Grow citrus over winter and you can enjoy a double bonus – gorgeously scented pretty white flowers, and the gleaming yellow fruit borne on the tree at the same time.
A lemon tree makes a wonderful Christmas gift, or you can just treat yourself as a reward for all your hard work getting ready for the festive season! You’ll find some superb specimens here at the garden centre in Cornamagh as well as lemons, we sell other citrus trees like calamondin oranges and limes. They may look exotic, but they’ve been grown in the UK for about 300 years – so they must like it here!
Citrus are small, evergreen trees which are perfectly happy in a roomy container. Although they’re not frost hardy, they appreciate a summer holiday outside in the garden, so move them outdoors in late spring and give them a little sunshine on their leaves before bringing them back indoors in time for winter.
They like a cool, yet frost-free room: a temperature of 10-15°C is ideal. Collect rain water for watering, as these acid-loving plants don’t like calcium-rich hard water. In winter, you want your plants to be just damp, as they object to sitting in water. Mist the leaves regularly with water, and stand the pots on trays of pebbles or clay granules kept constantly damp to raise the humidity. Add a liquid feed all year round: you’ll find easy-to-apply specialist citrus feeds here at the garden centre.
Lemons are self-fertile, so you only need one tree to set fruit. It usually takes a year from flowering to ripe fruit, and both happen in midwinter – which is why trees are so spectacular at this time of year. Wait until the fruits are fully coloured before you harvest them, and then enjoy full bragging rights as you sip your home-grown G&T!