touch the trunk of the tree.

To find out which of these varieties would suit your climate read our Best Lime Trees to Grow in the Home Garden Blog.

You will find full details about caring for your lime trees and other citrus trees and great advice and photos on recognising and correcting nutrient deficiencies, pest and diseases and problems in Grow Citrus: The Insiders Secrets to Growing Great Citrus


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Taking Care of Lemon Trees and Other Citrus Trees

Lemon tree leaf showing soil deficiencyListen to any radio gardening talk-back program particularly in the U.S. and Australia, at any time of the year, and you will undoubtedly hear a question about a lemon tree, orange tree, lime tree, mandarin tree, grapefruit tree or any other variety of citrus tree. Citrus trees, especially lemon trees, have become a national obsession in Australia and the U.S.  information on how to successfully grow and care for them is always welcome.

Taking care of citrus trees involves staking, mulching, fertilising, watering, pruning and identifying and fixing pest and disease problems as follows:

Staking
In windy exposed sites, some staking will be needed to stop your citrus tree moving excessively. Insert two stakes, one each side about 8 inches (20 cm) from the trunk. Place a flat band of material (or old hosiery) around the stake and stakes in a figure 8. This will allow some flexibility while the tree root system establishes during the first 2 to 3 years.

Mulching
Mulching the soil can add nutrients, deter weeds, conserve moisture, help to spread and retain water and protect the roots of your lemon tree.
Mulch from a couple inches beyond the canopy to a few inches from the trunk. Do not mulch right up to the trunk—give it a little room to breathe! Cover the area under the canopy with 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) of mulch. Under normal circumstances you should need to re-mulch every six months, but if your washes or blows away in stormy weather, go ahead and re-mulch right away. Do not use pine bark nuggets as they can attract ants, and do not use any inorganic material for mulch.

Fertilising
Citrus trees need high-quality compost plus a number of trace elements to meet their specific nutritional needs. Citrus trees in containers are susceptible to malnutrition even when planted in good compost, as every time you water some of the nutrients leak out, and they can only be replaced by you. You can recognise plants with poor nutrition by stunted growth, yellow leaves, and low or no fruit production. Happily, nutritional deficiencies can be easily addressed with soil amendments.

Watering
Careful watering is of the utmost importance when it comes to lemon trees. Citrus trees need lots of water. They need a minimum of 3 to 4 cm (1 – 1.5 inches) per week from spring until fall/autumn. The way to see whether you’re watering correctly is simply to use a cup, turn on a sprinkler and see how long it takes to get 3 to 4 cm of water in the cup.

Pruning
Lemon trees and other citrus trees don’t need as much pruning as other fruit trees do. While your trees are first getting established, limit pruning to just removing crossing or damaged branches. Because citrus fruits are so heavy, you’ll need to encourage strong branches that can hold them. In the spring, the main branches can be cut back to an outward-facing bud if you wish.

Pests and Diseases
One of the difficulties of growing citrus trees is that there are many insect or animal pests, various diseases affecting the plant, stem, leaves or fruit, and disorders such as split fruit skins and nutritional deficiencies shown when a mineral deficiency is present in the soil.

You will find full details about caring for your lemon trees, orange trees, lime trees, grapefruit trees, mandarin trees and other citrus trees and great advice and photos on recognising and correcting nutrient deficiencies in Grow Citrus: The Insiders Secrets to Growing Great Citrus


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