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Citrus Trees

The numerous species of citrus trees with their fruits colored in yellow, orange, red and green, of various sizes from the smallest fruits of kumquat to the biggest fruit of pomelos, sweet or sour, are ones of the most delicious fruits and in the same time a precious gift for our health. Who doesn’t like an orange, a lemon, a mandarin or a grapefruit? Some of us would even enjoy having his own citrus tree, to have the pleasure to pick up the fresh fruits from his own tree.
Not all the citrus species can be grown in pots, so we must take care what we choose to grow. We can grow them indoor, on a terrace, on balcony, in a greenhouse and even outdoor on the warmer climates. All we need to do is to offer them the right conditions and we will be able to enjoy the pleasant scent of a citrus flowers and of its fruits.
Citrus trees are evergreen, with glossy, dark green, aromatic leaves, usually having white flowers but sometimes can be light-red or violet, with a strong, pleasant scent, wearing 5 petals.
You can try to grow your own citrus tree from seeds that you find inside the fruits that you buy from the market. This can be done all year long, but usually is more proper to do it in autumn or winter, so you can obtain a plant before spring and then to separate the plants in individual pots and take them out in a light place.
It might take several years before a citrus tree grown from seeds to bear fruits, but until then it will make a beautiful evergreen tree. But you can always use your tree for grafting with an other citrus tree that already bear fruits.
If you want to have your tree faster you can always use cuttings from a fruiting tree in spring for obtaining a new tree. 
During the first few years you have to feed your citrus trees with a balanced fertilizer that has a high nitrogen and medium potassium level at a rate of 1 kg per tree per year. This fertilizer should be given in two or three doses, applied at regular intervals around the base of each tree in its growth period. Double the quantity of fertilizer after five years.
Citrus prefer a sunny place and should be protected by windbreaks in exposed areas. They tolerate a wide range of soils but it is best for them to have a fertile, well-drained, slightly acid soils and the young trees respond well to a high soil fertility.
You can try one of the following species of citrus to grow on your own: Limes (Citrus aurantiifolia), Sour, Seville or bitter oranges (Citrus aurantium), Lemons (Citrus limon), Citrons (Citrus medica), Grapefruits (Citrus x paradisi), Mandarins or tangerines (Citrus reticulata), Tangelos or ugli fruits (Citrus x tangelos), Sweet oranges (Citrus sinensis) or Kumquats (Fortunella japonica, F. maragrita).
 

Tangelo

Tangelo (Citrus × tangelo), is a citrus fruit hybrid of tangerine and pomelo or grapefruit (C. reticulata × C. maxima or x C. paradisi). They are also known as honeybells because of their shape. There are two varieties of tangelo that are most commonly available: the Minneola and the Orlando. The Minneola tangelo is a hybrid of a “Dancy” tangerine and a “Bowen” grapefruit and the Orlando tangelo is a cross between a “Dancy” tangerine and a “Duncan“ grapefruit.

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Pomelo

Pomelo (Citrus maxima or Citrus grandis) is a crisp citrus fruit native to South and Southeast Asia. An alternative name for pomelo is shaddock. The pomelo fruit is the largest of all citrus fruits, measuring 15-25 cm in diameter and weighing 1-2 kg. The pomelo tree is an evergreen which can grow up to 15m height and 10m wide. Wearing the biggest fruits of all the citrus trees it also has the largest leaves among all citrus. When in bloom it bears large flowers of 3-7 cm in diameter, either single or in small clusters, with cream colored petals.

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Mandarins

Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) is a small citrus tree or shrub, rounded, usually thorny, evergreen that produces fruits resembling to oranges. The fruit is oblate rather than spherical. Reddish-orange mandarin cultivar is a variety of the mandarin and is known as tangerine (Citrus × tangerina). Tangerines are smaller than most oranges and the skin of some varieties will peel off more easily. Their taste is often less sour or tart than that of an orange. A popular alternative to tangerines are clementines, which are also a variety of the mandarins. They are also very easy to peel but are almost always seedless. Clementines are also known as seedless tangerines.

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Sweet Orange

sweet-orange-leaves

Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis) is a compact, evergreen tree, grown for its edible fruits. It  can grow up to 9 m tall and 7.5 m wide and might tolerate some light frosts. It is probably the most popular of all citrus trees. The leaves are elliptical to oblong-ovate, up to 10 cm long, with narrowly-winged petioles. The flowers are white, sweetly scented, hermaphrodite - have both male and female organs and appear in clusters at the tips of the branches. The plant is self-fertile. The fruits are round or ovoid, orange to reddish-orange in color. The juicy flesh is orange and fairly acid and can contain few or many seeds.

If you live in a cold area you can grow sweet orange trees in a greenhouse or indoors, as they make excellent container plants because their size can be easily controlled with container size and selective pruning.

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Sour Orange

sour-orange-leaves

Sour Orange (Citrus Aurantium), also known as bitter orange, Seville orange, bigarade orange or marmalade orange, is an evergreen, spiny  tree that grows up to 9 m high by 6 m wide, having a compact, rounded top. It is hardy to zone 9 and is frost tender, yet it can stand several degrees of frost for short periods. Dormant plants can withstand temperatures down to about -6 Celsius degrees (21 F) so long as this is preceded by cool weather in order to harden off the plant. The young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun.

It has smooth, brown bark, green twigs, angular when young and flexible, not very sharp and thorns of 2.5-8 cm long. It is in leaf all year, bearing ovate leaves that are fragrant when crushed. It flowers from mid spring to early summer. The hermaphrodite flowers are highly fragrant, borne singly or in small clusters in the leaf axils. The plant is self-fertile. The fruits are round, oblate or oblong-oval, orange or reddish-orange with a rind that is rough, strong scented and bitter. The fruits have 10-12 sections and the pulp is acid, containing from a few to numerous seeds.

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Lime

lime-leaves image

Lime (Citrus aurantifolia) is a small, evergreen, spiny and irregularly branched shrub or tree. It is grown for its small, edible fruits, which are used as flavoring in beverages and as an ingredient in desserts. The bright green fruits are smaller than the lemons, more globular, more acid, with a distinctive flavor and with a thinner rind. The pulp is greenish and in sections of about ten. Limes are gathered when fully grown, but still green, even they are ripening to yellow.

Its leaves are small, elliptic to oblong, leathery, pale green. The white flowers are small, fragrant and produced in axillary's clusters. They are produced from spring to summer. Fruits ripen about 5-6 months following flowering. Lime is more cold sensitive than most of its Citrus relatives and tends to be injured or killed by temperatures below 0 Celsius degrees (32 F).

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Lemon

Lemon Tree Leaves Image

Most lemon cultivars produce seeded fruits that may remain green, rather than turning yellow even when fully mature. Lemons sometimes need a whole year from flowering till mature that is why you might see flowers, unripe and ripe fruits on the same tree in the same time. Lemon trees need a fully open site, with little variations of temperature, and a minimum temperature of 20 Celsius degrees (68 F) for a successfully growth.

Lemon Tree Leaves Image Lemon Tree Flower Image Lemon Tree Fruit Image

You might wish to try one of the following cultivars for your lemon tree: Bernia, Femminello, Garey's Eureka, Lisbon, Meyer's Lemon or Monachello.

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Kumquat

kumquat-leaves image

The kumquats are slow-growing, evergreen shrubs or small trees, that can grow up to 2.5-4.5 m tall, with dense branches, sometimes bearing small thorns. The leaves are dark glossy green and the flowers are pure white, similar to other citrus flowers, borne singly or clustered in the leaf-axils. The edible kumquat fruits closely resembles that of the orange but is smaller and is often oval, 3-5 cm long and 2-4 cm wide. Depending on variety, peel color ranges from yellow to red. The fruits are extremely juicy and tasty and usually have a sweet outer skin, with large, conspicuous oil glands, accompanied by a tart, inner flesh. The fruits are considered ripe when they reach a yellowish-orange stage, and have just shed the last tint of green.

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Grapefruit

grapefruit-leaves image

The grapefruit (Citrus × paradisi) is a subtropical, evergreen citrus tree that is grown for its juicy fruits. Grapefruit trees have a rounded top of spreading branches and can grow up to 5-6 m tall. The twigs normally bear short, supple thorns. The leaves are dark green, long and thin with rounded teeth on the margins, and dotted with tiny oil glands. It produces 5 cm white four-petalled flowers, borne singly or in clusters in the leaf axils.

The fruit is largely oblate and ranges in diameter from 10-15 cm, yellow-orange skinned sometimes blushed with pink, with smooth, finely dotted peel, up to 1 cm thick, and aromatic outwardly and with white, spongy and bitter inside. The flesh is segmented in 11 to 14 segments with thin, membranous, somewhat bitter walls, varying in color depending on the cultivars, from white to pink and red. The flavors range from highly acidic and somewhat bitter to sweet and tart. While some fruits are seedless others may have up to 90 white, elliptical, pointed seeds of about 1.25 cm long and are usually polyembryonic. The number of fruits in a cluster can vary from a dozen to as many as 20.

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Citron

citron leaves image

Citron (Citrus medica) is an evergreen, irregular, open-headed, slow-growing shrub or small tree, reaching a height of about 2.5-4.5 m, with large, light green leaves, lemon scented with slightly serrate edges and long spines at the leaf axils. The flowers are generally unisexual providing self-pollination, painted purple on the outside and are followed by large, ovate or oblong, narrowing up till the stylar end, fragrant fruits that contain a large number of seeds. The rind is leathery, furrowed, and adherent. The inner portion is thick, white and fleshy and the outer portion is uniformly thin, and very fragrant. The pulp is usually acidic, but also sweet and even pulpless varieties are found. The pulp is small and greenish and the juice is scarce and very acid in most types.

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