Originally from the tropics of South East Asia. There is reference in Chinese literature about 500 BC. The Chinese developed Citrus in the coming 3000 years. Also about 500 BC the first Citrus left home for the Middle East, Greece and Italy where further development of the citrus occurred in these nations. Until the Crusades in the 11th century Europe was able to have a taste. The spread of citrus have been affected by the turbulence of war and peace. Columbus introduced the citrus to the Americas. The Spaniards and Portuguese quickly spread them through Central and South America. It was in Brazil the sweet orange cultivation occurred. The Mandarin from the Chinese and Japanese did not come to the European attention until 1805. Now the most common fruit which is available at reasonable prices all year round.
These attractive evergreen shrubs are ideal for planting in the kids play area for on hand snacks. Give year-round interest, an ideal plant next to your bar-be-que. Plant as an espalier, in a container or to give shelter or create outdoor rooms.
High in Vitamin C, great for those winter colds.
How to Eat
Fruit is enjoyed fresh from the tree though they can be added to fruit salads, cakes & flans. The peel can also be used for its flavour and essential oil.
Yields vary but in general trees crop well.
Generic Fruiting Time
They prefer full sun but in the warm areas of the country will handle some shade.
Not very wind tolerant but reasonably tolerant to salty marine conditions.
Generally like warm conditions but can be quite cold hardy, they will survive a frost of -4 C for brief periods. Covering young trees in winter against frost may be required.
To ensure successful fruiting of the plant in a well drained fertile soil. Incorporate a good compost and keep mulched.
Plant so the graft is kept visible. Choose a warm sheltered position. Keep weed free & remove at least 50% of the fruit for the first 2 years.
Citrus are heavy nutrient feeders, use a high nitrogen NPK fertiliser. Apply 200g at the drip line (2/3 in spring and 1/3 in summer) increasing this by 200g per year until you are applying 2kg. Apply manure in the autumn spread under the tree with mulch.
Citrus are not trained to any particular shape, some varieties do not need any shaping at all. Prune to shape if necessary and any dead or diseased branches. They will tolerate heavy cutting back. Also remove any sucker growth.
Scale, aphids and mites can be a problem. These will appear if the plant becomes stressed. Apply summer/winter oil with a insecticide. Ants can become a problem but they are feeding off the scale secretions.