As I stepped out onto my patio this warm and sunny afternoon, I was almost knocked back by an intense fragrance. No, it’s not the backyard chickens, it’s the Meyer lemon. Remember that homemade limoncello I mentioned in last week’s post? Yep, this is the culprit. Bursting at the seams with blooms, this treasured patio plant is seriously earning its keep at the moment. If you’ve never smelled fresh citrus blooms, you need to immediately add it to your bucket list. Divine.
Keeping citrus in Dallas can require both persistence and patience, but it’s well worth the effort. Most varieties need to be kept in large containers so they can be moved indoors during hard cold snaps. Often, our winters are mild enough that citrus can be left outdoors for most of the winter. In winters like we just experienced, however, my moving dolly got a lot of action.
While there are some varieties that can be planted directly into the landscape on a south facing exposure with protection (such as Satsuma varieties), all require protection from cold. Even my very cold hardy and very large ‘Changsha’ tangerines bit the dust this past winter. Your best bet is to containerize and coddle. Citrus needs a warm sunny exposure, but plants can tolerate a some late afternoon shade. If you haven’t already, feed your container citrus with a fertilizer such as Espoma Citrus. They also love a side dressing of lava sand and to be kept consistently moist.
Now is a good time to get new citrus plants potted up before the weather gets too hot. Good choices for container culture include, but are not limited to: Meyer lemon, Improved Meyer lemon, Indonesian lime, Satsumas, Calamondin orange, Mexican thornless lime, key lime and kumquat.