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In the Magazine

Citrus in Pots

In the Garden > Herbs, Fruit and Vegetables

Citrus in Pots

Citrus plants have fragrant white flowers, glossy, evergreen leaves and delicious fruit which is very rich in vitamin C. They develop into attractive small trees when planted in the garden, but they are also well suited to pot culture. In fact, many species will crop well and live happily in a container for many years, without needing to be repotted.

Potting up a citrus tree

In our segment Don potted a kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix). These trees are grown for their aromatic leaves which are great used in Asian cooking. However, you may like to try potting a cumquat, Valencia orange, Meyer lemon, Tahitian lime or an Emperor mandarin. Choose a suitable pot: many nurseries have a very good range of pots, so you'll find it easy to choose a pot colour that ties in with your paving, fences or the house itself. Don chose a tangerine/magenta coloured pot to go with the foliage and fruit of the kaffir lime. If you want to use a half wine barrel as a pot, remember it must be treated first with a copper naphthenate wood preservative such as Pascol Stop Rot. Make sure there are enough drainage holes in the pot. The pot Don used had 2 large holes which is adequate, although 4 or 5 would be ideal (extra holes can be drilled). To improve drainage and to keep the plants well contained, elevate the pot slightly using chocks or pot feet. Use a spirit level to make sure the top of the pot is level. If the pot is to be situated on paving, it's a good idea to place flywire over the drainage holes so that soil does not fall through the holes and stain the pavers. Choose a quality potting mix formulated for citrus or roses. (Note: read the directions on the label before opening the potting mix and take care not to inhale the air that comes out of the bag.) Pot up the plant, water it in and keep it well watered, particularly during the warmer months. Don wound coathanger wire around one of the branches then very carefully bent the branch so that the plant would have a more balanced shape.(Note: this should only be attempted on young plants that are reasonably pliable). After 3-4 weeks the wire must be removed. Citrus growing in the garden are usually fertilised twice a year, in August and again in February. However, citrus in pots do better if they are fertilised with smaller amounts more often. Use citrus food, a pelletised manure such as Dynamic Lifter, or a slow release fertiliser such as Osmocote for pots.

Further information

Kaffir limes (Citrus hystrix) are readily available from nurseries. Expect to pay $30 for a 250mm (10") pot.

Don used a Euro Box Planter, in a Glazed Red colour. Cost $199. Available from:

MOTYAJ Potteries
Phone: (02) 9618 6866

Pascol Stop Rot - $20 per 1 llitre.

We filmed our segment at Engall's Nursery, 155 Carlingford Road, Epping, NSW, 2121. Phone: (02) 9876 2177.

Copyright CTC Productions


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