Although Citrus is a subtropical genus, fragrant and flavorful citrus fruit can be grown almost anywhere. From lemons and limes to oranges and grapefruit, citrus trees are fun and rewarding plants to grow—but not without some work! Here’s how to grow citrus trees at home.
Citrus plants are native to tropical and subtropical regions of southern Asia, Australia, and the South Pacific, but have been brought to all corners of the globe thanks to human cultivation. These woody plants range in size from small shrubs to large trees, and their fruit is just as variable in size and shape—just take a walk down the fruit aisle at your local supermarket! Standard-size grapefruit and orange trees can grow 18 to 22 feet tall, whereas dwarf citrus varieties only grow 8 to 12 feet tall (or smaller, if kept in containers).
Gardeners in the warmest parts of the United States (USDA Hardiness Zones 8-11) can grow citrus outdoors year round, while colder-climate gardeners (Zones 7 and colder) should consider growing lemons, oranges, limes, and other dwarf citrus trees in containers to enjoy fresh citrus fruit, too. Read more about growing citrus in containers here.
Most citrus varieties are self-fertile, so only one tree is typically needed for fruit production. On average, fruit bearing begins when the trees are between 3 and 6 years old. However, exact timing will depend on the type of citrus, the cultivar, your climate, the health of the plant and its care, and other factors. Flowering is not seasonal, but occurs during warm weather and regular rainfall. In fact, flowers and fruits may appear on the plant at the same time!