Citrus – Growing Indoors

Q: I have an orange tree which I have grown from seed I planted in a large house planter. The tree is two years old, and about seven feet tall and growing at a very fast rate. My question is: what age do orange trees start to bear fruit, and is there anything I can do to accelerate the fruit bearing process?

A: Under good management and a long, warm growing season, an orange will bear in three years. Your biggest problem in Blairsville is the short growing season. The orange tree can only be outside for seven months. Indoors, there is not enough light to stimulate flowering. You should be proud of yourself for growing the orange to its present size but fruit is probably not in your future.

You can have better success with indoor/outdoor citrus if you grow ‘Meyer’ or ‘Ponderosa’ lemon. Calmondin orange and kumquat are also recommended for houseplants. All are acidic, not sweet, but make good jelly and summer lemonade.

If you really want to grow an orange, you can try finding an orange plant that has been grafted onto a ‘Flying Dragon’ rootstock. These trees will bear normal-sized oranges but will grow only one-half the size of a regular orange tree. You are not alone in pushing the envelope of fruit culture. The North American Fruit Explorers (NAFEX) is an organization committed to growing tropical fruit in cold climates. Other good links include:

Growing Citrus Indoors

Growing Citrus in Containers

Growing Citrus Indoors in Minnesota

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